Published by the Elko Daily Free Press
“These horses are going to kill that country…”
“This is a case where dumb meets dumber. Maddy Pickens trying to build a petting zoo for castrated BLM geldings calling them wild horses and in so doing condemns the true wild horses on 3 HMAs while the local rubes don’t know the difference between a horse and a jack rabbit (most consider the six grade to be their Senior Year, and it shows). Personally, I believe that they deserve each other. It’s disgusting!!!” ~ R.T.
ELKO — From the onset, certain locals have opposed the idea of a wild horse eco-sanctuary as a tool for managing the range. Objections were raised recently over federal dollars paying for the project’s scoping.
The Northeast Nevada Wild Horse Eco-Sanctuary is to be located about 25 miles south of Wells on more than 500,000 acres of public land and about 14,000 acres of private land. It will be federally owned but privately run.
The eco-sanctuary is in its early stages and still at least one and a half years and many steps down the road.
Most recently, the Bureau of Land Management hired a contractor — Environmental Management and Planning Solutions Inc. — to guide the development of an environmental impact statement, which will require the company to scope the project, collect and analyze data, and draft the document.
Ralph Sacrison, chairman of the Elko County Natural Resources and Management Advisory Committee, asked Elko District BLM Associate District Manager Dave Overcast at a meeting earlier this month why taxpayers were on the hook for EIS costs. A mining company for instance, he argued, involved with a project on public land would be responsible for funding a similar study.
Sacrison suggested Save America’s Mustangs — the group that will manage the eco-sanctuary and brainchild of Madeleine Pickens — pay the contractor.
“How come, suddenly, when someone wants to study mustangs I (a taxpayer) have to foot the bill?” Sacrison said.
The difference between the two examples, project manager Terri Dobis said in an interview, is that managing wild horses is a BLM responsibility. In this case, the BLM asked for horse and burro management ideas and an eco-sanctuary was decided upon. A gold mine exploring for ore on public land would do so by approaching the agency, not the other way around. That mine then would be responsible for financing costs of environmental analysis.
Committee member and former state assemblyman John Carpenter, who facetiously asked Overcast if those conducting the study were cowboys, doubted EMPSi had any on-the-ground knowledge of wild horses gained through ranching and being around horses.
“I don’t believe any of these people know anything about managing horses. They’ve never lived with wild horses like I have,” he said. “You cannot manage them. Pretty soon they get so mean and they get so smart that you cannot manage them.”
To do so, he said, many large fences would need to be constructed and even then, a permanent concentration of horses could dramatically alter the range.
“These horses are going to kill that country,” Carpenter said.
The company provided a proposal that was reviewed before the bid was accepted, according to Dobis. The BLM took into account EMPSi’s knowledge and competence.
“EMPSi has extensive experience with BLM Nevada,” Dobis said. “They have people on staff with experience with horses. They are qualified — otherwise we wouldn’t be working with them.”
Yet to be released is the amount the BLM is paying EMPSi. At the advisory board meeting, Carpenter asked how much the contract for the environmental impact statement cost. Overcast said he didn’t have that information with him.
Dobis passed a request made by the Free Press for the contract amount on to contract specialist Susan Corbeil. Corbeil passed the same request on to the BLM State office Public Affairs Specialist Chris Rose.
Rose said he needed to get the information from the project manager and contract specialist — Dobis and Corbeil.
The target date for the record of decision is June 2014.
“Our actual scoping period has ended but we are still taking ideas and we still want public involvement,” Dobis said. “We really do want public involvement. It’s really important that we get that.”
To make a suggestion or a comment, call the BLM Elko District office at 753-0200 and ask for Terri Dobis.
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- Please Oppose Blm’s Devastating Plan for Wyoming’s Red Desert Wild Horses (ppjg.me)
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