The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grazing regulations are invalid because they violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and NEPA. W. Watersheds Project v. Kraayenbrink, No. 08-35359 (9th Cir. 9/1/10). The appellate court upheld the district court’s order permanently enjoining the regulations.
The lawsuit was aimed at the 2006 amendments to regulations governing BLM’s oversight of livestock grazing on public lands. The amendments removed the definition of “interested public” and a requirement that the agency consult, cooperate and coordinate with the interested public with respect to various management decisions. They significantly reduced public participation in BLM grazing decisions as well as public oversight of grazing on public lands, according to the complaint. The district court invalidated the amendments after determining that BLM ignored public input and scientific evidence when it amended the regulations.
The Ninth Circuit agreed, holding that BLM erred in its final environmental impact statement in which it found the grazing changes would have “no significant impact on the environment.” The court found violations of both the ESA and NEPA when the agency ignored comments from the public and scientists on the potential impacts of the amendments on endangered species and the environment.