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Malheur National Forest Native Trout Habitat (ONDA v. Lohn)

This lawsuit challenges NMFS and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biological opinions, which fail to protect steelhead and bull trout from the impacts of continued grazing on the Malheur National Forest.

Summer Steelhead
Summer Stealhead.
Photo: Greg Burke
This lawsuit challenges NMFS and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biological opinions, which fail to protect steelhead and bull trout from the impacts of continued grazing on the Malheur National Forest.

In 2008, the District judge ruled that ONDA was likely to win on the merits and issued an injunction barring grazing on two allotments. That ruling protected over 90 miles of steelhead streams.

In 2009, again ruling that ONDA was likely to win its case, the court authorized grazing only subject to extensive protections beyond what the Forest Service had proposed. As a result of the 2009 injunction, grazing occurred on only about 89 of the 306 miles of steelhead critical habitat in the Malheur National Forest. With the additional restrictions imposed by the court, more conscientious monitoring by the Forest Service, and greater efforts by the permit­tees to comply with the limitations in their permits, livestock caused significantly less damage to steelhead streams in 2009 than in previous years.

The June 4th, 2010 ruling resulted in reduced grazing in 2010 coupled with strict protections to insure that cattle do not damage steelhead critical habitat. Protective measures included additional fencing to protect sensitive riparian areas, additional riders to maintain fences and herd livestock away from streams, and weekly Forest Service monitoring and updates to the court on stream conditions. Overall grazing levels were approximately 10% lower than the Forest Service proposed in 2009; in reality, several of the allotment were ultimately not grazed in 2010 because of the inability of the permittees and USFS to put in place the required protective measures.

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