Enviros Sue Over Grazing Agreements In Red Rock Lakes Natl. Wildlife Refuge

"Two conservation groups from Montana and Idaho sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week over commercial grazing agreements in Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge that were renewed last year but which the groups say rely on an environmental analysis from 1994 in violation of federal law.

WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Montana. The suit claims the Fish and Wildlife Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act, Administrative Procedure Act and the Refuge Act by not preparing an updated environmental impact statement and other analyses when granting new cooperative agricultural agreements and commercial special use permits allowing five ranchers to graze their livestock within the refuge through October 2027.

“Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is a vital part of the largest nearly intact ecosystem in the Lower 48, and for decades the Fish and Wildlife Service has promised to keep close tabs on grazing there to safeguard its wildlife from harm,” said WildEarth Guardians Public Lands Attorney Chris Krupp. “Unfortunately, it’s done no such thing. Instead, it’s repeatedly rubber-stamped grazing permits, with no genuine monitoring or evaluation of the impacts of its program.”

The 83,000-acre wildlife refuge, which sits in the Centennial Valley between Lima and West Yellowstone and is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, was established in 1935 and is managed primarily for wildlife and ecological conservation and rehabilitation, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service."

Blair Miller reports for the Daily Montanan May 17, 2024.

Source: Daily Montanan, 05/20/2024