Wild Horses: A New Adobe Town Arrival at Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

SOURCE:  wildhoofbeats.com

by Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

15CarolWalker-21

Gwendolyn greets Sabrina and Bronze Warrior’s filly

I headed to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary last week so that I could be there to witness the 10 wild horses from Adobe Town getting released into their new home at the Sanctuary – a huge open pasture.

15CarolWalker-6

Storm and Sundance

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Aurora looks pregnant to me

When I arrived, I was delighted to find that tensions had cooled between the former stallions, and Sundance was keeping a respectful distance from Bronze Warrior’s family. It was so good to see Bronze Warrior with his family. Theodore, Diamond Girl and Snowfall were all busy eating hay when I arrived and I was very pleased to see that Snowfall had gained back most of the weight he had lost at the roundup and at the corrals. Diamond Girl has developed quite a belly, and I speculated about which of the mares might be pregnant. Gwendolyn had lost her foal the the Rock Springs Corrals, but Diamond Girl and Aurora and Sabrina looked as though they might very well be having babies soon.

15CarolWalker-44

Diamond Girl

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Snowfall

READ THE REST OF THIS STORY HERE.

Sunshine Laws and BLM’s news release on the upcoming National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting

A BLM “News Release” is below.  There will be a live stream of this meeting, and we will post the link so you can listen.  I’d like to call your attention to the last sentence of the news release:  “In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.”  I wonder how much the BLM got from selling off our public lands in 2014.

74497___gustavorezende___Kids_6_03

And just a quick reminder, there are both state and Federal government transparency “Sunshine Laws.”  You can read the text of the U.S. Government in the Sunshine Act (5 U.S.C. 552b)  HERE.   The subject matter (agenda) must be made available for the public ahead of the meeting.  You are allowed to audio and video record meetings.   If meetings are “closed” to the public, you can obtain transcripts of the closed meetings.  Also check the state laws where the meeting is taking place, because they will also specify what you can do (like carry big signs into the meeting room).  If you are unable to drive to your local BLM Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) and subcommittee meetings, call the BLM and ask them to use a cell phone so you can listen and comment during the public comment time.

“The open meeting requirement of the Act mandates that, except as provided in the Act’s 10 exemptions, “every portion of every meeting of an agency shall be open to public observation.”

______________________________________________________________________________

SOURCE:  BLM

Release Date: 03/23/15
Contacts: Tom Gorey , 202-912-7420

BLM Sets Meeting of National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board for April 22-23 in Columbus, Ohio

The Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will meet on April 22-23 in Columbus, Ohio, to discuss issues relating to the management and protection of wild horses and burros on Western public rangelands. The two-day meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 22, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday, April 23, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (The meeting times are local time; Columbus is in the Eastern Time Zone.)
The upcoming Advisory Board meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Columbus, 350 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215; phone number: 614-463-1234. The meeting will be live-streamed (at http://www.blm.gov/live).  The agenda of the meeting can be found in the March 23, 2015, Federal Register (at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-03-23/pdf/2015-06517.pdf).
The Advisory Board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The law mandates the protection and management of these free-roaming animals in a manner that ensures healthy herds at levels consistent with the land’s capacity to support them.  According to the BLM’s latest official estimate, approximately 49,200 wild horses and burros roam on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states.
The public may address the Advisory Board on Wednesday, April 22, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., local time. Individuals who want to make a statement at Wednesday’s meeting should register in person with the BLM by 2 p.m., local time, on that same day at the meeting site.  Depending on the number of speakers, the Board may limit the length of presentations, set at three minutes for previous meetings.
Speakers should submit a written copy of their statement to the BLM at the addresses below or bring a copy to the meeting.  There may be a Webcam present during the entire meeting and individual comments may be recorded.  Those who would like to comment but are unable to attend may submit a written statement to: National Wild Horse and Burro Program, WO-260, Attention: Ramona DeLorme, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, Nevada, 89502-7147. Comments may also be e-mailed to the BLM (atwildhorse@blm.gov); please include “Advisory Board Comment” in the subject line of the e-mail.
For additional information regarding the meeting, please contact Ms. DeLorme, Wild Horse and Burro Administrative Assistant, at 775-861-6583.  Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may reach Ms. DeLorme during normal business hours by calling the Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.
The Advisory Board generally meets twice a year and the BLM Director may call additional meetings when necessary.  Members serve without salary, but are reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses according to government travel regulations.

In its management of wild horses and burros under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the BLM is implementing recommendations made by a June 2013 report of the National Academy of Sciences. For instance, the BLM is taking actions to increase the use of population growth-suppression measures on overpopulated herds roaming Western public rangelands and implementing methods developed by the U.S. Geological Survey for more accurate population estimates.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

 

 

Forbes Billionaires Top US Welfare Ranchers List

“Wait until you see who is on this list!  (Hint, the list includes a big mining company.)  Another great article by Vickery Eckhoff.”  –  Debbie

SOURCE:  The Daily Pitchfork

They’re mega-rich, powerful and on public assistance. [Part IV of an ongoing series on ranchers in the media]

Guess who’s fleecing U.S. taxpayers over nearly one billion dollars in public grazing subsidies?

Americans love ranchers: Gritty ranchers, mom-and-pop ranchers, renegade ranchers — especially those who raise livestock on the vast open prairies of the West through hard work and rugged independence. But there’s another side to the ever-popular rancher mythology— a side the media doesn’t cover and the public never sees.

The Koch brothers, Ted Turner, the Hilton family and nine other powerful ranchers share an uncommon privilege: giant public subsidies, unknown to U.S. taxpayers. It’s the other side of the Cliven Bundy story, the other side of the Wright brothers saga—the bronc-riding, ranching family at the center of the New York Times photographic essay published March 11, 2015. It’s also the other side of the ongoing news feed in which ranchers work to remove wild horses from public lands.

That “other side” of those stories is the federal grazing program that enables the Wrights to run their livestock on public lands for cheap; allows ranchers to have thousands of protected wild horses removed from public lands at public expense. It’s also the program that earned Bundy the title of welfare rancher.

Bundy didn’t earn it by failing to pay his grazing fees, though. The welfare rancher label applies to all ranchers who hold permits to graze the vast public spaces of the West, both delinquent and not. It includes the Wright brothers; the ranchers in Iron and Beaver counties in Utah complaining that wild horses eat too much; and 21,000 others.

They are all welfare ranchers subsidized by US taxpayers, and you know who are the biggest welfare ranchers of all, grazing livestock across hundreds of millions of acres of public grass and forest land, all assisted by public subsidies paid for by US taxpayers?

Billionaires appearing on Forbes rich lists

The .01 percenters are the nation’s biggest welfare ranchers, according to numerous environmental and policy groups; and it’s time they brought some attention to themselves and the federal grazing program they’re exploiting to the tune of an annual estimated one billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies while causing long-term damage to one of the public’s most treasured assets.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE.

“Data Trespass,” Wyoming’s Fancy Name for Ag-Gag

By Sue Udry, Dissent NewsWire | Op-Ed

Jonathan Ratner tests water. He visits streams in Wyoming, takes samples and tests it for E. coli. He’s been testing streams for years, concerned that waste from Wyoming’s 1.3 million cattle is polluting streams. And it is.

There's a lot of BULL rambling around in the office of Wyoming's Governor

There’s a lot of BULL rambling around in the office of Wyoming’s Governor

Ratner sends his results to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ so that streams with too much E. coli can be put on the impaired waters list. That list goes to the Environmental Protection Agency, and, under the Clean Water Act, state and federal regulators should then take action to reduce the level of pollution. Ratner says that means keeping cattle from grazing too close to streams.

But this is Wyoming, “the cowboy state,” and ranchers don’t take kindly to being told where their cattle can roam. So last week, Governor Matt Mead signed Senate file 12, a bill that makes it a felony to trespass to unlawfully collect data, and prohibits any data collected “unlawfully” from being used in and civil, criminal or administrative proceeding. Animal rights and environmental activists are calling it an “Ag-gag” law, and, according to Wyoming Public Radio, “Wyoming agriculture interests are supporting the bill to thwart environmental researchers, who, they claim, often collect environmental data to support their legal efforts.” But legislators say it’s all to do with property rights and privacy.

“I want to remind the body that this is information, this data, is private information,” said Senator Larry Hicks during debate. “In a lot of ways it is no different than your social security number.  It has some of the same ramifications if that resides in the public domain.”

Ratner has been collecting his samples on public property, he isn’t sneaking onto private ranches in the dark of night. But the bill would still make what he does a felony. To understand that, you need to understand this about Wyoming: it’s big, there aren’t a lot of people, and while most land in the state is public, the roads everyone drives on often cut through private property. Ratner says it’s not uncommon for the Bureau of Land Management to build a road on private property and not bother to get an easement from the owner. They’re mostly just dirt roads anyway.

Because of this quirk of Wyoming roadways, which force people to drive on private land (and therefore, trespass), the law “makes millions of acres of BLM land off limits to me,” Ratner says.

The sense around the state is that the law is specifically targeted at Ratner and his organization, Western Watersheds, but it could apply to whistleblowers in various industries. Paige Tomaselli, a senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety told Wyoming News “Our reading of the law is it is broad enough that it could apply to any facility, including animal processing facilities or factories. It might not specifically say it deals with animal facilities, as a law in Idaho does, but we think it would still apply.”

An amendment that would have specifically exempted data having to do with “the health, treatment or welfare of a domesticated animal” was defeated on a voice vote, according the Wyoming News.

 

Upcoming National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting

From the Federal Register:

SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announces that the Wild 
Horse and Burro Advisory Board will conduct a meeting on matters 
pertaining to management and protection of wild, free-roaming horses 
and burros on the Nation's public lands.

DATES: The Advisory Board will meet on Wednesday April 22, 2015, from 8 
a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time and Thursday April 23, 2015, from 8:00 a.m. 
to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. This will be a two day meeting.

ADDRESSES: This Advisory Board meeting will take place in Columbus, 
Ohio at the Hyatt Regency Columbus, 350 North High Street, Columbus, OH 
43215, telephone 614-463-1234.
    Written comments pertaining to the April 22-23, 2015, Advisory 
Board meeting can be mailed to National Wild Horse and Burro 
Program,WO-260, Attention: Ramona DeLorme, 1340 Financial Boulevard, 
Reno, NV 89502-7147, or sent electronically to wildhorse@blm.gov. 
Please include ``Advisory Board Comment'' in the subject line of the 
email.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ramona DeLorme, Wild Horse and Burro 
Administrative Assistant, at 775-861-6583. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above 
individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours 
a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above 
individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board 
advises the Secretary of the Interior, the BLM Director, the Secretary 
of Agriculture, and the Chief of the Forest Service on matters 
pertaining to the management and protection of wild, free-roaming 
horses and burros on the Nation's public lands. The Wild Horse and 
Burro Advisory Board operates under the authority of 43 CFR 1784. The 
tentative agenda for the meeting is:

I. Advisory Board Public Meeting

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 (8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)

8:00 a.m. Welcome, Introductions, and Agenda Review
8:50 a.m. Approval of August 2014 Minutes
9:10 a.m. BLM Response to Advisory Board Recommendations
9:30 a.m. Wild Horse and Burro Program Update
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:15 p.m. Program Update continued
3:00 p.m. Public Comment Period Begins
4:30 p.m. Public Comment Period Ends
5:00 p.m. Adjourn

Thursday, April 23, 2015 (8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)

8:00 a.m. Program Update continued
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:15 p.m. Working Group Reports
2:45 p.m. Advisory Board Discussion and Recommendations to the BLM
5:00 p.m. Adjourn

 

What is BLM Director Neil Kornze saying about wild horses?

“According to the article below, Kornze didn’t even mention wild burros, probably because there are hardly any left on public lands.  It is troubling if he brought up sterilization of the herds.  And, if Kornze thinks capturing wild horses and maintaining them throughout their lives is “too expensive,” he should leave them on their federally protected Herd Management Areas.”  – Debbie

“Kornze also asked for more money to reduce the herds of wild horses that trample sage-grouse habitat and otherwise imperil the rangelands, as HCN has reported.  He said some 50,000 wild horses now roam BLM rangelands, about twice what the territory can handle.  Some $10 million of the funding would go to develop better techniques for birth control vaccines or sterilization of the herds. 

Kornze suggested that capturing a horse and maintaining it throughout its life with federal funds is too expensive. “We spend $45,000 on that horse, and that’s a good college education,” Kornze said.  The government already supports 50,000 in captivity.”

NeilKornze  Neil Kornze

SOURCE:  High Country News

BLM seeks Congressional OK for new fees, private donations

by Elizabeth Shogren

The director of the Bureau of Land Management sat across a big oval table from members of the U.S. House of Representatives this week and made his case for more money. The agency needs increased funding, he said, to manage challenges as diverse as a drilling boom and an overabundance of wild horses across vast stretches of public lands.

But before BLM Director Neil Kornze even had a chance to pitch President Obama’s $1.2 billion budget proposal for his agency, the chairman of the panel, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-CA, said the request didn’t match the “very constrained funding environment” in Congress.

Kornze pressed for approval of proposals to expand BLM’s funds without getting more cash from Congress. He asked the panel to create a BLM foundation, so the agency can raise private funds, and to approve BLM’s plan to charge the oil and gas industry for inspections on federal land.

Currently, the BLM has 159 inspectors for 100,000 wells, but Kornze says it needs at least 220. “This is a major industrial activity on public lands and it needs oversight,” he said.

The administration’s proposal would raise an estimated $48 million in 2016, but cost companies only about $1,000 per well, which Kornze said isn’t much for companies that have invested at least $8 million to drill each well.

The BLM also wants to start charging an administration fee for grazing, which would help the agency clear its big grazing permit backlog more quickly.

Calvert, who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, did not oppose the proposals outright but said they should be considered by the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees BLM, not the panel that funds the agency.

The highest-ranking Democrat on the panel articulated the problem with that logic. “How do we get the authorizing committee to do their job?” said Betty Louise McCollum, D-Minnesota. “Maybe they should stop doing leases then if we can’t do inspections,” she said, adding quickly that no one wants that outcome.

The biggest increase in the administration’s budget is the request for $60 million — a four-fold increase — for the agency’s sage grouse program.

Republicans on the panel seemed inclined to provide that money — if cuts are found elsewhere in the budget. As HCN has reported, the 11 states with grouse territory are working with the federal government to try to reduce risks to the bird, so that it doesn’t end up on the endangered species list. In part, the money would go to plant strips of fire-resistant vegetation and cut down juniper and piñon trees that have flourished over what had been native sagebrush and grass habitat. This will increase the birds’ territory and reduce the risk of wildfires, which burn millions of acres of rangeland each year.

“If we go ahead and do everything — from this committee, the states, localities —and the sage grouse is still listed; that’s not going to bode well for future cooperation,” Calvert warned.

Kornze also asked for more money to reduce the herds of wild horses that trample sage-grouse habitat and otherwise imperil the rangelands, as HCN has reported. He said some 50,000 wild horses now roam BLM rangelands, about twice what the territory can handle. Some $10 million of the funding would go to develop better techniques for birth control vaccines or sterilization of the herds.

Kornze suggested that capturing a horse and maintaining it throughout its life with federal funds is too expensive. “We spend $45,000 on that horse, and that’s a good college education,” Kornze said. The government already supports 50,000 in captivity.

McCollum pressed Kornze on what the agency is doing about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who as HCN has reported had a standoff with BLM officials about a year ago at his Nevada ranch. Bundy has yet to be charged for illegal grazing or his unpaid grazing fees. At least one of the hundreds of people gathered at his ranch aimed a rifle at federal agents; that person has not been charged either.

“Mr. Bundy and his band of armed thugs are dangerous. They have committed acts that are criminal by threatening federal employees. They should be held accountable. They should be prosecuted,” said McCollum.

Kornze failed to specify what the federal government is doing about Bundy. “It is absolutely essential that those who have broken laws are brought to justice,” he said.  “The grazing issues persist. This will be something that will continue to get my highest level of attention.”

The cull of Alberta Wildies – Part 4

rat_in_hole_6

Here is an update from our friends at Help Alberta Wildies (HAW):

OUR BATTLE WITH ESRD – Part 4

GONE TO GROUND

SOURCE:  equines.ca

February 4, 2015, another cull of our majestic Alberta wildies was issued. Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s (ESRD), Duncan MacDonnell, was asked how many horses could the rangeland support. He stated, “We don’t know how many horses is too many, just less than what there is now.” Attempts to contact any senior ESRD employee that day got the message …..”I am away from the office”….. Gone to Ground! Cowardly and contemptible are the words I come up with.

Newspaper releases showed up in the Calgary Herald, CTV News, and Global News announcing a cull of up to 60 wild horses in the Ghost Equine Zone of Alberta. All articles stated that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) would oversee the roundup and would be responsible for hiring the horse wranglers. Except, that wasn’t true. It turned out to be just another lie issued by ESRD to try and thwart the wildies advocates. I have to say, that if this was a scare tactic to try and prevent us from protecting our wildies, it didn’t work, but from the onset, it just didn’t ring true for me.

I made numerous phone calls to local Detachments, who in turn made numerous phone calls to other Members trying to find out the truth. None of the RCMP Members I spoke to seemed to know anything about being involved with the horse cull. I asked so many questions, that one Member called the RCMP Media personnel and I received a telephone call from Cpl. Franks to discuss the situation. Cpl. Franks stated that the RCMP were not involved in the cull, as they were not mandated to do so. A Canada-wide news release would be issued that day, Friday, February 5, 2015, retracting all previous newspaper articles, denying that the RCMP had anything to do with the cull or hiring horse wranglers. True to her word, those retractions appear in the evening papers.

I wrote to ESRD requesting immediate corrections in all the newspapers, but as usual, I never received a reply back. That prompted me to write to Justice Minister Jonathon Denis, requesting that he intervene, as it seemed ESRD was out of control.

Now, ESRD telling the General Public big whoppers, is nothing new. If you’ve been following from the beginning, you will be well aware that ESRD lies to the General Public just about any time it suits them. They’ve lied about the cull in 2014, and gave advance notice to a privileged few, prior to informing the General Public. They’ve lied about the number of wild horses on Public Lands. They’ve lied about the wild horses not having any predators. They’ve lied about the wild horses damaging the grasslands. They’ve lied about how fast the wild horses reproduce their numbers. They’ve lied about the wild horses having Equine Infectious Anemia. They’ve lied about the Alberta SPCA being on the Feral Horse Advisory Committee, and this year, 2015, the big whopper is, the RCMP involvement. That’s quite a list isn’t it?

Here’s one of the biggest whoppers of all. The wild horses are all formerly domesticated horses, non-native, feral, released in the early 1900’s, from logging operations, from the RCMP who helped settle the prairies, barnyard escapees, former pack string horses, with their halters on, and iron shoes intact.

Except, those horses would have been mares and GELDINGS, as stallions are far too difficult to work with, so there must have been an awful lot of immaculate conception going on for them to increase their numbers. Good Lord! There is ample proof that horses are native to North America, and as such they have a right to roam free and protected on our Public Lands.

Last year there was double dealing and backstabbing going on with WHOAS and ESRD, and this year there was double dealing and backstabbing going on with WHOAS, ESRD, and another group. This particular group was started by someone who seemed to be afraid that if the PZP vaccine was successful at controlling wildie numbers, that somehow it would then be tried on deer and elk, and he sure didn’t want that, as it would severely limited the animals he could kill for pleasure and sport. I can just imagine the meetings that took place, with big gelatinous bellies hanging over waistbands 3 sizes too small, and jiggling with guffaws. One good ole boy, butt-slapping another, and feeling so proud of themselves for coming up with a secret game plan to enable them to capture wildies and send them to slaughter. Now I’m pretty sure these good ole boys thought they were pulling a fast one on all the horse advocates working to save the wildies and keep them on Public Lands, but when you break it all down, the final picture is, these guys and ESRD want to send horses to slaughter. Their new plan was to appear to offer the horse advocates some of the things they wanted. They allowed a trial of the PZP Program, and they offered ALL captured horses to WHOAS to be adopted out. The undesirable older horses that WHOAS didn’t take, then went to auction and were made available to the General Public. If the General Public didn’t buy them, well, golly gee, they tried didn’t they, but HEY still too many horses out there destroying the rangeland, so sorry, we have to get them off of there. Before they did that however, here is what was done to the wild horses first.

They terrified them by chasing them down, and forced them into a small enclosure, so they could not run from danger. They separated family groups, separated mares from their foals and yearlings, forced them into trailers, confining them even more than the capture pens, and drove them several hours to the auction, where they would be auctioned off. Most of the mares were heavily pregnant, and last year one of the captured mares was under such stress, she aborted her 25 lb. fetus, became septic, and died a horrible death. This year, an entire herd of 11 was trapped. Those bloodlines are forever lost.

The trappers ran the herd from behind, through snow drifts and debris filled cutbacks, and corralled the foals, then used them to lure in the mares and stallion. Not satisfied with trapping this herd, they spotted another herd and went after them and managed to rope 2 young foals, and dragged them by their necks, into the capture pens. They were all loaded and shipped directly to the auction house. These good ole boys are not unique to Alberta, but we certainly seem to have the vast majority of them within our borders, and many of them sit on the one-sided, pro-slaughter, Feral Horse Advisory Committee, which is hand-picked by ESRD.

Let’s talk about another group that has Gone to Ground. WHOAS’ role in the original management program presented to ESRD, was to offer rescue to those horses that wandered onto private property, or foals that were found abandoned or otherwise in trouble. ESRD’s redrafted Memorandum of Understanding, signed by WHOAS, now made WHOAS a participator in the cull, and turned their rescue into a receiving and holding facility for culled horses. WHOAS became an enabler so that ESRD and the trappers could remove wildies from Public Lands, siphon off the undesirable older horses by taking them straight to auction, and then call WHOAS to come and pick up the young desirable ones, and take them to their holding facility. The young desirable wildies could easily be gentled and sold for a quick turn-around. Here’s another little “twist” in this arrangement. It was stated by one of WHOAS Administrators on their Facebook Page, that she thought it was time for some of the other groups who had been so vocal, to “put their money where thier (sic) mouth was” and step up and buy the undesirable older horses that WHOAS didn’t take. If the undesirable older horses did go to auction and were bought by kill buyers, somehow it was the General Public’s fault for failing to buy them.

WHOAS also signed on the dotted line and agreed to cull the wildies themselves, when ordered to do so by ESRD. I suppose the General Public will be blamed, yet again, if those wildies go to slaughter.

The General Public had no input on any of the above. We’ve made it clear, we want the horses to stay free and protected on our Public Lands. We never agreed to have any wildies removed from their birthright while the PZP trial was going on. The PZP trial was offered as an alternative to captures and culls, not double the number of horses being removed. Certainly, no one was consulted, or agreed to, putting WHOAS in charge of anything. Anyone who promotes and assists in removing the wildies from their rightful place on our Public Lands, as WHOAS is now doing, does not have the wildies best interests foremost.

Now any questions put to WHOAS, as to why they were assisting in the removal of our wildies from Public Lands, were immediately deleted from their Facebook Page, and those people blocked. Gone to Ground.

There are only around 850 wildies left on a vast area of 2.2 million acres. On this vast area of 2.2 million acres, cattle ranchers, who have Government issued grazing permits allowing them to make money off our Public Lands, are allowed to graze 240,000 head of cattle. The ratio of horses to cattle is 1:283. Arguments in favor of the cattle are: the cattle are only allowed to graze for a few months of the year and are pulled in the winter, while the wildies are out year round; the wildies are out damaging early spring grass, whereas cattle are put out after the spring grass has time to grow and strengthen; the wildies damage the grass with their teeth, by ripping it out by the roots. Seriously?

If the horses, all 850 of them, damaged all the grass before the cattle got out there, then wouldn’t the grass disappear? If the horses, all 850 of them, ate all the grass before the cattle got out there, then wouldn’t the grass disappear?? If the horses, all 850 of them, damaged the grass with their teeth by ripping it out by the roots, then wouldn’t the grass disappear??? What exactly are all these 240,000 head of cattle eating if there is no grass, and why would the cattle ranchers put cattle out on a barren landscape, where they would surely starve? Should we talk about how 240,000 head of cattle can damage grasslands? Nah, probably not.

How about the forestry industry? Have you been out there and seen with your own eyes, the massive clear cuts and the devastation left behind from them? How about the spraying of Glyphosate? Sundre Forest Products, a Member of the Feral Horse Advisory Committee, use this herbicide to control undesirable vegetation hindering new tree growth. Should I mention that wind, drainage and snow melt can cause drift of herbicides into our watershed? Should I mention that deer, elk and moose, not to mention our wildies, are eating this herbicide treated grass? Should I mention how spraying with Glyphosate creates super weeds? Should we talk about how the forestry industry is damaging the grasslands? Nah, probably not.

How about all the campers and recreational vehicles? I’ve seen pictures posted of the mess and destruction left behind by holiday campers. Read story after story, of fields, forests and campgrounds covered with human feces, plastic bags, broken bottles, tin cans, and all other manner of garbage left behind to rot. The same can be said for ATV’s and motorbikes ripping up the ground, and polluting waterways. Should we talk about how these things damage the grasslands? Nah, probably not.

Time after time, lie after lie has been shown for what it is, and logical, factual information has been provided in its place. Time after time, logic and facts are ignored, and the wild horses are rounded up and sent to slaughter.

Time after time, the wildie advocates have tried to present humane management plans to deal with wildie numbers, but no matter what is put forward, and no matter what seems to be agreed to between advocates and ESRD, the wild horses are rounded up and sent to slaughter.

It was stated outright in 2014 by Don Livingston of ESRD, …..”The grasslands are 50% for cattle and 50% for wildlife”…. There you have it in a nutshell.

This year’s cull was supposed to end on February 28, 2015. Here it is March 2, 2015, foaling season for the wildies, and the roundups are continuing. The wranglers have been videoed chasing down the last horse standing on the Wigwam. It was chased at a full gallop, through a cutback of downed trees and logging debris for over 10 minutes, while the wranglers tried to lasso it. The horse ran into the forest with the wranglers in hot pursuit and disappeared from sight. On Sunday, March 1, 2015, a very young wildie stud, was dropped off at the auction with what appeared to be rope burns around his neck.

Several horse advocates have been camping out and sleeping in their cars, keeping a watchful eye on the unnecessary and inhumane treatment our wildies are being forced to endure.

In 1993, our glorious Government took the wildies into their jurisdiction to protect the horses from being run down “cowboy” style. The following Regulation was enacted:

ALBERTA REGULATION 59/94
Stray Animals Act
HORSE CAPTURE REGULATION

Capturing

7(1) A licence holder shall not use a snare, weapon or vehicle to capture or attempt to capture a horse.

 (2) In this section,

(a) “snare” means a device that consists of or includes a cable, rope, wire or other form of material and that is used or set to capture a horse by tightening a loop around the neck, foot or leg, with the energy to tighten it coming from the horse or from a spring, triggering device or other mechanism;

(b) “vehicle” means a motorized device, including a boat or aircraft, in or by which a person or thing may be transported;

(c) “weapon” means a firearm or other projectile propelling device used to frighten, injure or kill.

AR 59/94 s7;5/2008

The video was sent to Minister Kyle Fawcett, ESRD, demanding that he immediately put a stop to this inhumane and cruel treatment, and uphold the Government’s own Regulation, but the Minister chose to ignore it.

Complaints were made to Alberta SPCA, regarding the young foals that were chased, separated from their mothers, and dragged by their necks into capture pens. Complaints were made to Alberta SPCA regarding the heavily pregnant mares that were being chased for miles and driven into the capture pens. Telephone calls to ESRD went straight to message, and were not returned. Emails and letters were sent to ESRD, and were ignored. This Ministry and the Alberta Government are a total disgrace.

In 1994, ESRD issued a complete cull of the 1200 wild horses on the Suffield Military Base. Only approximately 200 were rescued by private citizens to preserve the bloodlines, with the remaining 1000 going to slaughter. It seems they intend to do this again with the few remaining Alberta wildies left on Public Lands. Round them up, and send them to slaughter, because we all know NO ONE, andNOTHING, causes damage to our Public Lands EXCPET those 850 wild horses (sarcasm intended!).

If you find this as offensive as I do, you can contact ESRD at…..oh, gee willikers, I forgot…..”I am away from the office”….. Gone to Ground.

ESRD Contact Information:

Minister Kyle Fawcett323 Legislature Building10800 97 AvenueEdmonton, ABCanada T5K 2B6Phone: (780) 427-2391Email: ESRD.Minister@gov.ab.ca

Deputy Minister Bill WerryEnvironment and SustainableResource Development915 – 108 StreetEdmonton, ABT5K 2G8Phone (780) 427-1799

Email: bill.werry@gov.ab.ca

Shannon Flint, AssistantDeputy Minister Policy Div.Environment and SustainableResource Development 11th Fl. Petroleum Plaza St.

9915 – 108 Street

Edmonton, AB

T5K 2G8

Phone: (780) 422-8463

Email: shannon.flint@gov.ab.ca

 

Helen Newsham Section HeadRangeland Integration SectionEnvironment and SustainableResource Development4th Fl. Great West Life Bldg.9920 – 108 StreetEdmonton, AB

T5K 2M4

Phone: (780) 427-4764

Email: helen.newsham@gov.ab.ca

March 17, 2015

BLM to hold public hearing in Fallon, NV, on Thursday (3/19/15)

Flanigan_Dogskin_Mountain_and_Granite_Peak_Horse_Gather.-WidePar-000101-Image.WideParimage.2.2 photo:  BLM

Wild horse & burro advocates, please attend if you can.  All future roundups and Environmental Assessments in this BLM District will be based on this 10-15 year Resource Management Plan (RMP).  Tell the BLM to make sure to use a viable herd number, 120-150 breeding age adults, for the Appropriate Mangement Level (AML) of wild horses and burros on each of the HMAs.  Also, ask the BLM if they are counting the foals as part of the total number.  The Carson City District Office has many wild horse Herd Management Areas, and we have put the low to high AML (from BLM statistics as of March, 2014) next to the name of the HMA, along with the number of acres in the HMA.

Sierra Front Field Office:
Dogskin Mountains (10-16 wild horses)  6,895 acres

& Granite Peak (11-18 wild horses)  3, 886 acres
Flanigan (80-125 wild horses)   17,101 acres
Pine Nut Mountains (118-179 wild horses)   90,000 acres

Stillwater Field Office:
Clan Alpines (503-979 wild horses)   314,986 acres
Desatoya (127-180 wild horses)   161,000 acres
Garfield Flat (75-125 wild horses)   141,800 acres
Lahontan (7-10 wild horses)  11.000 acres
Marietta Wild Burro Range (75-104 wild burros)  68,000 acres
Pilot-Table Mountain (249-415 wild horses)   255,040 acres
South Stillwater (8-16 wild horses)  10,000 acres
Wassuk (109-165 wild horses)  54,000 acres

For more information, click HERE.

Written comments can be sent to:  Carson City RMP,  Bureau of Land Management,  Carson City District Office, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, NV  89701    FAX: (775) 885-6147    Email comments can be sent to blm_nv_ccdo_rmp@blm.gov   (You can put your name and e-mail address, but if you put your home address, make sure to prominently state in your letter that you don’t want your home address to be made public.)

BLM to hold public meeting in Fallon on Thursday

Source:  Nevadaappeal.com

The Bureau of Land Management Carson City District is holding on Thursday a public hearing on the Carson City District Draft Resource Management Plan.

Speakers will be required to sign in to speak. There will be a three-minute time limit for each speaker and a court reporter will be present to document all public comments.

Public hearing comments will be incorporated into the official record and will be included in the final document. BLM managers and staff will be available from 5-5:45 p.m. to interact with the public and answer questions.

The formal public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. The public hearing will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. in the Churchill County Commission Chamber, 155 N. Taylor St.

Proposed Collection of Information on Wild Horses and Burros; BLM Requests Comments

The BLM is now planning to do a “knowledge and values study” on wild horses & burros using focus groups.  The focus groups are to include the usual special interest groups (the same ones that are so vocal against wild horses & burros on the BLM Resource Advisory Councils/RACs).

Most of us aren’t perusing the Federal Register on a daily basis, but an advocate alerted us to the notice below.  We should all ask WHO will APPOINT/SELECT the people who will take part in these focus groups.  The BLM proposes to have “guides” (a prepared agenda) for the groups, presumably to limit the topics you can talk about.  The questions/discussions will then likely be designed to lead you to whatever predetermined outcome the BLM wants.  Read HERE about the BLM and use of the Delphi Technique.

This is not free speech.  Will the topics include the delay of the issuance of the investigation report of the 1,700 wild horses Tom Davis bought?  Will the focus groups be updated on the current number of deaths of wild horses at the BLM’s Scott City, Kansas feedlot?  Will the participants be able to review any vet reports or necropsy reports from the Scott City feedlot?

This undemocratic process seems to be a way for the BLM to feign interest in listening to the public,  while in reality, it continues its efforts to contrive what could seem to the public to be some sort of a consensus.

I wonder if the BLM will ever have focus groups or advisory councils on wild horse & burro issues that are composed ONLY of real wild horse & burro advocates, who all care about the welfare of the wild horses and burros (instead of special interest “stakeholders” who focus on how to get rid of them).  The comment period for this proposed focus group farce ends May 11, 2015.  This is destined to be another unscientific “study” as the BLM continues to operate like a dog chasing its tail. – Debbie Coffey


This document has a comment period that ends in 58 days (05/11/2015) How To Comment

Action

60 Day Notice And Request For Comments.

Summary

In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will ask the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve the information collection (IC) described below, and invites public comments on the proposed IC.

Table of Contents

DATES:

Please submit comments on the proposed information collection by May 11, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Comments may be submitted by mail, fax, or electronic mail. Mail: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 1849 C Street NW., Room 2134LM, Attention: Jean Sonneman, Washington, DC 20240. Fax: to Jean Sonneman at 202-245-0050. Electronic mail: Jean_Sonneman@blm.gov. Please indicate “Attn: 1004-NEW” regardless of the form of your comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sarah Bohl at (202) 912-7263. Persons who use a telecommunication device for the deaf may call the Federal Information Relay Service on 1-800-877-8339, to contact Ms. Bohl. You may contact Ms. Bohl to obtain a copy, at no cost, of the draft discussion guides for the focus groups and in-depth interviews described in this 60-day notice. You may also contact Ms. Bohl to obtain a copy, at no cost, of the regulations that authorize this collection of information.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Proposed Information Collection

Title: Knowledge and Values Study Regarding the Management of Wild Horses and Burros.

OMB Control Number: 1004-NEW.

Frequency: On occasion.

Respondents’ obligation: Voluntary.

Abstract: The BLM protects and manages wild horses and burros that roam Western public rangelands, under the authority of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Act), 16 U.S.C. 1331-1340. The Act requires that wild horses and burros be managed in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands. 16 U.S.C. 1333(a). Stakeholders and the general public hold a variety of views on how wild horses and burros should be managed. The BLM has determined that conducting focus groups, in-depth interviews, and a national survey will lead to a better understanding of public perceptions, values, and preferences regarding the management of wild horses and burros on public rangelands.

After reviewing public comments and making appropriate revisions, the BLM will include the discussion guides in a request for OMB approval. Upon receiving OMB approval, the BLM will conduct the focus groups and in-depth interviews. The results of focus groups and in-depth interviews will be used to help design a national survey, which will be the second and final phase of the research.

The BLM will prepare a draft of the national survey and publish a second 60-day notice and invite public comments on the draft national survey. After reviewing public comments and making appropriate revisions, the BLM will include the national survey in a request for OMB approval. Upon receiving OMB approval, the BLM will conduct the national survey.

Need and Proposed Use: The proposed research was recommended by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in a 2013 report, Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward. Conducting the focus groups and in-depth interviews will enable the researchers to characterize the range of preferences that exist for wild horse and burro management. The national survey will then assess the distribution of these preferences across the larger population. The research results will assist the BLM to more effectively manage wild horses and burros by providing information to:

  • Help evaluate the benefits and costs of competing rangeland uses and various management options;
  • Help identify areas of common ground and opportunities for collaboration with stakeholder groups; and
  • Communicate more effectively with the public and with stakeholder groups.

Description of Respondents: The BLM intends to survey a variety of respondents for this project by conducting focus groups, in-depth interviews, and a nationally representative survey. For the focus groups and in-depth interviews, the primary respondents will be individuals belonging to a variety of organizations that have previously lobbied, commented on program policy or activities, or have otherwise sought influence with the BLM in regard to its wild horse and burro program. Representatives of wild horse and burro advocacy groups, domestic horse owners, wild horse adopters, the Western livestock grazing community, environmental conservationists, hunters, and public land managers will be included. Nine focus groups across three locations around the country and up to 12 in-depth interviews will be conducted with individuals from these groups. Focus group participants will be recruited by BLM’s research contractor through a variety of approaches tailored to the communities participating in the discussions. In addition, four focus groups (spread across two locations) will be conducted with the general public to explore public understanding of various terms and issues involved in wild horse and burro management so that the questionnaire for the national survey can effectively communicate the relevant topics.

II. Estimated Reporting and Recordkeeping Burden

The estimated reporting burden for this collection is 142 responses and 272 hours. There will be no non-hour burdens. The following table details the individual components and estimated hour burdens of this collection.

Activity Estimated number of respondents Estimated number of responses per respondent Completion time per response Total burden hours
Focus Groups 130 (13 groups) 1 120 mins 15,600 mins/260 hrs.
In-depth Interviews 12 1 60 mins 720 mins/12 hrs.
Totals 142 272 hrs.

III. Request for Comments

OMB regulations at 5 CFR 1320, which implement provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521), require that interested members of the public and affected agencies be provided an opportunity to comment on information collection and recordkeeping activities (see 5 CFR 1320.8(d) and 1320.12(a)). The BLM will request that the OMB approve this information collection activity for a 3-year term.

Comments are invited on: (1) The need for the collection of information for the performance of the functions of the agency; (2) the accuracy of the agency’s burden estimates; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information collection; and (4) ways to minimize the information collection burden on respondents, such as use of automated means of collection of the information. A summary of the public comments will accompany the BLM’s submission of the information collection requests to OMB.

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

 Jean Sonneman,

Information Collection Clearance Officer, Bureau of Land Management.

[FR Doc. 2015-05623 Filed 3-11-15; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-84-P

Foreign-owned mines operate royalty-free under outdated US law

blackhillshorses-1200x639 (1)

SOURCE:  revealnews.org  from The Center for Investigative Reporting

By / January 21, 2015

Let’s say you own 245 million acres.  And underneath that land are billions of dollars worth of minerals – gold, silver, copper, uranium and more.  Would you let foreign companies in to tear up your land, put your water at risk and take those minerals without paying royalties?

You already are. That’s the amount of public surface land controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the federal government’s biggest landholder. And companies that mine these lands are exempt from federal royalty payments.

And it’s happening right now.  Take, for example, the Dewey Burdock uranium project in South Dakota.  It encompasses 240 acres of public surface land, plus more than 4,000 subsurface acres of uranium-rich earth.

As of two months ago, a Hong Kong-based company had secured the right to mine and profit off that uranium, used to replenish nuclear power plants around the world, particularly in China.  In November, Hong Kong’s Azarga Resources merged with Powertech to become Azarga Uranium and manage the Dewey Burdock project.

Azarga will pay no royalties to the United States government.  Thanks to the Mining Law of 1872, which still governs uranium and other “hardrock” mining to this day, any company can extract and sell minerals from public lands without paying a cent in royalties to the federal government.

A spokesman for the mine, Mark Hollenbeck, points out that the mine will be paying South Dakota a severance tax, which is a tax on extracting nonrenewable resources.

Besides the royalties issue, some community members worry this mine will put their drinking water at risk.  In-situ uranium mining by nature takes place where there is groundwater.  The process involves injecting chemicals into the aquifer where the uranium ore is.  The chemicals leach the uranium from the rock, and the uranium is then pumped to the surface.  At Dewey Burdock, opponents are concerned that the radioactive, uranium-laden groundwater won’t be contained to the mining site.

Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released testimony from geologist Hannan LaGarry.  LaGarry found serious flaws in the company’s analysis of the groundwater geology.  He concluded that that there is a risk of groundwater contamination if the mine is allowed to go forward.

The mining company opposed the release of the testimony.

In the U.S., the aquifer by law must be restored to its previous condition when mining is finished.  That means the water must be cleaned enough to put it back to its pre-mining uses.

A Hong Kong-based company has secured the right to mine and profit off the Dewey Burdock uranium project in South Dakota.

But if that happened in this case, it would be a first.  A 2009 report from the U.S. Geological Survey says, “To date, no remediation of an ISR (in-situ recovery) operation in the United States has successfully returned the aquifer to baseline conditions.”

In August 2013, the Rapid City Council unanimously voted to oppose the project.  The proposal site sits on the southwest rim of the Black Hills at the South Dakota-Wyoming border.

Other groups, such as the Clean Water Alliance, the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary and tribal alliances also oppose the project. There are concerns about water quality, water quantity, Native American cultural preservation and effects on tourism – one of the state’s biggest industries.  The Black Hills are home to Mount Rushmore, wild mustangs and the Black Hills National Forest.

“We’re concerned tourists aren’t going to be excited being greeted by uranium mines and the water quality issues that go with them,” said Lilias Jarding of the Clean Water Alliance.

The project has its permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission but it is still waiting on approval from the Bureau of Land Management as well as permits from the Environmental Protection Agency and state mining and water boards.

So what is this 140-year-old law that allows foreign companies to make a profit off of resources owned by the collective American public?

The ‘lords of yesterday’

The Mining Law of 1872 is one of the more high-profile, outdated “lords of yesterday” policies created in a long-gone era of Western expansion that still govern our natural resources.  This law sets out how people and companies prospect and mine for certain minerals on public lands.

Today, we’re taking a big-picture look at what makes this law so outdated and how that’s coming back to haunt us.  But first, two quick facts:

  1. This law applies only to hardrock minerals – gold, silver, copper, iron, uranium and the like.  It doesn’t apply to oil, gas and coal.
  2. When I say “public land,” I mean land that’s managed by the federal government. Mostly, it falls under the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service, but there’s a handful of other federal agencies that also manage public land.

And a quick history: When the Gold Rush started, the government didn’t have much control over Western public lands.  Prospectors would discover gold on public land but it wasn’t clear what their rights and responsibilities were.  Most mining camps had self-governing bodies that allowed for unrestricted mining on public lands.  But some in the East saw the miners as stealing public resources. Westerners fought back.  They argued the miners were providing a public service by spurring economic and land development in the Wild West. Court rulings tended to side with the miners, and eventually the Mining Law of 1872 codified the right to explore and extract a range of minerals on public land.

So what’s the controversy now?  The law was written to encourage development when the West was still wild. You could hardly make the case that the West hasn’t been tamed.

Hardrock mines pay no royalties

To put it another way: Hardrock-mining corporations that profit off of public resources don’t pay the government for the privilege to do so.

Gas and oil companies, for comparison, do.  They pay 12.5 percent royalties.  In fact, the federal government made more than $11 billion from oil, gas and coal royalties in fiscal year 2011.  Royalties are based on revenue from the extracted resource.

We have only the vaguest idea of how much money the federal government is missing out on by not collecting royalties from hardrock mines.  The feds don’t even collect data on how many tons of minerals are extracted from mines on public lands.

A 2012 Government Accountability Office report attempted to pin this number down.  It couldn’t.

It nonetheless roughly estimated $6.4 billion in hardrock-mining profits from public lands.  If the industry paid royalties comparable to oil and gas, hardrock royalty payments would be as high as $800 million.

Typically, much more modest royalty rates of 4 to 8 percent are proposed.  Using that, the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining cites a conservative estimate of around $100 million in foregone royalties a year.  A Democratic Party report last year, when a reform bill was in play, placed an estimate at $182 million.

That 2014 reform bill proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives would have established a royalties system.  The money collected would have gone to cleaning up waste at abandoned mines.  But that bill, along with many similar bills from past congresses, failed, largely thanks to industry lobbying.

The National Mining Association argues that the U.S. is the most expensive place in the world to mine.  Imposing royalties would put U.S. miners at an economic disadvantage, say the association and mining executives.

But the lack of royalties isn’t fair to taxpayers, especially when the federal budget is tight, said Autumn Hanna at Taxpayers for Common Sense.

“We are the owners of the resources,” she said. “We should be paid for the minerals taken off federal land.”

No environmental protections

Donkeys graze in the Black Hills mountain range in South Dakota near the site of a proposed uranium mining project.

For just 1 ounce of gold, a mine today can create 30 tons of waste rock.  That’s because we don’t mine today like we did in 1872.  Flakes of gold in streams are unheard of today. Now it’s all about wresting microscopic bits of dust from rock.  This method, called “heap leaching,” uses dangerous chemicals – cyanide in the case of gold – and creates literally tons of waste.

The writers of the 1872 mining law never imagined that.  Acidic rivers that can’t sustain life, ponds filled with chemical waste and threats to biodiversity weren’t on their radar. And so, the 1872 mining law includes no environmental protections.

Miners today have to comply with the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and other federal, state and local environmental laws.  Even so,conservationists argue, those laws aren’t specific to the mining industry and don’t provide adequate protections.  For example, a Bush-era change to the Clean Water Act actually made it easier to dump mine waste into streams.  And the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was amendedto exclude mine waste from federal hazardous waste regulations.

“The environmental laws we have right now are not really covering the damage done by the hardrock mine industry,” said Lauren Pagel, policy director for the nonprofit environmental group Earthworks.

Mining wherever, whenever

Another major concern is that the government pretty much can’t say no to a claim application.  The “right to mine” is a long-standing interpretation of the 1872 law, meaning that as long as you pay your fees, you have the right to mine on that land. (Certain areas, including national parks and wilderness refuges, are off-limits, though). The idea behind this is that public land should be put to the “highest and best use.” Long ago, the Bureau of Land Management established a precedent that mining is just that. That means a mining company can mine where it wants, when it wants, regardless of whether or not it’s near a sensitive environmental area.

Another missing protection for more than 100 years was reclamation.  Companies could simply walk away from their mine when it stopped being profitable.  There was no requirement to clean up after themselves or reclaim the land.  By the early 1980s, new requirements were put into place to prevent that.  Nonetheless, there are more than 500,000 abandoned mines on public lands today, some of which pose serious environmental threats.

Laws of the past cost taxpayers today

Legacy laws like these are what legal scholar Charles Wilkinson dubbed the lords of yesterday.  In his 1993 book, “Crossing the Meridian,” he wrote that the lords of yesterday:

“… are the controlling legal rules, usually coupled with extravagant subsidies, (that) simply do not square with the economic trends, scientific knowledge, and social values in the modern West.”

Designed to spur development in the American West of the 19th century, these laws still govern our natural resources in the 21st.  Nowadays, long after the taming of the West, they contribute to environmental degradation, favor corporate special interests and cost the government and taxpayers hundreds of millions, if not billions.

“It isn’t that people back then were being stupid or ignorant or greedy,” Wilkinson told me.  “But they were responding to circumstances so different than we have today.”

Take, for example, the case of Cortez Mine in Nevada, one of the biggest gold mines in the U.S. Owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold, it produced 1.3 million ounces of gold in 2013. With gold averaging $1,400 an ounce that year, that’s a value of more than $1.8 billion. It paid nothing in royalties to the federal government.

That’s because gold mining is covered by this 1872 mining law.  It was originally supposed to make it easier for the “go West, young man” adventurer who trekked across the Rockies with little more than his canvas tent, a shovel and a pick.

But today, CEOs and giant earthmovers have replaced him and his sluice box.

We’re launching a reporting campaign digging into the legacies of these lords of yesterday.

I’ll be looking at mining, grazing and water issues, focusing in particular on how certain legacy laws and policies allow private interests to make a profit off public resources at the expense of the taxpayers and the environment.  Archaic laws allow ranchers to graze their sheep and cattle in national forests and on other public land for cheap and allow big farms to get subsidized water, even in times of drought.

Remember last year’s armed standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and federal employees?  The Bureau of Land Management was coming to impound his cattle because Bundy hadn’t paid (way-below-market-rate) fees for grazing his livestock on public land in decades.  Bundy’s belief that he has a right to graze on public lands unbothered and unregulated – and the government’s decision to back off and let him – are also holdovers from the 19th century rise of the West.

Stick with us as we explore the consequences of these outdated policies and figure out why they’re still around today.

If you have a personal experience or thoughts about how archaic natural resource policies affect us today, email me at rbale@cironline.org.

This story was edited by Robert Salladay and copy edited by Stephanie Rice.

Rachael Bale can be reached at rbale@cironline.org. Follow her on Twitter: @Rachael_Bale.