Livestock Removal Success: Owyhee River Canyon

Name: Owyhee River Canyon
State(s): Idaho
County(ies): Owyhee
Watershed(s): East Fork Owyhee River, South Fork Owyhee River
Ecosystem Type: Canyon-slope Sagebrush Sea, desert canyon riparian
Species Benefited: California bighorn sheep, redband trout, migratory birds
Federal Unit(s): Lower Snake River District, Bureau of Land Management
Acreage: 20,000 acres
Method(s): Litigation-driven administrative action
Law(s) Invoked: Federal Land Policy and Management Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Administrative Procedures Act
Term of Removal: Permanent - life of Resource Management Plan (RMP)
Prime Mover(s): Committee for Idaho's High Desert (CIHD), Idaho Watersheds Project (IWP), Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society (TWS)
Summary Explanation: Protracted and contentious Owyhee RMP planning process began in 1990. Conservationists (CIHD, Sierra Club, TWS) developed a "Desert Group" alternative for the RMP that forced the BLM to consider livestock removal from portions of the river canyons. In the mid-1990s, livestock industry pressures on BLM stalled the RMP process. IWP and CIHD, represented by the LAW Fund, undertook successful litigation to drive completion and finalization of the Owyhee RMP. This action protects portions of the Owyhee River Canyon Wilderness Study Area, the South Fork Owyhee River Wilderness Study Area, and portions of proposed Wild and Scenic River segments (East Fork Owyhee, South Fork Owyhee and tributary canyons Bald Mountain Creek, Dukes Creek, Piute Creek, and Juniper Creek), and portions of the Owyhee River Bighorn Sheep Area of Critical Environmental Concern.