Challenge to Water Stations in Bighorn Sheep Habitat
In Wilderness Watch, Inc. v. US Fish & Wildlife Serv., No. 08-17406, an action claiming that the Forest Service's actions in building water stations in a bighorn sheep habitat violated the express prohibition on the development of structures in the Wilderness Act, the court reversed summary judgment for defendants where a generic finding of necessity by the Service did not suffice, because the Service was required to make a finding that the structures were "necessary" to meet the minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of conserving bighorn sheep.
As the court wrote: "The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness in southwest Arizona contains a desert ecosystem that is home to, among other species, bighorn sheep. After an unexpected decline in the population of the sheep, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") built two water structures (the Yaqui and McPherson tanks) within the wilderness area. Plaintiffs Wilderness Watch, Inc., Arizona Wilderness Coalition, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Western Watersheds Project, and Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club brought suit against the Service."
Read the Ninth Circuit's Decision in Wilderness Watch, Inc. v. US Fish & Wildlife Serv., No. 08-17406