Horse News

The BLM’s Big “Fire Sale” of Our Public Lands

Story by Debbie Coffey reprinted with permission from the PPJ Gazette

Salazar and Abbey Selling Off America’s Heritage

Kiss my A**

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is selling YOUR land right out from under you.  Concurrently, the BLM is blitzing the media with PR spin to justify removing all of our publicly owned wild horses off of our public lands.  If you want to see what has really been happening to our wild horses at recent roundups, go to Grass Roots Horse or SFTHH.

Do you know how many acres of your public lands are being sold off in each state?  This is a policy being pushed by your President, your Congress, Ken Salazar (Secretary of the Dept. of the Interior) and Bob Abbey (BLM Director).  Your state and local governments have their hands out to receive part of the profits.  Your “public agencies” (like the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management) are actually corporations and their priority is to make money.

Each BLM office is required to have quarterly “lease sales” of your public lands.  The BLM is making their money off of you and the remains of your United States of America.

To keep this simple, we’ll just look at one state’s lease/sales of our public lands to oil and gas companies.

Wyoming, as it turns out, is going gung ho on oil and gas “leasing.”  The BLM calls giving the use of our public lands to extractive industries for as little as $2 an acre a “lease sale.”  These are 10 year leases and they can be renewed.  Oil and gas companies can ask for certain parcels of public property to be leased.

However, unless you’ve ever heard of an oil pipeline being ripped out after it was installed, I’d call this a “permanent” use of our public lands.   An oil or gas (or mining) company will extract all of the oil/gas/ore.  They often contaminate water, land and air.  They use a LOT of our water from aquifers in their extracting process.

The oil and gas companies pay a 12.5% royalty to the Dept. of Interior’s Minerals Management Service on the amount or value of oil or gas removed or sold from each lease.  BUT THE OIL AND GAS COMPANIES DON’T PAY ANYTHING FOR ALL OF THE WATER FROM OUR AQUIFERS, WHICH IS IRREPLACEABLE AND INVALUABLE.

Let’s look at what happened in Wyoming in 2010.

Starting with the most recent 2010 quarterly BLM Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale Results:

November 2, 2010, Wyoming BLM leased/sold about 108,049 acres of your public lands.

August 3, 2010, Wyoming BLM leased/sold about 77, 712 acres of your public lands.

May 11, 2010, Wyoming BLM leased/sold about 70,446 acres of your public lands.

February 2, 2010, Wyoming BLM leased/sold about 52,993 acres of your public lands.

This is about 309,200 acres.  So, it’s well over of a quarter of a million acres sold only to oil and gas  industries, in only one state, in only one year.

These lands were leased/sold with a FONSI (Finding of no Significant Impact) by a BLM Field Office Manager.  Do you consider leasing/selling over a quarter of a million acres of your public lands to be significant?

The BLM does a boiler plate Environmental Assessment, but then the BLM Field Manager just “declares” a FONSI, and it is so.  Like little mini-dictators.

BLM Field Office managers state that oil and gas extraction is of no significance.  They write something like “I have determined that the project is not a major federal action and will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment, individually or cumulatively with other actions in the general area.  No environmental effects meet the definition of significance in context or intensity as defined in 40 CFR 1508.27 and do not exceed those effects described in Kemmerer Resource Management Plan.  Therefore, an environmental impact statement is not required.”

However, the Environmental Working Group found that oil and gas exploration impacts ARE significant.  There are many documentaries available to describe the damage caused by hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” (“Gasland” and “Split Estate”) and if you want to see what one group of concerned citizens has to say about fracking, go to

The Environmental Working Group stated “Drilling often removes enormous amounts of groundwater.  Companies frequently pump out thousands of gallons of water per well, particularly in oil wells and coal bed methane operations…The removal of water can create several problems: water may be depleted from nearby aquifers if large quantities of water are pumped out of the ground…removing water from coal beds creates the potential for underground coal fires, and vast quantities of water that are saline or contaminated with drilling fluids can contaminate soils, surface water and groundwater.”

Oil companies use “thumper trucks” in exploration.  These giant trucks with tires as tall as a man, lower huge plates applying 64,000 pounds of pressure to the ground and sending a seismic jolt into the ground to measure the waves as they return.  In Utah’s red rock desert, these trucks pulverized the earth, wiped out a 15 foot swath of vegetation wherever they drove and obliterated the cryptobiotic soil, which holds the red sand in place from wind and erosion.

A USGS expert on soil damage, Jayne Belnap, had submitted an official letter to the BLM about the fragility of the desert crust, and warned that it could take 50 to 300 years for the dry soil to recover from the damage incurred by heavy equipment.  In my opinion, the BLM probably labeled Jayne Belnap an eco-terrorist, then allowed the thumper trucks to just thump away.

However, the BLM Field offices really knock themselves out doing Environmental Assessments to remove our wild horses from our public lands.  They’ll bury you in over 120 pages of minutia over some hoof prints and a measly 15 gallons of water a day per horse.

Given these extremes, which are outlandish assessments, doesn’t it seem like the BLM is perpetrating FRAUD against the American people?

In 2008, Scientific American magazine’s cover story was “Running Out of Water: A Six-Point Plan to Avert a Global Crisis” and the 2010 National Geographic’s special issue cover story was “WATER: Our Thirsty World.”   Would it be too much to hope that Dept. of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar or BLM Director Bob Abbey might have read these and consider water issues?  (Oh wait a sec, the Gulf Oil Spill happened under their watchful eyes.)  Or that as leaders of U.S. land management agencies, they’d be concerned with vanishing supplies of uncontaminated water?  Bob Abbey may have been too busy with photo ops with mining company execs from Coeur Rochester for the Nov. 4 -10, 2010 Lovelock Review-Miner (Nevada), to have taken the time to read any articles about the global water crisis.  (Bob and the execs were all smiles after Coeur Rochester’s mining expansion received a FONSI.)  The Lovelock Review-Miner stated that (Bob Abbey said, in referring to the BLM) “the agency took its time to write a decision that can withstand any potential legal challenges down the road.”

Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen Bob Abbey at any of the many roundups of our wild horses, either.  I guess it wouldn’t be such a good photo op for him, since Josh Hellyer might almost be landing a helicopter on the back of a wild horse in the background.  Or heavily pregnant mares might be seen being chased by the helicopter long distances over snow, ice and rough terrain.

I can guarantee you that similar lease sales are happening in other states.

Nevada has a lot of mining, which is sucking billions of gallons of water from the aquifers from one of the driest states in the nation.  It matters, because Nevada will need to borrow some water from its neighbors, like California, Utah and Idaho.  But what happens when California, Utah and Idaho run short on water.  Who will they borrow from?  Eventually, there will be fewer and fewer places to get any uncontaminated water.

There’s not going to be water for wildlife (that means no hunting and fishing).  There won’t be water for livestock or irrigation for farming.  What will you eat?  There won’t be water for our wild horses OR for you.

Why is the BLM perpetuating this disaster?  When will there be a Congressional investigation into the BLM’s mismanagement of our public lands and their cruel eradication of our wild horses, which the BLM is supposed to protect?


The Lovelock Review-Miner (Nov. 4 – 10, 2010) “Officials Celebrate Coeur Rochester Expansion”

National Geographic (April 2010)   “Water – Our Thirsty World: A Special Issue”

Scientific American (August 2008)

36 replies »

  1. This is a very important article. Potable water is getting so scare that some predict the next world war may be over water. The contamination is every where. Cattle pollute water with E.coli, and mountain top removal coal mining has polluted thousands of miles of waterways in KY and WV. The Gulf is polluted with fertilizer and pesticide runoffs from farming. And of all things now some in government want to do away with the EPA and regulations .


  2. Remember those gas lines we all waited in back in the late 70’s? That was a wake up call to start looking for alternative fuel sources. Cleaner ones, and I’m sorry clean coal is an oxymoron at best when you look at the filth left behind mining operations. Scarred land that is a travesty. Did we put the research pedal to the metal to find these alternatives? Heck no. We are at least 30 years behind where we should be on research and development because oil was/is king. Now we are still doing things in the same old archaic manner, raping and poisoning the ground and waterways so we can poison the air with the final products. And our government, the so called protector of the people is wholly complicit in this. FONSI?? Are they blind, no just greedy. Except they can’t even make a good deal for the people’s land, they give it away. Word to Nevada: don’t look to California for water we’ve had our own water problems for decades.


  3. This is the tip of the energy iceberg that folks haven’t dealt with in the 60 some years since it was an item of some interest in the 60’s. In the meantime, humanity’s memory is very short and those big cars and trucks are so nice and comfortable. We are dieing and I mean dieing on this planet to come to renewable and sustainable energy sources. We need the political will from both politicians and the public to push for what we have needed for quite some time. We have taken it to the point where all will be sacrificed for our ability to move around and live in the world. Is it worth young lives and the very earth and creatures that we all need and love. I don’t think so but it will take more than a few lone voices.


  4. All the More reason to IMPEACH both Abbey and Salazar !!!! Immediately !!!! Please Sign and sent The Impeachment Papers On Abbey !!!!!!!


  5. & I don’t know how they figure wild horses drink 15 gallons a day. I just photographed a Wild Horse band of 4, who stopped to drink at a waterhole & from the moment I spotted them about 1/4 mile away HEADING to the waterhole & the time the LEFT the waterhole was a total of 8 minutes. I really dislike the BLM, & most of our government anymore! US, us people, stand up to our government & tell them we don’t like what they are doing! I don’t think I have seen so many protests by the people since the Vietnam war.


  6. Had “We, the people …” understood and DEMANDED Congess implement what Jimmy Carter proposed in 1977, many of these issues would have already been solved or well on their way to solutions.

    Then came “The October Surprise”, leading to the downfall of Carter and the subsequent, trickle-down-the-pantleg “Reganomics”. And we shouldn’t forget both Bushes’ behind-the-scenes dealings with the Saudis and others. Many of Carter’s proposals are still doable, but will likely never be implemented, because they’re not as profitable to special interests and those who receive massive political contributions and other perks from the private sector.

    Once again, both elected AND APPOINTED officials are selling our country and its natural resources down a rapidly disappearing river. So much of this is happening without our permission and, often, without our knowledge until after the dirty deeds have been done and the points rendered “moot”.

    As citizens and taxpayers, we are OBLIGATED to root out malfeasance, fraud, and corruption at all levels of government. The only way to accomplish this is if groups with differing agendas “agree to disagree”, and join together to make those in power (that AIN’T us!) live up to the “promises” they’ve made, rather than continue to profit from the host of “blessings” showered upon them by corporations and special interests.

    The Supreme Court’s most recent ruling allowing unlimited political contributions under the contrived protection of “corporate personhood” has made the road to reform extremely difficult, but I don’t believe it’s impossible. Vermont is attempting to point the country in the right direction:

    A “corporate person” is also called a “creature of statue”, which seems a much better description of those that subvert the intent of our Bill of Rights and, with the full knowledge of elected AND APPOINTED co-conspirator “creatures”, continue to prey on our precious nation and her people.


  7. Thank you so much for this article. This is extremely important information. As I have said to just about anyone who will listen to me, this is about the horses, but its so much more than just about the horses.


  8. I don’t think you will see a congressional investigation. I have heard with my own ears….President Obama say…. Clean coal. What does that tell you? This whole thing stinks and he’s right in the middle of it hiding, not saying a word. Is he going to pop up and say enough to the BLM? No! He condones these round ups because he condones fracking. Change you can see should have been his motto. Change you can believe in…. what a load of lies! Believe this Mr. Obama, WE THE PEOPLE, WILL NOT STAND FOR OUR TAX DOLLARS TO BE WASTED ON THE GENOCIDE OF OUR NATIONAL ICONS WHO SHOULD BE CONSIDERED NATIONAL TREASURES.


  9. Boy, oh boy,,, where’s my big windfall when I need it??!!!
    They could sell it to me and I’d know what to do with it :o)


  10. A symbol such as our wild horses and burros represent freedom by association. A national symbol such as our wild ones unite people with values, FREEDOM and goals, REMAIN FREE and our history, PAST how we got our freedom and how to remain free! I have lost all trust in my government that we will retain our freedoms. No common sense and ruled by their own personal greed at taxpayers expense. What they are doing to our wild ones is changing the mindset of a lot of people. The very thing you need to bond to equine is TRUST, they take our wild ones, they take my trust of them! Our government is destroying the symbol, cultural icon of which they should be learning from! I sure have, stand and rest with my eyes open but fully aware.


  11. The prospect under tyranny is not a good one. America resembles a land of frustrated, hopeless and deteriorating values… is it a wonder ? The arrogance of BLM and this government’s egotistic rollercoasters is only a small part of the all over picture of a cardhouse that is about to collapse. With the current president who is a man with no papertrail, it is pathetic to think the country is in good hands. Having mislead many and disappointed others who voted for him, the promised change is surely coming, just not in the ways we all hoped.
    For a country having been built on the concept of “FREEDOM”, I have to say it is the most restricted place I ever lived in. The daily waste for example, taking place in all grocery stores across this nation… where most produce is wasted into dumpsters instead of being donated (to horse rescues for example, as I tried them to do, even submitted notarized wavers to exempt them from all liability and claims..) is NON CAN DO. The main stream American mentality is throw away, waste – because it’s liability that rules the world here. Common sense has been lost a long time ago. I cannot imagine the tons of food thrown out, because folks here cannot eat an apple that has a little bruise. What a vicious cycle – if you consider the waste, the efforts of shipping, stocking, manpower, time, and the pollution caused by replacing all the wasted produce so the shelves are stocked with perfect apples…. It is sickening the ignorance with this – whilst most horse rescues are struggling, most stores here throw all the apples out. And this is a reflection of the all over picture… they must literally go hungry here before they wake up – America is falling apart, and becoming very vulnerable – one can wonder what our future generations have to endure here at the speed of deterioration that we witness. The corrupted powers in charge who lie their way to office and while in office set a sad example for some nation whose arrogance always made every other country in the world look like a third world doomland – playing world police yet betraying their own people – with a joker in charge whose past no one knows and he hides.
    Tyranny is the new slogan, and people need to march the streets to be heard.
    What we are witnessing with the mustangs is a dirty secret, that most Americans and the rest of the world do not know about – and the true stories must be exposed, just WHO in this plastic society has the GUTS to do so ? The big organizations that are powerhouses and almost cult alike in animal welfare.. where are they ? Hiding in the shadows of government tyranny ? Afraid ? Where are the spineless wonders always cashing in on money and attention-getting PR gigs, yet when it is to rake risks to expose the truth… the failures, the lies… we are all victims a new dictatorship, they ought to change their national anthem, because freedom is vanishing. Not just for the poor mustangs and burros, but for all of us.



    The Food Not Bombs Story

    Food Not Bombs is one of the fastest growing revolutionary movements active in North America today and is gaining momentum all over the world. There are over 175 autonomous chapters sharing vegetarian food with hungry people and protesting war and poverty throughout the Americas, Europe and Australia. The first group was formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1980 by anti-nuclear activists. Food Not Bombs is an all volunteer organization dedicated to nonviolence. Food Not Bombs has no formal leaders and strives to include everyone in its decision making process. Each group recovers food that would otherwise be thrown out and makes fresh hot vegetarian meals that are served in city parks to anyone without restriction. The groups also serve free vegetarian meals at protests and other events. The San Francisco Chapter has been arrested over 1,000 times in an effort to silence its protest against the Mayor’s anti- homeless policies. Amnesty International states it may adopt those Food Not Bombs volunteers that are imprisoned as “Prisoners of Conscience” and will work for their unconditional release.


  13. I watched 2 programs this weekend discussing this/these exact issue(s).

    Real Time with Bill Maher and Energy Now.

    Energy Now discussed the “frakking” contraversy and Real Time had panelists specifically stating that government is selling off American public services, resources and lands to private interests at the fastest and most reckless rate ever documented.

    Scared the pooh out of me. Certainly explains the wild equine massacres.

    After Deepwater Horizon….why is Salazar still there Mr. President????? AND REPORTS AND FINDINGS STILL BLAME THE INCOMPETENCE AND INEFFICIENCY OF DOI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  14. Will the country reflectively reminisce in the all too near future , should we have taken to the streets in venomous Egyptian style protest….


  15. This is a 2009 High Country News Article. I don’t know how successful this effort has been since then. I think the only hope ordinary citizens have of exercising any control over our public lands is to get together and privately buy up grazing leases that ranchers are willing to retire.

    I don’t know how many leases are currently or might become available (if there was a good offer), but I think it’s worth some research specifically regarding leases on the HMAs. If cattle and other domestic livestock weren’t present, hopefully more wild horses would be “allowed” to remain. Just a thought.


  16. Buying retiring grazing allotments is a very short term idea because the water is going to DRY UP, if not already dried up, on the grazing allotments, too. The water level is bot DROPPING or becoming contaminated. What good will a grazing allotment be with no water on it? 1) there won’t be water and 20 there won’t be any forage because there’s no water. Or, it will all be contaminated.
    You must, must, must pay attention to the mining and extractive industries and what the BLM plans are in each field office, in each state.


    • Debbie, Are you speaking of Nevada?? That would not be the best state to start in… there are others. The water is still a highly sensitive issue anywhere the horses are. mar


      • Mar, Nevada is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT states to look at. Look at all of the mining expansions and new mining. Look at the BLM’s NEPA reports. Also, the new SOLAR projects use lots of water.


      • Yes and Nevada has had our undivided attention sometimes to the detriment of the horses in other states. Hostility is highest in Nevada and those ranchers are getting very touchy about BLM wanting to ADJUST anything in reference to wild horses. Nevada is the biggest mess of all. mar


    • Another article: “How to Retire Your Federal Grazing Permit or Lease for Compensation – A Primer for Federal Grazing Permittees and Lessees”. Long and involved, but may provide further insight. “Chronic Drought” is one of the categories. “Water Pollution” isn’t.

      It doesn’t mention existing, proposed, or “potential” uses like extraction, development of rural subdivisions, “ranchettes”, expansion of cities and towns (which will impact water tables), and water transport to big cities or more productive agricultural areas like the Imperial Valley. “Potential” is VERY important, and I think the BLM is keeping many of these investigations secret until it’s too late and the only possible remedies are lawsuits. Find out if local people (especially conservationists) have observed suspicious activities.

      I agree with Mar that Nevada isn’t a good candidate for investment, and investigation is a waste of time. Most of the state has already caved to or ENCOURAGED just about every destructive “multiple use” imaginable in exchange for money and jobs. Before long Nevada will be totally gutted, and residents will cry and plead ignorance, which is no excuse.

      The bottom line is to treat this like any other investment. Do your homework, especially on land deals. If things seem “fishy”, they probably are.


      • Nevada is important because it’s one of the states with MOST of our remaining wild horses, so it IS very important to look at. It’s great if you and others want to look into what any one/each state is doing, but please don’t tell others to ignore Nevada. ALL of the states need to be looked at, INCLUDING Nevada.


      • No one doubts this, Debbie… but inroads may be found in other less hostile places. Not that I am holding out for that. I am not. BLM has buried the wild horses in Nevada
        as deeply as possible from any outside help. The lands are spoken for and leased and released and expanded. Done deals that will make any progress for wild horses there extremely difficult… as it is, as it has been. mar


      • Debbie, I’m going to correct myself. A thorough and ongoing investigation about what’s happening in Nevada (and other wild horse states) is EXTREMELY important for the reasons you stated. I should have said considering lease purchases in Nevada is a waste of time. Finding out which ranchers are seeking to retire leases and why would be good to know.


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