Horse News

Bogus Nevada Cow Committee Takes Impotent Swipe at Wild Horses

article by George Knapp of Las Vegas KLAS – TV

“Cattle-driven Rhoads Pushes Bulls**t Horse Law”

George Knapp

It’s great to know our state lawmakers have solved Nevada’s budget woes and have nothing else to do with their time in Carson City. How else to explain a recent vote by the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee regarding wild horses?

The committee, whose longest-serving and most influential member is Dean Rhoads, staunch defender of all that is bovine, approved a bill that urges the BLM to make sure no public land is designated as habitat for wild horses. See, public land is for one thing and one thing only — cows. Privately owned cows, that is. Maybe an occasional sheep. Sen. Rhoads personally leases 60,000 acres from BLM for his cows, and at a bargain price, too, far less than the market value of the land.

The bill, as approved by Rhoads’ committee, would make sure the number of mustangs in Nevada doesn’t get any higher than it is now, and it strongly discourages the creation of wild horse sanctuaries on public ranges. You might be asking, what authority does the state of Nevada have over federally owned lands? Good point. The answer is none. Nevada can’t dictate what is or is not done with federal land, nor does it have any say in regulating wild horses on federal land. In other words, this resolution has zero chance of affecting the public range in any positive way, but it does have the power to screw with our state in a negative way.

Sen. Rhoads is a cattle rancher. He believes that the public range is for cattle, not wild horses, even though federal law says the mustangs have a right to exist on the public lands, while cattle grazing by private ranchers is, at best, a privilege. Rhoads has campaigned against wild horses in pretty much every session of his long legislative career, even opposing a campaign by fourth-graders to declare the mustang as Nevada’s official animal. He has frequently urged the feds to round up as many wild horses as they can capture, to get them off the public lands, even though private cattle outnumber the horses 40 to 1.

If this bill makes it through the Legislature, it won’t make a rat’s ass bit of difference to the BLM’s management of public lands. After all, in just the past two years, the BLM has wiped horses off the map on more than 1 million acres of Nevada range. It doesn’t exactly need a pep talk from Carson City to round up more horses. This week, the bureau came down off the fence regarding the possibility of creating public/private horse sanctuaries, declaring that it wants to hear proposals right away. Presumably this would include the ambitious plans by philanthropist Madeleine Pickens to create a million-acre mustang eco-sanctuary in Elko County, a plan that could transform a worn-down cattle ranch into a world-class tourist attraction and education center, where visitors could enjoy wild horses in their natural environment. Mrs. Pickens has already plunked millions of her own dollars into the project. She purchased a ranch near Elko and wants to lease the attached public lands to allow wild mustangs to run free. Cattlemen are appalled because it would mean some of the public land now devoted to cows would be redesignated for horses. Perish the thought.

Is Nevada so flush with investors and new businesses that it can say no to something as unique and promising as the Pickens plan?

What worries me most is that Sen. Rhoads is seen as perhaps the key vote in plans by Democrats to raise revenue in this session, so there is a chance they might toss him this bone, allow him to get his meaningless bill through the Legislature so that he might be more inclined to side with the D’s when it comes to taxes and budget cuts.

Those hardy Nevadans who make a living by raising livestock on our oft-parched ranges have my unqualified respect. It’s a tough life, fraught with peril. Without some sort of management program, wild horses could certainly threaten the viability of some ranches. But this bill would do nothing to manage the horse herds and little to protect hard-scrabble ranch operations. This bill is pure horse shit. Anyone who cares about the mustangs should let state lawmakers know that this resolution is not only a waste of time, but could cost our state millions of dollars in outside investment and lost tourism.

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11 replies »

  1. Are the good ol’boys like Rhoads just stubborn or plain stupid ?
    He believes in law and order, as long as he can can lay down the law and give orders. This pathetic man must be immobilized. Is he the new range God orchestrating every move ? Why these people like Rhoads refuse to welcome and support a true eco-sanctuary is beyond me. The long-term effect it could have for the state in light of tourism and education is clear to anyone but the stone minds of Elko Cty. and Rhoads and Co. It seems that Rhoads dreams to control so much, he lost control of himself. The reins these people hold so tight in their vision to take over the West must be adjusted – I hope their horse bucks them off as fast as they try to mount it.


  2. We can always count on George to tell it like it is. He pulls no punches and always hits the mark. The Knappster is a voice of reason in a sea of propaganda.

    Bravo, George!


  3. Mr. Rhoads, take note.
    BCC: Sent: 11/4/2010 10:17:35 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time
    Subj: Elko : Your Policy

    To whom it may concern:

    Many Americans have been following the little spot on the map called Elko, as your own Commissioner calls it. With great dismay and shock the world is witnessing an ignorant and evasive attitude from your town towards the project that could enlighten and enhance your own economical thriving, attract Americans to the West for a learning experience they would never forget – and mostly, to preserve the living symbols of freedom on whose back this very country was built.

    It is quite disconcerting to find out the real agenda that seems to doom over the Elko County Commissioners. When looking further into the seven members the board represents, with one in each of the following areas of experience or expertise: Federally Managed Public Lands, Surface / Groundwater Water Resources, Recreation, Ranching / Agriculture, Mining / Milling, Private Land Use Development, Wildlife management and a “Non-Voting” staff member – it’s no wonder a magnificent plan or vision could be squashed whilst other personal interests are predominant.
    Americans have started to realize that our mustangs are scapegoated under the guise of starvation tales, range deterioration and monopolized water rights battles.
    We have reached a time though, where we as Americans also know it is most critical that each of us does his part in setting a stone to preserve these mustangs by putting our personal agendas aside and consider the future. Surely, you do not want to speak on behalf of thousands whose children want to see a mustang in the wild, not in a wax museum ?

    This plan, amongst other suggestions that have developed lately, is most deserving of your consideration. If Ms. Boies is more concerned about world hunger than preserving our heritage in its rightful habitat, I suggest she designs a feeding program with the beef raised on these ranges.
    Livestock permittees should be phased out, natural predators such as pumas’ age old ecological role allowed to be fulfilled – natural barriers along with horse-proof fences built for mustang’s safety and keeping them out of harm’s way – adequate water rights can be established so that the natural springs in the area are not monopolized by ranchers or developers as it seems to be the case too often. Neither should miners be allowed to contaminate waters. It’s all possible, if the Commissioners first priority was the mustangs, not their own agenda. Surely no one complains about cattle starving – and all horses removed are in perfect body condition.

    Such a magnificent eco-sanctuary is very much a long-term project. It would draw tourism, leave a legacy, bring educational and healing experiences to schools, the sick, elderly, tourists – and have a huge impact on your economy. With the brains that American know-how ought to be equipped with, this is not an emotional issue. This is an obligation that we have, to restore these animals where they rightfully belong. Too long the government has harassed, assaulted and destroyed whole herds with no consideration for their survival.
    We owe much to these horses and such a region would only benefit Elko. It would set an example for the rest of the West, where the returned native horse is restored and allowed to enhance the native ecosystem, while keeping wildfires in check through the consumption of nutrient poor, flammable grasses, herbs and shrubs that equids are digestively equipped to handle.

    Just imagine, shifting away from the status quo of long repeated mistakes and moving towards a new vision, with a partnership and an open mind to be one of those freedom loving Americans, that stands up for those we owe so much, the mustangs.
    It’s known, that for too long, there have not been excess horses, only excess lies. We must shift and find a solution that will ensure a place as Congress had it in mind with the 1971 WFRHB Act, for our future generations to enjoy the wild horses, not in roadside zoos or a wax museum. But in the wild, in their original habitat, in Nevada, to be considered in the area where they are presently found, as an integral part of the natural system on suggested ranch.

    The rest of this country deserves more than the monopolized agenda that has ruled over this subject. The rest of America is learning the truth and wants to preserve these icons of our heritage. The subsidized
    livestock industry has been a major part in the destruction of our mustangs – and the damage caused by cattle is proven to be much worse. I urge you to reconsider your stance and realize that your voice speaks not only for your town, but the rest of this country, who will only benefit from the creation of such sanctuary.

    The establishment of a preserve is a duty, an obligation, after all the havoc that was inflicted in past years, and the illegal and highly questionable removals of protected horses must stop. Be part of a solution, an inspiration – as the mustangs are our national heritage, victimized and scapegoated by propaganda for too long.

    It’s time for a change.


    Monika Courtney, Colorado


  4. They had better brush up on their Chinese, because from the sounds of it, they are all going to be sold down the river. The bigger fish in D.C. don’t much care what happens to the small fish in Nevada.


  5. That’s a good letter Monika. Well done.

    My question to Mr. Knapp: Has he not heard of CONFLICT OF INTEREST. How can he push through a law just because it is of great personal benefit to himself… AND GET BY WITH IT??? The stench of those dealings is equal to the millions of cow pies his thousands of head of cattle leave all over the public lands! And is almost is sick and corrupt as BLM and their yayhoos.


  6. It was pointed out to me, by a someone who has managed ranches, that the reason more and more land is being taken for cattle is BECAUSE the land has been overgrazed by cattle–it takes many more acres to sustain the same amount. There has been no incentive to take care of PUBLIC property.


  7. The wild herds are a specialty on our public lands. Their presence has brought people to live in Nevada and to visit. Because of the rise of the advocacy we are seeing a backlash that is coming from ranchers who use public grazing. We are increasingly being warned and threatened by these other special interests that there is no room for our herds even after their presence goes back long before statehood and the cattle industry.

    Even though the wild ones have a secure piece of history and Congressional designated lands and permissions unique to them they have never been properly managed nor have they been thoroughly studied upon these lands. These negative influences from the cattle industry still appear to be given a great deal of weight in decision making all around. They imply any added recognition of the wild horses is to be forbidden. This Little War exists though, and we are the opposition and the active support of the down trodden wild herds. Is the Nevada State Government blind or hoping the world is?

    BLM keeps getting the bad publicity they have earned over the violent removals. The support for the wild horses grows and the information people need to fight the destructive policies has been refined and reinforced with our specific and collective experience. We continue to butt heads with BLM and the state coddled ranchers as these new and excessive attempts to wipe out the herds are thrown into the mix as expressions of post pioneer angst.

    Some of these good old boys represent the death of the Age Of The Cattleman. They are loudly lamenting their own condition and like BLM they blame the horses for all their troubles so that no one can be mistaken what they want and believe. So comes the pro wild horse campaign and we will not stop making our own noise and declaring our own intentions and beliefs. Change is slow while BLM has been swift to remove tens of thousands of our wild ones in just a few years.

    Our ability to stop the encroachments and removals is dependent upon what those of us who see this war against the wild horses and burros are willing to do. What are you willing to do this year that is more than you have done so far?? Find yourself a place to make a stand, fellow advocates and fight harder and give more than you you ever have. See before you a conclusion and changes to protect and restore our wild ones. Never doubt their fate is in OUR hands. Fight, this year, like you mean it and believe we will win. Never give in or back down. mar


  8. Perhaps Nevada might want to consider increasing revenue by increased tourism and viewing wild horses. I can guarantee that will bring in more revenue than the welfare ranchers do.


  9. In their latest public release..BLM touts it is making millions for the taxpayers on their land management, and they included grazing leases as an example…LOL ..Is anyone in DC checking to see if this dog has fleas? BLM has some splaining to do on how their math works


  10. I hate to admit to staying in Elko two nights out of every year but there it is. NV is a long dusty interstate. With very little out there. Not a lot of choices. I try to buy my gas in another town, bring my food and water to get me to ID. So I don’t spend all that much in NV, at least I try not to.

    It’s frustrating to know where to stay–where you can spend your dollars wisely and not only be appreciated for your business but for knowing that I’m helping a rancher or another small business owner–who doesn’t HATE horses.

    I have to admit–it’ll be a heck of a drive to Madeleine’s–if that eco-sanctuary ever gets off the ground (please BLM do something right for a change). Wells if my geography is correct is really a 1 1/3 day drive for me.

    I would welcome the chance to hang out at Madeleine’s. I would welcome the chance to see the wild ones and quietly tell them how sorry I am that not all two leggeds have treated with them the kindness and love they deserve. You whisper that on the wind. You hope on some level the horses do understand. I know Cloud understood last summer–his eyes softened when I told him how happy I was to be there with him. I think what Cloud picked up on was–she doesn’t mean any harm. That’s what kindness and love is here.

    It’s respecting the horses, not chasing after them cause they took off at a run (Bolder did that too the day I saw Cloud). You leave them in peace and allow them the space they need. You become one with nature.

    How special that day would be. Just to sit in the quiet. Listening not only to yourself, but to the horses munching on the grass. Other wildlife.

    I’m sorry that this cattle rancher is so set in his ways that he can’t see the forest. He’s actually pretty pathetic. I just wanna know why he keeps getting voted back into office when his agenda is so one sided. And by the way–this law he’s wanting to pass–isn’t that real similar to SS? The conflict of interest thingy?

    Wake up NV. The coffee’s burning.


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