Horse News

The BLM’s Snow Job About Water on the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area

By  Debbie Coffey

Live link to The PPJ Gazette

“the Jaksick family is attempting to control the water in the Smoke Creek Desert north of Reno, and use pipelines to bring that water south to the Winnemucca Ranch development…The plan is to share some of the 14,000 square feet of water rights with Washow County, and the county then piping their share into the Truckee Meadows for distribution through the quasi governmental agency, Truckee Meadows Water Authority”  (TMWA)

95% of circulation water is underground. You can’t see it, but it’s there.” – geologist Graham Fogg

When we were on the June 14, 2010 public tour of the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA), the BLM said the BIG REASON they had to round-up our wild horses was because there WASN’T ENOUGH WATER. They took us by a spring east of Observation Peak, which was fenced off because it was on PRIVATE PROPERTY. The BLM said this spring fed Smoke Creek, which went south of the area. Aside from the actual spring itself, most of the creek/water runs south on public lands through the Twin Peaks Wilderness Study Area to the Smoke Creek Resevoir. The BLM took us to a cow-poop laden riparian area, showed us what looked like a puddle of water and talked more about how there was hardly any water and how all the creeks dry up in the summer.

When we asked who owned the spring/water at Smoke Creek, the BLM officials coughed up the last name of Jaksick, but none of them seemed to know Jaksick’s first name. That’s funny, because in 2008, the Eagle Lake Field Office was involved in a $6 million deal/partnership with Sam Jaksick.

An article by the Land Trust Alliance stated “BLM and the Nevada Land Conservancy have been working with landowners since 2003 for federal acquisition of the land in order to protect a wide variety of resources on the property. This is the largest and most complex SNPLMA (Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act) acquisition done to date, with more than a hundred distinct parcels with appurtenant water rights across three BLM administrative areas – the Winnemucca field office in Nevada, and the Surprise and Eagle Lake Field offices in California. The parcels, all within Nevada, are scattered throughout the Granite Range north of Gerlach, and include portions of Buffalo Hills, Twin Peaks, and Poodle Mountain Wilderness Study areas, and range from high alpine meadows to sagebrush lowlands.”

To give some background info on water in the area: In 2008, UC Davis geologist Graham Fogg, (in talking about the water around Cedarville and Surprise Valley, just north of Twin Peaks) stated that “95% of circulating water is underground. You can’t see it, but it’s there.” He also explained that “underground water comes down the Sierra Nevadas and the Carson Ridge and other hills and peaks in the area, down into underground aquifiers, then moves throughout Central and Northern California and Nevada’s underground water systems, filling aquifiers along the way and moving in mysterious patterns and along geologic gradients in ways and quantities that not even the best science has yet fully quantified…surprisingly little is known about just how much water California has in its aquifiers, let alone Nevada and Southeastern Oregon.”

Bob Fulkerson of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada added:

“…developer Sam Jaksick is one of the largest landowners in Modoc County and is in the process of developing a 12,000 home project west of Pyramid Lake in Washoe County, Nevada, called Winnemucca Ranch – a 6,000-acre spread just 30 miles north of the bustling city of Reno. The project…would require Reno to annex the area and likely pump water from Surprise Valley and other areas…He said developer Jaksick is buying up land in Modoc and in other places around California and Nevada…Jacksick’s latest project…is an egregious example of development planning – and greed – gone mad.”

A 2008 article in the Nevada Observer states, “Washoe County is…importing water from north eastern California by way of a pipeline from the Honey Lake area to Lemon Valley in the north valley area of Reno”. (note: Honey Lake is 2 miles from the Twin Peaks HMA) “The City of Reno has been working on plans to extend the city limits some 30 miles to the north and allow for development of an area known as the Winnemucca Ranch, which sits just west of Pyramid Lake. The plans have been modified to a degree, which would allow the development company to build out, including some infrastructure, then join the city…”

“the Jaksick family is attempting to control the water in the Smoke Creek Desert north of Reno, and use pipelines to bring that water south to the Winnemucca Ranch development…The plan is to share some of the 14,000 square feet of water rights with Washow County, and the county then piping their share into the Truckee Meadows for distribution through the quasi governmental agency, Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA). Hydrologists belive there is about 16,000 square feet of water available in the Smoke Creek Desert Aquifier.”

It seems that while we were on the BLM’s public tour of woe about a lack of water in the Twin Peaks HMA last week, the local water was destined for yet another new purpose in Nevada.

Jaksick Enterprises partnered with an international timber company founded in Australia, ECO2 Forests, Inc., and is planting 3 million kiri trees on 14,000 acres near Jaksick’s Winnemucca Ranch. The kiri tree is native to China, and seems invasive to the environment in Nevada. Kiri trees need 20-60 inches of rain a year, and the Reno area only gets 7-8 inches a year. The kiri tree strips carbon dioxide from the air and lets Jaksick Enterprises suck in money from the proposed carbon-credit market. As a matter of fact, big money. According to ECO2 Forest’s website, projected revenue for each harvest cycle (7 years) is $225 million for the lumber and $12 million for carbon credit sales. and

The Twin Peaks Herd Management Area is land that’s supposed to be devoted principally to the welfare of the wild horses under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act of 1971. The BLM, in whatever deal they cut with Jaksick or others, should’ve made sure our wild horses had enough water to drink.

As an aside, Sam Jaksick, an avid hunter, was charged with using a helicopter to harass bighorn sheep in violation of the Airborne Hunting Act. Jaksick may own land where the BLM is putting the trap sites for the wild horse gathers. This is a coincidence, since Dave Cattoor of Cattoor Livestock Roundup Company, which the BLM has contracted to conduct the wild horse gathers, was convicted for aiding and abetting in the use of aircraft to hunt wild horses.

If you would like to find out more about our wild horses or updates on the gathers, an excellent website is

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29 replies »

  1. More corporate greed swallowing earth and the innocents. Not hard to believe, impossible to accept.

    The little stone over the left shoulder, is flying with perfect aim………

    Great job Debbie! Thank you for exposing these truths. Nice stick…..


  2. It just seems to get worse & worse ever day R.T. It’s maddening & saddening that our government just doesn’t seem to care about the welfare of the wild horses. 😦


  3. “Whatever it takes,” be careful what you wish for, RT. We have waves of BLM activity coming about this week and next and then not to end until nearly winter unless we can stop the avalanche of horses about to be swept away like the Calicos. Herd watch needs support for people in the field. There needs to be a commitment to keep people out there and actively monitoring herds and BLM activity. Please keep helping us. mar


  4. Great write up, Debbie. I am so glad that you have shared this with us. Looks like more complications. The wild ones need to be exempt from all this BS and find the protection they need. Draw a line and keep the greed on the other side. mar


  5. Excellent report…thank you.

    I have family in the Coachella Valley that had no problems with their wells tapping the aquafir UNTIL the non agricultural development started to run amuk.

    Small acreage land owners are now restricted and being or going to be taxed for accessing the aquafir because water is running low. The electricity costs for water pumps feeding small date, citrus and crop fields started skyrocketing in the late 80’s-early 90’s with no charge for water if you owned your own well. Those days are destined for the history books, all because they put too many crap houses, on crap postage stamp sized pieces of land to accommodate housing no matter the cost. Date and citrus orchards are being plowed under as we speak, all for MORE housing that strains local governments for schools, police, fire, social services, etc.

    Big land owners and corporate farms are the worst users and abusers of environment, wildlife and water. In fact they perpetually get preferential treatment, tax breaks and almost infetterred acces to aqueduct and aquafir sources because they supposedly provide “jobs” and revenue. Funny, last I checked they get many tax breaks, export a ton of their product and hire migratory workers or illegals.


  6. Unscrupulous developers like this skunk care nothing about other PEOPLE’S water rights or way of life, never mind any animal’s needs. They dangle big, fat, “broadening the tax-base” carrots in front of cities, and public officials chase them until they realize (but never admit) the developments have ultimately done much more harm than good.

    Somebody needs to find out the locations and capacities of these aquifers NOW. Don’t rely on “belief” and “estimates”, do the science. And don’t allow development until the studies have been completed and cross-checked by independent researchers.

    The citizens of Albuquerque were assured for years there was enough water in the aquifer under the city to last indefinately. No matter how much the city expanded, there would always be more than enough water. About 15-20 years ago, hydrologists discovered the aquifer contained about 10% as much water as had been reported, and the race was on to find new sources.

    The upper San Juan was tapped and goodness knows how many acre-feet flow through a huge aqueduct/pipeline (including portions drilled through mountains) to supply the city. They’re also drinking the Rio Grande (YUCH!), which was pretty low when we lived in ABQ, and has gotten lower each year. Now it slowly meanders between sandbanks. Nothing “Grande” about it anymore. How do you say “Rio Mudhole” in Spanish?


  7. I couldn’t believe what I just read in this link. Those kiri trees are Paulownia tomentosa or the Empress Tree; a tree that is considered invasive here in the Mid-Atlantic states with no benefit to wildlife. This article states that the trees will be irrigated in order to grow to size that can be harvested. So Mr. Jak Sick(sic) gets the water for his trees and sells the wood to the lumber company and the horses lose out again—this time to trees.


    • Is this the “Royal Paulownia” that’s advertised in a lot of publications? I can’t imagine a tree that promises to grow so fast can be much good for anything but pulp. Farmington has been planting RPs in medians around town. The city said they were supposed to need less water. If not constantly irrigated they never attain much height, and many just yellow and die.


  8. He’s got the right idea to plant trees, everything else- location,species of tree is all screwed up! Why doesn’t he buy land in a state where it rains to much? why Nevada a state where 80 percent is federal land?

    oh I bet I know why..because the DOI/BLM federal criminals are giving/selling him public land! somekind of tax writeoff. wonder how much taxes this man pays. a big fat ZERO I bet. another anti-american leech created by the ‘self regulating’ federal gov, 😦

    wonder how many trips,cash and gifts crossed hands along with the winks and nods. BLM?
    legal prostitutes in nevada? how many chicken ranches did this dude take you too?


  9. The bottom line is-someday, probably in the not-so-distant-future, the aquifers WILL be used up. More and more people vying for less and less water. And no government lies will refill the aquifers.

    No wonder Futurists keep saying the next war will be over water.


  10. I believe we will be fighting over water in the (maybe not too distant) future, when i was out in the AZ desert, watching people water grass, it amazed me, it upsets me when people water grass anyway, water is NOT renewable, we need to take care of what we have;


  11. hard to believe..Nevada now has the highest unemployment in the US..wheres the demand for more housing?? people are leaving in droves…guess that old cattle industry that is so important to nevadas economy..isn’t putting out like it used to..come to think of it..I made 500 a month with a house supplied working on a ranch in N. Nevada..can’t hardly make a living on that…but if salazar and Abbey are such supporters of that industry..maybe they should give it a try..It was a 7 day a week job with 2 days off a month to go 100 miles to town to get supplies, gamble and was fun when you are 22…


    • I think Nevada (Las Vegas) is much like Phoenix (both “green grass lands). We have thousuands of unfinished developments just sitting in the desert. Its not so much that people are leaving, it’s that the unsustainable bubble burst, the bubble that was artifically inflated by Wall Street methods, so people on the brink of the burst could not sell their good enough older homes to move up to 5000 sq ft new homes. They probaly already refinanced that older home once already 6, 7 year ago, then the balloon or increased interest has or is kicking in, and the “no brainer” ads still pumping into our brains 24/7 “REFI – BUY UP – YOU CAN HAVE ANY HOUSE YOU WANT – NO QUALIFIYING – NO APPRAISALS!” Just a way out of one “:creative mortgage” into another – how long can that go on?

      Everyone is aware that besides mortgage insurance, the same people making the loans were also taking out another insurance that those mortgages WOULD FAIL? Then the crash – they had already enacted laws under Bush that the citizens would bail them out!

      Look up our MLS (it is on-line) in Buckeye, AZ for example, Buckeye was one of the hot places to go – thousands upon thousands of “bank owned” houses. They don’t even list bedroom and baths because the interior walls never got finished.

      Yet, some developers are still building!


    • I got caught up – yes the consturuction related industry workers are leaving – but going where? If there are jobs for this industry somewhere I need to know and go there too.


      • SWH, Yes, that is true and you would think there was a cattle ranch on every corner. The Western Cattlemens Association and others like it are just so rooted and very strongly interwoven into the BLM/DOI. This is a tough nut to crack. They have huge political power and they are also holding hands with new energy. They want to self perpetuate forever. mar


      • There is about to be an exposion of jobs in Nevada 174 windmill projects being fasttracked and 600 jobs for the ruby pipeline..then you have transmission lines ect..the construction trade and the casinos are the primary job losers in the state.


    • Ranching in Nevada is a teeny, tiny portion of the state’s economy. They act like they are a huge agricultural state and they are not. Move the cattle east to fenced in pens and pastureland.


      • ALL the ranching on Public Lands is less than 3% of the overall beef industry – yet they want more – everytime they move our horses, next thing we hear is more cattle have been moved on!

        Boot those cattle east and return our horses home.


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