Camas Creek Allotment, Salmon-Challis National Forest
Our hard-hitting opening salvo includes several declarations showing that violations continued on the ground this summer. Fish biologist Larry Zuckerman shows that cows accessed spawning habitat on Camas Creek all summer long, and the Forest Service never bothered to fix several key fences relied upon to keep cows out of the spawning areas. WWP 2012 summer intern Alex Brott documents 33 cows inside a critical spawning “exclosure,” trampling across the creek. And fish biologist Bob House finds fresh cattle sign on the riverbanks near almost every Chinook salmon redd he observed in the allotment in September.
The Camas Creek Allotment is located in central Idaho and includes lands within the Frank Church River-of-No-Return Wilderness.
Both the Chinook salmon and Steelhead trout populations on the Camas Creek Allotment are of particular importance to the recovery of their respective species given the absence of hatchery influence. The Camas Creek Watershed is a critically important reservoir of genetically pure wild populations of Chinook salmon and Steelhead trout.
For years, cattle grazing on the Camas Creek Allotment has degraded water quality where these important native populations of Chinook, Steelhead and Bull trout spawn.
To make matters worse, cattle have been allowed to wade and wallow in Camas Creek and its tributaries directly impacting fish eggs and redds (nests) during fish spawning in violation of the Endangered Species Act's prohibition against "take" of threatened and endangered species.
Research demonstrates that one trampling event can kill a majority of fish eggs in each nest - potentially thousands of fish killed by each trampling event. One year, Forest Service researchers on the Camas Creek Allotment even photographed cattle wading across a redd!
Please review the Opening Brief, Statement of Facts and Declarations in this important litigation.
Many thanks to WWP's declarants Larry Zuckerman, Alex Brott and Bob House; and a special thanks to Laurie Rule and Kristin Ruether at Advocates for the West for representing WWP in this case!