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JUDICIAL: Includes land management, FLPMA, BLM, grazing

In Oregon Natural Desert Ass’n v. Bushue, No. 3:19-CV-1550 (D. Or. Dec. 7, 2022), plaintiff environmental organizations brought suit against the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), claiming that the defendant had violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (“FLPMA”) for failing to close 13 research natural areas (“RNAs”) in the state of Oregon to cattle grazing. According to the plaintiffs, BLM was required to make those closures within five years after adopting the agency’s 2015 land use plan titled the Oregon Greater Sage-Grouse Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment (“2015 ARMPA”). Because more than five years has passed, the plaintiffs claim that the closures are overdue and ask the court to enjoin BLM from authorizing livestock grazing on any of the 13 RNAs. In response, BLM argues that the 2015 ARMPA did not contain a five-year deadline and thus the closures were not delayed. Ultimately, the court disagreed and ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. After reviewing the 2015 ARMPA, the court concluded that the language of the document created an immediate, binding commitment to set aside those 13 specific RNAs as unavailable to grazing. While the court did find that the five-year deadline was not applicable because that language only appeared in the proposed draft of the 2015 ARMPA, not the final document, the court still concluded that BLM had unreasonably delayed closing the RNAs. Therefore, the court ruled that BLM must close the 13 RNAs to grazing without further delay.