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fact, BLM has admitted that its current resource management plan governing drilling activities, finalized in 2003, is outdated and no longer able serve this essential function.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.

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

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

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

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

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

BLM offers tour of Nevada wild horse & burro facility

SOURCE:  the horse.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horseback Protest Targets BLM, but Environmentalists Say Whoa

as published in the LA Times

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environmental Groups Eye Idaho BLM Sage Grouse Ruling

By Keith Ridler as published in the Reno Gazette-Journal

“Ruling could give leverage to Wild Horse & Burro Advocacy”

Greater Sage GrouseBOISE — A small portion of a federal judge’s ruling in Idaho against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management concerning grazing permits in sage grouse habitat is being eyed as a potential lever by environmental groups considering similar lawsuits in other states.

Most of U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s 21-page decision late last month involved his ruling that the agency violated environmental laws in issuing permits on four grazing allotments in south-central Idaho, considered test cases for about 600 other permits.

But he used three pages near the end of his decision to rule on a separate matter that the agency incorrectly used a congressional budget rider to issue additional grazing permits in south-central Idaho with no environmental analysis at all.

“This is a clear shot across the bow of the BLM,” said Todd Tucci, an attorney for Advocates for the West that represented Western Watersheds Project in the lawsuit. “I will bring this argument to any federal court in the country and feel very comfortable about my likelihood of success.”

Ken Cole of Western Watersheds Project said the BLM has used the rider to issue hundreds of grazing permits across the West. Winmill’s decision only pertains to Idaho, but conservation groups in other states are viewing the winning lawsuit as a possible template.

“This is a legal victory that is certainly going to get a lot of scrutiny from environmental groups moving forward,” said Erik Molvar of WildEarth Guardians….(CONTINUED)

The Final Days of the Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup Part II

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

Farewell Wild Horses of Wyoming

Day 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,056 other followers

%d bloggers like this: