National Wildlife Federation et al. v. Bureau of Land Management

140 I.B.L.A. 85 (1997)

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National Wildlife Federation et al. v. Bureau of Land Management

United States Interior Board of Land Appeals
140 I.B.L.A. 85 (1997)

  • Written by Tanya Munson, JD

Facts

The Comb Wash Allotment encompassed the Comb Wash, a narrow valley that five canyons drained into in the San Juan Resource Area. Each canyon contained a stream with an associated riparian area. In 1989, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (defendant) issued a 10-year grazing permit for the Comb Wash Allotment. The permit was appealed and brought before an administrative-law judge, Judge Rampton, who heard claims that the BLM had not consulted with affected parties as required by its regulations. The 10-year permit was set aside, and the matter was remanded to BLM. In 1991, BLM issued a Notice of Final Decision in response to the remand order. The BLM authored a resource management plan (RMP) and an environmental-impact statement (EIS) for the San Juan Resource Area. BLM stated that it intended to prepare an allotment management plan for the Comb Wash Allotment and that it would allow grazing to continue through annual authorizations while the plan was being developed. The annual grazing authorizations were issued by the San Juan Resource Area manager, Edward Scherick. Scherick relied exclusively on the recommendations provided to him by the San Juan Resource Area range conservationist, Paul Curtis. Curtis had thought that the RMP had already considered the impacts of grazing on the allotment’s resources and that the canyons were available for livestock use. Curtis did not conduct monitoring in the canyons. Curtis concluded that grazing would be permissible despite its conflict with recognized recreation uses because the RMP did not preclude grazing in the Comb Wash Allotment. BLM asserted that the RMP and EIS had fulfilled BLM’s duties under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) (plaintiff) appealed the final decision and Scherick’s grazing authorizations. Judge Rampton heard the appeal and set aside the 1991 final decision, holding that BLM violated the FLPMA.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harris, J.)

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