Horse News

BLM “Drought” Plans Get Rid of Wild Horses & Livestock

Source: PPJ Gazette by Debbie Coffey ~ Director of Wild Horse Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“The BLM has gone all out to make the public believe that man-made causes of drought don’t even exist”
BLM Prisoner ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM Prisoner ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Nevada Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Drought Management Environmental Assessments have omitted any mention of the big water guzzling uses, like mining, oil and gas development and solar, but go into detail in an array of plans to get rid of more wild horses and livestock (which compared to these other uses, hardly use any water).

The BLM has gone all out to make the public believe that man-made causes of drought (less water and forage because of huge water use by extractive industries), don’t even exist. While the BLM feigns concern about severe drought in Environmental Assessments (EAs), the BLM doesn’t mention one peep about curtailing any usage of water or land by mining, oil and gas development, or solar (which can also use a lot of water) on public lands.

This is the Industrialization of the West, under the guise of “drought.”

On the BLM Nevada Drought Information webpage, the Nevada BLM Drought Handbook  mentions a few other issues, like closing roads and recreation permit stipulations.

But the BLM District Drought Management Environmental Assessments for the Ely, Elko, Winnemucca and Battle Mountain BLM Districts, all contain similar language and focus on removing and diminishing the wild horses and livestock, but NOT one word about mining, oils and gas development, or solar. The BLM has just buried this.

Below are my comments on the Ely District Drought Management Environmental Assessment.


Dear Mindy Seal, Amy Lueders and Rosemary Thomas,

I urge NO ACTION, with the exception of temporary water hauls to wild horses.

“1.2 Purpose and Need for Action:
The purpose of the action is to provide rapid response to drought conditions on the Ely District by adjusting management of wild horses, livestock and other authorized uses.”

This EA ONLY addresses management of wild horses and livestock, but NOT any other “authorized uses.” What does the Ely District Drought Management Plan do to adjust any other uses other than wild horses and livestock in your District? How can you have a District Drought Management Environmental Assessment when ONLY 2 uses out of the many multiple uses in your district are considered?

What about mining? What about oil and gas exploration and development? What about solar? What about geothermal? Aren’t these all “authorized uses” within the Ely District?

The BLM has promised transparency, so the public needs to be informed of the acre feet annually (afa) used by each other use in each hydrographic basin within the Ely District.  These are other factors that should have been included this EA, but were completely omitted.

Any EA for drought management should include ALL of the uses in your district that use water.  If this information is not included in a Drought Management EA, then your office is perpetrating fraud on the American public.

As you should know, mining, oil and gas development, and some types of solar use a lot of water and can drop the water table. In some instances, the BLM has minimized the impact of the use of water by mining operations by not requiring 1’ and 5’ water drawdown maps for the EAs of mines.

page 17 (Wild Horse Removal)
While drought is seasonal, the BLM plans to PERMANENTLY remove wild horses. The BLM plans to only temporarily remove livestock, but to permanently remove wild horses. BLM should do water hauls to avoid removing any wild horses. Rounding up wild horses is much more expensive.

Page 18 (Removal of animals to a point below the low AML)
This will endanger the viability and eliminate part of the thriving ecological balance. How about not having the upcoming Dec. 10, 2013 oil and gas lease sale in your District? How about having active mines or oil and gas leases cut back on production during severe droughts?

Page 20 (Supplemental Feeding of Wild Horses)
“Supplemental Feeding of wild horses on rangelands during times of drought would adversely affect areas on or near the location that feed is being supplied.”

What about adverse affects in many areas in the Ely District during times of drought by other uses? What about all the acres adversely affected by oil and gas development, especially within or near Herd management Areas? If the BLM is so concerned about the drought, shouldn’t you cancel the upcoming December 10, 2013 oil and gas lease sale?

The BLM, while getting rid of wild horses and livestock, is going full speed ahead with plans to expand the Pan Mine Project and Barrick’s Bald Mountain Mine.

Won’t there be any adversely affected areas during future droughts from the planned Pan Mine Project, which expands the original 2011 exploration plan disturbance area from 100 acres to approximately 3,140 acres? This one project will:
The expansion of the boundary is a result of constructing, operating, closing, and reclaiming the following:

• Two main open pits: the North Pan Pit and the South Pan Pit;
• Four satellite pits: the Black Stallion, North Syncline, Syncline, and South Syncline pits;
• Crushing facilities and associated stockpiles;
• Two waste rock disposal areas;
• Heap leach pad, conveyors, processing facilities, and ponds;
• Water supply wells and delivery/storage system;
• Haul and secondary roads;
• Additional exploration within the Plan area;
• Ancillary facilities including: power supply; stormwater controls; reagent, fuel, and
explosives storage; buildings including administration, laboratory, security, warehouse,
core shed, and parking; potable water supply and septic systems; maintenance shop;
ready line; light vehicle wash; communications facilities; helicopter pad; plant growth
medium and woody debris stockpiles; Class III – waivered landfill; area for petroleum
contaminated soils; monitoring wells; borrow areas; fencing; and yards.

This use has much more potential for adverse areas and covers much more area than the small areas where you might temporarily feed some wild horses.

The BLM said of the Pan Mine Project: “The BLM’s Purpose for the Proposed Action is to authorize a legitimate use of public lands, which would allow Midway to construct and operate a gold mine.”
Does the BLM Ely District office consider mining a “legitimate use” of public lands, but wild horses and burros an “illegitimate use” of public lands?
The BLM has stated about Oil and gas leases “Water Resources and Water Rights are not
issues for lease sales, since no ground disturbing activities are associated with the sales per se.”

PER SE? (So, the BLM only looks at the actual lease sales, but can’t imagine the next step, which is development? Is the BLM incapable of foresight in its management of public lands?)

“Any concerns that arise during development of parcels subsequent to lease sales would be handled through design features, mitigation measures, and/or project stipulations.”

OR NOT. Has anyone in the Ely District office read about fracking? If not, here are a few links:

How Rural America Got Fracked

Fracking Our Food Supply

Fracking Damage Cases and Industry Secrecy
Pages 50-52
Since this EA addresses Socio-Economic Values, please consider this:
Resource Curse: Why the Economic Boom That Fracking Promises Will Be a Bust For Most People (Hard Times, USA)
Page 67

There are no GPS coordinates or dates the photos were taken for the photos. This is unscientific.

Page 70
There are no GPS coordinates for these photos. This is unscientific.

Pages 70-71
“Wild horses also cause damage through excessive trailing and hoof action, which causes destruction of vegetation and increases erosion and trampling of riparian areas; thereby causing bank shear, contaminating water quality and affecting riparian function.”

I’m glad the Ely District office brought up contaminating water quality as a concern, since your office is forging ahead with plans to expand Bald Mountain Mine. What about all the arsenic and mercury contamination of surface water that has already been caused by that mine?
BLM stated “In general, established background water quality levels are good with the exception of arsenic, which exceeds the 0.05 mg/l Nevada water quality standard.”

Are you just going to allow this mine to cause more contamination to water? I wrote an article about this mine and the water contamination. Here is a link:

Also, since your office is concerned about water contamination, please read these articles:
New Study Predicts Frack Fluids Can Migrate to Aquifers Within Years

Fracking Wastewater Can Be Highly Radioactive

Finally, since the BLM brings up destruction of vegetation, increased erosion and the trampling of riparian areas, have you ever looked at satellite photos of the areas of the mines? You should go to google earth and type in Ruth, Nevada. Just south of the town, it looks like there is a mining project that seems to be about 30 miles wide! Bet that kicked up a little dust.

Also, you can look here (you can even type Bald Mountain Mine in the search box and look at it):
Has your office seen any photos of oil fields? Look at this:

Talk about the trampling of riparian areas! This destruction to rangelands is no comparison to some trailing and hoof action caused by some wild horses. Don’t you feel kind of silly for even mentioning “trailing and hoof action” now? (If not, you should.)

And, last but by no means least, don’t forget about the water grabs that are going on!

Page 78 Fertility Control
BLM should not be considering fertility control on non-viable herds.

Map 1.2 Ecoregions on the Ely District
Please cite the U.S. LAW that authorizes “Ecoregions” (not just DOI policy or regulations).

In conclusion…(CONTINUED)

Please click (HERE) to read the article in it’s entirety AND to Comment

24 replies »

  1. All that I can do is shake my head. And this is America????? No wonder we are in such a mess. Its coming from all sides now. I am speechless.


    • Yes, the BLM is too shortsighted and greedy to listen to science, but Allan Savory does *not* have a big-picture solution. He sure gets a lot of attention, though — I think because he perpetuates a food system that most of us are brainwashed into believing we depend on: animal products.

      No matter how authoritative he sounds, I don’t buy Savory’s “this is the only way to save the planet from desertification” argument one bit.

      Neither does this intelligent man, Geoff Lawton:
      Or this intelligent woman, Helen Atthowe:
      Or this intelligent man, Iain Tolhurst:
      Or this intelligent man, Richard Oppenlander:

      The LAST thing we need is more livestock, no matter how holistically they are managed.
      The LAST thing we need is more global-warming-producing methane.
      And the LAST thing we need is more killing, which we’ve become so accustomed to doing to other species that we don’t even recognize how Neanderthal we are acting.

      [True, we don’t need hydrofracking, coal mining, oil drilling, or tar sands pipelines ruining our land, either, but the meat industry is no less environmentally and ethically treacherous than those destructive businesses are.]

      Indeed, the BLM appears to be purposely wiping out our wild horses and burros, and fast. But sometimes I wonder whether our own killing of other equally gentle, innocent herbivores smacks of the same kind of self-justification, betrayal of trust, and, yes, greed. Think about it, guys. Really think about it. Why are we so intent on forcing the BLM to be honest with us, when we refuse to own up to our own violence toward animals? A little humility, self-reflection, and self-correction seems to be in order. I realize that slaughtering/eating our fellow beings isn’t going to disappear overnight, but when we horse defenders continue to participate in that cruel culture — just so we can enjoy the taste of flesh — what moral high ground do we have to stand on?

      Hmmm, I wrote a note of praise for Debbie’s amazing work on the ppjg site, but my comment seems to have disappeared. In it, I asked if Debbie (or someone) could please make sure her letter to the BLM gets into the hands of Andrew Cohen and Jane Velez-Mitchell. I agree with Gail (below) that it also needs to be disseminated to all major media outlets. Citizens everywhere deserve to know about the massive privatization of their public lands by dirty (double entende intended) colluders.


      • According to all the Cattlemen’s association, American beef production is down at least 7%, that should be reflected in the number of acres being leased by the BLM.


  2. gas fracking and oil and pipelines are going to be the end of conservation efforts and protection of all wild herd animals left in this country. Why doesn’t BLM have to be evaluated each year. They are just an agency working for the taxpayer. The politicians are quite blind to the wild animals when it comes to money and power over the land.


  3. Dewind2012, has just about said it all!!!! One can only hope that our greedy, selfish politicans and corporations, suffer in the hereafter, if not in their lifetimes!!! Meanwhile, the horse lovers, can only continue the fight.. expose the nasty ways of those who are in control. Pray for Wild Horses and Burrows.


  4. I don’t know what advocates would do without people like Ms Coffey to highlight the gross incompetence, violation of law, usurping of resources sold for NOTHING and just plain murder of wildlife by Federal and state agencies.

    It is very complex, but this journalist is providing a great service to advocates the equines and this Nation.

    Thank you Ms Coffey.


    • Thank you, Denise. We have many, many voices out there now, and I can’t emphasize enough that each and every person makes a difference. We are gaining in numbers and strength!


  5. It is the same old thing. Those who have the power to do something don’t. If something isn’t done soon and the republicans get back in power and turn over the public lands to the states, kiss the wild mustang goodbye and say hello to mining and drilling. Public lands, my ass.


  6. Anything BLM says really boils down to just one policy–“Get rid of the wild horses”. I dare them to prove me wrong. Thank you Debbie Coffey… we must try to save them … and try….


  7. I heard a while back that this is what the government was going to try to do thru the BLM. Debbie, what a wonderful job you did here. Its letters like this that should be sent to the major newspapers and media outlets. Although I do not live in the West it should be of interest to all Americans. Our national parks and prestine areas are disappearing faster than we know. The sick part about the whole mess is that I believe we have foreign investors just waiting to take over our country. The BLM employees are nothing but “yes” men and women. Just what is happening with our new Secretary of the Interior? Haven’t heard a peep..How stupid do they think we are? We must do every thing in our power to stop the disappearance of our Wild Horses and Burros. How sad it is to think a small minority feel they have the right to remove one of our national heritages.


  8. Lovely work, Deb. Spot on about water uses and the question; why are the dwindling wild horse herds being made to leave their homes permanently when their needs are so small in comparison to the mines??? They have land that is theirs. Develop their water. Keep them on their lands.


  9. The willy nilly leasing for gas production has become a national embarrassment. There has been no checks on the areas and wonderful watersheds are at risk and in imminent danger from the unplanned dispersal of these leases. Colorado may be addressing this but I have not seen a enough responsible commentary on this. Considering how long the fracking has been going on in Wyoming and the now obvious pollution of ground water, land and air we need to be taking a safer view of this industry. Josh Fox has done a wonderful job with his films and updates to educate us about this environmental disaster we have not yet been told the truth about. In fact the truth of pollution has been repeatedly covered up and even protected form the right to know public who is taking the brunt of all of this.

    BLM cannot and does not protect our wild horses and burros on their own lands. We have to create the circumstances so they will be. And preferably by a national wild horse and burro council of real wild horse and burro professionals.

    Let’s get all the suits and middlemen out of the wild horse and burro future. We can do a great job then. Adios BLM. Hello new program based on science and reality.


  10. The intent to eliminate all wild horses from the range is laid out in a relatively obscure document called “Adapting to Climate Change on Western Public Lands: Addressing the Ecological Effects of Domestic, Wild, and Feral Ungulates”.
    Published in “Environmental Management,” a journal that masquerades as a peer reviewed journal, this article was written by a professor emeritus…a forestry prof no less, who knows less about the range than I do (Robert Beschta).
    It gets better….with over 100 citations in the article, those I have so far chased are junk science, and many were originated by USFS and BLM.
    Then it get even better…. another source of ‘research’ for the article is SRM (Society for Range Management”.
    It’s too bad SRM doesn’t have the standards of disinterest and objectivity to match their a hoity-toity name…too bad but not too surprising, since I discovered when I logged into SRM’s website that the membership of this group is primarily composed of ‘professional range managers’, which you should know is code for BLM employees, ranchers, as lease-holders of public land.
    I have been working my way through the 100 odd citations one by one, and comparing them with validated international level scientific research on range ecology; the methodological flaws and lack of thoroughness are obvious to virtually anyone!
    Its nice to know that horses really are native, but until we out all these phony credentials and the big lie they keep shouting, while horses will stay behind the eight ball.


    • Lying is a tactic to control the issue via distraction; the opposing side must spin it’s wheels trying to defeat the lies and misinformation, thereby side tracking our main effort….affecting true change of hearts, minds and laws.

      The NRA is doing it, Farm Bureau is doing it, Republicans (and some Dems) are doing it, Attorney Dunn/Valley Meats is doing it and the press unwittingly let’s them do it.

      We spend most of our time chasing lies, myths and junk science to just keep our noses above to sewage level.

      Difficult, but not insurmountable.

      I look forward to your documented rebuttal.

      Debbie, thanks for your comments, too. I missed this.


  11. Water is going to become a real problem in the near future – and the animals will lose even more. There was a segment on NBC news (which I was glad to see being reported because environmental concerns rarely make the national news) about large bird-die offs also due to drought and the human taking of water:

    So between all of the combined pressures facing our wildlife, it’s not a very promising future. I’m very concerned about the potential for more and more energy development, and am concerned about President Obama’s Interior Secretary choice.

    BTW, the little burro pictured with this post is so adorable. There’s a family that has a bunch of horses and one little burro too where I live.


  12. All I can say, “This is disgusting.” We all know that large corporations and individuals are getting their way by the “green back”. The resulting thing that our wild horses and burros are being taken from us, their owners, by these interests. It is about time we DEMAND OUR RIGHTS. We want our wild horses to remain on OUR lands, these lands belong to us – all U.S. citizens, not the Agriculture Department or the BLM. It is our land, they are our horses, and we, the American citizen want this to stop NOW. We want our wild horses and burros that are in corrals and elsewhere returned to their families on the own land. We want the cattle barons to only have the cattle that their own owned land will support. It’s about time, we get what we want — otherwise we better take matters in our hands and make sure these lousy individuals in these agencies are fired, pRONTO.


  13. The Bureau of Land Management believes they are more powerful than the laws of the United States and the laws of Mother Nature.

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) publically published the statement that they are above the law and the 1971 Congressional Wild Horse and Burro protection 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.”

    Click to access FinalVersion_EA.pdf

    Well … apparently the BLM also considers themselves as being “above” the laws of Mother Nature too because they insist wild horses must be removed from their legally designated land (our public land) because of current widespread “drought” and BLM has been pushing this same drought agenda for at least three years. Basically these “emergency” roundups are just a front/excuse to round up as many wild horses and burros as they want, when they want and behind the public’s back with no accountability by using bait/water trapping. Read this trapping article:

    In order for anything to be considered normal or average there must be ups and downs. In 2011 the precipitation in Elko (mid-Nevada) was 125% of normal, 2012 was 63% of normal and as of April 2013 Elko had 78% of normal precipitation and since then [May] it has had another almost half-inch of rain and today’s forecast states, “BRIEF HEAVY RAIN” and “MODERATE TO LOCALLY HEAVY RAIN IS CURRENTLY FALLING” and “RAINFALL RATES OF ONE-QUARTER TO ONE-HALF INCH PER HOUR IS POSSIBLE IN THIS [storm] BAND”.

    If there are any forage or water shortages on the wild horse and burro management areas it is because these resources have been sold right out from under the noses of the legally designated wild horses and burros and right out from under the noses of you and me … by guess who … the Bureau of Land Management. Disgusting!

    National Weather Service (NOAA) website:


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