Horse News

BLM “News Release”Fraud?

Story by Debbie Coffey (copyright 2011) from the PPJ Gazette

“Why shouldn’t we write or call our Congressmen and BLM management officials?   American soldiers fought and died so that you would be free to do this.  BLM POLICIES are set at THE TOP by Congress, and by Secretary Ken Salazar of the Department of the Interior, and by Bob Abbey, Director of the Bureau of Land Management.  Call and write to them. ”


Photo by Laura Leigh

A Bureau of Land Management (BLM) News Release (the BLM seems to be using the word “news” loosely here) dated 5/28/10 with Lisa Reid and Dean Bolstad listed as contacts, was a BLM announcement of the final public tours at Indian Lakes Wild Horse Facility.

This BLM release states: “Indian Lakes is a privately-owned and operated  facility, was never intended as a public facility and isn’t staffed to serve the public.  As a result, staff from other offices have been taken away from priority work and unplanned costs have been incurred.”

The most important question is “WHY would a government agency use OUR money to put something publicly owned (OUR wild horses) on PRIVATE PROPERTY, where we can NEVER HAVE ACCESS to them again?” Isn’t this like stealing?

I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and asked for a list of staff taken from other offices, for a list of the priority work they were taken away from and for a list of and the amount of money spent on the “unplanned costs.”  I received a letter from Paulette L. Sanford of the Department of the Interior dated 10/6/2010, and was told “There is no itemized list or record of the amount of money spent on the unplanned cost” and “there is no list or record of staff who were detailed to work at the Indian Lakes Facility away from their priority work.”  

I also asked for any prior meeting notes and telephone conversation notes regarding the statement that Indian Lakes Road was “never intended as a public facility.”

I received a contract modification for the Indian Lakes Road facility (AKA Broken Arrow USA) dated 3/22/2010 and signed by Troy Adams, for two hour public tours to be held once a week for the period of 1/01/2010 – 12/31/2015!  So apparently, 5 days before the “news release,” and only 3 days before the e-mail below, a contract was signed for future public tours of the Indian Lakes Road facility for the next 5 years.  Why would the BLM prepare and have a contract signed for something that they never intended to happen?

I also received a copy of an e-mail dated 5/25/2010, from Dean Bolstad, Deputy Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, to (other BLM personnel) Edwin Roberson, Bud Cribley and Don Glenn, with a copy to John Neill, Lili Thomas, Lisa Reid, Doran Sanchez, Ron Wenker and Amy Leuders.

In this, Bolstad states:

“We now have a favorable Calico Court decision and we need to seriously consider the toll that these tours are taking on our employees, our resources and the damage that is being done to BLM’s image as a result of the tours.”

“John Neill’s and our veterinarian’s reputability is seriously being compromised by the fall out from the Indian Lakes tours.”

“The impact of stopping the tours pales in comparison to the impact to our employees and BLM’s image.”

“…the Churchill County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation following a complaint of alleged inhumane treatment of an animal at Indian Lakes.”

So, what prompted this investigation?

Photo by Laura Leigh

The public had many concerns, over a long period of time and it was not just about a few horses.

In the e-mail, Bolstad also stated:

“I am concerned about potential actions from the irrational and emotional publics that read Elyse Gardner’s blogs.  There have been no direct threats that we can take action against, but I’ve had calls from individuals who are clearly mentally unstable and others that express their outrage.”

Note that Bolstad stated “There have been NO DIRECT threats.”  BLM employees are Federal employees, and if they were threatened, the FBI would be called to investigate.  The FBI can track threatening phone calls that are made or e-mails that are sent to a government office or to a government employee.

I’ve read Elyse Gardner’s blog  ( and I don’t consider myself to be irrational and emotional.  You might have read her blog.  Do you consider yourself to be irrational and emotional?  Is Bolstad’s interpretation of “express outrage” a personal reaction to justified criticism of BLM policies and procedures?

I also received a copy of an Internal Working Document (ASLM Information Memorandum) dated 5/25/2010 from Dean Bolstad and John Neill which states:

“widely publicized extreme negative criticisms continue to erode BLM’s image.”

“The general public has had ample opportunities to view the Calico Complex wild horses, the Indian Lakes facility, and BLM’s operations.”

Usually, only about 10 members of the public were ALLOWED on the tour one day a week for a few hours, with one BLM employee leading the tour.  People had to call to make a reservation and give their name, phone number and city where they live.  If we’ve had “ample” opportunities to have access to our wild horses and the Indian Lakes facility, can we now remove our “ample” tax dollars that are paying for it?

“Due to outrage expressed by individuals that are often irrational and emotional, employees are becoming concerned for their personal safety, are experiencing high levels of stress and concerned that this negative publicity will motivate terrorism against our facilities similar to the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front arson fires that occurred in the late 1990’s.”

This is like suggesting that the entire population of the U.S. be put into prison since there’s crime.  Many BLM facilities have many surveillance cameras and monitors in the office.  (Instead of pointing cameras on the horses, that need to be observed, the cameras are on you, THE PUBLIC.)

“Nevada BLM supports terminating the tours given Headquarters approval.  Extreme objection from Elyse Gardner and the Cloud Foundation will occur and they will organize a wave of emails and phone calls to BLM management officials and Congressmen.”

Why shouldn’t we write or call our Congressmen and BLM management officials?   American soldiers fought and died so that you would be free to do this.  BLM POLICIES are set at THE TOP by Congress, and by Secretary Ken Salazar of the Department of the Interior, and by Bob Abbey, Director of the Bureau of Land Management.  Call and write to them.

Issues regarding the Indian Lakes holding facility and documents available at the time are included in the First Amendment Rights lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management filed by Laura Leigh in LEIGH v. SALAZAR.  To find out more about this lawsuit, go to

All documents mentioned in this article are available for viewing in the “Reading Room” at

To learn more about our wild horses and issues regarding the BLM: ,


BLM News Release, National Program Office, 5/28/2010

e-mail from FOIA request:  Dean Bolstad to Edwin Roberson, Bud Cribley, Don Glenn dated 5/25/2010

ASLM Information Memorandum, Internal Working Document, 5/25/2010, from Dean Bolstad and John Neill

Amendment of Solicitation/Modification of Contract (Modification No. 0002), Broken Arrow USA, dated 3/22/2010

Letter from Patricia L. Sanford, Chief, Division of IRM Governance, Department of the Interior, dated 10/6/2010

40 replies »

  1. I read the memos and other documents. Not ONE WORD about horse welfare – they are all worried about themselves, their image and ELF coming to get them – when they even admit there is no threat.



  2. Thanks, Debbie.
    The BLM has such a guilty conscience they imagine all sorts of things.
    It is heart breaking to see those pictures again of the baby and the downed foal.
    The BLM is a ‘good old boy” organization and it will take so much work to save our Wild Ones. But we keep on doin’


  3. And yet…. the horses at Indian Lakes keep dying, whether we’re there to witness or not.

    If the Bureau’s image has suffered, they have to look no further than their own mirror. The combination of contempt for Wild Equines & the interested public and the unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions is what sullies their image. Bolstad’s own rhetoric – the assertion that anyone who advocates for these animals, either in attempts to block the roundups or expressing concern for their care afterward as emotional trainwrecks – does nothing to bolster that image.

    The Bureau is so complacent in their treatment of these animals, so used to the status quo that the death and destruction at their hands has become beneath notice. All the names mentioned in the article have been synonymous with BLM for so many years, they’ve become experts at justification.

    The brutalization of wild equines is nothing new, but this is the Age of Information and what we see, we relate. Some of us may be more raw in expressing our displeasure but Bolstad’s statements reinforce my personal belief – that if we do not speak speak up for our wild equines – through comments, litigation, personal observations and photographs – NO ONE ELSE WILL.

    And most certainly not the Bureau.


    • I remember this. It was so out of line with the things he was saying as to be seen as
      blatant carelessness. But we have never given anyone reason to believe we were capable of any violence and we have openly discussed our stance against it from the get go. mar


    • • 3396 (1 yr) – Eagle – died on its own due to gelding complications

      What do they mean “died on its own” Shouldn’t it be “due to improper gelding”


    • Notice on this weblink, BLM’s weekly journal notes from Indian Lake written for the public, that there are weekly (unconfirmed) death figures, with registration tag numbers given in some instances, not in others.

      Maybe more importantly, notice that until mid-August, 2010, “cumulative deaths” were given as a single number. Since that week, the BLM has not published cumulative deaths in any of the weekly journals to date. Why? Why do cumulative deaths suddenly drop off the radar?

      Damage control + denial = cover up and blame the outsider —

      which, in Spanish, is “mestengo”….


  4. It’s interesting to me how much effort is put into preventing the public from seeing how they treat our wild horses and burros, and how little effort they put into treating our wild horses and burros in a way that they’d be proud for the public to see.


  5. “Private Facilities” to incarcerate America’s Wild Horses TAKEN from America’s Public Lands– OFF-LIMITS to the Public—Let your Congressmen know–Call, Email and Fax


  6. Deb Coffey, Thanks for this revelation and your hard work! We all knew when the doors to Broken Arrow closed that it was because of the reports advocates were making… on the other hand, the photos taken there enabled many wonderful Calico horses to be adopted… something advocates helped do above and beyond BLM adoption efforts.

    While I was in Nevada last Spring I saw a a working relationship between BLM and advocates on the ground that was addressing problems the horses had. This was a Good moment and BLM was never concerned that it was helping the horses and combining public and BLM concerns with a positive outcome for the horses. BLM was ashamed of the deserved publicity they were getting for their below necessary care at the facility.

    The doors need to be reopened to the specifications of the contract Troy Adams signed…. but now that this is out I bet there will some more alterations to this!

    Bravo Deb!! mar


  7. THANK YOU Debbie! There has NEVER been anything right about the Broken Arrow “facility” from the get-go. It has just gone underground and festered. Time to get some fresh air and sunshine into these concentration camps.


  8. The violence that HAS been documented has been that which has been perpetrated upon the Horses and the People who are trying to protect them.


  9. BLM’s priority are and never were the horses. Have pride in something else than their deceptive tactics ??? Not them !!! Some human beings are such a miserable and rotten species….nothing shames politicians….not poverty, not injustice not cruelty to animals….they are impervious to heart and conscience…..
    The continued chronic abuse of power and horses is MIND BLOWING. We are all lied to, treated like puppets, and when we do not buy the canned well prepared answers from their PR headhonchos, we simply get labeled. That is how manipulators work. America is becoming a nation of SHAME and LIES. Look what is happening at the very top… is it a wonder ?????????
    BLM needs to be dissolved and that is the only way. The violations and crimes they commit under the umbrella of corruption – the unprofessional and archaic treatment to horses and the lies to public – America is doomed with ineffective failures. It seems not an educated nation, but a nation of thugs in leadership that never put their people first, nor what is best for their country. We don’t even know half of the truth yet. With so many devoted and experienced advocates, had this agency the slightest inkling in interest to the horses, our mustangs would be well taken care of and respected as the National treasure they are. But hey, this is America. What can one expect ?!?


  10. Clearly the main or chief emphasis of the federal government’s wild free roaming horse and burro program has been taken away from their lives in freedom in the wild and place upon domestication, read enslavement, and ending their lives period. This makes me shudder!


  11. I guess I would be guilty of making an irrational call on Monday to Salt Lake. I was admitted quite steamed by the video that was released over the weekend. And Dean Bolstad in his position should of been steamed too. Not because of the bad publicity but because of apparent neglect.

    Elyse never promoted violence of any sort. In fact, last year she even posted that she would start removing posts that crossed that line. She asked people to politely ask questions. I watched Elyse and Dean before my surgery a year ago. Let me tell you what I experienced.

    I went to Indian Lakes in early Apr. Dean was our guide that day. We saw a mare that was in questionable condition. I asked Dean if he would post to TCF or elsewhere her condition. He told me emphatically NO. We apparently started getting into a bit because Elyse HERSELF walked over to me and told me “Dean is one of the good guys.” That we advocates needed him and not to enrage him somehow.

    I remember telling Dean that I probably wouldn’t forget his name in that my dad’s name was the same. I liked him that day. No, I didn’t like all the answers he gave but I felt that day I was at least getting the truth; however, unpleasant. That to me says a lot.

    I don’t know this man personally so I can’t comment on him as a person. Professionally we’ve seen things that make us shudder. That’s the difference. When we advocate for the horses, its for their welfare. We ask the BLM to change what they are doing business wise. It has no bearing on any of these people as “private individuals”.

    We have to have ways to talk about change. We have to have a way to compromise. I’m not talking about BLM giving us everything–I’m talking about an even give and take as in any relationship.

    Yes, we have seen abuse and neglect. We have seen BLM employees do some real questionable acts. But all of us must somehow work together to fix this mess. If everyone is too busy saying Were right, No, We’re right–nothing will be accomplished. It’s no longer about this. IT’S ABOUT WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THE HORSES. They come first and foremost.


    • You must get out of your mind that this guy was nice to me, so he is one of the good guys. As this press release shows, Mr. Nice Guy writes his own rules arbitrarily. I was also told that John Neill was one of the “nice guys” and be nice to him and I then went on to receive one of the rudest emails from this man. It is not about personalities. It is about policies. And it is about abuse of power run amok. I don’t care who would be nice to have a beer with. One only has to look at Bush to see where that got us.


      • I understand that. But at the time I think Elyse was meaning that he was more willing to help advocates than others were. For instance that day he said we could stay out as long as we wanted–that he needed to be back in Reno by 5. We actually got an extra hour for observing horses that day.


  12. I suspect paranoia and image-consciousness is endemic to those higher up the food chain, who have to qualify their worn-out & failed policies. These are people who are not involved in the field, who see the Program only as numbers related to dollars and increased appropriations (MY tax dollars) as some kinda personal victory. So it stands to reason they would take offense when their l’il pedestals get rocked. Yet, their chief concerns are that the video and photographic evidence has painted them in an unflattering light and NOT that the animals were mortally injured or sickened or ultimately killed for their infirmities – just that they can’t do the job properly if the public knows the ugly truth.

    Impact to the Bureau’s image, Mr. Bolstad? That ship’s done sailed.


  13. How can our government afford to keep funding these BLM round-ups, &, the lifetime holding of America’s wild horses!!?? It’s obvious to everyone, they can NOT properly care for them, they’re sick, becoming emaciated, living in filth & mud, it’s appalling, it’s DISGUSTING!! Yet, instead of returning these beautiful creatures to the wild, where they belong & cause no harm, the government continues to waste money funding animal abuse, &, instead of using the money where it truly IS needed, like taking care of our citizens, providing healthcare, Medicare, helping people (& thereby helping businesses) get back on their feet, paying off some of their debts, etc., etc, they keep screwing up! What humans do to eachother & to the animals is pretty much beyond words. Look no farther than my own home state of Missouri, the people voted & passed the puppy mill prop., now because of some money hungry, backwoods “hicks” that truly believed that would put ALL breeders out of business, &, would somehow affect their “livestock” as well, the House passed a repeal & sent it to the Governor’s desk. Even though I called, as did many others, I’m sure this too, will fall on deaf ears. The American government is NOT for the people(as it once was), the American government doesn’t care what we want or say or think, it’s almost getting to be a little socialist, in my opinion. I even heard on the news that somewhere the government is banning school lunches from home!! That is ridiculous! Back to our wild horses, in a perfect world, we’d get to see their magnificent return to freedom, the awe & beauty & power & grace, but, in reality, we can only dream that vision, &, pray that their lives & spirits will someday frolick in sweet freedom, even if it’s when they’ve crossed over the Rainbow Bridge to the other side. I know that I have lost all faith in our government, & that unless the next presidential candidate is someone like R.T., I will not practice my right to vote.


    • Socialism is inevitable in republics because people pay taxes and that money is meant to come back to them in services… I beg to disagree and feel we are becoming more Fascist because the government will not accept criticism or allow protest to matter. We are supposedly eco-terrorists and yet there is no sign of violence in this campaign except from the BLM/Contractors. We are in so many ‘conflicts’ and wars we are bleeding our nation dry. The military waste is huge. Our wild herds have been the barometer of our public lands… and now they have been brought low. Greed for their lands has put them in harms way. We need to turn all this around from the citizen’s point of view and win this very ugly war within our country. mar


  14. Great article. BLM does not have an image problem; it has a problem with its
    actions which thankfully folks like Elyse and Laura have documented. Yes. I am outraged Mr. Bolstad. Anyone that is not completely numb would be.


    • You’re right. BLM does not have an image problem. BLM does have a truth problem and an integrity problem and a compassion problem and a dignity problem and a respect problem and an intelligence problem and an honesty problem and a common sense problem and a responsiblity problem and a ethics problem and a ……. (I don’t have time to finish this. I’m already over 50, and people in my family only live to 99 or so.)


  15. We all want results; change. There has been so little compromise as to be next to none. BLM does not want us around and we want to be able to access our horses wherever they are. Believing that we can work all this out with BLM is wasting all our time and the lives and freedom of the herds. BLM will never give in to us and since I want far more for the horses and burros than BLM will ever be capable of giving them/us… I will continue to say; Who Needs BLM? Let us fight to save the wild ones and their lands and the captives… and place them under a new agency that will rely on the People and Science and a reasonable budget and restored designated wild horse lands! mar


  16. “See something, say something.” Why not?? It’s your money going to an agency whose actions are not supported by the majority of American citizens. I do not want my taxes spent on animal cruelty sanctioned by the USA govt. Is that clear enough? ooops–if I get angry am I “irrational” and ” emotional”?? or just plain damn mad? Then there’s BLMs take on the matter–their message to us —
    ” Don’t ask us ,’cause we’re not going to tell”. Like a good American I sign every petition for Horse Freedom that comes my way. They can shut us out–but they can’t shut us down.


  17. Mr. Bolstad or the BLM cannot control social media or the internet. That is why they are obstructing access to holding and round ups. Hopefully the 9th circuit will recognize this violation of our 1st amendment rights.


  18. Great work Deb! Once again none of what BLM says or does makes any sense. If they used the same amount of effort cleaning up their own act as they spend in paranoia on us they could fashion a paradise (a clean one?) for the horses in their custody. Just foolish stubborn pride won’t allow them to do the job which they owe us for. I for one would welcome anyone to come and observe me at work, I’ve got nothing to hide. In fact if anyone could offer suggestions on way to make my work more efficient I would welcome them. Apparently that ain’t the way of the world in blmland.


  19. First, many thanks to all of you on the front lines.

    As for Elyse Gardner’s blog, my experience has been that she has bent over backward to present events factually. Her reports are not loaded with emotional language, butmof course, some of the images like the pictured of the foal who ran his hooves off lying on the frozen ground unable to get up, evoke such strong feelings from the viewer, no further words are necessary. Elyse has also been careful to correct erroneous “facts” if she has discovered after the fact that she has made a mistake.

    I, for one, am grateful that the BLM allowed Elyse to show how the horses are freeze branded, given vaccines, and tested for Coggins. My foster horse was very head shy, and seeing this particular process helps me understand and work with her reactivity, which is improved but greater than some domestic horses.


  20. Madeleine Pickens testified before the House Appropriations Committee today as most of you probably know. What you might not know is that any citizen with knowledge of a situation can enter written testimony to be heard by the committee. I don’t know if or how many of you have entered testimony, but it might add weight to our voices to contact the committee directly. Some of the research presented here and referenced would seem to me to make excellent testimony, but I would assume that with each committee our concerns would need to be within the jurisdiction of the committee.

    I don’t know if anyone read the report of the committee’s hearing with Bob Abbey. It seems that the committee chairman wasmconcerned because BLM has requested 50 million dollars for land acquisitions. According to the report, BLM spends only 3% of its budget on managing the land it already has, the chairman stated that he does not nelieve they are doing a very good job of that. He is also concerned with the sustainability of the Wild Horse and Burro Program. But the most amazing part of his remarks were, in my opinion, the revelation that BLM could produce no records of how much it has had to pay to people or groups who have sued the agency and won—even though payments are made through BLM’s budget. Where does the mismanagement and stewardship of our resources begin?

    In case this Congress fails to apply some serious breaks on this outfit, I am looking to the next election. We can use this town hall meetings, debates, and other events to get a feel for how our congressional candidates stand on wild horse and land management issues. Right now, Mitt Romney has declared and one of the few facts I know about him is that his wife has had a remarkable response to MS which she attributes in great part to her becoming involved with horses, particularly dressage. When you’ve experienced the healing power of horses up close and personal, you might take a protective stance on their behalf.

    However, again in my opinion, Harry Reid is the biggest hurdle the horses have. The fastest, surest way to remove him from power is to haven his party become the minority in the Senate, or to have Senate Democrats wake up and see his face in every photo op that has brought our it’s knees. They could vote him out, but that is a long shot

    Another way to go at this fight is through Congressman Issa’s committee which investigates allegations of misconduct.


  21. This is also hard proof that these “sanctuaries” the BLM wants on private land will just be a place the horses will disappear from without any “interference” from outsiders. The BLM turns down Pickens ranch, then openly solicits for “private parties”. Make no mistake, once on these private properties, no one will ever see the horses and burros again; those that try will be arrested for trespassing and probably branded as an “eco-terrorist”. The true plans of the BLM are so blatantly obvious to anyone with half a brain. Yet every contact I have with any representatives in Illinois illicits either no response at all or a canned letter regurgitating BLM propaganda and a list of things the congressman is involved with in “animal welfare”. It is disgusting that so many uncaring, unconcerned, or outright vicious people hold any office at all.



  22. Laura, keep us up on that language–you have a good understanding of it and we need to pay attention to it


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