Horse News


Written by Debbie Coffey, Director of Wild Horse Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation, as published in the PPJ Gazette

While you’re being shut out, other “uses” (that are more likely to cause harm to the environment) are allowed to take shortcuts

About every 15-20 years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rewrites a Resource Management Plan for areas that include not only rural areas, but big cities like Los Angeles.

Then, for the next 15-20 years, every proposed project, plan and Environmental Assessment is based on this Resource Management Plan (RMP).

With these RMPs, the BLM (along with the Forest Service) has ramped up limiting & closing off public access to public roads and lands. In RMPs (Route of Travel Designations), the BLM designates public roads as “open,” “limited use” or “closed” to Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs). This can include 4 wheel drive pickup trucks, not just All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes. Public lands can also be designated as “open,” “limited” or “closed.” Designations can change from “limited” to “closed.”

Supposedly, BLM and the USDA’s Forest Service are closing and limiting use of public roads and public lands to protect the resources of public lands. But, it’s important to consider the EXTENT to which they’re doing this. It goes far beyond protecting habitat.

For instance, at the Tavaputs Plateau in Utah, the BLM has been trying to close roads that lead to some of the most popular routes and scenic vistas in that county. It’s also the area where Bill Barrett Corp. is conducting a massive natural gas field development The BLM intends to close the roads for 30 years.

If these road closures are really about protecting habitat, then how can BLM possibly justify how your 4 wheel drive truck could cause more harm to the environment than a massive extraction project that has about 488 well pads (with 20 well pads in Wilderness Study Areas and 218 well pads in areas with Wilderness Characteristics), 164 miles of new roads, 3,390 acres of initial disturbance (before reclamation) and 1,705 acres of long term disturbance?

It seems that BLM, Forest Service and Congressional concern for protecting the environment is selective. While you’re being shut out, other “uses” (that are more likely to cause harm to the environment) are allowed to take shortcuts.


RMPs used to be about 160 pages or less. Now, the new RMPs can be over a thousand pages (with an additional CD of Route of Travel Inventory Maps). The old RMPs had straightforward topics in the table of contents like land use allocations, livestock grazing, land tenure adjustments, oil and gas lease stipulations, and areas of critical environmental concern.

Now, the table of contents lists Ethno-Linguistic overview, environmental justice, indicators of community economic strength, distribution of private sector employees, total economic value added by major sector, travel management and route of travel designations.

What does all this have to do with public lands and the environment? You might want to start asking questions.

The BLM is using aerial photography and GPS to “inventory” every last inch of anywhere you could possibly go. The USA is being inventoried down to the last speck of dust.

Yet, the BLM (also busy rounding up wild horses off public lands to the point of extinction) apparently wasn’t able to take even one photo with an old Brownie camera to prove their claim of supposed “excess” wild horses in some areas where BLM had the biggest roundups last year.

Even with so many new pages to RMPs, the BLM instructs:
“Chapter 3. Affected Environment (keep as short and concise as possible): Limit discussion to what is needed to understand issues and environmental consequences and provide context for the Goals and Objectives.” (BLM Land Use Planning Handbook, Appendix F, p. 16)

Limit to “what is needed to understand” by who? A gnat? (Yet, the BLM is delving into Ethno-Linguistics.)


In a 2010 article in the Billings Gazette, it stated that Wyoming “Elected officials working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management say the agency’s policy of closed-door land-use planning sessions is preventing them from sharing substantive information with the public, and that details of their work will be disclosed only after key decisions have been made.”

The public had reason for concern. In 2005, the Government Accountability Office found that the BLM approved oil and gas activities in violation of the law. Many of these were in Wyoming.

Some of the documents listed as references in The Bighorn Basin RMP (Appendix X-13) in Wyoming, were “Private Communication” between R. Fetter of the huge private military contractor Science Applied International Corporation (SAIC)  to BLM employees in the Cody and Worland Wyoming BLM Field offices (2009), and between T. Robert Fetter of SAIC and D.T. Taylor, Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Wyoming (2009 & 2010).

I requested these documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and received the communications between the BLM employees and R. Fetter, but was informed that BLM couldn’t send me the other documents because “The records do not belong to the BLM and are not considered ‘Agency Records.’ Copies of the documents in question could possibly be obtained from the author.”

Hold your horses, does this mean that BLM Resource Management Plans are, in part, based on documents that could be secret and unavailable to the public?

The documents I received between R. Fetter of SAIC and BLM employees was about economic data to calibrate with IMPLAN (“IMpact Analysis for PLANning” databases and software). One document was about livestock and recreation (Laura Ziemke of ICF International was in on this e-mail loop, and the other was about oil and gas drilling and costs (a 20 year forecast).

As an aside, SAIC’s subsidiary, Varec, delivers “automated systems and professional services for most major oil companies worldwide.”


“The IMPLAN input-output accounts are based on industry survey data collected periodically by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and follow a balanced account format recommended by the United Nations.” (Michael Goodman, PhD, University of Massachusetts)

Could this format compliance pave the way for the INTEGRATION of international laws?

The United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change

lists IMPLAN as a method to evaluate impacts of, and adaptations to, climate change But then, ironically, describes IMPLAN information as “The total industry purchases of commodities, services, employment compensation, value added, and imports are equal to the value of the commodities produced. Industries producing goods and services for final use and purchases for final use (final demand) drive the model.”

Also, IMPLAN “Can be used to look at the effects of adaptations such as changes in economic policies (e.g., removal or imposition of subsidies) toward agriculture.”

The United Nations’ “environmental” guise is really about trade, money and control.


The BLM outsources the preparation of Resource Management Plans and Environmental Assessments to private companies like Tetra Tech. Who is on the Board of Directors of Tetra Tech? Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto, and people involved with extractive industries, which makes it seem like there could be a possibility for a conflict of interest.

Each BLM Field Office has to justify the “need” for doing a new RMP, and will cite laws and regulations like FLPMA (Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976), 43 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act).

The BLM claims authority to limit use of roads based on CFR43 Subpart 8340 (and to limit use of public lands based on CFR43 Subpart 8342). This is a Regulation.

Regulations are rules and codes issued (in other words, just declared) by government agencies (city, county, state and federal). Regulations aren’t laws, but they’re adopted under authority granted by statutes and can include penalties for violations.

CFR 43 Subpart 8340 also cites Executive Order 11644 (President Nixon) and Executive Order 11989 (President Carter). However, there seems to be an overly broad interpretation of these Executive Orders being implemented through regulation.

These regulations are a major change in direction for the USA. For one thing, it should feel oppressive that your travel is now to be “managed.” For another, we’re being denied access to land and roads that we, the people, own and pay for with tax dollars. The BLM and Forest Service are running you off of your land.


Type “BLM + Resource Management Plan + the name of your city” into a search engine to find out if a new RMP is being prepared for your area.

If an RMP is being prepared, tell your friends and neighbors about it, go to meetings and send an e-mail to comment. You should object to any limitation or closure of public roads and public lands. Tell the BLM you want the “NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE.” This could leave the old Resource Management Plan in place, help keep public roads and public lands open, and possibly slow compliance to, and integration of, United Nations’ international laws.


BLM South Coast Resource Management Plan (Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino & Orange Counties)
BLM South Coast Resource Management Plan of June 1994
BLM Land Use Planning Handbook:
Bighorn Basin Draft RMP/Draft EIS, Cody and Worland BLM Field Offices, Wyoming (Appendix X,

References regarding SAIC are on P. 532):–closures-are-result-of-2008-plan;rgn=div5;view=text;node=43%3A2.;idno=43;sid=09feb467d014b4b153604bf79a21b5ad;cc=ecfr

EO 11644 (President Richard Nixon) –

EO 11989 (President Jimmy Carter) –

Click (HERE) to visit the PPJ Gazette and to Comment

16 replies »

  1. Energy is the life blood of capitalism, which must expand via growth and development to survive. This country will feed on its resources and grow for the sake of consumption cause that is how the system works . However at some point it will take as much energy to retrieve energy as the energy supplies, then it’s over. We lived 100 years ago without oil (and gas) and will need to again someday if we are to survive. It’s going to be a hell of a ride.


  2. Are our government agencies ABOVE the law?
    Apparently they think they are.

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has publically published the statement that they are above the law and the congressional LAW DOES NOT PERTAIN TO THEM!

    BLM stated: “The … [Congressional] Act …is not pertinent to the overall management of the wild horse and burro populations by the BLM and USFS. In general, it protects the wild horses and burros from such actions by the general populous.” So BLM is telling us that the laws of the United States Congress are written for the general public (that’s you and me) and that BLM does not have to follow the law.

    Click to access FinalVersion_EA.pdf

    BLM policies are plans and decisions and statements that have been made by the BLM and are ONLY policies and plans and decisions and statements – nothing more. They are not laws of the United States. Any policy established must be within the outline of the umbrella of the law it is required to follow. A policy is nothing more than a plan and is illegal if it does not follow the law of the United States.

    I was taught that the law was to be followed and that if it needed to be changed (and many do) then that was the right and responsibility of we Americans to do so but for any agency to disregard the law for political and financial reasons was illegal and treasonous. I am still learning … but that is how I see it.


  3. Some of this process starts here. There’s possibly one in your area. Check it out and get involved….attend a meeting. The people who ARE involved are the ones making many of the decisions:
    The Bureau of Land Management formed 29 Resource Advisory Councils (RACs) in the western States to provide advice on the management of public lands and resources. These citizen-based groups provide an opportunity for individuals from all backgrounds and interests to have a voice in the management of these lands, and to help improve their health and productivity. RAC recommendations address all public land issues, including: land use planning, recreation, noxious weeds, and wild horse and burro herd management areas.
    Each RAC consists of 12 to 15 members from diverse interests in local communities, including ranchers, environmental groups, tribes, State and local government officials, academics, and other public land users. Each Council must include representatives of three broad categories:
    Members serve without salary, but are reimbursed travel and per diem expenses.

    Meetings are open to the public; however, transportation, meals and lodging are the responsibility of the participating public.


  4. BLM has been closing roads and controlling where people go for a long time. But not on this scale.
    They will have the assistance of drought conditions in many places this year if we continue to go without adequate rainfall. I am glad to say their is rain coming to North Western Nevada in the Winnemucca region where the next roundup is beginning soon.

    What I see happening is a larger response than simply coming wild horse advocates. Many people will get angry at this and it will have repercussions. It may bring out the wire cutters and folks will still enter and go where they intend. I am not advocating this but it has happened in the past and locals get hot around the collar when the government tells them where they can and can’t go. Since this is policy and not law the public can disobey and they can challenge this through local presence and opposition to the closures in court. As always there is more than one way to go about this.

    What decisions are being acted on are simply decisions made to protect other inroads onto our public lands by corporations leasing lands and not to protect the environment. With a drought it will make it so easy for them to adopt more and more public lands and roads closures. This will stir many people up when they find out for themselves. Our public lands have been sold more this new century than ever before. Plans are afoot apparently and now more than ever we need to clean house at Department of the Interior, BLM and Ag Dept. Obama has not done this and now we are less welcome on our own lands than ever.

    Thanks Deb. This is a real threat to the future presence of the public and our wild ones on our public lands. mar


      • In the past I would expect a fight by the public affected most directly. Today I am sure there will be one and we should be in it. Our wild horse groups need to stand up and join the opposition of these actions by BLM to restrict our access to our lands. We need to align ourselves with those who will be fighting this. Maybe more Americans will understand what we have been up against when we do!!


  5. Prime Example….this is how the process is done. As Mar states….the American Public is not aware UNTIL they suddenly find that they no longer have access to their Public Lands:
    BLM Considers Land Use Plan Amendment in Connection with Energy Project
    YUMA, Ariz. — The Bureau of Land Management Yuma Field Office is considering amending a land use plan to allow the use of public land for the proposed Quartzsite Solar Energy Project in La Paz County, Arizona.
    A Notice of Intent announcing the proposed amendment was published in the Federal Register. The land use plan amendment would be in conjunction with the proposed solar project. The Notice of Intent, initiates the public participation and scoping processes for the National Environmental Policy Act process.

    Quartzsite Solar Energy LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Solar Reserve LLC, has submitted an application to the BLM requesting a right-of-way to construct, maintain and operate an electrical generating facility with a capacity of up to 100 MW, using concentrated solar thermal tower technology. An array of mirrors would focus light on receivers at the top of a 653′ tower. The focused energy would be used to heat salt to a molten state, which would in turn heat steam to power a turbine. The project would require approximately 1,450 acres of BLM-managed land. The proposed site is about 10 miles north of Quartzsite and about 1 mile east of State Route 95.
    Western Area Power Administration, a Federal agency, is also requesting a right-of-way for their connected action to the project for a 230-kilovolt collector transmission line, substation and other related facilities.
    The proposed project may require an amendment to the Yuma Resource Management Plan because the area is designated as a Visual Resource Management Class III area. The objective of Class III designation is to partially retain the existing character of the landscape. The level of change to the characteristic landscape should be moderate, under that classification.


    • I understand that some solar projects use exorbitant amounts of water and some don’t. I wonder if this solar project is one of those that does? It sounds like it does since it includes steam in its processing. I wonder where the water is coming from and how much water does it use and who owns the water and if that water is part of our BLM public land and public resources and if so how much are “we” getting paid for the water and if so which (or whose) pocket is the money going into … because I sure don’t see it in my pocket.


  6. Apparently the local citizens don’t think the changes to the landscape would be “moderate”:
    Solar energy destroys areas
    An article in the Yuma Sun on April 2 reported that Bureau of Land Management is considering amending the land use plan for a large area north of Quartzsite. Quartzsite Solar Energy LLC has applied for a right of way to construct a facility covering approximately 1,450 acres with mirrors that will reflect to a 654-foot tower.

    Currently the area is designated as “Visual Resource Management Class III.” This designation indicates that change to the landscape in the area should only be moderate. But 1,450 acres of mirrors and a 654-foot tower could hardly be considered moderate.

    There are already three solar projects under construction between Dateland and Gila Bend. A large ranch in the Chino Valley area has closed its gates, causing Arizona Game and Fish to close the 19B Wildlife Management area to hunting in the late summer and fall. Part of the ranch is state trust land.

    These solar projects cover thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and open spaces. Wildlife travel corridors to feed and water are being disrupted. Sportsmen and recreationists are being forced to go elsewhere.

    What do Arizona and the local communities get out of all of this? Not much. Maybe a little cash for leases and taxes. There has been no indication that a single watt of energy will be provided to customers in Arizona. The indications are that all of the power will go to California.

    If California has such a great need for energy, let them destroy the habitat within their own borders.


  7. This is why I believe these corporations who are on HMAs and who are directly responsible for BLM removing the wild horses should be paying compensation for what has been done to the wild ones. It would have made sense to move wild ones to other HMAs than to stockpile so many wild animals for the huge money paid out. Doing this would have spread the burden of change we are facing as BLM leases and sells off public lands to destructive and polluting corps.


  8. I guess NY is the latecomer to the current gas drilling mess! Not looking forward to it at all. But then, I dont own lots of land, and keeping our water & air clean is more important to me. Hopefully I would feel the same if I had lots of acres..
    Watching whats happening to the wild horses so people & corporations can rake in more money drilling & setting up these thousand acre “projects” is scary. Especially if the area that they are defacing gets no benefit from them. The use of huge amounts of water should stir up many people.
    Thats not a resource that any of us can afford to waste.
    And the wild horses & burros are another resource that we all need to save.


    • Maggie-
      You DO own this land you DO own this water and you DO own these resources including the wild horses and burros. The federal government does not own it – it is public land and resources that the federal agencies are supposed to be taking care of for YOU. I believe that makes YOU the largest land owner in the United States.


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