June 01, 2009

Megan Lemire

Oregon Natural Desert Association, Portland, OR

Oregon Natural Desert Association

This summer I worked for the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA).  ONDA’s legal team takes on an array of legal issues relating to the protection and restoration of eastern Oregon’s high desert, focusing on 1) the widespread degradation caused by poorly managed livestock grazing on Oregon’s public lands, especially lands containing endangered species, 2) protection of wilderness values on the public lands and establishment of designated wilderness areas, and 3) the responsible development of industrial-scale energy projects in eastern Oregon. ONDA has many active legal actions, ranging from projects in the earliest stages of research and development to active litigation in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Their cases are unique, as no other nonprofit or law firm focuses on litigating grazing, wilderness, and energy development issues in eastern Oregon.

I chose this organization because of my interest in wilderness conservation, especially as achieved through the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  During the summer, I helped ONDA with its lawsuit against the Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service for failure to protect threatened steelhead and bull trout from livestock grazing damage, such as trampling banks and removing riparian vegetation. This case challenges the wildlife agencies’ grazing authorizations and ESA consultation decisions for 2007 to 2011.  After a preliminary injunction and motion to vacate hearing, I helped draft a proposed order submitted to the Oregon District Court.  I also researched case law under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  I found exposure to these issues enlightening and am truly grateful for the opportunity to work at ONDA.