Wednesday, August 27, 2008


There may be vehement opposition by the public lands ranching industry to the idea of actually having to pay the full amount of $1.35 to feed a cow and calf per month without getting the “bonus forage” for free as described in the last post, “Get One Free!”.

So how about this idea….

One of BLMs latest spins on their need to euthanize or slaughter our now warehoused American wild horses and burros is the amount of money BLM projects it will cost to feed them in the future because “wild horses and burros are a long-lived species with few natural predators”. Except of course when they are out in the wild, according to BLMs Wild Horse and Burro Division Chief Don Glenn through his response to the January 15, 2008 Quarter Horse News article “185 Wild Horses Dead”.

Here Mr. Glenn stated, “after the horses have grazed for 12 or so years on the coarse forage and sandy soils where they live, their teeth are usually worn down and broken, which makes it hard for them to eat. When winter or drought comes, they die of starvation and/or hypothermia.” However, it would appear that when these same captured wild horses are placed in BLMs containment centers, their life span is projected to double to about 25-30 years old.

Since BLM is not allowed to outright slaughter wild horses and burros yet (though God knows they are trying!), how about we just exchange livestock for the wild horses now being warehoused in BLMs containment centers?

According to the 2005 Government Accountability Office’s Report (1), the public lands ranching industry has been completely insulated by the inflationary pressures raging around the rest of the American public as analysis showed comparable fees in todays dollar values would require agencies to charge at least $5.94 per month to feed a cow and her calf at still rock bottom prices, at least that was the case in 2005 – it’s probably even higher now.

The livestock BLM manages on public lands can then be fed in the same containment centers with the same budget used for our wild horses and burros without any projected increases in the future. Since cattle and sheep are raised for slaughter, BLMs obligations to feed and hold them will be minimal as they will constantly be shipped out and “disposed of” as the Burns Amendment and its resulting “For Sale Authority” now authorizes for wild horses and burros.

Imagine…..there would be no reason to spend money on predator control to protect ranching interests, no reason to round up masses of wild horses and burros and contain them and no reason for taxpayers having to fund endless livestock authorization documents or the massive litigation BLM is always involved in regarding environmental and wildlife issues that seem to plague excessive livestock authorizations on public lands.

In 2002, the Center for Biological Diversity issued an economic analysis entitled, “Assessing the Full Cost of the Federal Grazing Program”. The report estimated that the true cost to taxpayers and the environment from public lands ranching was closer to $500 million annually. (2)

Other notes of interest from the CBD’s report included:

“In the early 1990s, the Clinton administration moved to reform the management of public rangelands through a wide-ranging revision of the fee formula as well as BLM administrative regulations, known as Rangeland Reform '94 (USDI and USDA 1994). A new base rate for the years 1990-1992 of $3.96/AUM was proposed with annual adjustments based solely on changes in a Forage Value Index and a cap of 25 percent change per year. This reform was predicted to greatly increase cost recovery for the U.S. Treasury. Revenues from the increase were projected to be $76 million over five years, beginning with an increase of $6 million in 1994, increasing to $35 million in 1997. By comparison, actual receipts for 1992 were about $10.7 million. Ultimately, the fee reform was never adopted, however.”

“Recently, federal auditors criticized the BLM and Forest Service along with many other federal agencies for the lack adequate financial accounting that would permit an audit to be done. The USDA was described as the “worst managed” agency. The Forest Service was unable to figure out how much money was available and overspent by $274 million in 2001 (Brinkley 2002).”

It was also estimated that BLM spent “$34 million on soil, water, and air and much of this budget is necessitated by or benefits ranching while citing livestock are the principal cause of soil erosion and stream degradation” (Jones 2000, Belsky et al. 1999) And an “additional $22.5 million was spent on protecting riparian areas where livestock were cited as the most pervasive cause of the riparian damage, as high as up to 80 percent of westerns streams.” (Belsky et al. 1999).

Despite all this, it is estimated that as of 2005, only 2% of the nation’s beef is produced from cattle on public lands (3) and while BLM maintains the financial costs of the Wild Horse and Burro Program have become “unmanageable”, they share no similar concerns for the costs and losses resulting from livestock grazing or the considerable resource damage and financial shortfalls that have been repeatedly documented for decades.

So how about we just make it official and get BLM into the domestic livestock industry?

Then they can manage official feedlots instead of putting on the pretense that public lands forage is being managed for “multiple-use”, the ranching industry would still get cheaper rates than if they were trying to feed their livestock through private grazing fees, BLM would still be overseeing the operations, getting their cut and the American taxpayer could be spared the fa├žade, expense and ecological damage now being foisted upon us through the public lands grazing system as it is currently being run today.

The wild horses would pass away in half the time than if they are captured (if we can believe Mr. Glenn’s statement), natural predators would now be free to help control populations and BLM could finally have some funding to do the monitoring of rangeland resources that are the legal foundation for all their decisions - which, as it stands today is WAY too often decades old or completely absent altogether.

Half the wild horses BLM is currently warehousing have already been castrated and are incapable of reproduction so let them run free and let the cattle and sheep stand in their pens instead. Then all BLM would have to manage is sending ranchers their checks for the service.

(1) GAO, Livestock Grazing, Federal Expenditures and Receipts Very, Depending on the Agency
and the Purpose of the Fee Charged, September 2005, GAO-05-869
(2) Assessing The Full Cost of the Federal Grazing Program, Moskowitz, MBA, Romaniello, MS
Ag. Econ., Prepared for the Center of Biological Diversity, October 2002
(3) Organic Consumer-2005

Friday, August 22, 2008

Get One Free!

In 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the public lands livestock grazing program titled, “LIVESTOCK GRAZING: Federal Expenditures and Receipts Vary, Depending on the Agency and the Purpose of the Fee Charged.” (GAO-05-869).

After a thorough examination of federal expenditures on “our” federal grazing programs, the GAO found some very interesting facts, one of which was from the National Agricultural Statistics Service that reported:

Since 1984, the size of cattle now grazing public lands has increased by 23% per head. Instead of weighing approximately 1,050 pounds like they use too, now they are weighing in at 1,242 lbs. but government agencies are still charging fees that only cover feeding a 1,000 lb. animal.

It’s another taxpayer sponsored welfare ranching deal called
“Buy four, get one free”!

The GAO report also stated that:

“The federal government manages more than 680 million acres of land in the United States, including lands in national forests, grasslands, parks, refuges, reservoirs, and military bases and installations. Of the total federal lands, BLM and the Forest Service manage almost 450 million acres for multiple uses, including timber harvest, recreation, grazing, minerals, water supply and quality, and wildlife habitat. BLM’s 12 state offices manage more than 260 million acres in 12 western states, including 82 million acres in Alaska, while the Forest Service’s 123 administrative offices manage more than 190 million acres across the nation.”

“…10 federal agencies manage more than 22.6 million AUMs (Animal Unit Months) on about 235 million acres of federal lands for grazing and land management in fiscal year 2004. Of this total, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service managed more than 98 percent of the lands used for grazing.”

“In fiscal year 2004, BLM and the Forest Service approved a total of almost 21.9 million AUMs for grazing on more than 230.6 million acres—BLM approved almost 12.7 million AUMs on more than 137.7 million acres, and the Forest Service approved almost 9.2 million AUMs on more than 92.9 million acres. Ranchers were billed for and used fewer AUMs—a total of almost 13.7 million AUMs—primarily because of the continuing drought in the western and southwestern states, according to agency officials. While BLM maintains a list of historical AUMs—or grazing privileges that have been reduced from historical amounts and are not available to be used—these numbers do not affect the totals.”

The Animal Welfare Institute has stated an estimated 8 million livestock are authorized to graze public lands in 11 western states with the vast majority of all BLM administered lands (92%) being leased for livestock grazing.

So while BLM is wringing their hands as to the financial costs of the Wild Horse and Burro Program with only slaughter, genocide or trying to guilt the American taxpayer into picking up the adoption tab to “save” our wild horses and burros from BLMs “managed deaths”, how about this alternative?

Since BLM and other federal agencies are giving away “free forage” to every fifth cow on public lands, how about removing 1 out of every 5 cows and giving that free, unaccounted for, unbilled and unpaid forage now being used anyway to our wild horses and burros instead!

If BLM and US Forest Service had authorized 13.7 million Animal Unit Months (AUMS) of forage for livestock consumption in 2004, this means that approximately 3.4 million MORE AUMs is being consumed by the “super sized cows” grazing public lands these days than is on any record book or being paid for (not including the calves) by our already bloated welfare ranching system.

Furthermore, according to the San Jose Mercury News, which ran an in-depth piece in 1999 on livestock grazing on BLM lands, “The top 10 percent of grazing-permit holders control a striking 65 percent of all livestock on Bureau property. The largest livestock operator on BLM lands is John Simplot, who is listed on the Forbes 400 list and supplies half the French fries to McDonald’s restaurants in this country. Other permit holders include the Hilton Family Trust, which owns the Hilton hotel chain, brewery giant Anheuser-Busch, Inc. and the Agri Beef Company—hence the term 'corporate cowboys.' The majority of taxpayer subsidies go directly into the pockets of large corporations and millionaires, not small family ranchers." (1)

According to BLM, there are currently 33,000 captured wild horses and burros being warehoused in holding facilities (though today a more appropriate description would be Death Camps), which would require 396k AUMs to feed on public lands. Removing every “fifth” cow now hidden in the system would allow every wild horse and burro currently headed to the chopping block to eat for free ~ eight and a half times over ~ without requiring any changes to “authorized use” of either livestock or wild horse and burro populations!

The American taxpayer could finally receive full payment of $1.35 per month for the forage consumption that is really being used without providing any MORE freebies to the public lands ranching industry AND they could be spared the expense of warehousing or killing our wild heritage.

2005 GAO Report on Livestock Grazing
Click Here

AWI's "Managing For Extinction" Fact Sheet
Click Here

(1) Animal Welfare Institute, Managing For Extinction-Shortcomings of the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Original Intent

As BLM has been reaching back into the bowels of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act (WFRHBA) to guide their management strategies, which now include killing “excess” wild horses and burros or just sterilizing the ones left, a review of the Act and its legal mandates seems in order before BLM starts pulling triggers.

Did you know Congress defined “range” as:
“….the amount of land necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds of wild free-roaming horses and burros, which does not exceed their known territorial limits, and which is devoted principally but not exclusively to their welfare in keeping with the multiple-use concept for public lands;”

Did you know that BLM is only authorized to remove wild horses and burros from the range? There is no other definition provided in the Act but “range” for wild horse and burro habitat that BLM is allowed to remove them from.

Many who are interested in wild horse and burro issues have long contended the original intent of the Act was to apply this definition to wild horse and burro habitat across the West – to be devoted principally to wild horses and burros.

What makes this even more interesting is, the Nevada Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses formally requested an Opinion from Nevada’s Attorney General (AG) as to what the Commission’s jurisdiction was regarding wild horse and burro habitat and population. Apparently, the controlling Sage Brush Rebels in the Nevada Legislation had craftily slipped in Nevada law that the Commissions jurisdiction only covered “sanctuaries” – except there were no sanctuaries in Nevada at the time.

The Nevada AG came back with an Opinion on June 1, 1998 that defined “sanctuaries” (the ones that are suppose to be principally devoted to wild horse and burro preservation) as synonymous with Herd Management Areas. The AG also went on to define “sanctuary” in relation to the preservation of wild horses and burros as “absurd” to the “plain meaning” as it was the Commissions duties to have significant power to protect ALL wild horses and burros and their habitat, not just “sanctuaries”.

The AG also contended that only using the definition of “sanctuary” in relation to wild horse and burro populations and habitat preservation was not only “absurd”, it would render the intent of many other statutes established from their preservation - meaningless.

And isn’t that exactly what has happened?

The Secretary of the Interior has re-interpreted law and re-written policy to such a degree that it has become absurd - rendering the preservation of wild horses and burros and protection of their habitat in relation to the thriving natural ecological balance - meaningless. (Notice how the word “natural” has now been pulled from every DOI publication on the subject?)

BLM managers have long contended it was an oversight of Congress for failing to define “who gets what” in relation to the public lands forage pie while many wild horse and burro advocates maintain that after the Act was passed, the livestock industry fired up their lobbying machine to gut wild horse and burro protection and return that pie to them. Never mind that grazing on public lands is a privilege, not a right.

Did you know in the Public Range Improvement Act, passed after the WFRHBA, Congress defined livestock use areas as “rangelands” or “public rangelands”, not range? Anyone else find it odd that Congress established two separate definitions for land used by livestock and wild horses and burros?

Did you know the 1971 WFRHBA never mentions having to consult, confer or consider livestock grazing uses specifically – only wildlife needs.

Furthermore, the Secretary, aka BLM, is only allowed to evaluate and define “excess” wild horses and burros in relation to the “thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship in that area”. Section 1332 (2).

In both definitions - range and what constitutes “excess animals” – multiple use was listed as a secondary consideration and livestock needs were never defined as a dominate use at all.

Yet somehow, it has all become turned around, hasn’t it?

What could possibly be “natural” about an Asian exotic species such as the 8 million cattle that are reported to be grazing public lands? Or the hundreds of thousands of miles of fencing erected for their control? Or the 1.6 million natural predators wildlife “services” killed in 2006? (Latest figures state $100 million a year spent in “managing” this thriving natural ecological balance) (1)

BLM is maintaining that to return the 33k now in holding along with the 33k they claim is still roaming free would cause ecological “havoc”.

At the turn of the century, an estimated 2-3 million wild horses roamed the West. Today, it is estimated that 8 million cattle are authorized on 160 million acres of just BLM managed land (and that doesn’t include the sheep).

Despite this, livestock are given the lions share of the available forage in wild horse and burro habitat while the wild horses and burros themselves are doled out a pitiful 10% or less (usually much less!) - even though their allowed habitat is approximately 5 times smaller.

So BLMs stance is 66k wild horses and burros are more ecologically damaging than 8 million cattle and who knows how many sheep. Really? More of BLMs “funny math” I guess.

So how about Congress finally clarifying “who gets what” in wild horse and burro habitat?

If BLM wants to revisit their legal rights to continue herd and habitat decimation, how about Congress revisiting it too and clearly re-establish the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Acts original intent – that their habitat is to be devoted principally but not exclusively for their protection and preservation. After all, Americans now have a plethora of public lands devoted to “exclusive use” as this has become all the rage in federal management strategies.

With all Herd Management Areas defined as “ranges” to be devoted principally to their preservation and protection again, livestock authorizations could be slashed to merely 40% of what they are currently getting. Still fair, right? After all, livestock would still have 125 million more acres more than wild horses and burros on just BLM managed lands AND they would still get a fair cut of the forage to boot!

Let’s use the Jackson Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) for an example, home of the 185 dead wild horses at Palomino Valley last fall.

There are six authorized grazing allotments that overlap the Jackson Mountain HMA, though to be fair, not all of them are in the Jackson Mt HMA 100%: Bottle Creek, Deer Creek, Desert Valley, Happy Creek, Jackson Mountain and Wilder Quinn and BLM has authorized 32,744 Animal Unit Months of forage exclusively for livestock consumption in these allotments.

Conversely, the Jackson Mountain wild horses have been issued 2,604 Animal Unit Months, or 7% of the available forage while livestock get 93%. To reverse this trend, a general approximation would go something like this.

If livestock consumption was cut to 40%, they would still get 14,136 AUMs while wild horses would be now be allowed 21,204 AUMs.

Currently, BLM has determined that anything more than 217 wild horses in the Jackson Mountain HMA is “excessive” and must be removed to preserve, not the thriving natural ecological balance but the “multiple-use relationship” (a relationship that resembles something more out of a S&M publication than an actual relationship).

However, with the new forage allocations devoting the HMA principally but not exclusively for wild horse and burro preservation, 1,767 wild horses could now roam their own home ranges without any change to authorized use at all. Suddenly, a home besides slaughterhouses and long-term holding facilities has been found for 1,550 wild horses. Imagine that….

And imagine if Congress did that for every wild horse and burro Herd Management Area still standing – how many could live again “for free”?

Click Here to read an Extracted Version of the Nevada Attorney General's Opinion on Wild Horse and Burro definitions.

Livestock Allotment Authorized Use taken from BLMs Public Rangeland Statistics Reports available at:

(1) Predator Statistics taken from Wild Earth Guardians available at:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good to Be King

Since BLM and Congress are finally suppose to be listening to the public about the wild horse and burro wipe out, here is something they need to hear.

In 2003, twenty-nine wild horses were taken through yet another official declaration of yet another “emergency” due to starvation, drought and to prevent the inhumane suffering of watching them slowly die in an area that could not feed them. Click Here to learn more.

These were the Coyote Canyon wild horses, the last herd in Southern California and the last of their kind with their genetic test results showing strong Spanish ancestry, which means they had been living in the Canyon for a very, very long time. Of course, the results of the genetic tests were not released to the public until all the wild horses had been eliminated and of course, they weren’t starving at all as anyone can see by their round up photo here. Click Here to read about their final round up.

Once managed by BLM and protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, the Coyote Canyon home range spanned both state and federal lands - but their “protected” habitat and status was traded away to the State of California, a now common-place move that is often behind the eradication of wild horse and burro herds. Click Here to read more.

Though almost all of these types of land transfers are still under federal agencies ruled by the Secretary of the Interior, the one Congress charged with the duty of protecting our wild heritage, the herds are only protected on BLM managed land. So…if government officials can transfer the land or just a little piece of it like a critical water source to another agency, even if it is still overseen by the Secretary of the Interior, the wild horses and burros and their home ranges suddenly become “unprotected” and disappear – no questions asked.

So here are a few questions somebody might want to ask NOW, while everyone is in a listening mood and a few are actually demanding answers!

“How much habitat, how many herds have been eliminated through this split jurisdiction”?

“How about ending this schizophrenic policy that allows the Secretary to authorize the elimination and/or shooting of wild horse and burro herds if they are not on BLM managed lands”?

The Sheldon wild horses and burros fall under this category as their home range and protected status was sold out to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Havasu wild horse herds were eliminated in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge to protect the “native” ecosystem and wildlife. Currently, lobbying efforts to eliminate the remaining Havasu wild burro herds are underway with officials using the same lines that Sheldon managers are using today to eliminate the Sheldon herds.

Here is what “protection” of the Havasu
ecosystem looks like these days ….

"The Sandbar" 2001 Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, AZ
Courtesy of Terry Watt - American Horse Defense Fund

"Ecotourism is one method to derive economic benefits from the
conservation of wildlife and habitat."*

"The Sandbar" 2001 Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, AZ
Courtesy of Terry Watt - American Horse Defense Fund

"Recreational visits to national wildlife refuges generate substantial economic activity. In Fiscal Year 2004, more than 36.7 million people visited refuges for recreation.
Their spending generated $1.37 billion
in sales in regional economies."*

The Virginia Range wild horses, the original herds that spurred Wild Horse Annie to lobby for protection of these magnificent animals, also fell by the wayside as BLM couldn’t dump the Virginia Range land they inherited fast enough.

The Muddy Mountain wild burros near Lake Mead National Recreation Area, NV, found National Park Service, still under the Secretary of the Interiors jurisdiction, recently declaring the lands surrounding Lake Meads water “burro free”.

So too went all those “protected” wild horse and burro herds and their habitat in Southern California, which was transferred to National Park Service, leaving them and their home ranges suddenly defenseless. NPS still has a standing order to shoot those once “protected” BLM wild burros in Death Valley National Monument.

This is the way the California Clark Mountain wild burros went as well, whose genetic tests revealed they had the highest degree of “rare variants” of any wild burro herd tested throughout the West but who found their main water source in the hands of the Secretary of the Interior, only under a different agency name.

Zeroed out and the bulk of them removed in January 2007, the Clark Mountain wild burros had nothing left to drink as officials threatened to fence their only year-long water source of four centuries because…...the water was now to be reserved exclusively for the areas transplanted bighorn sheep.

Which brings us back to the Coyote Canyon wild horses, all twenty-nine of them, also removed for exclusive habitat use for bighorn sheep.

Last estimated at totaling 400 in 2007 just in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with 700+ counted throughout the entire range (now up to 800), Superintendent Mark Jorgensen recently admitted these bighorn were not the “rare” Pennisular bighorn sheep Park officials used as justification to help eradicate the Coyote Canyon wild horses after all (1), - just regular Desert Bighorn - whose western populations have now been estimated at reaching 70,000 (2). Of course, the fact that they weren't so rare after all wasn't revealed until after the Coyote Canyon wild horses were taken either.

It’s been five years since this historic herd was rounded up. Backcountry Horsemen of California (BHC), with the aid of California State Senator Bill Morrow, managed to fight Superintendent Jorgensen long enough to prevent the immediate castration of the remaining four Coyote Canyon stallions in order to preserve their unique gene pool. Apparently, Mr. Jorgensen had put out an order to castrate them as soon as possible.Click Here to learn more.

BHC then formed Coyote Canyon Caballos D’Anza (CCCD), a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the herd and releasing them back into their native range in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Manager/Director Robert Hayden of CCCD and his wife Kathleen, are currently the guardians of the last remaining Coyote Canyon stallions and have worked tirelessly, both on a state and federal levels, to restore this historic herd.

Three of the four Coyote Canyon stallions under
Coyote Canyon Caballos D'Anza stewardship.

In the spring of 2007, one of these efforts included an attempt to restore them under a Historic and Cultural Nomination, an effort Superintendent Jorgensen again successfully shot down. Click Here to learn more.

Turns out, Superintendent Jorgensen is a big fan of the bighorn but not of the “feral horses” and since he has all the authority, the influence, and access to all the “experts” - what he wants, he gets. It’s certainly good to be the King!

Coyote Canyon Caballo’s D-Anza’s most recent efforts include negotiating a sanctuary in the vacant Beauty Mountain grazing allotment adjacent to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - but they need some help. With all the preliminary groundwork done, once again, it has now come to begging “our” representatives to step in to provide oversight and a legal framework if this effort is to succeed.

Please consider taking a moment out to let your voice
be herd by writing:

The Honorable Brian Bilbray
U.S. House of Representatives
227 Cannon House Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Here is a beautiful sample letter written by Candace D. Oathout,
Chair of Citizens Against Recreational Eviction,
urging the restoration of this historic herd.
Click Here
to read.

To learn more or help the CCCD in their long-standing fight to return this unique and historic Spanish herd of mustangs, contact:

Tax ID #510553809
Robert Hayden-Director
P.O. Box 236
Santa Ysabel, CA 92070

Click Here for the
Coyote Canyon Caballos D’Anza Wild Horse Brochure.

- For the Coyote Canyon Wild Horses –

* From Banking on Nature 2004: The Economic Benefits to Local Communities of National Wildlife Refuge Visitation. James Cuadill, Ph.D and Erin Henderson, Division of Economics, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington D.C., 2004.
(1) Personal Communication, Mark Jorgensen, February 2007.
(2) Bighorn Facing Smaller Habitat", Mike Lee, Union-Tribune [San Diego}, March 23, 2008.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Wishing For

A recent Anonymous comment wanted to verify the fact that I filed an appeal to prevent BLM from finally fixing water sources on the Nevada Wild Horse Range. This is a legitimate question and the answer is yes, I have. But as with most BLM sourced information, this is only partially true and I have no doubt BLM intends to have a field day with casting dispersions on my character and concern for the Nevada Wild Horse Range Wild Horses.

The commenter stated this action didn’t sound like anything a wild horse advocate would wish for and they are correct – I have been fighting with BLM for months now to get them to fix the water and apply for water rights as they promised they would do back in 2004. While BLM has had the authority to do this for years, they have not.

The BLM is making claims that they never had the money to fix them until now, at a time when the Wild Horse & Burro Program is so broke, BLM has announced they need to reduce costs by euthanizing or selling thousands of now captured wild horses and burros in order to relieve the Programs financial pressure.

BLM also told me the money currently available could not be guaranteed past the end of August, which just happened to mysteriously correspond with the opportunity to appeal BLMs Herd Management Area Plan.

Where did BLM get the money now when the Program is so broke? Is BLM trying to unload every last dollar they have to prove they are so broke? I really don’t know the answer to these questions but it certainly does offer an interesting paradox, doesn’t it?

What I do know is, so far BLM has failed to make any progress on fixing the water crisis on the Nevada Wild Horse Range, not only over the last several months - but for years - that is until they could legally tier it to the Nevada Wild Horse Range’s new Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP). For the record, BLM actually has authorized these improvements to span 1-5 years in the HMAP, pretty much the same unfulfilled promise they issued in 2004 too.

My appeal is of the Herd Management Area Plan, which I believe wild horse access to water was used as sort of a blackmail tool – no HMAP, no water. I also received a letter last year from BLMs Nevada State Director Ron Wenker stating that generally, BLM did not like to provide “artificial water sources” for wild horses and burros, so I find it odd Director Wenkers stance would change just one year later.

Regarding the water developments, I was forced to appeal the decision of fixing the water because I believe it was only authorized through that horrendous HMAP. However, it is only a Partial Appeal. Specifically, I have asked the court to allow BLM to fix the water developments as long as it did not authorize the Herd Management Area Plan.

If BLM is correct in their assertion that their separate decision allows them to fix the water developments without this action being authorized solely through the new HMAP and its approval, then the judge will rule in BLMs favor and the wild horses will FINALLY get the water that has been promised for so long – assuming they really have the money and aren’t just bluffing.

If BLM has not been honest in their assertion that the water developments are not connected to the HMAP, the judge will (hopefully) not allow BLM to push the approval of the new HMAP through in such a “backdoor” manner by using water as their leverage. Water will still be provided as needed in the same manner BLM has been using since at least 2005 to compensate for their prior deficiencies - by hauling it.

Both the BLM and their attorney contacted me and informed me that I would be responsible for denying wild horses water if I did not withdraw my appeal. I rebutted with a submission to BLM on 7/18/08 that if BLM will issue a new document to authorize the reconstruction of the water developments that was completely disconnected from their new HMAP, I would immediately withdraw my appeal. So far, BLM has yet to respond to this offer “while they still have the money….”

In addition to BLM crafting a horrible HMAP for the Nevada Wild Horse Range wild horses, which recanted promised water sources approved 4 years ago and did not honestly disclose to the public what the No Action existing management really consisted of (approved in the last Resource Management Plan, which actually gave the wild horses more water than the new HMAP does), they also declared an emergency removal was necessary again (one was conducted in July 2007 as well) due to lack of water and food.

So for all those new found pro-BLM unsubstantiated and unverifiable “Anonymous Researchers” American Herds seems to have picked up lately (the DOI/BLM is the second largest single network now reading American Herds on a regular basis) as well as for the legitimate wild horse advocates that would like to know what has been actually going on in the Nevada Wild Horse Range, listed below is almost every action I have taken regarding BLMs management of the Nevada Wild Horse Range wild horses and burros (the exception being multiple email dialogues with NV WH&B Lead Susie Stokke). This includes letters, public comments, maps and my appeals of what BLM finally decided to do.

June 13, 2007
BLM Nevada State Director Ron Wenkers response to financial offer to help provide water on the range for wild horses. Click Here to access.

July 31, 2007
After the emergency removals of 178 wild horses in the Nevada Wild Horse Range between July 6-8, 2007 during record heat levels due to lack of water, I wrote a letter to the Las Vegas Field Office, the Humane Society of the United States, and the International Society for the Preservation of Mustangs and Burros expressing concerns for the capture methods and the apparent acceleration of reproduction of mares given PZP during the 2004 round ups. Both BLM and HSUS failed to respond in any manner to this letter. Click Here to access.

August 13, 2007
Submitted public comments during the Scoping Period for the Preliminary Capture Plan of the Nevada Wild Horse Range wild horses. This included a request for the Rangeland Health Assessment and the documents that approved the allowable population level to be cut in half, from 600-1,000 down to 300-500. Click Here to access.

September 2007
The Las Vegas Field Office released a Preliminary Capture Plan for the Nevada Wild Horse Range wild horses, expected to be implemented in December 2007. BLM pulled this EA from all normal website access about two months after it was posted. However, here is my copy – Click Here to access.

October 2007
A few days before the public comment period closed, the documents I requested from BLM in August showed up for review. The document that reset the wild horse AMLs (Allowable Management Level) for the wild horse population is titled, “The Nevada Test & Training Range Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement – 2003” as well as BLMs “Record of Decision” that approved the plan dated July 2004.

To my knowledge, there is no electronic copy of this document available but a hard copy can be requested at: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Las Vegas Field Office, 4701 North Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada 89130-2301. However, I hand typed a vast portion of the pertinent information from these documents into my appeal and much can be reviewed there.

October 17, 2007
Submitted a 31 page public comment letter to BLMs Las Vegas Field Office expressing my concerns about prior and current management at the Nevada Wild Horse Range. Click Here to access.

December 18, 2007
BLM published an Interested Party Letter postponing the removals of the Nevada Wild Horse Range wild horses and claimed they had intended to provide water tanks at Cedar Well before the summer came in 2008 but the ground was frozen preventing them from any further work. BLM stated they would resume work when the weather would permit it – but as far as I know, they failed to follow through - again! Click Here to access.

January 3, 2008
Sent a letter to the BLM both commending their decision to finally address the long time dysfunctional water systems as well as requesting BLM address the questions I posed during the public comment period in October. BLM failed to respond to this in any manner as well. Click Here to access.

January 31 - March 31, 2008
Dialogue was initiated with NV WH&B Lead Susie Stokke spanning 19 emails requesting more information as well as questions about BLMs management and policies regarding the Nevada Wild Horse Range. On March 31, 2008, Ms. Stokke terminated this exchange stating no further information would be made available until the release of the Preliminary Herd Management Area Plan.

Within these exchanges, the following two responses provided the most specific information about BLMs stance on the on going water issues occurring in the Nevada Wild Horse Range over the last several years. Click Here to access.

Note: It was during this dialogue Ms. Stokke corrected my original statement of 9 wells identified for wild horse use that BLM was suppose to begin development on. The 9 wells were what the Air Force controlled – BLM had only approved of development on 3-4 new wells in 2004.

April 2008
The BLM Las Vegas Field Office releases their Preliminary Environmental Assessment for the new Nevada Wild Horse Range Herd Management Plan. Click Here to access.

May 29, 2008
Submitted 30 page public comment letter protesting BLMs prior land use authorizations, which I believe attempt to set a new precedence in wild horse and burro management and contain legal violations that have potential to have long-term negative impacts to all wild horse and burro habitat throughout the National WH&B Program as well as how they determined the new AMLs in 2004. Click Here to access.

June 23, 2008
BLM releases their approved Herd Management Area Plan for the Nevada Wild Horse Range Wild Horses.

Click Here to access the Final Environmental Assessment.

Click Here to access newly approved Herd Management Area Plan.

Click Here to access BLM Final Decisions for the Herd Management Area Plan and Water Development Reconstruction.

Click Here to access BLMs Question & Answer Sheet – the only document that announces and authorizes wild horse removals from the Nevada Wild Horse Range.

July 10, 2008
Filed Notice of Appeal and Request for Stay of BLMs Herd Management Area Plan. Click Here to access.

Filed Notice of Appeal and Request For Stay of BLMs Reconstruction of Water Developments approved through the Herd Management Area Plan. Click Here to read.

July 16, 2008
Contacted by email (Stokke) and phone by Ms. Stokke and BLMs attorney, the Regional Solicitor. Both stated that if the appeal of the water developments were not immediately withdrawn, the BLM may not have the funding to fix them after the 45 day review time required by the Interior Board of Land of Appeals (IBLA), which would determine if my case is valid.

July 16, 2008
BLM attorney submits an Expedited Motion to Dismiss Request for Stay on Water Developments, urging the court to dismiss it before July 21, 2008. No electronic copy currently available.

July 18, 2008
Faxed request to IBLA for a proper administrative review of the appeal before immediately granting a dismissal. Click Here to access.

July 18, 2008
Emailed Ms. Stokke and BLM Nevada State Director Ron Wenker requesting BLM write a new environmental assessment that authorizes water development maintenance and reconstruction in the Nevada Wild Horse Range that is disassociated with the new Herd Management Area Plan. Click Here to access.

July 21, 2008
Received response from Ms. Stokke regarding BLMs authorization and my questions about lack of proper legal processes to remove wild horses from the Nevada Wild Horse Range. Ms. Stokke included a Memo regarding National Wild Horse and Burro emergency removal policy, IM 2004-151 to support BLMs assertions that removals were conducted legally.

Click Here to access Ms. Stokkes response.

Click Here to access IM 2004-151 Memo and Policy. Review of this policy indicates in this instance, BLM failed to follow their own criteria regarding Escalating Problems, which require an Environmental Assessment be prepared and reviewed by the public before wild horse removals can be initiated.

July 23, 2008
Submitted Full Appeal of the Nevada Wild Horse Range Herd Management Area Plan to the Interior Board of Land of Appeals, 62 pages plus Exhibits. Click Here to access.

July 23, 2008
Submitted Petition for Relief to IBLA regarding BLMs failure to follow appropriate policy and required NEPA documentation for wild horse removals in the Nevada Wild Horse Range. Click Here to access.

July 29, 2008
Letter to Don Glenn, WH&B Division Chief requesting explanation for policy violations in Nevada Wild Horse Range removals. Copies to BLM Director Jim Caswell, Deputy Director Henri Bisson, Nevada BLM State Director Ron Wenker, BLM Las Vegas Field Office Manager, Mary Jo Rugwell. Click Here to access.

Currently waiting on BLMs response to my plea to issue another environmental assessment that authorizes water reconstruction not connected to the new Herd Management Plan as well as BLMs response to the removals of the Nevada Wild Horse Range wild horses that failed to be in conformance with their own policies and regulations.

What Do I Wish For?
That BLM would express the same sentiment about wild horses and burros as they do about cattle when it comes to providing them something as critical as water in the desert on the Nevada Wild Horse Range.

The following excerpts are taking from the Nevada Test & Training Ranges Proposed Resource Management Plan in 2003. In my opinion, these phrases most accurately sum up BLMs difference in attitude about “how” to manage water for wild horses versus cattle in the Nevada Wild Horse Range.

Section 4.4.9, Livestock Grazing Management, pg. 4-9
“The springs and riparian areas are the most important resource, and could be protected with exclosures. Water could be piped outside the exclosures to ensure animals have adequate water supply, therefore not needlessly suffering from severe thirst.” (emphasis added)

Section 4.5.2 Unavoidable Adverse Impacts, pg. 4-14
Fencing spring and riparian areas would have a direct impact on wild horses that frequent the areas. Some springs would be closed off and no water provided for the horses. There is direct benefit to fencing the spring area to improve the quality of the water and riparian habitat.” (emphasis added).

~Additional Resources for the Nevada Wild Horse Range~

*BLMs Herd Management Area Description: BLM states wild horses travel up to 15 miles a day during the summer for forage. The new HMAP will only measure forage utilization for all species within a 1-3 mile radius of their few remaining water sources – 50% utilization/all species/new growth only. Click Here to access.

*Nevada Wild Horse Range 1997 Evaluation: Includes recommendation to not manage for wild horses as well as expressing concerns about prior decisions regarding age and gender structures having compromised herd integrity. Also cites the need to address water developments within the NWHR. Click Here to access.

*BLM Press Release: States fertility control experiments were being conducted on wild horse herds as early as 1992. It is currently not known what form of immunocontraception was being used at this time. Click Here to access. The 1998 Nevada Wild Horse Mangement Plan For Federal Lands - Draft, stated the Nevada Wild Horse Range wild horses were one of two herds studies were conducted on using immunocontraceptives as of 1992. (pg. 20, pg. 41) Jay Kirkpatrick has confirmed that PZP was administered to Nevada Wild Horse Range mares in 1996 (see Exhibit II in HMAP Appeal) and BLM also administered PZP in 2004.

*Nevada Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses – Meeting Minutes, November 14, 2003, pg. 4: Administrator Barcomb expresses concerns about BLMs prior use of fertility control drugs administered to the Nevada Wild Horse Range mares during a critical period with absolutely no follow up or monitoring. Click Here to access.

*Draft Environmental Assessment, Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan, Nellis Air Force Base and Nevada Test and Training Range, NV, May 2007, Wild Horses, pg. 41. Click Here to access.


August 13, 2008
Though BLM issued two separate decisions, the Interior Board of Land of Appeals combined both decisions, Requests for Stay and Appeals into one case versus two and docketed both under IBLA #2008-201. Originally docketed under the heading of Herd Management Plan, IBLA changed it too Water Developments and in their final ruling, lumped all three appeals together and issued a decision on them collectively under the title of Wild Horse Management.

*Submitted additional evidence regarding appeal of Nevada Wild Horse Range Herd Management Plan to Interior Board of Land of Appeals, IBLA #2008-201. Click Here (Minus some Exhibits due to limited space in web format)

*Submitted additional evidence regarding Partial Appeal of Nevada Wild Horse Range Herd Management Plan Water Developments. Click Here (Minus some Exhibits due to limited space in web format)

*On August 10, 2008, discovered IBLA had accepted my Petition for Relief regarding BLMs "Emergency Removals" and had docketed my petition under a separate case, IBLA #2008-233. As a result, I submitted a Notice of Intent to Respond on August 13, 2008 regarding BLMs "Emergency Declaration" of removals from the Nevada Wild Horse Range. Click Here.

August 19, 2008
Submitted Full Appeal of Nevada Wild Horse Range "Emergency Removals". Click Here

August 20, 2008
Submitted a "Correction Letter" as three Exhibits failed to be included in the electronic Exhibits CD submission. Click Here

September 5, 2008
Interior Board of Land of Appeals combines all three cases into one and issues the decision in favor of BLM on all counts based on the following criteria:

~I had no legal standing or rights to appeal the decision because I was not authorized to enter the Nevada Test and Training Range.

~I failed to prove I was adversely effected by BLMs Herd Management Plan.

~Because the Nevada Wild Horse Range Herd Management Area Plan was linked to the 2004 Resource Management Plan and Record of Decision, a decision I spent extensive time showing was both seriously flawed with multiple errors, IBLA ruled any discussion about the RMP had been submitted to the wrong court and any evidence or connection of the new HMAP to the RMP would not be considered.

~The public cannot appeal any action by BLM if BLM failed to sign a document stating they would take a specific action, even if BLM submitted evidence to IBLA themselves that verified they took that action.

Click Here to review IBLA's decision in full.

While IBLA did spend time reflecting on my "passion" for wild horses and burros, they obviously did not consider it equally necessary to reflect on the hundreds of pages of science, data, facts, or the DOIs and/or BLMs own laws and regulations they are supposedly required to abide by and which IBLA is charged with overseeing their compliance too.

Nor did IBLA seem to be interested in giving equal consideration to basic humane standards and treatment of the wild equines wholly dependent on BLMs care, blatant violations of accepted standards for proper animal husbandry legally required by both federal and Nevada law or BLMs egregious abuse of tax payer funded power, which these days is used as a hammer versus a gavel.

To the casual observer reading IBLAs ruling, this is yet another case of yet another one of those "fringe" sentimental wild horse lovers unsubstantiated, ungrounded, emotionally based protests, once again relegated to the ever-popular "passionate" stereotype that just "doesn't understand" BLMs supreme wisdom and multiple-use mandates. They use this denigrating soundbyte repeatedly because it works, doesn't it? And I've heard it used dozens of times now....With a wink and a smile, it says it all ~

Those crazy "passionate" horse advocates!

Unless anyone wants to take the time to read through the facts and wants to know the truth (or at least a lot closer version of the truth than they are willing to tell!) about what has been done and what has now been "approved" for America's oldest "protected" wild horse herd.

Let this story bear witness to how they were taken out.....