Horse News

Carson City Range Management Plan – a Disaster for Our Wild Ones

by Grandma Gregg

When livestock are absent, the water is turned off

Private welfare cattle destroying water trough on public land

Private welfare cattle destroying water trough on public land

This Range Management Plan (RMP) will make decisions on at least 1,235,200 wild horse and burro legal acres in western Nevada and includes intensive “management” on 21 HMA/HAs, including:

  • Augusta Mountains HA/HMA
  • Clan Alpine HA/HMA
  • Desatoya Mountains HA/HMA
  • Dogskin Mountains HA/HMA
  • Flanigan HA/HMA HA/HMA
  • Garfield Flat HA/HMA
  • Granite Peak HA/HMA
  • Fort Sage HA/HMA
  • Horse Mountain HA/HMA
  • Horse Springs HA
  • Lahontan HA/HMA
  • Marietta HA/HMA
  • Montgomery Pass HA/HMA
  • New Pass HA/HMA
  • North Stillwater HA/HMA
  • Pilot Mountain HA/HMA
  • Pine Nut HA/HMA
  • South Stillwater HA/HMA
  • Tule Ridge and Mahogany Flat HA/HMA
  • Pah Rah Mountain HA
  • Wassuk HA/HMA

Public comment is due two weeks from today but just as a warning … this is a GIGANTIC amount of information to research and cover! I am just getting started, but it appears that there are 5 alternatives and NONE of them are good.

Alternative “A” so far seems to be the best but it is NOT good either. Alternative “A” supports continual capture/removals and extensive contraception and IMO we have to fight that because voting for the least of the evils is a lose-lose for everyone and especially our wild ones.

The other alternatives promote reduction in HMAs and reduction in WH&B land and non-reproducing herds and on and on – all real bad.

One thing I wanted to bring to our attention is this statement from the EIS:

“Granite Peak HMA is north of Reno, Nevada, and west of the Dogskin Mountains HMA. The HMA consists of rolling terrain. There is no permanent water within the HMA. When livestock are present and their associated water troughs are supplied with water, wild horses will use the water troughs. When livestock are absent, the water is turned off at the troughs and wild horses use water sources outside of the HMA.”

Private welfare sheep abound on public land

Private welfare sheep abound on public land

We saw this exact thing last summer on the Twin Peaks HMA and I think we all know this is a common practice and has caused numerous wild ones to either die from dehydration or be removed (how many “emergency drought” removals have there been over the years!). These are/were natural springs that have been captured via man-made devices for livestock … period. These are the same springs that would have originally allowed the natural populations to survive and thrive for hundreds if not thousands of years. This, in addition to removal of their legal herd area land and overgrazing by domestic livestock etc., has been and continues to be and will be the death of our wild ones in the wild. If this isn’t “managing for extinction” then I don’t know what is!

Please do the best that you can to review the Carson City RMP and just concentrate on the parts that you understand the best and have the most concern about – and then make your public comment by Monday, April 27th. We must speak for our wild horses and burros … and they will thank us by just being themselves and that is what we all want more than anything.

PS Since I have just barely scratched the surface of this EIS, I am hoping that others will share what they are seeing and researching and learning so that we can all do our best to save our wild horses and burros and their legal habitat. No time to waste!

Nevada – Carson City DO – Carson City RMP Revision

25 replies »

  1. I will definitely read over this and make my comments. It is obvious that the BLM does all it can to make review and understanding of their so-called plans as complex and detailed as possible, no doubt to discourage many of us from even commenting. I hope to God that this will NOT be the case and all Americans who care about our wild horses & burros will take the time to research this and make their voices heard—we are the voice for these animals!
    Thank you for continuing to keep all of us informed!


  2. As if their so-called “management” isn’t bad enough already … here is some of what they are saying:

    Alternative “A”
    Action: Maintain Horse Springs, Pah Rah, and the southern portion of the Pine Nut Mountains HAs as horse-free due to a mix of land ownership. [with massive removals and contraception]

    Alternative “B”
    Action: Convert the following HMAs to HAs: • Dogskin Mountains • Garfield Flat • Granite Peak • Horse Mountain • South Stillwater • Tule Ridge and Mahogeny Flat

    Action: Convert the following HMAs to HAs: • Dogskin Mountains • Granite Peak • Horse Mountain • Lahontan • South Stillwater • Tule Ridge and Mahogeny Flat • Wassuk

    Action: Same as Alternative B.

    Action: Convert the following HMAs to HAs: • Dogskin Mountains • Granite Peak • Horse Mountain • South Stillwater • Tule Ridge and Mahogeny Flat • Wassuk

    “Converting” an HMA to an HA means to ZERO OUT all the wild horses and burros on their legal land. And all the alternatives include contraception up the ying-yang – and it doesn’t say “PZP” so it could mean sterilization and field spaying and on one HMA it actually goes so far as to say they will “manage” it as a non-reproducing herd … i.e. “the end”.

    We have really got our work cut out for us on this one!


  3. after a careful review of the Federal Law governing wild horse management, and the federal laws governing the humane care of wild animals being managed by the Federal Government, It is obvious that the BLM will be violating federal law on many fronts by withdrawing water support in those management areas. For that reason, an injunction should be sought as soon as possible to block any action by the BLM to deny water to horses, or any other wild animal that might be affected.


    • It is also important to understand and investigate how many of those improved water sources were paid for using taxpayer dollars in the form of matching funds, grants, and cost-sharing, all common practices. In any places where the water was already there (i.e., not being hauled in) those improvements belong partially to U.S. taxpayers, so shutting them off completely should be illegal without compensation.

      Considering in this context that these “improvements” are often required to minimize destruction of water sources by livestock and keep water available for ALL area wildlife, including big game animals and migratory birds, so at most they might be abandoned by livestock managers but should not ever be destroyed or cut off without legal action. Too many creatures (including horses) rely on these limited water sources to arbitrarily and capriciously dry them up. There will be consequences ecosystem-wide which need to be accounted for by those in charge.

      If water sources are being cut off or abandoned by livestock permittees, perhaps they should be required to refund any tax dollars they were paid to build them as well. Management of functioning water sources can and should continue by gov’t. employees or paid contractors and those refunded dollars diverted towards paying their salaries.


    • Agreed Patrick Colletti on your Comment and just an excuse to round them all up due to drought even though water is available the “BLM” are devious and work every angle to their advantage and we’ll keep fighting them


      • A few rebuttals. First off, we have to be really careful about the horse – wildlife argument. There are a lot of connected people who would like to see the status of horses change from being a separate protected class of animals to being designated as wildlife and their management being transferred to wildlife agencies where populations are controlled by hunters. I served for many years on my county’s Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife (in Nevada the CABs are the subordinates to the State Board of Wildlife Commissioners) and I’ve heard all the schemes associated with reclassifying horses as wildlife and how what is now a huge annual expense could actually raise revenues through the sale of hunting tags.

        With respect to water, thanks to the McCarren Amendment of 1952 (a clever bit of jury rigging) the feds gave sovereignty over water rights over to the states. I’ve been in the process of negotiating getting water for horses and I’ve even spent my savings on property and water rights where horses frequent. However water rights is a complex subject rife with trap doors and snake pits. Thanks to McCarren, the feds have been reduced to beggars in many cases, which was the intent of the amendment.

        We can all snapshot one case or another and interpret it to mean what we want it to. The western landscape is complex and we have to realize that the use of terms in legal cases is often case specific. With respect to horses, the affirmation of the terms “wild” and “wild state” apply to the scope of Congressional authority. “Wildlife” has a distinctively different meaning. The differences may not appear to be significant but they are. (There is a long history on this subject that would put most readers to sleep, but the issue boiled down to state authority versus federal authority.)

        Wild Free-roaming horses and burros are a distinctive federally-designated class of animals with specifically defined protections. They are neither domestic livestock or wildlife. We need to avoid confusing the issue and focus on such principles as that the areas where wild horses are found are to be “devoted principally but not necessarily exclusively to their welfare in keeping with the multiple-use management concept for the public lands” (within proscribed limitations.) Congress has also declared that “they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”

        There are numerous caveats that come with these declarations and it is the interpretation of those caveats that tends to generate the greatest manipulation. That’s where we need to focus our attention. Not on wish book thinking.

        I’ve been in this game for over 23 years. I live on the wild horse range. I tangle with the BLM, state bureaucrats and crackpot politicians. I’ve bought water rights as well as land to act as buffers in an effort to limit suburban encroachment into open space and hold open private lands that the horses can “stray” onto. I’ve studied dozens and dozens of court decisions dating back to the early 1800s. It takes more than just a Google search to fully understand this issue. But what would I know?

        One reason we’re less successful than the ranchers, mining companies, etc. is that while they are focused on issues directly related to their bottom lines (profits,) we as a camp scurry all about chasing pieces of this picture that support our view of things but aren’t necessarily reflective of the total picture. We can either play the “should be” game or double down on the unarguable facts and work on getting results. It’s a personal choice thing.


      • I guess we all need to stop & think – when wanting the horses to be put under the category of “wildlife”. In most people’s eyes – it would seem to further protect them but wildhorseguy makes a really important point. If we think about the slaughter that Wildlife Services causes every day to “wildlife” – how easy would it be to, as he said, for the usual naysayers (wild horse ones) to come up with the hunting tag idea as well as “disposing” of excess animals when WS feels its time. We have all heard it mentioned before by the people who want the horses & burros to be gone.
        And its true – there are lots of us – but we don’t all agree on all things pertaining to the horses & burros. Easy to say – but doesn’t it make sense that if all the advocates groups worked together – just maybe we could be more successful in fighting for the wild horses & burros? I’m not the only one who has had that thought – have read the same comment many times on this site.


  4. This is so very sad, that you keep taking America’s wild horses, they have more rights to be on this land than anyone.. Leave the water on for them, we need to protect them, they are our heritage, please help them, don’t destroy them.


  5. It this all part of some back-room deal to pay off the national debt….a deal that doesn’t include the American People?

    Senate Votes To Help States Sell Off Public Lands

    The new chair of the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee secured a vote Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Senate on a controversial proposal to sell off America’s national forests and other public lands.

    U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) amendment, which passed by a vote of 51 to 49, is now part of the Senate’s nonbinding budget resolution. The proposal would support and fund state efforts – which many argue are unconstitutional – to seize and sell America’s public lands. These include all national forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, historic sites, and national monuments.

    The new chair of the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee secured a vote Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Senate on a controversial proposal to sell off America’s national forests and other public lands.

    U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) amendment, which passed by a vote of 51 to 49, is now part of the Senate’s nonbinding budget resolution. The proposal would support and fund state efforts – which many argue are unconstitutional — to seize and sell America’s public lands. These include all national forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, historic sites, and national monuments.


    • Louie, I was just going to post the same info… but here’s a bit more:

      “…once you make your way through the obligatory smoke and mirrors, you come to the truth: This is about power, plunder and money. It’s about water, which is the source of all that power here in the West. And it’s about the fact that an awful lot of folks back in Washington want to privatize our federal lands.

      Montana writer Hal Herring called the vote “an attempt to re-create our country, to vanquish forever the notion that we citizens can hold anything in common. It’s a new paradigm, where the majority of Americans are landless subjects with little recourse in the courts or political process.”

      Now we have an important decision to make. Do we turn our back on this grand experiment in democracy? Do we accept that the future will always be smaller and shabbier than the past? Do we resign ourselves to a world where our freedoms are locked away behind “No Trespassing” and “Keep Out” signs? Or will we choose to fight for what’s ours?

      Because that’s the real question. Will we give up? Or will we as Western citizens stand up and defend the America that was passed down from our forefathers? It brings to mind a question that Elizabeth Willing Powel asked Benjamin Franklin following the Constitutional Convention in 1787. “Well, doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”

      Franklin’s response still rings true today: “A republic, if you can keep it.'”



      • No more National Parks? (Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the very few National Parks promoting wild horses).

        “For more than 100 years, the Antiquities Act has allowed presidents to use their executive authority to protect America’s public lands by designating national monuments. It’s why we have national treasures like the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado.

        It’s a presidential privilege that has literally shaped America’s landscape and its history, but Republicans in Congress now think it’s time to end all of that.

        Republican Representative Don Young has introduced a bill that would strip the president of this authority.1 The MAST Act would overhaul the Antiquities Act, making it nearly impossible for presidents to designate new national monuments…

        The way the law works now, presidents can quickly set aside public lands for protection and conservation through proclamations, instead of going through the more complicated congressional process of creating a national park. In fact, it’s often the first step to creating a national park — the Grand Canyon was first designated a monument under the Antiquities Act by Theodore Roosevelt.”

        There’s a petition and more info here:



  6. IcySpots, perhaps that’s why our Public Lands were included in the Defense Authorization Bill.

    Legislation on federal lands buried in Defense Authorization bill

    While many U.S. senators object to burying legislation on public lands in the Defense Authorization Act, almost no one voted against it Thursday.

    The Senate voted 85-14 to end debate, setting the bill up for a final vote Friday. The House has already approved the legislation.

    At least one land swap has a military purpose. More than 12,000 acres would be transferred from the Bureau of Land Management to Naval Air Station China Lake in California, making one of the largest Navy facilities even bigger.

    Both environmentalists and tribal organizations oppose the Arizona swap, which would require Resolution Copper to turn over more than 5,000 acres to public management in exchange for the Tonto copper deposits. More than 50,000 people had signed an online petition, “Stop Apache Land Grab,” by Wednesday. The tribal groups say copper mining in the area threatens sites important to them.


  7. NOT defending the elements of the RMP but there are some issues people need to understand so their comments will be relevant.

    Water rights are a tricky business in Nevada and our opinions are not going to change them. All water is appropriated through a system of water rights and as a result, private parties, corporations and utilities that have legally obtained water rights actually control nearly all of the water. Given that Nevada is currently experiencing exceptional drought conditions and many “natural” water sources are failing, this water business is a huge elephant in the room that we have to acknowledge.

    Then we have new demands on water. Some forms of renewable energy production and fracking are new uses that are water intensive. Those companies will pay handsomely to buy water rights off the ranchers. The same goes for utility companies that serve thirsty metropolitan areas. If anyone doesn’t see where that all leads, study the history of Los Angeles sucking the Owens Valley dry.

    Where I urge everyone to be careful with respect to our comments is recognizing those aspects of this situation that nobody is able to change. Let’s not go all over the map and dilute the “relevant message” with commentary that can’t go anywhere. Given the drought and other contemporary challenges, we need to be more focused than ever on reality and pursue objectives that could actually be achieved. It’s going to be a really bad year and we have to be on top of our game.


    • Way too much speculation going on here regarding water. Nevada’s water laws are primitive and relatively absolute, particularly with respect to those HMAs where surface water is not actually present on the HMAs (and those circumstances do exist.) Also horses ARE NOT wildlife. Wildlife fall under the jurisdiction of the USF&WS or state wildlife agencies. Wild free-roaming horses are a separate class of animals that fall under the jurisdiction of BLM and the US Forest Service. Those are the realities that we have to deal with and wishing they weren’t so isn’t going to make them go away.


      • WHG, if the water sources are cut off, whatever labels we put on any non-domestic animals using them doesn’t matter to them. Are you thinking the deer, wild sheep, and birds etc. are not using and relying on the same water sources, many built and paid for at least in some part by taxpayer dollars?

        According to 4th generation Nevadan Craig Downer, in the original HAs the horses were by law given priority (but not exclusive) rights to both water and forage. Your comment seems to imply they have NO rights to water unless livestock owners provide access… surely not what the law intended or specifies.

        Especially in times of drought, it’s alarming on many levels to consider that wild animals (of all species) are required and intended to share water sources, but domestic livestock interests can capture and develop those for their private use, exclude all other species, then shut them down at will.

        Is this a correct understanding of the “reality” you describe?

        Where I live water laws are also complex, but one overarching principle still holds true: first in time, first in right.


  8. Many thanks for all of this information. The war against our wild horses and burros just keeps getting worse and has escalated tremendously it seems because of the states wanting to gain ownership of our public lands. All those who favor this land grab are actually traitors IMO. Nothing is even said about this on the news. The American public as well as our wild horses have been sold out.


  9. I beg to differ with you, Wild horse Guy… We had better defend wildhorsies as wildlife or they are forever doomed to a livestock designation with cattle.

    The protection of the wild horses and burros on public lands was upheld as a

    proper exercise of congressional power under the Property Clause in Kleppe v. New

    Mexico, 426 U.S. 529, 96 S. Ct. 2285, 49 L. Ed. 2d 34 (1976).

    4. When the United States Supreme Court considered and upheld the

    constitutionality of the Act in Kleppe v. New Mexico, 426 U.S. 529, 96 S. Ct. 2285,

    49 L. Ed. 2d 34 (1976), it decided the scope of the federal government’s authority

    over “wildlife” on federal lands and referred consistently throughout its opinion to

    “wildlife” rather than feral or domestic animals.

    The Court held that “the Property Clause also gives Congress the power to protect wildlife on the public lands, state law notwithstanding.” 426 U.S. at 546, 96 S. Ct. at229(emphasis added).

    The Court’s holding purported to extend to “wildlife” even though an amicus curiae brief filed in that case specifically drew the Court’s attention to the fact that the horses legislatively deemed wild in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act were in fact feral animals that either had themselves reverted to a wild state or were the progeny of horses that had done so. Brief of Amicus Curiae, International Association of Game and FishConservation Commissioners on the Merits at 4-8,
    16 U.S. Code 1336. Cooperative Agreements and Regulations16 U.S.C. § 1334 (1976)
    Kleppe v. New Mexico, 426 U.S. 529, 96 S. Ct. 2285, 49 L. Ed. 2d 34 (1976).

    The amicus brief therefore urged the Supreme Court to limit its holding to feral animals and not to address more broadly the question of federal authority over wildlife on federal lands. Id. at 4-13.

    This the Supreme Court declined to do, thus implicitly accepting Congress’ determination to treat the horses as WILD. Cf. Key v. State, 215 Tenn. 136, 144, 384
    . S.W.2d 22, 26 (1964)
    Federal authority for the conservation of wildlife has been upheld under the
    Constitution’s treaty-making power, Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416, 40 S. Ct.
    382, 64 L.Ed. 641 (1920), commerce power, Douglas v. Seacoast Products, Inc.,
    431 U.S. 265, 97 S. Ct. 1740, 52 L. Ed. 2d 304 (1977), and property power, Kleppe v. New Mexico, 426 U.S. 529, 96 S. Ct. 2285, 49 L. Ed. 2d 34 (1976).


  10. I am a wild horse advocate and blog at of all action alerts I see. As far as Americans losing public land goes, I see it in New Hampshire, too. I live a few miles from the ocean and every time someone new moves into a house along the beach, they start claiming that no one can walk in front of their house on the ocean. That is tragic because I believe you should be able to walk the beaches from Maine to Florida without arguing with someone about private property and no trespassing. That is why we must protect the public lands so the wild horses can live freely without ranchers, oil and gas and miners claiming the water rights and saying no trespassing. It is every American’s duty to protect our public land and not give in to a tiny percentage of greedy people, so that future generations will be able to walk on these treasures and see the icons that need to be protected forever. NH’s motto is live free or die. That is also what a wild horse or burro would say if they could talk.


  11. Please understand that I’m not picking on folks back east who don’t understand how things work out here. It’s good to ask probing questions and challenge convention. And I get and agree with the public beach access argument, but the west is different and this is how.

    By law federal public lands are multiple use lands. That means any legal use can take place on those lands, albeit many of them require leases or permits. The WFRHBA requires that wild horse herds be managed within the multiple use concept. Neither this Congress or this State Legislature is going to exclude ranchers, mining companies, energy companies or any other corporate interest from those lands. As we have witnessed, what they really want to do is sell off those lands at a discount to their rich campaign donor friends (a la privatize public lands) so the No Trespassing signs will come up and the horses will come off.

    The McCarran amendment gave federal sovereignty over water rights to the respective states. Nevada is the driest state in the union and its water laws are archaic and in most part untractable. Legislative efforts are underway to even more narrowly define what is deemed “beneficial use,” and water rights out here are bought and sold as commodities. We know. Some of us buy land and water rights when we can in order to provide buffer zones between development and the open horse ranges.

    It doesn’t matter how we think things should be. We have to deal with how things are. We probably have the least ecofriendly lawmakers that there have been in decades so we’re not going to wish this situation into some kind of Nirvana. We have to double down on those areas where we actually have some influence and think long term about who we want to elect to represent our interests on the state and federal level. And we have to get serious about changing the political landscape.

    Meanwhile we have to demonstrate some pragmatism and common sense and stomp out the brush fires as best we can. To do that, some of the positions we’re going to have to take will not be that idealistic. But some goals are achievable if we can steer clear of the drama and focus on facts and probabilities.


    • what I would add to your comments is that until/unless MORE citizens who actually care about all the wildlife SPEAK UP and I mean phonecalls, emails, visits if you can manage to your elected officials, NOTHING will change because yes, most Governors, state legislatures in these states are about as anti-environmental, anti-wildlife as they come. But they ALL have one thing in common- they want to get re-elected. So as you contact your lawmakers ask how they plan to vote on upcoming bills, find out HOW they have already voted on past bills, make noise that you want changes—-to help stop this all-out attack… by voting for those running next election who want to make changes, complaining is not enough—you vote these people in, you can vote them out,


  12. WATER
    We need to understand how this impacts our WH&B, our Wildlife and factor it into our comments on the Carson City RMP

    Drunk with power, agencies come for our water
    July 23, 2014

    First, the Environmental Protection Agency rewrote the rules for the Clean Water Act in such a way that gives it authority over just about any stream, dry creek bed or backyard wading pool in the country, even though the law as originally written was meant to protect navigable interstate waterways from pollution.
    This would allow the Interior Department to require a permit and demand a fee for any work that alters the flow of water near any rivulet – anything from dredging an irrigation ditch to terracing a field – on public or private land.

    As if grabbing a claim on every drop of water on the surface were not enough insult and injury, the U.S. Forest Service, a division of the Agriculture Department, has published a “Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management” that would give it virtual veto power over the use of any aquifer remotely connected to any land under Forest Service jurisdiction.


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