More on BLM new pick for the National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

Copyright 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

The BLM recently announced its new selections for the BLM National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.

BLM’s new pick for the category of veterinary medicine is:

Julie M. Weikel, DVM

38b65a5d-8fb5-4740-8758-4169c0a1a6e6  Julie Weikel (photo Oregon Natural Desert Association)

As written about in the article “Part 2:  BLM and Fish & Wildlife Service Experimenting on Wild Horses”, Julie Weikel was asked by the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge Manager (Brian Day) to write an independent assessment of the roundups of the Sheldon horses in August, 2011.  She observed only one day of the roundups on Aug. 15th, but also observed processing (RFID chips were inserted into the horses), the field spaying of mares and the field castration of geldings.

It is interesting that she wrote in her roundup observation “Provision had been made for witnessing of the gather by credentialed reporters.  They were to be with me in a site designated for observers that would be safe and not interfere with the horses or equipment.  No reporters took advantage of the opportunity, but four local people were present who apparently had gotten permission form the helicopter gather contractor to be at the site.  They did not stay in the designated area during the gather and they left before the end of the gather that day.”

What?  The contractor’s invited friends, who were not credentialed reporters and had an opportunity that members of the public did not have, did NOT stay in the designated area?  Why weren’t they arrested?  Members of the public are usually threatened with arrest if they do not stay in the designated area at roundups.  And since the BLM’s excuse for putting people in the designated area is to keep them safe and not interfere with the horses, why was it okay with the BLM and the roundup contractor that these “select” people and wild horses weren’t safe?

Of the chemical vasectomies, Weikel wrote “The studs also received a tetanus toxoid injection which led to an unfortunate loss of one stud to anaphylaxis in spite of supportive measures.”  

She also noted in her report that “Thirty two mares were spayed on Aug. 29th with no fatalities, and released on Aug. 31st.”  And “The spaying of mares was observed by professional management and veterinary personnel from the BLM Palomino Valley facility.”

Weikel did not mention any concerns about the wild mares being released so soon after surgery, or that there was no follow up after their release in case there were any post-surgery infections or complications.  And was the field spaying of mares observed by BLM’s John Neill and Palomino Valley (and Indian Lakes Road facility) vet Richard Sanford?

Weikel’s independent assessment (received from FOIA documents) can be read here:

In fact, her report was very positive and supportive.  Weikel, who went to high school in Winemucca, NV,  was appointed to serve on the BLM’s Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council (RAC) around 2012.  Meeting minutes from April 2012 noted that Weikel was “getting oriented with how the RAC works” and the minutes from January 2013 noted “Weikel has been looking into the history of the Wild Horse and Burro Program and what is going on in the various Herd Management Areas. Weikel recently read a wonderful summary of professional statements about the wild horse and burro population issues called “Honest Horses,” put together by a writer in the Spokane, Washington area.” 

The book “Honest Horses” contains interviews with BLM roundup contractor Dave Cattoor, pro-horse slaughter (WH & B Advisory Board member) John Falen, BLM’s Tom Pogacnik (Wild Horse & Program Director in the late 90’s, who admitted that 90% of wild horses rounded up were going to slaughter), ex BLM Director Bob Abbey, Temple Grandin, and ex W H & B Advisory Board member Wayne Burkhardt, among others.

Lets hope Weikel has read some other books regarding wild horses and burros.

The Jan. 2014 minutes from the Southeast Oregon RAC state “Sterilized horses to reduce the number of heads. Each year would sterilize at a different age to control the number of heads. Each sterilized horse is branded.

The goal now is that all the horses will come off the mountain by next year • This is a very healthy horse population • In 2009, stopped surgical vasectomies because anesthesia risk. Used stronger drugs • Proposal- Spay 100 mares in Burns that go back to the range. Asking for 100 mares to avoid drastic statistics if a couple mares died. Can RAC be supportive of this proposal? Yes • Data on the chart (handout) is from Fish and Wildlife. It will be published at some point • How much does it cost to spay? $200/ head for top quality drugs for spaying mares. • $30/day mare for top quality drugs • Cons: o.   There are a few individuals with the skills to spay mares. We would need to head the trainings.  There will be a death loss. We don’t know what the long term survival rate after returning to the range. • Thriving ecological balances? Long and short term holdings are full. We have the funds to move forward, but we are waiting on Congress to allow us to hold more. • Consider 10%+ death as a failure rate (Julie’s personal failure rate).”

For one thing, the RAC seemed to be planning on how to skew the results of the field spaying of mares with “Asking for 100 mares to avoid drastic statistics if a couple mares died.”  Also, there are only a few individuals with the skills to spay mares, but are they going to “train” people to do this on our wild horses?  And this is stated in a cold, matter of fact manner:  “There will be a death loss. We don’t know what the long term survival rate after returning to the range.”

Then they shouldn’t be doing this.  I repeat:  The BLM is EXPERIMENTING ON OUR WILD HORSES & BURROS.

We are anticipating that the BLM will make a big push for the permanent sterilization of wild horses and burros at the upcoming National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting this April 22-23 in Columbus, Ohio.  It seems they may now have another sterilization supporter on the Board.

As a member of the Oregon Natural Desert Association, Julie said she likes cattle.  She’ll fit right in on the BLM National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.



Western Wild Horses Under Siege, details by Carol Walker on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 4/15)


Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesday (*SM) , April 15, 2015

6:00 pm PST … 7:00 pm MST … 8:00 pm CST … 9:00 pm EST

Listen to the archived show Here!

This is a 1 hour show.  Call in with questions during the 2nd half hour.  

Call in # (917) 388-4520



Our guest is Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation who will talk about BLM’s plans to sterilize wild horses, the many deaths of the recently captured Wyoming “checkerboard” wild horses, the BLM’s plans that could, in essence, destroy the Pryor Mountains wild horse herds, and an update on the wild horses at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. (photo above: wild horses in winter in Adobe Town, by Carol Walker)

4boyscarol-1958-editcc5x7 Carol Walker

Carol is a plaintiff in the lawsuit that has been attempting to stop the BLM from removing over 800 wild horses from Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, and Great Divide Basin in Wyoming.

Carol’s website is and you can see her photography of wild horses at

Tonight’s radio show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation


Continue reading

Federal Plan to Gather Tribal Horses Draws Fire

Story by Jeff DeLong, RGJ as published in the Reno Gazette-Journal

“We are our own nation. We are the lawmakers. We make all the rules based on what’s best for our own people.”

HorsesbythenumbersFORT McDERMITT — Across a rugged swath of mountainous terrain just south of the Oregon border, government land managers and an Indian tribe are poised to round up to 2,000 horses, many of them roaming federal land illegally.

A plan by the U.S. Forest Service and the Fort McDermitt PaiuteShoshone Tribe to conduct a horse gather on federal and tribal land this summer is already drawing fire from wild horse advocates, with the issue likely to generate as much controversy as it did the last time horses were removed from the same area two years ago.

Forest Service and tribal officials as well as local ranchers insist the proposed gather is the best way to address a long-simmering problem posing an economic hardship to some and causing serious damage to a sensitive landscape, particularly during a time of drought.

Horse advocates counter the planned helicopter roundup of tribal-owned horses is a crisis solution to long-standing mismanagement of federal land and that the tribe will profit at taxpayer expense. They say federally protected wild horses will inevitably get caught up in the operation and that many horses – wild or domestic – “ultimately face a fate of slaughter.”

Both sides appear steered toward a collision course, much as occurred in 2013.

The joint operation by the tribe and Forest Service seeks to remove scores of horses grazing on Forest Service and BLM land adjoining the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Reservation in the Santa Rosa Mountains, located about 75 miles north of Winnemucca near the Oregon line…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story

Erik Molvar of WildEarth Guardians on livestock grazing, oil & gas issues and more, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 4/8/15)


Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesday (*SM) , April 8, 2015

6:00 pm PST … 7:00 pm MST … 8:00 pm CST … 9:00 pm EST

Listen To the archived show (Here)!

This is a 1 hour show.  Call in with questions during the 2nd half hour.  

Call in # (917) 388-4520


Erik Molvar Headshot

Our guest tonight is Erik Molvar, M.S., Sagebrush Sea Campaign Director for WildEarth Guardians.

Erik Molvar joined WildEarth Guardians in 2013 as their Sagebrush Sea Campaign Director.  He received a M. Sc. in Wildlife Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he authored a number of scientific studies on the evolutionary biology, population dynamics, and ecology of Alaskan moose.

Erik spent 13 years as Wildlife Biologist and later Executive Director for Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Wyoming, where he specialized in sage grouse conservation and oil and gas issues.  He served four years on the Laramie City Council, where he moved a national resolution on hydraulic fracking through the National League of Cities.

WildEarth Guardians states “Between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada exists a vast legacy of boundless and untamed lands: we call it the Sagebrush Sea and much of it belongs to every American. Decisive conservation action on nearly 80 million acres of this landscape has long been delayed and denied.”

Key objectives of the Sagebrush Sea Campaign are to retire livestock grazing from millions of acres by offering ranchers an equitable exit strategy and to secure federal legislation that authorizes voluntary and permanent grazing permit retirement.  WildEarth Guardians also works to save prairie dogs and sage grouse.


Erik is also a professional writer and photographer, and has authored 16 guidebooks to national parks and wilderness areas across the West.

Read Erik’s 25th Anniversary Story “How the West Was Won“.  To read many interesting reports by WildEarth Guardians, click HERE.

Tonight’s radio show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation


Continue reading

New Federal Fracking Rules Rely on FracFocus Even as EPA Research Highlights Site’s Flaws

EPA researchers ran up against a major stumbling block in crunching numbers based on FracFocus’ data, an issue that some warn may continue to cause problems even as the Bureau of Land Management adopts FracFocus as the mechanism for tracking fracking chemicals used on federal public lands.”


by Sharon Kelly

chemicals  Photo credit:”Bulk fluid shipping containers on pallets ready for shipment,” via Shutterstock.

It’s a classic case of the government’s left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Days after the Bureau of Land Management issued new federal rules for fracking on federal land, relying heavily on an industry-run site called FracFocus, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a study mainly noteworthy for the shortcomings of the site that it revealed.

More than 70 percent of the chemical disclosure statements that drillers posted on FracFocus between January 2011 and February 2013 were missing key information because drillers labeled that data “confidential business information,” the EPA reported.

On average, drillers reported using a mix of 14 different chemicals at each well site. At sites where information was withheld, an average of five chemicals were not named.

In fact, FracFocus allowed drillers to conceal the identity of more than one out of every ten chemicals whose use was “disclosed” on the site, EPAresearchers found.

This made it impossible for EPA‘s researchers, who received over 39,000 disclosure statements from FracFocus in March 2013 and published their study two years later, to definitively say what chemicals drillers used most often, how much of each chemical was injected underground, or even to simply create a list of all the chemicals used at the wells.

“The project database is an incomplete picture of all hydraulic fracturing due to … the omission of information on CBI [confidential business information] ingredients from disclosures, and invalid or erroneous information created during the development of the database or found in the original disclosures,”EPA noted in a fact sheet about the research.

All told, the EPA was able to identify 692 different chemicals — including hydrochloric acid, methanol and diesel fuel — that were used during fracking. But that number is almost certainly incomplete, EPA researchers said, in part because over 129,000 individual ingredient records were labeled secret.

The gaps immediately drew the ire of environmental groups.

The fracking industry is hiding a lot of information about the chemicals they are using in our communities,” Kate Kiely, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Bloomberg. “Even without that information, it is clear that there is widespread use of dangerous chemicals.”

Just seven days before EPA‘s results were released, the Bureau of Land Management announced new rules intended to manage fracking on over 247 million acres of public land managed by the federal government and the 700 million acres for which the government owned mineral rights as of 2013.

The BLM‘s newly-minted chemical disclosure rules are built around FracFocus, allowing drillers to make required reports through the industry-backed website.

Data, data, everywhere…

EPA researchers ran up against a major stumbling block in crunching numbers based on FracFocus’ data, an issue that some warn may continue to cause problems even as the Bureau of Land Management adopts FracFocus as the mechanism for tracking fracking chemicals used on federal public lands.

FracFocus stored the information drillers provided in separate .pdf files for each disclosure, and every .pdf form can be different if drillers decide to edit the formatting. This meant that EPA researchers needed to spend enormous amounts of time simply transferring each bit of information into a spreadsheet, and then going back and making sure that each bit of information was in the proper place.

Some open-government advocates say that the BLM‘s reliance on FracFocus runs contrary to an executive order issued by President Obama that pledged to make data from the government “easy to find, accessible, and usable” by requiring it to be “machine-readable” — essentially in a format that lets researchers access it.

“Besides the fact that this decision flouts the President’s own Executive Order #13642 on Open Data, why are we so concerned about how the government manages fracking data?” David Manthos, Communications Director of the environmental organization SkyTruth wrote in a blog posting about the BLMrules. “The reason is because this decision will deprive property and homeowners, scientists, decision-makers, emergency responders, healthcare professionals, and the general public of effective access to information that is vital to investigating the environmental, social, and public health impacts of modern oil and gas drilling.”

FracFocus has promised to upgrade its site, having already done so once since it provided EPA researchers with the raw materials for their study. But SkyTruth’s Manthos remains skeptical.

“I’m concerned that BLM is basing their decision on vague promises, and will have no leverage or authority to control the timetable, implementation, or functionality of these improvements,” he said.

For a while, Mr. Manthos’ organization tackled the tedious task of scraping data from the FracFocus site and importing it into spreadsheets so researchers could use it. But in 2013, their work came to an abrupt halt when FracFocus froze SkyTruth’s access to the site.

There was a little error message that was coming out saying, ‘Hey, you’re sending too many requests. You’re being blocked for 24 hours,’” SkyTruth’s Paul Woods explained to StateImpact last year. “Then, they block you for 48 hours and then they block you forever.”

SkyTruth is not the only organization to find fault with FracFocus. In 2013, astudy published by Harvard University’s Environmental Law Program gave the site a failing grade, noting that it “has limited quality assurance procedures” because “FracFocus staff does not review submissions” uploaded by drillers.

The BLM‘s new rules also allow drillers, not regulators, to decide when a chemical should be considered secret as they upload their disclosures to FracFocus.

“These trade secret provisions are much weaker than many states and ignore the advice of a Department of Energy advisory panel which unanimously recommended that ‘any trade secret exemptions permitted by BLM in its regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands include a rigorous process of claiming trade secret exemptions and robust trade secret verification and challenge mechanisms,’” the NRDC‘s Amy Mall wrote in response to the new rules.

The relative laxity of the BLM‘s new rules has done little to deter protest from the oil and gas industry, who see the rules as chipping away at state-level oversight of the shale drilling rush.

“Under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have opened up a new era of energy security, job growth, and economic strength,” API Director Erik Milito said in a statement. “A duplicative layer of new federal regulation is unnecessary, and we urge the BLM to work carefully with the states to minimize costs and delays created by the new rule to ensure that public lands can still be a source of job creation and economic growth.”

Already, battles over the BLM‘s new rules are headed into the courthouse.

Two industry groups, the Independent Petroleum Association for America and the Western Energy Alliance, have filed lawsuits claiming that the BLM‘s rules overreach federal authority, as has the state of Wyoming. Environmental organizations have suggested that the rules could also be vulnerable to a challenge under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The bottom line is,” the NRDC‘s Amy Mall told The Dallas Morning News, “these rules fail to protect the nation’s public lands — home to our last wild places, and sources of drinking water for millions of people.”

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.


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.”



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  The agenda of the meeting can be found in the March 23, 2015, Federal Register (at
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 (; 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.



BLM Requests Input On Application To Graze Bison Year-Around At Flat Creek Allotment

Although this area is in northern Montana and not on a wild horse Herd Management Area, it is an example that it is possible to change a class of livestock (from cattle to bison) and change the livestock use (from seasonal to year round grazing) on public lands.

The American Prairie Reserve (APR), plans to use about 250,000,000 acres of PUBLIC LANDS with a goal of obtaining 500,000 acres of private land to graze bison in a “wildlife park.”

The APR website states “Building A Multi-Million Acre Wildlife Reserve
In northeastern Montana, American Prairie Reserve (APR) represents a unique effort to assemble a multi-million acre wildlife park that will conserve the species-rich grasslands of Montana’s legendary Great Plains for the enjoyment of future generations.”

While APR plans to make these public lands benefit future generations, shouldn’t this be what the BLM is doing with our public lands according to the Federal Land Management Planning Act (FLPMA)?

And although it seems nice of APR to state that the reserve (our public lands) will never be “locked up” from public use, this plan would still convert public lands to uses directed by a private organization.

–  Debbie

Lingohr.bison_ (photo:  Dennis Linghor, American Prairie Reserve)


(MALTA, Mont.) – The Bureau of Land Management Malta Field Office is seeking public input for an environmental analysis regarding a grazing permittee’s application to change their class of livestock and to change the livestock use and management on the Flat Creek Allotment (15439).

The American Prairie Reserve has applied to change the class of livestock from cattle to indigenous bison on their permit to graze public lands on the Flat Creek Allotment in south Phillips County.

In addition, they are seeking permission to remove interior fencing and manage their private lands along with the public lands as one common pasture. They are also requesting to change the allotment grazing season to year-round from the current May 1 – Nov. 15 grazing season.

The allocated animal unit months (AUMs) and carrying capacity of the public lands would remain unchanged. All regulations for grazing public lands would apply and all grazing management would continue to adhere to the Standards for Rangeland Health.

For more information, please call B.J. Rhodes, Rangeland Management Specialist, at (406) 654-5120. Substantive comments about this application must be in writing and can be sent to the Malta Field Office, 501 South 2nd St. East, Malta, MT 59538 or email

BLM unaware oil company was using pipeline

How could the BLM be “unaware” that a company is using a pipeline?  (Another reason to wonder how closely the BLM actually monitors the range.)  According to True Oil (True Companies), “Belle Fourche Pipeline is a liquids pipeline operator that gathers and transports crude oil in the Williston Basin of western North Dakota and the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.”  To see a map of this pipeline in Wyoming, click HERE.  According to an article in the Casper Star Tribune, True Companies have had many pipeline spills.

True Companies also owns 7 True Ranches (ADA Ranch, Double Four Ranch, LAK Ranch, Rock River Ranch, Chalk Bluffs Ranch, HU Ranch, VR Ranch), 2 feedlots (LAK Feedlot, Wheatland Feedlot) and 2 Farms (LAK Farm, Wheatland Farm) in Wyoming.          –  Debbie

cows  True Ranches’ cattle (photo:  True Companies)

SOURCE:  Buffalo Bulletin

Almost a decade after Belle Fourche Pipeline Co., a True Oil company, told the Bureau of Land Management it was no longer using a pipeline 44 miles southeast of Buffalo, the pipeline leaked 25,200 gallons of crude oil onto public lands.

The company terminated its right of way permit in writing in 2006. At some point, without the knowledge of the federal agency, the company illegally resumed use of the pipeline, said Christian Venhuizen, BLM public affairs specialist.

Why and when the company continued to use the pipeline remains unanswered. Bob Dundas, environmental coordinator for Belle Fourche and Bridger pipelines, said he would forward the Buffalo Bulletin’s request for information and comment to someone who could answer questions related to permitting.

On May 20, 2014, Belle Fourche reported the oil spill to the BLM, after workers noticed oil seeping up from the ground, Dundas said. The BLM determined that Belle Fourche was in trespass, Venhuizen said, and fined Bridger Pipeline, a sister company, also owned by True Oil.

“The company was fined for trespassing based on the federal workers’ hours involved to investigate circumstances and to remediate the spill, as well as back rental for the existing pipeline,” Venhuizen said in an email.

Bridger was fined $27,029 for the Belle Fourche trespass, Venhuizen said. The money was paid on July 29, 2014, according to BLM records.

Bridger applied for a right of way amendment Sept. 9 of last year, Venhuizen said. The BLM is still processing the application, he said.

The spill originated from a crack on a gathering line, buried between 4 and 6 feet underground, and traveled 3 miles down a dry gulch, said Dundas. Most pipelines fall under the jurisdiction of a regulating agency, but gathering lines sometimes are not, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.

The PHMSA regulates 551 miles of the Belle Fourche line in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. But, the gathering line that cracked in Johnson County did not meet the criteria for PHMSA oversight, said Damon Hill, PHMSA spokesman. The gathering line was either less than 6 inches in diameter, in a rural area or operated at a low pressure, Hill said.

As a result, PHMSA incident reports and records of compliance with safety codes on the Belle Fourche pipeline do not include the Johnson County oil spill. According to the agency’s records, Belle Fourche was responsible for two incidents in 2014, totaling 340 gallons of crude oil spilled and $231,700 in property damage. A full record of incidents on Belle Fourche pipeline is only available from the company itself.

The company estimated that 600 barrels, or 25,200 gallons, leaked last spring. That amount is an estimate based on Belle Fourche’s records of pump rates and number of days in use, and is not validated by independent, federal or state regulators, Dundas said.

Remediation continues on the site, Dundas said. Belle Fourche recommended that the soil be tilled to assist with bioremediation or biodegradation, which Dundas said involves getting enough moisture and oxygen to the area to assist microbes that feed off the residual crude. The company has also considered adding fertilizer, Dundas said.

Bioremediation is the preferred form of remediation because it doesn’t involve heavy machinery, which could create erosion, Dundas said.

“We’re trying to do as little damage as possible to the drainage,” he said. “It’s a lot less invasive.”

Dundas expects the remediation process to continue in the summer with a reassessment this fall.

*Editor’s note – In last week’s edition, a story about the oil spill in southern Johnson County incorrectly stated the amount of the spill. Belle Fourche Pipeline Co. estimated the spill at 25,200, not 12,200 gallons as originally reported.


Heidi Hopkins of HSUS: PZP on wild burros? I’ve got a question for you

whb.Par.48283.Image.-1.-1.1 (photo: BLM)

When I read a Letter to the Editor (below) written by Heidi Hopkins of HSUS, I almost had a conniption fit (whatever that is, I almost had one).  She asks “Why isn’t fertility control being used on wild burros?”

Fertility control shouldn’t be used on wild burros because there are hardly any left on our public lands.  On the BLM’s most recent “Herd Area and Herd Management Area Statistics” report, the BLM claimed there were only 8,394 burros in the entire U.S.

We all know that the BLM exaggerates its numbers by doubling or tripling the true number, so there may, in reality, only be 4,000 or fewer wild burros.  But even if there were 8,394 wild burros, 5,000 adults are the minimum number needed to preserve them.  Why suggest using fertility control on wild burros that are at such a low population level that they could be considered endangered?

You stated below that the BLM in Billings, Montana (Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range) said they’re “on the cusp of nearly eliminating the need for wild horse removals due to the use of PZP.”

The BLM established an Appropriate Management Level (AML) of only 90- 120 wild horses on the Pryors, excluding current year foals.  (Dr. Gus Cothran has stated that 120-150 BREEDING AGE ADULTS are needed for a viable herd.)  So, maybe there won’t be roundups, but the BLM is on the cusp of another way to get rid of wild horses & burros: minimally reproducing herds and non reproducing herds.

And I have a question for you.

Why isn’t the HSUS sending out e-mails to their members and writing letters to the Editor demanding an Amendment to ALL BLM Resource Management Plans to make sure wild horse and burro AMLs are set to viable herd levels (120-150 BREEDING AGE ADULTS)?  HSUS should move forward with this.    –   Debbie


Heidi Hopkins:  Why isn’t fertility control being used on wild burros?


The Bureau of Land Management should start using fertility control on wild burro herds right away (“Our View: BLM should trade in burro roundups for fertility control,” Mar. 23).

Fertility control, specifically porcine zona pellucida, is being used on various wild horses throughout the country and has proven effective. In fact, in a press release issued last week the BLM field office in Billings, Montana announced they are “on the cusp of nearly eliminating the need for wild horse removals due to the use of PZP.”

So why not use this same technology on wild burros? The Humane Society of the United States has proposed to the BLM a large-scale fertility control research project on wild burros and has stepped forward with funding through The Platero Project, a grant awarded to The HSUS to assist with the cost of the work. In the meantime, the burros have been busy reproducing.

Wild burros are extremely well adapted to the harsh desert environment and deserve to live their life out on the range where they have been for the past 200 years. BLM’s typical management actions of gather, remove and adopt are not sustainable.

There are currently over 800 formerly wild burros in holding awaiting adoption already. BLM should move forward with fertility control.

Heidi Hopkins

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.