A victory for public lands, wildlife habitat, and the rule of law

March 3, 2021

I’d like to share some good news for public lands, wilderness, wildlife habitat, and the rule of law.

Just one day after WildEarth Guardians and our partners filed a lawsuit, the Bureau of Land Management rescinded a last-minute Trump administration decision permitting an unqualified ranching company to graze cattle on Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon.

These public lands grazing allotments are on the ancestral homeland of the Burns Paiute Tribe and the Northern Paiute and the Western Shoshone peoples. The lands include designated wilderness and other wilderness-quality lands that contain a trove of cultural resources, as well as important habitat for imperiled sage grouse, redband trout, and other species.

On his last day in office—the day before Inauguration Day—former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt rushed to grant public land grazing privileges to Dwight and Steven Hammond. Bernhardt cut short, and unlawfully ignored, public participation and failed to consider impacts to native species, cultural resources, and wilderness.

The Hammond’s previous grazing permit had been revoked after the father and son were convicted of intentionally setting fire to public lands in 2012. In 2016, insurrectionists cited that conviction when they took up arms and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for 41 days.

While Guardians will continue advocating for public lands grazing reform, one important action you can take right now is to raise your voice to make sure the federal government holds law-breakers and scofflaws accountable, rather than granting them special favors and treatment.

As always, you can count on Guardians to protect wildlands and critical wildlife habitat while we also defend the rights of everyone to have an equal say in how America’s public lands are managed.

About the Author

Sarah McMillan | Conservation Director, WildEarth Guardians

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