Friday, September 17, 2010

Court Order Sheds Light on Grazing Permits on Public Land

Cattle grazingImage via WikipediaIn her 28-page decision in Western Watersheds Project & Wildearth Guardians v. Bureau of Land Mgt. & U.S. Dept. of Interior (Case No. 09-482-CWD), Chief Magistrate Judge Candy Dale of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho ordered the government to disclose the names and addresses of recipients of grazing permits on public land.

The government has yet to decide whether to appeal the order, which could involve revealing the identities of  the holders of roughly 18,000 grazing permits on almost 160 million acres of land in the Western U.S., according to an Associated Press story.  Two environmental groups, Western Watersheds Project and Wildearth Guardians, brought suit under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA")[5 U.S.C. sec. 552 et seq.], challenging the Bureau of Land Mgt.'s position that the grazing permit data was exempt from disclosure as constituting an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the permit holders.

Judge Dale concluded the public interest in monitoring the federal agency's public land grazing program trumped the minimal privacy interests of the grazing permit recipients. Chew on that, Bureau of Land Mgt.
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