Plan to lease Santa Fe National Forest for oil and gas drilling risks community health and cultural resources

SOURCE: enewspf.com

Litigation Prepared to Challenge Illegal 20,000 Acre Public Lands Lease

Santa Fe, NM—(ENEWSPF)—October 20, 2014. A broad coalition of local and national conservation groups announced plans to sue the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), if the agency proceeds with the sale of 13 parcels (almost 20,000 acres of public lands) in the Santa Fe National Forest for oil and gas fracking. BLM received more than a hundred letters protesting the sale and challenging the agency’s failure to consider potentially serious impacts to the area’s air, water, wildlife, and surrounding communities.

The leases would allow horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of the Santa Fe National Forest, a prospect that BLM has never studied. In fact, BLM has admitted that its current resource management plan governing drilling activities, finalized in 2003, is outdated and no longer able serve this essential function.

“In a rush to satisfy the demands of the oil and gas industry, BLM is ignoring its fundamental legal obligations and circumventing the underlying oil and gas drilling planning process,” said Kyle Tisdel, attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “There is broad commitment from groups to go to court if necessary to ensure our treasured landscapes are not destroyed.”

“BLM has already leased 94% of our public lands around the Farmington area for oil and gas drilling,” said Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico Energy Coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance. “This new lease sale on the Santa Fe National Forest would continue this reckless, lease-everywhere mentality that destroys recreation, wildlife, and cultural resources and ignores BLM’s responsibilities to honestly analyze impacts.”

“Oil and gas drilling these days is significantly different than that of only 11 years ago,” said Pete Dronkers, Southwest Circuit Rider for Earthworks.  “The wells are bigger, go deeper and for miles in every direction. They release far more hazardous waste into the air and water.  BLM has to study these newer impacts before it permits further drilling in the San Juan Basin.”

The lease sale is scheduled for 9:00 a.m., on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at the BLM New Mexico State Office in Santa Fe.

The coalition of conservation groups is represented by Western Environmental Law Center, and includes: Amigos Bravos, Chaco Alliance, Earthworks, Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens, San Juan Citizens Alliance, and WildEarth Guardians.

One Happy Ending in Adobe Town

by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
I had the best news today.
On Friday I got an email from Terry Fitch, Co-Founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  Someone had written to the WHFF tip section of the website.  It was Brad Langley, working south of Rock Springs in Wyoming’s Red Desert.  He had found an orphan foal, with no horses around for miles and nowhere in sight, and he did not know who to call or what to do.  He said that the foal ran after his truck.  He gave directions and GPS coordinates, and the foal was near the Eversole Ranch, where the harrowing last days of the Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town roundup took place.  I  immediately emailed him that he needed to contact Jay D’Ewart, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, and gave him Jay’s cell phone number so he would have the best chance of catching him immediately.  We did not know how long the foal could hold out without its mother.

FullSizeRender

(Before – all alone)

I thought on Saturday all was well until I received another email from Brad, that the number was disconnected.  Of course BLM offices are closed on the weekend but I emailed and called the office number for Jay, and tried texting him.  The text seemed to go through so I reported back to Terry and Brad that I would let them know if I heard anything, and they said the same.  Brad had gone into the same area with his wife that day trying to find the foal again, with no luck, and sent directions again.

I really was thinking that it was unlikely that the foal would make it through the weekend, but to my utter delight I got a message from Jay D’Ewart this afternoon. Apparently wranglers went out on horseback Friday to find the foal with no luck, but on Saturday, Marvin, who works in the oil and gas fields found the foal and took him home.

FullSizeRender (2)

(Foal napping)

Apparently he and his wife Tiffaney have filed papers at Rock Springs BLM to foster the foal, and he spent the weekend in their subdivision – he seems quite at home there!  He has been drinking milk replacer right out of a bucket, and the vet said he was 1 month old.  They will be moving him to a new corral soon, and are thinking of a name.  They said he will have a very good home.

IMG_0334

(Foal in the kitchen)

It is wonderful to hear about a happy ending for one of the Adobe Town horses in the aftermath of the roundup.

Therapy Horses a Calming Influence on Veterans

By Brian MacQuarrie | Globe Staff

In Norfolk, female veterans find strength through learning to ride and care for horses

Veteran Eadyie Davis of Marlborough shared a quiet moment with therapy horse Creek. ~ Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Veteran Eadyie Davis of Marlborough shared a quiet moment with therapy horse Creek. ~ Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

NORFOLK — Feet in the stirrups, hands on the reins, Karen Souza closes her eyes as a quarter horse named Rio carries her to a tranquil, peaceful place she has rarely visited.

Souza spent decades walled off emotionally after being sexually abused as a teenage soldier. She never formed a loving relationship, and she spoke only sparingly. But from that dark, bleak world, she has emerged to find a place of trust, and accomplishment, and the simple joy of working with a large, strong, patient animal.

Souza is one of several female veterans who exhale and relax once a week at the BINA Farm Center, where they learn basic horsemanship and riding skills in a hands-on form of therapy. All of them are dealing with physical or emotional challenges.

But little by little, through grooming a horse or sitting in a saddle, anxiety and doubt are being replaced by laughter and confidence.

On this morning, 30 miles southwest of Boston, the veterans have been asked to shut their eyes and enjoy the slow, coordinated movement of their horses. It’s a simple request, but one that needs more than a little courage from women who often have felt vulnerable and abandoned.

“Every time I come here, this flood of emotions comes over me,” says Souza, 52, who lives in Worcester in transitional housing for female veterans. “I just feel cleansed, and you take that feeling with you. It doesn’t go away.”

As more veterans cope with long-term disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder, public awareness about the problems and therapies to treat them has increased. Veterans programs such as the one at BINA Farm have surfaced in Massachusetts and elsewhere in recent years, following a long-held recognition that working with horses has therapeutic benefits for people with special needs.

“I want them to leave with skills and tools they can take out to the world,” says Eileen Polasky, program director at BINA Farm Center, a Natick-based nonprofit, with facilities in Norfolk and Wellesley. “For a lot of people, the horses are a way in.”

The women gain a sense of responsibility that comes from caring for a horse, even for 90 minutes a week. There is a search for the gumption to try something new, perhaps after many years of extreme withdrawal. And there is a sense of growing self-esteem for women who sometimes feel branded as failures.

“There was a time when I wasn’t talking because I didn’t think that anyone would get it,” says Eadyie Davis of Marlborough, a 47-year-old Air Force veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident during her military service. “Horses offer empathy, trust, compassion, and stillness.”

Now, seven sessions into the eight-week program, Davis is talking — a lot. She tests whether visitors know how many bones are in a horse, and how long horses sleep. “Did you know they’re afraid of us?” Davis asks.

Any fear on Davis’s part is not apparent. She pets Creek, helps adjust his bridle and halter, and chirps softly and soothingly to the palomino before nestling into the saddle. As Creek is led around the dirt floor by Pat Sheets, a volunteer from Roslindale, Davis is beaming…(CONTINUED)

Witch’s Brew for Equine Advocates

“Many thanks to Grandma Gregg for sharing this ‘Feel Good Sunday’ piece which sparks several latent memories, for me, from days gone by.  I think I have prepared just such a dish, on several occasions, but consuming copious amounts of Wrangler Iced Tea during it’s preparations has impaired my ability to recall if it really tasted as good as is alluded to, here.  I HATE when that happens!  Keep the faith, my friends” ~ R.T.


Witches brewThis recipe is not original but a variation on an old (perhaps ancient) Southwestern dish. It has also been a favorite of mine and was for many years the staple, the sole staple, of my personal nutritional program. (I am six feet three and weigh 190 pounds, sober.)

I call it Hardcase Survival Pinto Bean Sludge.

1. Take one fifty-pound sack Colorado pinto beans. Remove stones, cockleburs, horseshit, ants, lizards, etc. Wash in clear cold crick water. Soak for twenty-four hours in iron kettle or earthenware cooking pot. (DO NOT USE TEFLON, ALUMINUM OR PYREX CONTAINER. THIS WARNING CANNOT BE OVERSTRESSED.)

2. Place kettle or pot with entire fifty lbs. of pinto beans on low fire and simmer for twenty-four hours. (DO NOT POUR OFF WATER IN WHICH BEANS HAVE BEEN IMMERSED. THIS IS IMPORTANT.) Fire must be of juniper, pinyon pine, mesquite or ironwood; other fuels tend to modify the subtle flavor and delicate aroma of Pinto Bean Sludge.

3. DO NOT BOIL.

4. STIR VIGOROUSLY FROM TIME TO TIME WITH WOODEN SPOON OR IRON LADLE. (Do not disregard these instructions.)

5. After simmering on low fire for twenty-four hours, add one gallon green chile peppers. Stir vigorously. Add one quart natural (non-iodized) pure sea salt. Add black pepper. Stir some more and throw in additional flavoring materials, as desired, such as old bacon rinds, corncobs, salt pork, hog jowls, kidney stones, ham hocks, sowbelly, saddle blankets, jungle boots, worn-out tennis shoes, cinch straps, whatnot, use your own judgment. Simmer an additional twenty-four hours.

6. Now ladle as many servings as desired from pot but do not remove pot from fire. Allow to simmer continuously for hours, days or weeks if necessary, until all contents have been thoroughly consumed. Continue to stir vigorously, whenever in vicinity or whenever you think of it.

7. Serve Pinto Bean Sludge on large flat stones or on any convenient fairly level surface. Garnish liberally with parsley flakes. Slather generously with raw ketchup. Sprinkle with endive, anchovy crumbs and boiled cruets and eat hearty.

8. One potful Pinto Bean Sludge, as above specified, will feed one poet for two full weeks at a cost of about $11.45 at current prices. Annual costs less than $300.

9. The philosopher Pythagoras found flatulence incompatible with meditation and therefore urged his followers not to eat beans. I have found, however, that custom and thorough cooking will alleviate this problem.

Author Unknown

Biologists Criticize Science In BLM Plans To Help Sage Grouse

“Granted, this story is not about Wild Horses and Burros BUT it does speak to the BLM’s poor math, lack of science and inconstancy in properly managing any form of wildlife on our public lands.  It’s all the same and scientists are screaming at them to get their facts right, just as we have been doing for years.  Good read!” ~ R.T.

“Unfortunately, the protections vary a lot from plan to plan, and most of those are not based in science as they are cherry picking pieces of science to make things easy,”

Sage GrouseIn late 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether to list the Greater Sage Grouse as an endangered or threatened species.  In preparation for this decision, another federal agency, the Bureau of Land Management, is coordinating a set of plans aimed at protecting the bird and keeping it off the endangered species list.

A group of sage grouse scientists, however, say those plans lack sound science and fail to adequately protect the grouse.

In a Thursday conference call, Ken Rait, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Western Lands Initiative, said that wildlife biologists believe “there is significant discrepancy between science and the plans.”

In a June letter sent to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, a group of 15 wildlife scientists, 12 of them with doctoral degrees, outlined some of the problems they saw with the draft plans. (Final versions will be released in early 2015, so the BLM may still revise them.)

One problem with the plans, the scientists said, is that they lack consistency, “essentially creating 15 different management approaches to sage-grouse conservation within and across state boundaries.”

While some variations are necessary due to regional differences, the variability in the plans is not based in science, the biologists said. For example, one plan may require a certain buffer distances for oil and gas activity or surface disturbance from a priority conservation area or sage grouse breeding ground, and another plan would have a different requirement.

“Unfortunately, the protections vary a lot from plan to plan, and most of those are not based in science as they are cherry picking pieces of science to make things easy,” said Terry Riley, a wildlife biologist and director of conservation policy at the North American Grouse Partnership.

The other criticism the scientists laid out is that the conservation measures the BLM recommends are not supported by the best available science.

Matt Holloran, a principal and senior ecologist with Wyoming Wildlife Consultants, also criticized the BLM draft plans for failing to come up with a coordinated effort to manage invasive species like cheatgrass and medusahead, which, after wildfire, come in and take over important sagebrush habitat. In fact, in some of the plans, burning sagebrush was considered as a tool in wildlife managers toolboxes, which Holloran said was a bad idea.

“The science is pretty conclusive that fire should not be considered a management option,” he said…(CONTINUED)

BLM Ely Nevada District to Round Up Wild Horses

Unedited Press Release from the BLM

Release Date: 10/16/14

BLM Ely District to Gather Wild Horses

Triple B Horses - BLM

Triple B Horses – BLM

ELY – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Ely District is scheduled in early November 2014 to begin gathering and removing approximately 120 excess wild horses from in and around the Triple B and Silver King Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in eastern Nevada.  Details will be posted on the district website at http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC as they become available. The helicopter gathers are necessary to prevent further damage to private property and provide for public and animal safety.

The District will remove about 70 excess wild horses from the Triple B HMA, located about 30 miles northwest of Ely, that are damaging private property, and harassing and breeding domestic stock resulting in landowner complaints.  Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the Triple B HMA is 215-250 wild horses.  The current population is 1,311 wild horses.

The District will remove up to 50 excess wild horses from in and around the Silver King HMA.  The horses to be gathered are located about 120 miles south of Ely.  They are a safety concern on U.S. Highway 93 and are damaging private property, resulting in property owner complaints.  AML for the Silver King HMA is 60-128 wild horses.  The current population is 452 wild horses.

BLM attempts to keep wild horses away from private property and the highway, including trapping and relocating animals to other portions of the HMAs, have been unsuccessful.

The BLM will utilize the services of gather contractor Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc., of Nephi, Utah, which uses a helicopter to locate and herd wild horses toward a set of corrals to be gathered.  The pilot is assisted by a ground crew and a domesticated horse that is trained to guide the horses into the corral.  The use of helicopters, which is authorized by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, has proven to be a safe, effective and practical means by which to gather excess wild horses with minimal anxiety or hardship on the animals.

Wild horses removed from the range will be transported to the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley (PVC), in Reno, Nev., where they will be offered for adoption to qualified individuals.  Wild horses for which there is no adoption demand will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The BLM does not sell or send any horses to slaughter.

A Wild Horse Gather Information Line has been established at (775) 861-6700.  A recorded message will provide information on daily gather activities and schedules.  The BLM will also post daily gather information on its website at: http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC.

Public lands within the HMAs will be open to the public during gather operations, subject to necessary safety restrictions, and the BLM will make every effort to allow for public viewing opportunities. The BLM has established protocols for visitors to ensure the safety of the horses, the public, and BLM and contract staff. The protocols are available at: http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC under Observation Opportunities.

Gather activities in and outside the Triple B HMA were analyzed in the Triple B, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley HMA Gather Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA), signed in May 2011 and available at http://on.doi.gov/1tgdHc6.  Gather activities in and around the Silver King HMA were analyzed in the Ely District Public Safety and Nuisance Gather EA signed in August 2014 and available at http://on.doi.gov/1lx856K.

For more information, contact Chris Hanefeld, BLM Ely District public affairs specialist, at (775) 289-1842 or chanefel@blm.gov.

Silver King Highway Nuisance Wild Horse Gather

Triple B Nuisance Wild Horse Gather

Facebook Helps Save Horse from Being “Eaten by Lions”

Sonja Haller, The Republic | azcentral.com

“They can be food for the cats, and it’s better than putting (the horses) in a landfill,”

Jim Gath, the owner and chief operator at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary, interacts with his horses daily and makes sure they always have enough attention and human interaction. (Photo: Dominic Valente/The Republic, Dominic Valente/The Republic)

Jim Gath, the owner and chief operator at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary, interacts with his horses daily and makes sure they always have enough attention and human interaction. (Photo: Dominic Valente/The Republic, Dominic Valente/The Republic)

The headline over the Facebook story could have read: Old, arthritic horse fed to the lions.

The true story, however, has more shades of gray and no-clear cut antagonist. But it did have a happy ending for the hero, a 20-year-old gelding named Spencer.

Spencer was a family horse boarded in Sedona. Once ridden by the family’s children, who had scattered, Spencer had been without a rider for three years. His owner, who lived in Utah, wanted to find him a new home.

“He needed a job. He needed a kid,” said Shelley Woellmer, who worked with the owner to find Spencer a home. Woellmer said the owner is a friend, they board their horses together and together tried for six months to find Spencer a new home. The owner declined to be interviewed.

Looking for someone to adopt him, they tried horse sanctuaries and equine therapy businesses, Woellmer said.

Not everyone who read the Facebook post by non-profit animal-rescue organization AZ Pound Pups knew that. The group put out a call to find a home for Spencer, describing the horse “like a giant dog and will whinny and follow you around anywhere just to be pet/groomed.”

What readers did learn from the Facebook post, shared more than 220 times, was that one fast-approaching option for Spencer was to go to Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde.

Woellmer confirmed the owner had approached the park about its horse donation program, which accepts qualified animals as food for the park’s big cats.

Spencer would be, as one poster, Jim Gath, wrote, “fed to the lions.”

The park is known for its lions, tigers and other large animals. Among its dozens of animal attractions is the “Predator Feed,” which invites the public to watch as “they throw 800 pounds of raw food to eagerly waiting carnivores. Plenty of opportunities to take amazing pictures while bears chow down, hyenas laugh, and lions roar,” according to the park’s website.

This bit of news shook up the people following the Facebook feed.

Some people brought up the circle of life — that lions need to eat, too.

Others commented on whether Spencer was better off euthanized, given his arthritis.

But others countered that arthritic horses, with medication such as Spencer was taking, can continue to live long lives.

Out of Africa Wildlife Park had considered the owner’s request to take Spencer.

Through its horse donation program, people complete a form that reads, in part, “We do not take healthy horses, horses with cancer, or horses on medication.”

The donated animal is used to feed the big cats featured at the park.

“We have refused horses because they are too healthy,” said park spokeswoman Linda Peterson, who processes donation requests. The form asks for a veterinarian’s name and number. The vet is called if the park’s specialist in equine donations believes the horse doesn’t meet “end-of-life” standards.

If a horse is deemed end of life, it is shot, since anesthesia medication would taint the meat.

“They can be food for the cats, and it’s better than putting (the horses) in a landfill,” Peterson said.

Out of Africa said the number of horses it accepts a year is private, but that it keeps records to report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In the end, the park refused Spencer because a video shared on Facebook showed him only days earlier cantering with a rider.

Then, Facebook managed to do what the owner could not….(CONTINUED)