Ruling hands win to Otter, ranchers
BOISE – A federal judge has determined that federal wildlife officials made a mistake when they listed a plant called slickspot peppergrass as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2009.
The ruling handed down Wednesday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale delivers a legal victory to Gov. Butch Otter and ranchers and landowners along the Snake River Plain where the plant is found.
Otter sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009 after federal biologists determined the plant deserved special protections.
Otter argued the decision to list the plant was not based on the best science and ignored the state’s own conservation efforts.
State officials and ranchers also worried that listing the plant could limit grazing and voluntary efforts to save other sensitive species like sage grouse.