Livestock land grab for checkerboard land in Wyoming

grazing.Par.88233.Image.-1.-1.1

Sheep grazing near Worland, Wyoming, in 1940. (photo:  BLM)

I knew it wasn’t going to be good for wild horses & burros when I read that the original Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act expired, and that Nevada’s Dean Heller was co-sponsoring S. 368, a new “reauthorization” which would be in effect for 10 years.   And sure enough, when looking at state fact sheets of the impact of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization of 2015 (FLTFA), it’s clear that FLTFA will promote the chance for ranchers to buy checkerboard land, and benefit the livestock interests, especially in Wyoming.  Leading the charge in the House for H.R. 2068 is Rep. Lummis (R-WY).

The state fact sheet for Wyoming states “FLTFA is important to ranchers, as well as over 100 groups. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust, Public Lands Council, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Boone and Crockett, and over 100 other groups support FLTFA reauthorization.  Public lands are important to ranchers for grazing.  FLTFA sales also provide an opportunity for a rancher with a BLM tract of land within or adjacent to his or her property to purchase the property, possibly to expand the ranch, prevent a liability from having a public inholding, or other purposes.”

And “WYOMING BLM AND LAND SALES   Land available for disposal: at least 561,829 acres.  The Rock Springs Field Office ranks in the top seven BLM field offices that generated 97% of FLTFA revenue as of May 31, 2007.  Several sales in southwestern Wyoming, the most notable being the sale of 722.5 acres to PacifiCorp – in the Rock Springs Field Office.”

It seems like the BLM has been getting rid of Wyoming’s wild horses so they can outright sell the checkerboard public lands to private livestock ranchers, oil companies, and other special interests.          – Debbie

SOURCE:  The Nature Conservancy

Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization Introduced in U.S. Senate

U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Dean Heller (R-NV) have introduced the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization of 2015 (FLTFA). Reauthorizing FLTFA will bring back a mechanism that allows proceeds from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land sales to fund critical land conservation in the West at BLM conservation areas, national parks, national wildlife refuges and on national forests. Original cosponsors of this FLTFA reauthorization include Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Steve Daines (R-MT).

“The Nature Conservancy supports this bill and the use of proceeds from strategic land sales—which have already been identified through BLM land use plans—to accomplish high-priority conservation work on federally managed lands,” said Brent Keith, Senior Policy Advisor for The Nature Conservancy. “Reauthorization of FLTFA brings back the principle of ‘land-for-land’ transactions where the sale of strategic public lands not only reduces administrative costs to the BLM, but generates funding to protect other lands. We appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Senators Heinrich and Heller in working to reauthorize this program.”

Congress passed FLTFA in 2000, and the program successfully generated more than $100 million for public land conservation before it expired in 2011. The Conservancy is one of more than 150 diverse organizations supporting reauthorization of FLTFA.

Through FLTFA’s  “land for land” program, BLM sells land identified for disposal to public and private landowners to consolidate land ownership, create jobs, support economic development and increase revenues to counties by putting land on the tax rolls. These sales generate funding for federal agencies to acquire critical inholdings from willing sellers in certain designated areas. BLM has sold land to benefit both the private sector and municipalities, including ranchers, timber interests, real estate companies, a community college, and counties for both public and private purposes.

Federal land sales provide revenue for program administration and federal agencies to acquire high-priority lands with important recreational access for hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, and other recreational activities, as well as properties with historic, scenic and cultural resources. These new places help the local tourism economy through recreational equipment sales, hotels, restaurants, gas stations and more. And, because it is self-financed through BLM land sales, FLTFA does not require taxpayer funds.

Without FLTFA, revenue from sales of BLM lands goes directly to the U.S. Treasury and not to conservation.

20 comments on “Livestock land grab for checkerboard land in Wyoming

  1. ADVOCATES FOR THE WEST
    https://www.advocateswest.org/species/wild-horses/

    BLM has been charged with managing wild horse herds and have dealt with “excess” horses through a capture program. BLM also manages ranching on public lands, giving permits to ranchers for grazing. Because ranchers have found our public lands to be good grazing for their cattle, wild horses may lose the fight for resources as wild horses are replaced by cattle. If the mustang is to remain an icon of the American west, running wild and free, they urgently need our protection in the form of habitat conservation.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. WWP Sues State of Wyoming for Unconstitutional Laws
    September 29, 2015
    http://www.westernwatersheds.org/2015/09/om-322/

    A coalition of five national non-profit organizations filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Wyoming against the state’s recent passage of two ‘Data Collection Statutes,’ new laws that target citizen efforts to report environmental violations.

    Western Watersheds Project and our co-plaintiffs National Press Photographers Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Center for Food Safety brought the suit against WY Governor Matt Mead and the WY Attorney General, as well as the Director of the Wyoming Department of Water Quality and the county attorneys of Fremont, Lincoln, and Sublette counties.

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  3. Wyoming residents should fight sell-off of public lands
    By Kerry Drake | April 14, 2015

    http://www.wyofile.com/column/wyoming-residents-should-fight-sell-off-of-public-lands/

    We’re all getting snookered.

    I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before, at least in print. I never particularly wanted to, but it fits what’s happening to Wyoming residents who are being sold a bill of goods by state legislators whose ultimate goal is to sell off our public lands to developers.

    Fortunately, the law isn’t on their side. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the public can keep powerful people determined to get their way from accomplishing their goals.
    The energy industry, ranchers and many Western state officials have long wanted to get their hands on public lands owned and managed by the federal government. In 1932 the feds were willing to transfer surface rights to unappropriated lands to the states, but the states couldn’t afford to manage public lands during the Great Depression.

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  4. The law states that “the creation
    of a grazing district or the issuance of a [grazing] permit . . . shall not
    create any right, title, interest, or estate in or to the lands.” 43 U.S.C. §
    315b

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  5. The ancestors of the horse and the modern horse used this area for habitat for the better part of 60 million years. In fact the greatest number of fossils of horse from the Eocene through the present day are found in this area, Nebraska’s bad lands, the John Day River in Oregon, but horse fossils have been found all over the country through Alaska. The horse was present in Mexico and then to South America after the Isthmus of Panama joined the continent to North America.

    Why can’t the checkerboard be divided into areas that are used for cattle grazing one year and by horses the next? To set this area up for rotational grazing will keep the land healthier and if there were a way to create natural barriers and some fencing between the area primarily used for cattle and that primarily used for wild horses. I do not know how may people have domestic horses and whether the idea of allowing the domestic horses to mix with the wild horses would affect either negatively—I don’t know. There are no genetic differences at the species level although there may be some at the subspecies level that might increase sensory input in wild horses. I observed wild horses in pastures with domestic horses, and there were some subtle differences, but overall the behavior seemed more related to a horse’s personality. Domestic horses might need to receive PZP under this arrangement. In nature, all species graze together and this helps keep the land healthier. If the ranchers are seriously interested in doing what is best for the environment, they should at least consider this.

    The horse has been in North America longer than any humans and much longer than the bison which also died out during the same period that the horse did. Anyone who says they survived has not read the research. At least the species bison bison died out. I am not sure about other species. America is the home land of the horse, and the effect of human breeding which was largely based on the opinions of humans who did not realize that the female contributes more genetic material than the males. The other part of this is that the breeders relied on fewer males so the males that are represented are a relatively small number of male horses that are actually born. Who knows what genetic traits have been lost. By allowing horses to live in the wild in the same habitat they have always know, they have the opportunity to make new genetic adaptations to changing environmental conditions–and develop traits that will ensure their survival.

    The position that cows and livestock are evil is self-defeating and actually leads to less productive land than were different species grazing together. Ideally, if species who do not share the same parasites graze together, this practice should lessen the need for parasite control in domestic animals. The populations of horse are being kept artifially low due to the fact that the author of the non-native horse theory excels in population biology, and he has been managing them for extinction for at least 20 years. This is why no one can ever find out what the science that justifies the AUMs and AML’s is. We are dealing with the masters of deceit. This, too, is a matter of public record as others have looked into their sources and the noted the failure of the sources to exist or to have anything relevant about what their articles are written about.

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  6. Since it seems the funds generated by selling Checkerboard sections would go not to the U.S. Treasury, but to conservation efforts, there is the prospect here of creating new HMAs to replace the three/four the BLM is wiping out in the Checkerboard forever. Nothing I have seen indicates these approx. 1 million acres will be replaced elsewhere for use as wild horse range.

    Using the funds for conservation of different large units which include wild horses would seem to be a good result for the American public. There was at one time an effort to create a Wild Horse National Park in Adobe Town; why couldn’t funds from the sale of the Checkerboard be used to create such a park now, before all our wild horses are gone? Since FLTFA already has a “land for land” model, this could be used and the money from selling off public land would be used to benefit the public good. Proceeds which simply add to Wyoming’s general fund would seem to be grossly unfair to the wider American public who own both these lands and the wild horses.

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    • Oops, sorry. Sales would otherwise go directly to the U.S. Treasury, not Wyoming’s general fund, but the disappearance of both horses and funds would produce the same net result.

      (wish there was an EDIT function on this blog…)

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  7. Wyoming
    Original Herd Area Acres: 7,301,975 (BLM)
    Original Herd Area Acres: 10,344,424 (Total)
    Herd Management Area Acres: 3,633,879 (BLM)
    Herd Management Area Acres: 4,768,682 (Total)

    So in other words, Wyoming has ALREADY stolen about half of the wild horse legally designated land from the wild horses and now they are maneuvering to take away and sell what little legal land they have left? Why we may ask? For one reason only … to fatten the wallets of a few private/corporate ranchers and massive energy companies at the sacrifice of the American people and the land and wild horses that belong to ALL Americans.

    Go to the BLM RAS website and the geocommunicator map and see for yourself. Click on the box marked HMAs and the box marked HAs and see what massive lands that have been robbed from our wild horses.
    http://www.geocommunicator.gov/blmMap/Map.jsp?MAP=GA

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  8. These group of selfish and egotistical ranchers need to be put in their place. They think they own the public land and can control any government agency – and it appears they can and they do.

    These selfish ranchers need to be held accountable for the damage their cattle and sheep cause to the environment and especially to our public lands. They have gotten away with intimidation and leverage of politicians funded by their wealthy grazing associations. Part of this wealth is due to the fact that we American taxpayers funnel large amounts of cash to them via federal subsidies in addition to their low monthly price tag they pay us Americans for their welfare grazing in addition to their plentiful livestock trespass.

    They need to get their cattle and sheep off of our lands and stop blaming wild horses for the damage their cattle are causing. I have asked in numerous EA public comments for a single thread of truth that provides scientific monitoring data and reports to verify any wild horse captures and removals SOLEY RESOLVED any thriving ecological balance problems on any wild horse lands. They cannot provide any scientific truth because the wild horses are NOT the cause of the damage. How could they be when the wild horses are outnumbered on most herd area land by thousands and thousands and thousands of private/corporate sheep and cattle!

    “What can be done to address the problems associated with public lands livestock grazing? There is a simple answer: end it. Get the cows and sheep off, let the wild creatures reclaim their native habitat, and send the ranchers a bill for the cost of restoration.” http://www.publiclandsranching.org/book.htm

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    • Picked up Welfare Ranching at the library this am – its going to take me a while to get through it – but it sure is good to know exactly how RIGHT we all are about the grazing mess!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oklahoma-based oil and gas production company to pay $1M for 2011 spill near Rawlins
    January 31, 2014
    http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/2d1dbd97c8bcce4685257c7100772140!OpenDocument

    Nadel and Gussman Rockies, LLC (NGR), an oil and gas production company based in Tulsa, Okla., will pay a total of $1 million in fines, restitution and community service contributions after previously pleading guilty to Clean Water Act (CWA) violations stemming from its role in the illegal discharge of more than 4,700 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the North Platte River near Rawlins, Wyoming.

    The case began in May, 2011, when a local resident noticed an oily sheen on Emigrant Creek near Rawlins

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  10. Investigation Finds BLM Failed to Inspect More Than Half of High Risk Oil and Gas Wells
    http://ecowatch.com/2014/05/14/blm-failed-inspect-high-risk-oil-gas-wells/
    Jennifer Krill, Earthworks May 14, 2014

    “Can’t anybody here play this game?” baseball manager Casey Stengel said about his 1962 New York Mets, renowned as the worst team of all time.

    Stengel’s famous line comes to mind with the recent publication of a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO)—Congress’ investigative arm—showing that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the leading regulator of oil and gas drilling on federal land, wasn’t even inspecting more than 2,100 of the 3,702 wells drilled between fiscal years 2009 and 2012 that the bureau, itself, had designated as high risks for water pollution or other environmental harm.

    The GAO also found that missing data in BLM’s database made it unclear whether 1,784 wells drilled during the four-year period were identified as high- or low-priority for inspection. “Without these data, the extent to which the agency inspects high-priority wells is not known,” the GAO found. The GAO added that the BLM had reviewed only one field office after the agency recommended in fiscal year 2011 that all field offices be reviewed annually to ensure that oil and gas inspections were completed. “Without monitoring its field offices, BLM cannot provide reasonable assurance that they are meeting their inspection goals,” the GAO found.

    What’s especially depressing about the GAO’s findings is that other regulators are on the same playing field.
    An Earthworks investigation of six drilling states (CO, NM, NY, OH, TX, WY) found that in 2010, state regulators failed to inspect almost 350,000 active oil and gas wells, or more than 50 percent of all active wells in the six states.

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    • more…
      Land or acreage is available for purchase today within the Checkerboarded Lands in Wyoming. You may ask yourself, “Why would I want to own a part of Checkerboarded Lands?” There are plenty of benefits to owning a part of these lands. Besides owning a piece of American history, you will have access to thousands of acres of land that is not accessible to the general public. As an owner you may cross Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands to access your private lands, whereas the public is not allowed to cross private lands to access Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Therefore you may use your property and BLM lands to enjoy the beauty of America with your friends and family. You can camp, hike, hunt, view wildlife, star gaze and enjoy all the recreations afforded in the open lands of Western America.

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  11. The Final Days of the Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup Part II
    https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/10/11/the-final-days-of-the-checkerboard-wild-horse-roundup-part-ii/
    Farewell Wild Horses of Wyoming

    ROCK SPRINGS GRAZING ASS
    From AWHPC website

    RSGA controls the rangeland in the Wyoming checkerboard, an area 40 miles wide by 70 miles long that runs along the historic transcontinental railway corridor. RSGA owns 550,000 acres outright and leases an additional 450,000 acres from the Anadarko Land Company, a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. RSGA also holds permits to graze livestock on a large portion of the public lands in the checkerboard. RSGA owns members graze approximately 50,000 to 70,000 sheep and about 5,000 cattle on deeded private lands and leased public lands. By contrast, just 1,100- 1,600 wild horses are allowed to roam the area.

    Thanks to taxpayer subsidies, RSGA members graze livestock on public lands for approximately one-twelfth (1/12) of the going market rate. The RSGA complaint, filed on July 27, 2011, seeks a court order that will (a) result in removing all wild horses from private lands in the Wyoming Checkerboard area, and (b) declare that the BLM “must remove all of the wild horses that have strayed onto the RSGA lands and the adjacent public lands within the Wyoming Checkerboard.”

    JOHN HAY, President
    Rock Springs National Bank
    P.O. Box 880
    Rock Springs, WY 82902
    http://treasurer.state.wy.us/advisory.asp

    JOHN HAY of the Rock Springs Grazing Association discusses land used for wind farms. He supports Tasco Engineering’s Wyoming Wind Energy Project.

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    • Katherine A. Meyer
      Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal
      1601 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
      Suite 700
      Washington, D.C. 20009
      (202) 588-5206
      Timothy Kingston
      408 West 23rd Street, Suite 1
      Cheyenne, WY 82001-3519
      (WY Bar No. 6-2720)
      (307) 638-8885

      Attorneys for Defendant-Intervenors
      IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
      FOR THE DISTRICT OF WYOMING
      Rock Springs Grazing Association, Case No. 2:11-cv-00263-NDF
      Plaintiff,
      v.
      Ken Salazar, et al.,
      Defendants,

      DECLARATION OF LLOYD EISENHAUER
      I, Lloyd Eisenhauer, declare as follows:

      1. I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I am a former Bureau of Land Management
      (“BLM”) official with extensive experience in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts in Wyoming and intimate familiarity with the public lands under BLM management in those areas. I have reviewed the consent decree proposed by BLM and the Rock Springs Grazing Association (“RSGA”) in this case and provide this declaration based on my longstanding knowledge of, and management of, wild horses and livestock grazing in the Rock Springs and Rawlins Districts.

      2. I grew up in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming with a livestock and farming background, served in the Marines for four years, and then owned a livestock business from 1952-1958. I enrolled in college in 1958, studying range management. From 1960-1961, BLM hired me to assist with collecting field data for vegetation assessments and carrying capacity surveys related to livestock and wild horses. These surveys were conducted in the Lander, Kemmerer, and Rawlins Districts. When I graduated in 1962, BLM hired me full-time to serve in the Rawlins District in Wyoming, where most of my work focused on grazing management involving sheep, cattle, and wild horses. From 1968-1972, I was Area Manager of the Baggs-Great Divide Resource Area in the Rawlins District. In 1971, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was enacted, and in the spring of 1972, on behalf of BLM, I conducted the first aerial survey of wild horses in Wyoming, recording the number of horses and designating the Herd Management Areas (“HMAs”) for the Rawlins District. After a stint as an Area Manager with BLM’s Albuquerque, New Mexico office, in 1975 I took over as the Chief of Planning and Environmental Analysis in BLM’s Rock Springs District for three years. I was the lead on all planning and environmental assessments. During that time, I also served as the Acting Area Manager of the Salt Wells Resource Area, which is located in the Rock Springs District. In 1979, BLM transferred me to its Denver Service Center to serve as the Team Leader in creating the agency’s automated process for data collection. I received an excellence of service award from the Secretary of the Interior commending me for my work as a Team Leader. In 1982, I became the Head of Automation in BLM’s Cheyenne office, where I managed and implemented the data collection and processing of various systems related to BLM programs. I retired from BLM in 1986, and have stayed very involved in the issue of wild horse and livestock management on BLM lands in Wyoming, and have written articles about the issue in local and other newspaper outlets. I have won various journalistic awards, including a Presidential award, for my coverage of conservation districts in Wyoming. Along with a partner, I operated a tour business (called Backcountry Tours) for six years, taking various groups into wild places in Wyoming – without a doubt wild horses were the most popular thing to see on a tour, in large part due to their cultural and historical value. I also served six years on the governor’s non-point source water quality task force.

      3. Based on my longstanding knowledge of wild horse and livestock management in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts, and in the Wyoming Checkerboard in particular, I am very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA, embodied in the proposed Consent Decree they have filed in this case, under which BLM would remove all wild horses located on RSGA’s private lands on the Wyoming Checkerboard.

      4. The Checkerboard is governed by an exchange of use agreement between the federal government and private parties such as RSGA. However, due to state laws, property lines, and intermingled lands, it is impossible to fence the lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard, which means that both the wild horses and the livestock that graze there roam freely between public and private lands on the Checkerboard without any physical barriers. For this reason, it is illogical for BLM to commit to removing wild horses that are on the “private” lands RSGA owns or leases because those same horses are likely to be on public BLM lands (for example, the Salt Wells, Adobe Town, Great Divide, and White Mountains HMAs) earlier in that same day or later that same evening. Essentially, in contrast to other areas of the country where wild horses still exist, on the Wyoming Checkerborad there is no way to distinguish between horses on “private” lands and those on public lands, and therefore it would be unprecedented, and indeed impossible for BLM to contend that it is removing all horses on RSGA’s “private” lands at any given time of the year, month, or day, considering that those horses would only be on the strictly “private” lands very temporarily and intermittently on any particular day .

      5. Another major concern with BLM’s agreement to remove all horses from the private lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard is that BLM is undermining the laws that apply to the Checkerboard, and wild horse management in general, which I implemented during my time as a BLM official. Traditionally, BLM officials (myself included) have understood that, pursuant to the Wild Horse Act, wild horses have a right to use BLM lands, so long as their population numbers do not cause unacceptable damage to vegetation or other resources. In stark contrast, however, livestock (sheep and cattle) have no similar right to use BLM lands; rather, livestock owners may be granted the privilege of using BLM lands for livestock grazing pursuant to a grazing permit that is granted by BLM under the Taylor Grazing Act, but that privilege can be revoked, modified, or amended by BLM for various reasons, including for damage to vegetation or other resources caused by livestock, or due to sparse forage available to sustain livestock after wild horses are accounted for. BLM’s tentative agreement here does the opposite and instead prioritizes livestock over wild horses, by proposing to remove hundreds of wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard without reducing livestock numbers – which, in my view, is contrary to the laws governing BLM’s actions as those mandates were explained to me and administered during the decades that I was a BLM official.

      6. While I do not agree with every management action taken by BLM over the years in the Rock Springs District, I can attest – based on my longstanding employment with BLM and my active monitoring of the agency’s activities during retirement – that BLM has generally proven capable of removing wild horses in the Rock Springs District, including by responding to emergency situations when needed and removing horses when necessary due to resource damage.

      7. Considering that wild horses exhibit different foraging patterns and movement patterns than sheep and cattle, and also than big game such as antelope and elk, no sound biological basis exists for permanently removing wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard at this time. In particular, wild horses tend to hang out in the uplands at a greater distance from water sources until they come to briefly drink water every day or two, whereas livestock congregate near water sources and riparian habitat causing concentrated damage to vegetation and soil. For this reason, the impacts of wild horses are far less noticeable on the Checkerboard than impacts from livestock.

      8. In addition, because livestock tend to eat somewhat different forage than wild horses (horses tend to eat coarser vegetation such as Canadian wild rye and other bunch grasses, whereas cattle and sheep mostly eat softer grasses), there is no justification to remove wild horses on the basis that insufficient forage exists to support the current population of wild horses. Also, because cattle and sheep have no front teeth on the front part of their upper jaws, they tend to pull and tear grasses or other forage out by the root causing some long-term damage to vegetation, whereas wild horses, which have front teeth on both their front upper and lower jaws, act more like a lawnmower and just clip the grass or forage (leaving the root uninjured), allowing the vegetation to quickly grow back. These differences are extremely significant because if there were a need to reduce the use of these BLM lands by animals to preserve these public lands, it might be cattle and sheep – not wild horses – that should be reduced to gain the most benefit for the lands, and which is why BLM, during my time as an agency official, focused on reducing livestock grazing.

      9. BLM’s agreement with RSGA states that RSGA’s conservation plan limited livestock grazing, primarily by sheep, to the winter months to provide sufficient winter forage. This is a good example of “multiple use” management, since wild horses and sheep have very little competition for the forage they consume and the seasons during which they use parts of the Checkerboard. During winter, sheep use the high deserts and horses utilize the uplands and breaks (i.e., different locations) for forage and protection. During the summer, when sheep are not present, wild horses use various landscapes on the Checkerboard. This multiple use should continue for the benefit of the livestock, the wild horses, and the public and private lands involved.

      10. I am also very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA to permanently zero out the Salt Wells HMA and the Divide Basin HMA, leaving no wild horses in those areas that have long contained wild horses. I have been to fifteen of the sixteen HMAs in Wyoming, and to my knowledge none has ever been zeroed out by BLM. It is my view, based on everything I know about these areas and the way these public lands are used by wild horses and livestock, that BLM has no biological or ecological basis for zeroing out a herd of wild horses in an HMA that existed at the time the wild horse statute was passed in 1971, as is the case with both the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs. And, again, because the wild horses have a statutory right to be there, whereas livestock only have a privilege that can be revoked at any time by BLM, there also is no authority or precedent, to my knowledge, for the agency to zero out these two longstanding wild horse herds simply to appease private livestock grazers.

      11. The zeroing out of wild horses in the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs is also concerning because it would mean that, in those two longstanding HMAs, there would no longer be the “multiple use” of these public lands as required by both the Wild Horse Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Currently, while there are other uses of this public land, such as by wildlife, hunters, and recreational users, the two primary uses in those HMAs are by wild horses and livestock. If BLM proceeds with its agreement with RSGA to zero out wild horses in those HMAs, the only major use remaining would be livestock use, meaning that there would be no multiple use of those BLM lands. Not only will that potentially undermine the laws that BLM officials must implement here, but it has practical adverse effects on the resources – multiple use is very beneficial for the environment, and particularly for sensitive vegetation, because different users (e.g., livestock, wild horses) use the lands and vegetation in different ways. When that is eliminated, the resources are subjected to an unnatural use of the lands which can cause severe long-term damage to the vegetation. As a result, zeroing out these herds would likely bedevastating for the vegetation in these two HMAs, because livestock would be by far the predominant use in this area.

      12. Turning the White Mountain HMA into a non-reproducing herd, as the agreement between BLM and RSGA proposes to do, is also a farce, and violates the meaning of a wild and free-roaming animal. This is essentially a slow-motion zeroing out of this HMA, and is inconsistent with any wild horse management approach I am familiar with that BLM has implemented on public lands.
      Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

      Lloyd Eisenhauer

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