It’s Official: BLM’s Welfare Cattle Program Killing Western Public Lands, Wild Horses Not Guilty

By as published in The Wildlife News

“The BLM can no longer remain in denial …”

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded into Antelope Complex, Feb 2011, as BLM wild horse roundup is going on at the same time. ~ photo by Terry Fitch

A new federal assessment of rangelands in the West finds a disturbingly large portion fails to meet range health standards principally due to commercial livestock operations.  In the last decade as more land has been assessed, estimates of damaged lands have doubled in the 13-state Western area where the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducts major livestock leasing.

The “Rangeland Inventory, Monitoring and Evaluation Report for Fiscal Year 2011” covers BLM allotments in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.  The report totals BLM acreage failing to meet rangeland health standards in measures such as water quality, watershed functionality and wildlife habitat:

  • Almost 40% of BLM allotments surveyed since 1998 have failed to meet the agency’s own required land health standards with impairment of more than 33 million acres, an area exceeding the State of Alabama in size, attributed to livestock grazing;
  • Overall, 30% of BLM’s allotment area surveyed to date suffers from significant livestock-induced damage, suggesting that once the remaining allotments have been surveyed, the total impaired area could well be larger than the entire State of Washington; and
  • While factors such as drought, fire, invasion by non-native plants, and sprawl are important, livestock grazing is identified by BLM experts as the primary cause (nearly 80%) of BLM lands not meeting health standards.

Livestock’s huge toll inflicted on our public lands is a hidden subsidy which industry is never asked to repay,” stated PEER Advocacy Director Kirsten Stade, noting that the percentage of impairment in lands assessed remains fairly consistent over the past decade.  “The more we learn about actual conditions, the longer is the ecological casualty list.”

This is to say nothing about the actual condition of public lands, which some public oversight organizations maintain to be in much worse condition than is reported due to overwhelming pressure on agency employees to overlook grazing impacts or attribute them to something else.

Last November, PEER filed a scientific integrity complaint that BLM had directed scientists to exclude livestock grazing as a factor in changing landscapes as part of a $40 million study, the biggest such effort ever undertaken by BLM.  The complaint was referred to a newly appointed Scientific Integrity Officer for BLM but there are no reports of progress in the agency’s self-investigation in the ensuing months.

At the same time, BLM range evaluations, such as this latest one, use ambiguous categories that mask actual conditions, employing vague terms such as “making significant progress” and “appropriate action has been taken to ensure significant progress” that obscure damage estimates and inflate the perception of restoration progress.  For example, in 2001 nearly 60% of BLM lands (94 million acres, an area larger than Montana) consisted of grazing allotments that were supposed to be managed to “improve the current resource condition” – a number that has stayed unchanged for a decade.

Efforts to demand improved condition for imperiled species, like sage grouse, are met with state and local attempts to influence federal policy by recommending management that ignores the impacts of livestock grazing and BLM’s own politicized attempts to forestall any meaningful management changes to livestock grazing for decades.

“Commercial livestock operations are clearly a major force driving degradation of wild places, jeopardy to wildlife, major loss of water quality and growing desertification throughout the American West,” Stade added, while noting that BLM has historically been dominated by livestock interests.  “The BLM can no longer remain in denial on the declining health of our vast open range.”

Meanwhile, Livestock interests in Washington DC continue to push for less environmental analysis, less public involvement in grazing decisions, and to double the length of grazing permits with the Grazing Entrenchment Act.

Click (HERE) to visit The Wildlife News and to Comment

35 comments on “It’s Official: BLM’s Welfare Cattle Program Killing Western Public Lands, Wild Horses Not Guilty

  1. I would say Oinka Doinka to BLM grazing lackeys and the cattle range war lobby, but it would be an insult to pigs.

  2. Well, well!!!! Anothers study that needs to be added to one of our legal actions so the Judge can see the proof of what we have been saying the whole time. Lets see how the BLM spins this one.

    • The BLM spin is troublesome in the least, but the foot dragging, obfuscation, denial, word play, appeals, administrative internal review and delaying will eventually wipe out our wild equines during the DOI/USDA “BIG” stall.

      I think the 2011 review shows that all roundups and leases be frozen until this mess can be unmessed.

    • Happy Dance! But can we get the government to act? I doubt it! To many people making to much money the underhanded way!

  3. WOOOOO HOOOO today is a great day !!!!!!!! It can get better Return our Mustangs to the Range Now also …………………

  4. If these range conditions, occurring over a very long, past duration due to grazing leases is the fact….is it possible to return the closed wild equine HMAs to the wild equines and return the sterilized holding animals to the homelands?

    Almost seems like scientific precedent and fact supports our contention that the wild equines aren’t the problem and should be returned.

    IOW, can we turn back the clock??????..for the benefit of our wild equines and lands?

    • We can never correct the damage done to our Wild Mustangs , only time will tell that and give that answer…. but we can sure correct alot of things for them and us , If we return them to where they have always belonged !!!!! ON THE RANGE FREE !

  5. Actually, proof was out about cattle grazing at least 20 years ago. No one paid attention then; doubt whether anyone will now.

    “Welfare Ranching” is the name of the highly researched book.

  6. The BLM can no longer remain in denial…now let’s hope common sense prevails and those responsible come to a just decision to allow our wild horses roam FREE again.

    • Does this Wildlife report carry any weight with anyone official. It seems like wonderful news, but haven’t we heard it before. It almost sounded as if the BLM had something to do with the report. A few of them are good guys.

      • Shirleyvh…..the weight may carry in a Federal court with current, past and future litigations.

  7. BLM has put together a bogus “drought management” plan that mainly is a ploy to remove more WH&B from their legal land in Nevada. Comments on this EA are due TODAY and if anyone has time – please send in comments in protest to this devastation of WH&B. Perhaps you can use this article’s information for ideas?

    In addition, (and please check this for yourself because I did it quickly) it appears that BLM states there are about 4,000 (+/-) WH&B in this Battle Mt. district (about 1/3 of the state – mid Nevada) and that they are drinking too much water (gimme’ a break!). IF there are about 4,000 WH&B in that area and if they each drank about 15 gallons a day that would be about 60,000 gallons per day total which would equal about only 40 gallons a minute.

    Now, take a look at some of the other multiple users on that public land … such as The Mt. Hope Mine, Newmont’s Phoenix Copper Leach Project, Cortez Hills Expansion Project, Ruby Hill Mine Expansion, and the Round Mountain Expansion. Just these few (and there are more) use about 18,000 gallons per minute! And BLM is telling us that the WH&B have to be removed? NO WAY!

    http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nv/field_offices/battle_mountain_field/blm_information/nepa/battle_mountain_district.Par.91035.File.dat/FINAL_BMD_DroughtEA_508comp.pdf

    • Thank you Grandma Gregg….in the back of my mind, of the utmost concern is the resource sucking machine. That is the ultimate problem….your water numbers regarding consumption are tragic. It shows the bullsh*t that is BLM and USDA with regard to removals, faux pop numbers, etc.

      Didn’t the report and PEER go after resource extraction additionally? Or are they hiding behind steers………….again?

    • Dear Grandma Gregg, All they know how to do is Lie !!!!!They have told so many untruths , they would not recognize the Pure Simple truth.or would they know how to ??????

      • Agree with you, Arlene. As for the water usage (40 gallons vs 18,000 gallons) ask the BLM this:

        The law states that the land shall be used “comparatively” [def. same, equal, equitable], not “primarily” for any other use. Where can I find scientific data that supports the BLM’s mathematics of 40 gallons and 18,000 gallons being “same, equal, and equitable”? Should I assume that BLM has made an error or should I assume that BLM is perpetrating fraud?

      • I think it is a safe thing in assuming nothing that comes from them is a truth, If they were interested in doing the right thing for America they would be giving all the water to the Mustangs , thats how important it is to our environment they are,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      • Hey Grandma Gregg… I asked a question about the report and the PEER rebuttal and continuance of effort defending the wild equines.

        Do you have any specific any information? I appreciate your support of arlene and the “lie” campaign by virtue of reply but that has always been the DOI behavior.

        Again, I ask, do you have any information that is part of the legal battle between DOI, PEER, the 2011 review and specifically water?

        I’m an idiot Grandma Gregg, and would appreciate an evaluation of the link in basic terms for the morons like me in the wild equine, anti slaughter crew that negotiate the internet or BLM Ka-rap speak.

        Educate me…;)…please.

    • The 1990-91 GAO study proved cattle destroyed the range and riparian areas and that the few wild horses did not. It’s way past time that there is a Congressional investigation of DOI/BLM . It looks like corruption rules though.

  8. Mining and fast-tracked Energy projects are a HUGH part of danger for our WH&B. Here is just ONE example. Would you say this is one of the many MULTI-NATIONAL corporations looking at our Public Lands and Resources?
    Final Environmental Impact Statement
    for the Phoenix Copper Leach Project

    http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nv/field_offices/battle_mountain_field/blm_information/nepa/final_environmental.Par.28322.File.dat/Final_EIS_April_2012.pdf

    Newmont Mining Corporation has submitted proposed amendments to its current gold mining Plan of
    Operations for the Phoenix Copper Leach Project to the Bureau of Land Management. The Proposed
    Project would be located in north-central Nevada approximately 12 miles southwest of the Battle
    Mountain, Nevada. The Proposed Project would be located on both public and private lands in Lander
    County, Nevada. The Proposed Project would involve the expansion and operation of the existing
    Phoenix Mine to include copper leaching/beneficiation of copper oxide rock material that previously has
    been permitted for disposal on currently permitted waste rock facilities. Active mining and processing for
    the Project would last approximately 24 years; active reclamation activities are anticipated to extend a
    minimum of 25 years beyond the operational phase. A minimum of 5 years of vegetation monitoring are
    required following revegetation activities. Additionally, long-term post-closure maintenance and
    monitoring would follow final reclamation. The Phoenix Copper Leach Project would mine approximately
    158 million tons of copper ore for processing resulting in approximately 245 million pounds of recoverable
    copper during the ore processing timeframe. New surface disturbance associated with the Project would
    total 902 acres. The majority of the proposed facilities would occur in areas that have previously been
    approved for surface disturbance.
    The Phoenix Copper Leach Project would consist of the following primary components: 1) expansion of
    the existing Plan of Operations boundary; 2) development and operation of two copper heap leach
    facilities; 3) construction of six new process ponds; 4) construction and operation of a copper solvent
    extraction-electrowinning facility; 5) designation of a new optional use area that could be developed as a
    borrow area; 6) establishment of an additional clay borrow area; 7) development of new water monitoring
    wells; 8) construction of a new haul road, pipeline, and utility corridor; 9) development of a new production
    well; and 10) conversion of five process ponds to evaporation ponds during reclamation.
    Water Resources and Geochemistry
    Groundwater Pumping
    A new groundwater production well would be constructed in the northwest corner of Section 8 to supply
    water for the copper heap leach process included in the Proposed Action. The new production well
    would have a planned maximum flow rate of 1,000 gallons per minute (gpm) and a nominal flow of
    600 gpm. The total estimated groundwater that would be used for the proposed project would be
    approximately 23,000 acre-feet. Groundwater pumping of the proposed production well is not expected
    to affect perennial flows in Willow Creek.
    Vegetation
    Plant Communities
    Under the Proposed Action, the project would disturb or remove a total of approximately 902 acres of
    vegetation as a result of proposed disturbance activities in the proposed POO boundary expansion
    areas.
    The proposed construction, operation, and maintenance activities would result in the direct removal of
    herbaceous and woody vegetation and fragmentation of native plant communities. Indirect impacts may
    result from the introduction or spread of noxious weeds and invasive species, potentially resulting in the
    reduction of native plant communities and available forage.
    NEWMONT MINING CORP.
    When mine promoter and financier Colonel William Boyce Thompson decided to create the Newmont Company in 1916 to handle his larger private acquisitions – spanning oil and gas, mining and even hats – he named the company based on the wealth he created in New York and his love for his home state of Montana. The company has also dabbled in oil, and mined coal, copper, lead and zinc.
    Over the next 30 years, Newmont entered a period of steady growth by acquisition and diversification, often through joint ventures with other well-established companies. As a result, we became one of the largest copper producers and ushered in a new era of gold production.
    Today, our vision is to become the most valued and respected mining company through industry leading performance. Our staff of approximately 43,000 employees and contractors works in eight countries on five continents – North America, South America, Asia, Australia and Africa.
    With our most recent acquisition of Hope Bay (the largest undeveloped greenfield in North America), promising exploration projects in Peru and Ghana, and the startup of Australia’s largest gold producer at Boddington, Newmont is poised to take our company to the next level.
    In Indonesia, we successfully operated a gold mine at Minahasa in the 1990s and closed it in 2003. In early 2000, we then began operation of another world-class project – a copper and gold mine at Batu Hijau.

    • My head is spinning. Just when I feel there are some definite, positive actions for our wild horses, another vice enters the picture. We just have to dig in and work harder. Oil companies in our area continue to ask for use of our lake. Thank God, we have and still can say no, keep off our ranch.

  9. TWO ACTION ALERTS DUE TODAY

    http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6931/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10592

    Please Don’t Let the BLM Use Drought as a Blanket Excuse to Remove Wild Horses from the Range in Nevada
    Comments must be received by May 16, 2012.
    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Battle Mountain District Office is known as “the heart of wild horse country,” managing more Herd Management Areas (HMAs) — 28 — than any other BLM district. Wild horse and burro habitat under Battle Mountain’s jurisdiction spans more than 3 million acres

    http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6931/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10589

    Tell BLM: No Destructive Mining Projects in Wild Horse Habitat
    Oppose Two Massive Water-Guzzling and Polluting Mining Projects In Wild Horse Areas

    Bald Mountain Mine, Nevada — Destructive and Water-Guzzling
    Comments must be received by May 16, 2012.
    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) routinely cites scarcity of water as a major reason for removing wild horses and burros from the range. Yet, the agency is now poised to approve two massive water-guzzling mining operations located in wild horse areas where over 1,000 wild horses were recently rounded up and removed.

    • Does it ever end?! Where’s the justice for our wild horses/burros and the American people?! So, this is what the BLM calls managing?! Managing for who, what and why…we’re slowly finding out, aren’t we and it’s one helluva sad scenario.

  10. Proof of this has existed for decades, even in GAO reports but it never changed anything. Will anything change now? Will the horse be given due credit for it’s benefits to the land? Will the welfare cattle/sheep be reduced? Will our tax dollars stop subsidizing corporation cows such as Barrick Gold’s? Will the incarcerated mustangs be returned to their legal domain? Will the BLM ever pay for it’s sins? Will justice come out of it’s coma? Not likely.

    http://www.adventure-journal.com/2009/05/grazing-is-razing-the-big-bad-impact-of-livestock-on-public-lands/

  11. Any question why the BLM doesn’t want the wild horses, donkeys, burro’s or anything else on the land except the cattle industry? Next they will need to move the reservations AGAIN……after they take the water sources….good grief!

  12. Be very careful blaming cattle and sheep for the demise of our wild equines. I truly believe they are next victims in the “land resource” problems of the West. Cattle and sheep are a ruse by the DOI/USDA to remove any living thing on the public lands.

    The sin is the public grazing and land leases themselves…………ask Tim DeChristopher.

  13. First America’s Wild Horses and Burros (and what other Wildlife?), then the livestock, and then what….the People that live there? The citizens that pay the taxes?

  14. BLM…Big Land Moochers….thank God for FB, if it wasn’t for social media, we would not be able to spread the word, and so many wouldn’t have a clue whar was going on with the wild horses. Call the President and tell him to have Ken Salazar arrested for animal cruelty…if any of us did this type of thing to an animal, we would be held accountable….WHY isn’t he? He is wasting millions of dollars remove horses from PUBLIC LANDS…….THEY ARE OUR HORSES, and I want mine on the range it was born on…TY

  15. The report never mentions horses –so I am assuming they are lumped in with “wild life” (as they should be). And the effects of the few remaining herds are probably minimal and unrecordable as they are browsers/movers. Point #3–if BLM itself has identified livestock grazing as the cause of 80% of the damage, then why haven’t they stopped issuing grazing permits? If 80% of the damage is caused by grazing livestock, then how can that be omitted from a scientific study? Oh.. BLM is not interested in science. Stop paying BLM with my dollars…NOW ! What part of “This is a stupid waste of taxpayers’ money” is not understood?

Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s