BLM offers tour of hidden wild horses at Indian Lakes Road facility in Fallon, NV

“The impact of stopping the tours pales in comparison to the impact to our employees and BLM’s image.” – Dean Bolstad (stated this in 2010, while he was the Deputy Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program)

As we’re all wondering when the BLM will give the public a tour of the Scott City, Kansas feedlot where wild horses (the ones that haven’t died yet) are being held, or a tour of any of the Long Term Holding pastures where the BLM conceals wild horses from access by the American public, the BLM feigns an annual sham of transparency by sticking the public on wagons and zipping them past wild horses on contractor Troy Adam’s Indian Lakes Road Holding facility.

We’ve written a lot about the Indian Lakes Road facility, including the real reason it was closed to the public in “BLM ‘News Release’ Fraud,” and about Troy Adam’s contract with the BLM in “The BLM’s Sweet Deal.”   – Debbie Coffey

BLM offers tour of Nevada wild horse & burro facility

SOURCE:  the horse.com

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is offering a public tour of the Indian Lakes Road Short-Term Holding Facility in Fallon, Nevada, on Friday, Oct. 17. The facility is one of three locations in Nevada that provides care to wild horses and burros removed from the range.

The BLM will offer two tours, each lasting approximately two hours and able to accommodate 20 people. The first tour will begin at 10:30 a.m. and the second tour will begin at 1:30 p.m. PDT. Spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The public can sign up to attend and get driving directions to the facility by calling the BLM at 775/475-2222.

About a 90 minute drive east of Reno, the Indian Lakes Road Short-Term Holding Facility is located at 5676 Indian Lakes Road, Fallon, and is privately owned and operated. Tour attendees will be taken around the facility as a group on a wagon to learn about the facility, the animals, and the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The Indian Lakes Road corral facility can provide care for up to 2,850 wild horses or burros. The facility encompasses 320 acres containing 36 large holding pens, each pen measuring 70,000 square feet and with a capacity to safely hold approximately 100 horses. The horses receive feed tailored to their needs each day, along with a constant supply of fresh water through automatic watering troughs. Free choice mineral block supplements are also provided to the animals in each pen. A veterinarian routinely inspects the horses and provides necessary medical care as needed.

The BLM strives to place horses removed from the range into good, private homes. Horses at the Indian Lakes Road facility are made available to the public for adoption or sale throughout the year at off-site adoption events and through the BLM’s adoption or sales program. Horses will not be available for adoption during the public tour; however, if there is interest in an animal viewed during the tour, the BLM could make arrangements for adoption at a later time.

More information about the Indian Lakes Road facility and the public tours can be found at www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/prog/wh_b/Indian_Lakes_Facility.html.

Horseback Protest Targets BLM, but Environmentalists Say Whoa

as published in the LA Times

“The sneering whine of self-serving profiteering is heard across the plains as a band of welfare ranchers plods along a trail to D.C. to protest an attempt to save the public land on which their private cattle graze at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.  Please excuse me for feeling no sympathy as I think of all the native wild horses that had been pulled from the same land while we shouted, ‘What about the damn cows?!?!’  The time to reconsider the practice of private individuals profiting from exploiting public lands is long over due.” ~ R.T.


Environmentalists defend BLM order to remove livestock on public lands in Nevada amid drought”

Photo: WWP. Grazing damage from welfare ranching on the Argenta allotment, July 2014.

They’re a dozen men and women riding horseback on a modern-day cross-country cattle drive, but with fistfuls of petitions instead of a herd of steers. Their wide-brimmed hats tipped low against the sun’s glare, they’re riding from Bodega Bay, Calif., to Washington.

They call themselves the “Grass March Cowboy Express” and they want the Bureau of Land Management to remove “an abusive federal employee” and “end BLM tyranny.”

The group contends that Doug Furtado, manager of the bureau’s Battle Mountain District, has unfairly blocked their legal right to graze their cattle on public land in central Nevada.

But environmentalists have lashed out at protesters as a selfish, entitled group with no business running private cattle on public lands, especially during years of prolonged drought.

Six months after Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s well-publicized face-off with bureau officials over grazing rights on public lands north of Las Vegas, tension still exists between many cattlemen and the federal government.

Bundy in April attracted an army of self-proclaimed citizen militia members, many of them with semiautomatic weapons, who challenged officials who had moved in to remove hundreds of cattle from federally administered land. The bureau later called off the roundup, but federal officials promise that Bundy could be held accountable in the courts for more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.

Organizers of the Cowboy Express, which started in Bodega Bay in Northern California on Sept. 26, say they have no connection to Bundy. They just want the Bureau of Land Management off their backs.

But in a message to supporters, one nonprofit criticized the riders for singling out Furtado because he had “the temerity to order drought-induced reductions in commercial grazing.”

The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility also mocked the protesters for their use of the hard-bitten cowboy image often seen in cigarette commercials.

“The Marlboro Man evoked iconic cowboy imagery to sell cancer sticks,” it said in a news release. The “stunt called the ‘Cowboy Express’ also seeks to harness this romantic image to mask deeply selfish and destructive ends.”…(CONTINUED)

The Final Days of the Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup Part II

Eyewitness account by photographer Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Farewell Wild Horses of Wyoming

Day 24

Carol WalkerI am getting ready to drive out to Bitter Creek Road so I can get led out to the observation site for the 24th and hopefully last day of the Checkerboard Roundup in Wyoming. The Cattoors and the BLM hope to capture more than 100 wild horses today from Salt Wells Creek.

We are here again in Adobe Town, on public land, 3 miles from the trap site which is out of sight behind a hill. There is a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case on the subject of BLM restrictions of public observations of roundups, which states:

“To provide this First Amendment protection, the Supreme Court has long recognized a qualified right of access for the press and public to observe government activities.”

Even though we ask for a better, closer spot to view the roundup, we are told that this is the location that the contractor has selected.

Shortly after we arrived at the observation site 3 miles from the trap Shelley Gregory the public information specialist spotted a group of 20 horses coming down the hill and a few minutes later we spotted the helicopter. Then we can see more and more groups of horses converging. They are so small this far away they look like ants and all we can distinguish is lighter colored horses from the darker probably grey or appy. We finally count about 50 horses streaming in lines and standing out against the huge cloud of dust. As they go into the trap the dust billows wildly. The two helicopters immediately head right back out. Suddenly a gorgeous grulla stallion runs right in front of us heading away from the trap. We hope he runs and never stops. Then about 30 more horses are brought in by both helicopters in another cloud of dust.

Linda and I are the only observers on Day 24. A white pickup comes roaring up the hill and a tall, big woman leaps out and starts yelling at Linda, and gets right in her face, looming over her. She said I demand that you give me your name and address and phone numbers, how dare you tell me where I can be on my private land, and you have to tell me who made the phone call to the Cattoors. She started insisting that someone from yesterday had called the Cattoors and said she was too close and told the Cattoors to make her move. In the meantime I was getting alarmed and frightened so I called to Shelley Gregory, the Public Information Specialist who accompanies up to the observation site and she rushed over and so did the BLM ranger. They got between her and us, thankfully, and I was never so grateful in my life to have the ranger there. Both Linda and I said we did not make any such phone call, but she did not believe either of us.

Then she started ranting about “you people” who have all this money and do this lawsuit, and she has lost all this money having to remove cattle from her land because of the horses, and that RSGA had to do something about these inbred horses, running all over her land, they are just feral ranch horses, no Spanish blood, worthless, and her family has been there for 100 years long before the horses were there, which really is not true of course. The horses have been here hundreds of years before her family began welfare ranching in this location.

The horses are most certainly not inbred in this herd, which used to be one of the largest remaining wild horses herds. The numbers exceeded the minimum number, 150 adults, of wild horses necessary to sustain genetic viability. And Gus Cothran, the leading geneticist on our wild horses has been genetically testing the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creeks Herds for many years, and they have a high percentage of Spanish blood. she was ranting on and on I said you won, why are you yelling at us? They are taking all the horses. She said they can never get all the horses, they are still there. Luckily Shelley diffused the situation and took her aside and talked to her. The rancher asked where we were from and Linda said Colorado, asked for our names and towns and I said none of your business. Her mother, a small lady with white hair came out and told us that a stallion had taken the saddle pad right off of her daughter’s horse one time.

I said why don’t you just leave and she said this is public land you cannot make me leave and proceeded to stay up there for another hour and a half, probably just to annoy me. She had had a much better viewing spot than we did earlier before she came to harass us. She asked me what I was doing because I was typing on my phone as she was yelling at Linda, and asked if I were blogging about her and I said yes, and then she started ranting again about all the lies I was spreading about her. As she is muttering you better hope that your car doesn’t break down out here I know that I would rather walk the 20+ miles back to the highway than ask her for help.

Just before they left, she told me she wanted me to not post any pictures of her ranch on Facebook, would I not do that – I told her I don’t care about her ranch, I am here for the horses. She stomped off and drove away, and we were very relieved that she left.

I think it is a shame that she is the only representative of RSGA that anyone has been able to talk to. The four journalists who have been here during the roundup have all said that RSGA has been unwilling to give them an interview.

Helicopters brought in two more groups one of about 16 and another of 6 bringing the total for today to about 95. The helicopter was chasing a lone horse back and forth, back and forth, he stopped and went to meet another horse and possibly a foal. Then the helicopter peeled off possibly to refuel. We heard they are just going to possibly be bringing one more small group. We hope we are allowed to go see the horses in temporary holding once they are done.

I am now waiting to go into the temporary holding facility to see the over 100 horses that brought into the trap today from Salt Wells Creek near the Eversole Ranch. The last horse brought in today had the helicopter right over him for about an hour. He looked bewildered and slowed to a stop and a walk. We asked what they were doing and found out he was a young sorrel yearling and they were bringing a rider on horseback to catch him and put him in a trailer, which they finally did. The wrangler caught him and trotted and cantered with him to the trailer and he got in with the saddle horse and was taken to temporary holding.

As we were packing up to leave the observation point this morning after the helicopters finished for the day we were really surprised to hear and so were our BLM escorts to hear that this might NOT in fact be the last day of the roundup. Apparently there may be some more horses needing to be removed from the Checkerboard area even though the number removed is close to 1200 wild horses. We were told that because the number so far exceeded their estimates they were having a conference call with Washington D.C. this afternoon and that they might be rounding up more horses tomorrow. After what happened this morning with the woman from Eversole Ranch I think it is highly likely that she has been aggressively complaining that they did not catch every single horse on both her private and public leased land. This is speculation on my part, of course.

When we went into the temporary holding area in Salt Wells Creek this afternoon, we asked Sue Cattoor about what had actually happened with the rancher from Eversole and what had actually happened was she was parked too close to the path of the horses being driven on by the helicopters and Dave Cattoor called her and asked her to move. It had absolutely nothing to with us or any other member of the public observing the roundup at this trap site. The new location she moved to was still at least a mile closer than we were allowed to go.

At the temporary holding corrals late this afternoon I learned that they captured 129 horses today bringing the total to 1217 wild horses removed from their families and their homes. If they do capture 30-40 tomorrow on the really last day of the roundup they will have over 1250.
We did see the sorrel colt that had to be roped and put in the trailer – I had thought he was a yearling because he was so far away as it turns out he was a little foal too little to be weaned. He was happily reunited with his mother. There was a death today, in the morning, a weanling foal broke his neck when being sorted out for transport. The horses in the pens that we saw looked good and the big bay roan stallion was still king of the stallion corral.

Day 25

Linda and I left even though we knew they would be rounding up horses on this last day – neither of us wanted to go through another confrontation at the observation site with the angry rancher. Although the BLM ranger prevented us from being punched or even shot, he did not prevent the bullying and intimidation.

47 more wild horses are removed and the roundup is finally concluded. Of course the BLM has to have the last word, and posts on their Wyoming Facebook page that it is OUR fault that they removed 1263 instead of 800 wild horses in this roundup:

“Appeals and motions delayed removal operations, allowing more wild horses to move across the fluid boundary from solid block public lands into the checkerboard in preparation for winter and in search of water; thus, the population estimate for the checkerboard was surpassed by the number of wild horses actually removed.”

The truth is, we sought an emergency injunction to stop the roundup from occurring so that our case might be heard on its merits BEFORE the horses were rounded up and removed, because if we had won, none of these horses would have been removed. We lost the temporary injunction and the roundup went on. Our case has still not been heard, and the horses are being shipped or are already in Rock Springs and Canon City short term holding facilities.

I am sick, physically sick, and sick in heart and soul about what is happening to those horses right now. We will not hear about the rest of the deaths and injuries that will occur in transport and at the short term holding facilities. We will not hear about the final fate that can happen when the BLM sells the older horses under the Sale Authority Act, when they most likely will end up at slaughter. We may hear about the approximately 4% that get adopted.

To rub more salt in the wound, the BLM posted on Facebook these close up photos of these beautiful horses running into the trap, photos that they took close to the trap, an area none of the public were allowed to go into. The images I took that are in this post were taken at the public observation point with the longest lens available. The horses are simply dots.

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The Final Days of the Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup, Part I

Eyewitness Account by photographer Carol Walker – Director of Field Documentation at Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Carol Walker has been back out in the desert, along with others, witnessing the total destruction of Wyoming’s wild horse families and their freedom.  It’s a tough thing to witness and even tougher when the BLM and their contractor make it all but impossible to photograph.  This is done so that when horses are killed, and there were many, there will be no photographs taken which would/could verify and document the cruelty rained down upon these helpless creatures.  Today Carol gives us the beginning of the end with a scheduled closeout article, tomorrow.  ‘Thank you for being there for us and the horses, Carol.  We appreciate your dedication and compassion.'” ~ R.T.


Destruction in the Desert

Day 23

We are out waiting for the trap to be set up near Sand Butte and Pine Butte across from the Eversole Ranch in Salt Wells Creek and unfortunately last week I saw the most gorgeous families with many very colorful Appaloosas which I have not seen anywhere else in the wild. They are expecting to get 200 wild horses here and said it is the last trap site of the roundup.

We are at least 3 miles from the trap site in Salt Wells Creek and the Cattoors selected this site obviously to keep us as far away as possible. I would NOT call this access. We have to use binoculars to see the wings of the trap and we cannot see the trap itself at all. The horses are so far away that they look like ants, and the best way we can find them is when there is a huge cloud of dust from the helicopters. The wind is howling and Ginger and I set up our cameras between two cars to provide a wind block.

We have watched several large groups coming in some with 20-25 horses and since we are facing directly into the sun it is hard to tell the colors of horses beyond grey, palomino and dark. The horses look like little ants as they approach the trap because it is so very far away, if it were not for the blowing clouds of dust we would not be able to see the horses at all. The two helicopters work together squeezing them into the trap. We see one stallion escape. There is a huge group of Pronghorn Antelope, maybe 200 who are also running from the helicopters. We have seen about 75 horses captured in the last hour and a half. My eyes are straining to make out the horses in the dust and wind.

The helicopters have finished chasing the horses for today, they are done by 11;30 which is early, because the horses were in relatively large groups, unlike the horses in Great Divide Basin. We pack up our gear and are heading to temporary holding pens to see the horses once they have gotten food and water.

We waited for 2 hours to go see the 76 horses that had been captured today in the temporary corrals. There were some gorgeous stallions, most notably a very proud bay roan who was clearly the dominant one in the pen, and a lovely pinto stallion with a mostly white body, dark bay sculpted head, and a brown shield on his chest. He was hanging back away from the other stallions. The horses were very quiet, and they all looked very tired, they had run a long way today. There was a group of weanlings who had been separated just a couple of hours ago from their mothers. The littlest one was running around crying for his mother. He looked to be about 3 months old. Some of the horses are whinnying for their families and it is a heartbreaking sound.

The adult horses will be shipped to Canon City tomorrow and the weanlings, yearlings and two year olds will be shipped to the Axtell Burro facility in Utah since they are running out of room.
The total removed so far is 1088 and there is at least one more day to go. The original number of horses that were to be removed was 800 – 950, but that amount was exceeded days ago. When I ask why so many more, the BLM tells me they are mandated by the Consent Decree to remove all wild horses from the Checkerboard Area. That is actually not true, they are mandated to remove all wild horses from private land, but that is how they are interpreting the ruling, it is impossible to separate the horses which are on public land from the horses on private land in the Checkerboard Area, so their solution is just to remove all of them.

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Are North America’s Wild Horses Native?

paper written by Jay F. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. and Patricia M. Fazio, Ph.D.

“The non-native, feral, and exotic designations given by agencies are not merely reflections of their failure to understand modern science, but also a reflection of their desire to preserve old ways of thinking…

Wild Outer Mongolian Takhi - photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Primitive Outer Mongolian Takhi – photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Are wild horses truly “wild,” as an indigenous species in North America, or are they “feral” weeds – barnyard escapees, far removed genetically from their prehistoric ancestors? The question at hand is, therefore, whether or not modern horses, Equus caballus, should be considered native wildlife.

The genus Equus, which includes modern horses, zebras, and asses, is the only surviving genus in a once diverse family of horses that included 27 genera. The precise date of origin for the genus Equus is unknown, but evidence documents the dispersal of Equus from North America to Eurasia approximately 2 to 3 million years ago and a possible origin at about 3.4 to 3.9 million years ago. Following this original emigration, several extinctions occurred in North America, with additional migrations to Asia (presumably across the Bering Land Bridge), and return migrations back to North America, over time. The last North American extinction occurred between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago.¹

Had it not been for previous westward migration, over the land bridge, into northwestern Russia (Siberia) and Asia, the horse would have faced complete extinction. However, Equus survived and spread to all continents of the globe, except Australia and Antarctica.

In 1493, on Columbus’s second voyage to the Americas, Spanish horses, representing E. caballus, were brought back to North America, first in the Virgin Islands, and, in 1519, they were reintroduced on the continent, in modern-day Mexico, from where they radiated throughout the American Great Plains, after escape from their owners.²

Critics of the idea that the North American wild horse is a native animal, using only paleontological data, assert that the species, E. caballus (or the caballoid horse), which was introduced in 1519, was a different species from that which disappeared 13,000 to 11,000 years before.

Herein lies the crux of the debate.

However, the relatively new (27-year-old) field of molecular biology, using mitochondrial-DNA analysis, has recently found that the modern or caballine horse, E. caballus, is genetically equivalent to E. lambei, a horse, according to fossil records, that represented the most recent Equus species in North America prior to extinction. Not only is E. caballus genetically equivalent to E. lambei, but no evidence exists for the origin of E. caballus anywhere except North America.³

According to the work of Uppsala University researcher Ann Forsten, of the Department of Evolutionary Biology, the date of origin, based on mutation rates for mitochondrial-DNA, for E. caballus, is set at about 1.7 million years ago in North America. Now the debate becomes one of whether the older paleontological fossil data or the modern molecular biology data more accurately provide a picture of horse evolution. The older taxonomic methodologies looked at physical form for classifying animals and plants, relying on visual observations of physical characteristics. While earlier taxonomists tried to deal with the subjectivity of choosing characters they felt would adequately describe, and thus group, genera and species, these observations were lacking in precision.

Reclassifications are now taking place, based on the power and objectivity of molecular biology. If one considers primate evolution, for example, the molecular biologists have provided us with a completely different evolutionary pathway for humans, and they have described entirely different relationships with other primates. None of this would have been possible prior to the methodologies now available through mitochondrial-DNA analysis.

Carles Vila, also of the Department of Evolutionary Biology at Uppsala University, has corroborated Forsten’s work. Vila et al have shown that the origin of domestic horse lineages was extremely widespread, over time and geography, and supports the existence of the caballoid horse in North American before its disappearance.4

Finally, the work of Hofreiter et al,5; examining the genetics of the so-called E. lambei from the permafrost of Alaska, found that the variation was within that of modern horses, which translates into E. lambei actually being E. caballus, genetically. The molecular biology evidence is incontrovertible and indisputable…(CONTINUED) at HorseTalk.co.nz

This Land Not Really Ours

By SHERMAN FREDERICK as published in the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

“With the BLM and Forest Service out of control and playing God as they mismanage our wild equines into oblivion, this OpEd sincerely struck home and indicates that it is not just wild horse and burro advocates who are taking note of these out of control federal agencies.  We all need to turn up the volume and insist that a Congressional Investigation is launched in an effort to clean house on these self-anointed bureaus.  They bring to mind regimes that we fought against in WWII and now they are us; a very sad state of affairs.” ~ R.T.


BLM Security at Twin Peaks 2010 wild horse and burro stampede to guard against 2 female advocates and one male ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM Security at Twin Peaks 2010 wild horse and burro stampede to guard against 2 female advocates and one male ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“This land is your land, this land is my land” goes the freedom anthem of the last century written by Woody Guthrie.

It’s an idea worth embracing again, because somewhere along the line, the federal bureaucracies entrusted with public lands have morphed into entities that treat folks like a problem, not a constituency.

Consider the U.S. Forest Service’s new rules for shooting pictures in a wilderness area. They illustrate how contemptuously wrong-headed government can become.

If a reporter wants to do a story in a wilderness area, the reporter must first get a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. That can cost up to $1,500. If a reporter is caught without a permit, he or she faces fines up to $1,000.

This is a stunningly stupid rule. Last month, the U.S. Forest Service sought to clarify and defend the rule, saying despite how the rules are written, the news media and documentary filmmakers, as well as most hikers shooting pictures in a wilderness area, would probably not be subject to the rule.

Probably? How reassuring.

The Oregonian newspaper was one of the first to decry the situation, pointing out that, “Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in 36 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.”

Almost any person trekking through a wilderness area who dares to shoot videos with an iPhone and then blogs it or tweets it or posts it to Facebook could be fined by the federal government $1,000 for each violation.

The Forest Service says that is not the “intent” of the rules, which were based on the Wilderness Act of 1964, which protects wilderness areas from being exposed for commercial gain.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But, of course, there are no roads in wilderness areas, so we can only go by what the U.S. Forest does, not what it says.

As the Oregonian points out, in 2010, the Forest Service “refused to allow an Idaho Public Television crew into a wilderness area to film student conservation workers.” It was not until the governor of the state intervened that the crew was allowed in.

So, while the Forest Service talks like it’s drafting the Magna Carta, what it actually does resembles more the Sheriff of Nottingham. And the Forest Service is not the only one.

Whatever you might think of Cliven Bundy and his feud with the Bureau of Land Management, the display of the BLM’s ugly tactics against this Nevada rancher should alarm good people.

Who knew the BLM had become so militarized? And after the standoff in Mesquite ended, the BLM stonewalled reporters and to this day has not been called into public account for its misjudgments, which almost ended in bloodshed over a few illegally grazing cows.

The reason the BLM gets a pass on this episode is because Bundy turned out to be such an unsympathetic character. It’s too bad, because the critical issue here is the BLM…(CONTINUED)

BLM Employees Charged Taxpayers $799,000 for ‘Gift Cards’

By Joseph Perticone as published on CNSnews.com

“Brought to you by the same lovely people who are mismanaging our wild horses & burros into oblivion!” ~ R.T.

BLM_Logo(CNSNews.com) —  Wildfire management employees at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) used government charge cards to by $799,000 worth of gift cards from vendors such as REI, American Express, FredMeyer and Visa, according to a report released Sept. 30 by the Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

When investigators requested supporting documentation such as purchase orders, receipts, and authorizing signatures, BLM staff claimed that they were “missing,” according to the report.

The inspector general describes widespread misuse of government-issued charge cards at the agency, making the “purchase card program susceptible to fraud, waste, and abuse.”

In 2010, BLM conducted an agency-wide audit of the purchase card program. Auditors traced $70,000 of the undocumented purchases to the Idaho State Office, where one employee was found to have purchased personal items and gift cards totalling  $41,276.33.

In May 2011, the investigation resulted in the suspension of BLM employee Maria Gilbert’s government credit card.  On Sept. 13, 2013 Gilbert was charged with one count of theft of government funds between 2007 and 2011, to which she pleaded guilty.

Two months later, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon sentenced Gilbert to two years of probation and six months of home detention for embezzling funds from the BLM’s Salem District Office. She was also ordered to pay full restitution totaling $41,276.33.

visa gift cardHowever, the remaining $757,723.67 of undocumented gift card purchases was not accounted for in the IG report.

In addition, the Carson City District in Nevada was unable to provide the investigators with timesheets, crew time reports, or firefighter time reports for a series of fires in 2010. The report described these inadequacies as making it “impossible to verify the accuracy of most payroll charges.”

It was also discovered that at least one employee in the BLM’s Southern Nevada District charged time to a fire nearly nine months after the blaze had been put out. In another incident, $3,200 of janitorial services was charged by Carson City District employees to “fire suppression” of several different fires that occurred in another state.

The BLM demonstrated “grossly inadequate” payroll controls, “weak internal controls over purchase cards, and poor compliance with Federal policy,” the inspector general concluded.

Inspectors also found problems with BLM’s fire codes. Every BLM employee charges expenses to a unique fire code associated with a specific wildfire.

But the IG report found that “internal controls related to how BLM associates costs with specific fires were inadequate to ensure that money was spent according to its allocated purpose.”

This lack of internal controls resulted in 26 individuals charging their time to one tree fire in the Carson City District. The overstatement of fire-fighting costs approached 95 percent, the IG report noted…(CONTINUED)

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