Horse News

BLM moves to remedy shortcomings over 2014 Wyoming roundup

Source: HorseTalk, photography by Carol Walker, music by Opus Moon

“The court vindicated our concerns with BLM’s complete failure to analyze the impacts of this action on wild horses and the natural environment, as well as the agency’s failure to engage the public before pressing forward with this ill-advised decision.”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has completed an environmental assessment as part of its moves to remedy shortcomings pinpointed by a judge over its 2014 roundup of nearly 1300 wild horses from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands.

It has published a 41-page environmental assessment, together with a finding of No Significant Impact, for which it is now seeking public feedback. The BLM opened a 30-day comment period last Friday.

The documents were issued after horse advocates successfully challenged aspects of the roundup through the courts, with a judge ruling in March this year that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its preparations for the Checkerboard muster.

A total of 1263 wild horses were permanently removed during the operation from public and private lands in the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs).

The three HMAs total about 2,427,220 acres, with 1,242,176 acres falling within the Checkerboard region – so-named because of its alternating public and private land parcels.

US District Court of Wyoming Chief Judge Nancy Freudenthal issued an order stating that the BLM violated the environmental act when it conducted the operation in the southwest of the state. He remanded the violation back to the BLM to “remedy the deficiencies”…(CONTINUED)

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25 replies »

  1. What is the point of commenting after these horses have been removed? These jerks are only covering their behinds! I realize we – all of us – have to keep after them but commenting NOW? I’m betting we all did this through various petitions and letters before this roundup! No significant impact? I guess not – only to our wild horses. WHEN is it going to be THEIR turn?

    Liked by 1 person

    The only way to remedy those “Shortcomings” is to PUT THOSE HORSES BACK WHERE THEY BELONG


    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
    Rock Springs Grazing Association, Case No. 2:11-cv-00263-NDF
    Ken Salazar, et al.,

    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

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OUR Tax Dollars at work….Notice that the USA Spending page is “no longer available”.
    The Tax Dollars and the Wild Horses are no longer available either

    Since there are numerous authorized helicopter round up payments listed for the Cattoor’s, (un-desgnated as to location) it is difficult to say exactly what we are paying the Cattoors for the Wyoming checkerboard capture but on the other hand you CAN see two designated for the “checkboard” – totaling $508,324 per
    Transaction # 1 (Delivery Order)
    IDVPIID/PIID/MOD: INL10PC00593 / INL14PD00691 / 0
    475 S 200 W, NEPHI, Utah
    Program Source: 14-1109
    Department/Agency: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management


    Signed Date:
    Obligation Amount:


    Transaction # 9 (Delivery Order)
    IDVPIID/PIID/MOD: INL10PC00593 / INL14PD00691 / 1
    475 S 200 W, NEPHI, Utah
    Reason for Modification: CHANGE ORDER
    Program Source: 14-1109
    Department/Agency: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management


    Signed Date:
    Obligation Amount:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Did Mr. Lloyd Eisenhauer testify AT the court hearing in the autumn? Or, are these his “current“ (very knowledgeable and elegant) responses for the after-the-fact~required-BEFORE-the-fact/decision-NEpA?? If this statement was, indeed submitted as “expert advice ” – then, did the court answer to every point he made? (or require BblM to do so) ?? If NoT, is there a way to ensure such legal opinions to be entered into ongoing basis of case NOW?! Thereby requiring BlM to “rebut” all of his evidence and experience, point-to-point? Presumably, the afterward NEPA demanded by this court would also have to be ruled “ACCEpTABLE to meet the criteria ”; but HOW is this done, and BY the same judge (as in most cases that I’m aware of – in “civil “ cases)? And yes, it’s WAY more than obvious that there were & are numerous “impacts” to be “found“! Even IF only to the integrity (found lacking severely) of local, regional, national BlM agents and procedures! I can’t imagine how one could “find” otherwise? As a backwards FONSI, as it’s a prediction of future actions – is impossible to make….. in addition to the unarguable impacts already DONE to the Herds, the citizens, the cultural heritage and economic basis of the area. Isn’t it?? {IF the judge rules to accept the “mitigation” – then she’s really ruling that the FONSI and NePA processes are nothing but a JOKE! and it could be applied to Everywhere «- to me. that has great potential to bring down the entire house o cards….. am i totally off-base and living on Neptune, or what?


    • Cssssswv, this article might help answer some of your questions. It’s dated November 21, 2013.
      Something else that has disappeared (from Google) is Lloyd Eisenhauer’s Legal Declaration

      From EARTH FIRST

      BLM to Begin Massive Wyoming Wild Horse Roundup to Appease Ranchers
      Rock Springs, WY (November 21, 2013) . . .

      Agency’s Removal of Nearly 600 Mustangs Defies National Academy of Sciences Recommendations

      In a declaration filed by former BLM Rock Springs and Rawlins area manager Lloyd Eisenhauer, in the RSGA vs. Department of the Interior case, stated:
      “The 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 . . . [B]ecause 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.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Louie, has Mr. Eisenhauer made any other statements, or has he been disappeared as well? It’s curious nothing more has surfaced from him, and that his testimony has been purged from the internet, but by parties unknown.


      • IcySpots, its most probable that any further statements from Mr. Eisenhauer would be in the files of the law firm.
        It is VERY interesting that his testimony has disappeared from google BUT…it is all over the internet and probably on a lot of facebook and twitter pages as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Legal documents can be found on the Cloud Foundation website

    On August 1, 2014, The Cloud Foundation, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Return to Freedom, Carol Walker, Board Member of Wild Horse Freedom Federation and Kimerlee Curyl filed a lawsuit to stop BLM’s proposed roundup of more than 800 wild horses from the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Divide Basin Herd Management Areas in Wyoming. The roundup had been scheduled to begin on August 20, 2014, but has been postponed as a result of the lawsuit until at least Sept. 1.

    September 10, 2014: The Court of Appeals denied our emergency motion (see below). The Court did not address any of our arguments but simply issued a one sentence decision stating that “We conclude that Petitioners-Appellants have not shown that the balance of these factors favors granting the motion.”

    Even though both the District Court and the Tenth Circuit denied the emergency motions seeking to stop the roundup in the Wyoming Checkerboard, the case will still proceed to merits after the roundup occurs.

    On March 3, 2015, U.S. District Court of Wyoming Chief Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal issued an order stating that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it conducted a massive “Checkerboard Roundup” last fall. The Court remanded the NEPA violation back to the BLM to “remedy the deficiencies” while at the same time denied Plaintiffs’ claims that the BLM, in the Wyoming roundup, violated the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA)

    For Legal Documents and Press Releases


    • VERY interesting! Read part 1 and part 2. Sounds like Bundy might also be covered by domestic terrorism! Of course equality under the law might be quite a reach for any one of the welfare ranchers! Taking up arms against the government? As much as I oppose the BLM’s “management” – can you imagine the repercussions of an advocate group doing what Bundy did? Not equality by any stretch!


  6. While the judge ruled against BLM and handed it to advacates that BLM violated NEPA and FLPMA, by simply requesting BLM to “amend” the environmental impact assessment she is issuing a de-fact ruling in favor of BLM and the welfare ranchers.

    We sued BLM in hopes that, knowning it violated NEPA, FLPMA and the WFHBA, the horses would be returned to their legitimate range, but all we got was an amended EIA that still reads “no significant impact”. The legal arguments were sound but instead of a real remedy, we got more BLM wet paper.

    In essence the ruling was tailor-made to allow BLM to issue another EIA that, while technically fits the public comments’ requirements outlined by NEPA, it is devoid of any real assessment of the proposed action (least they had to start removing cows from the range and make their owners pay for their upkeep), hence dispensing BLM from returning the horses to the range and please the “stakeholders” involved in the case, that is, the welfarized ranchers of the RGSA.

    Similar ruses have been used in the past by BLM, dispensing it of any accountability or corrective actions arguing that since the offending action (the gather) was already completed there was no way to apply a remedy, or worse yet, that advocates had no standing since such actions were concluded.

    Reading between lines of this ruling and all the decisions surrounding the checkerboard round-up and others like it (e.g. the Oregon one), we can see that both these “stakeholders” and BLM are sending us a very sad yet incredibly powerful (in a negative sense) message:

    – Just like in the case of the Davis-Salazar affair, laws do not matter any more. Probably they never really did. It all boils down to a question of who gets money or who profits from certain management decisions, understanding that there should be always a bias towards commercial exploitation and corporate / individual profit. This is basically defined as a privatization of the legal and political system.

    – Horse advocates are thus automatically excluded from said “stakeholders” club since they obtain no profit (virtual or real) from these management decisions and do not represent any form of commercial exploitation. Such exclusion is further underpinned by ideological motivations.

    – Since wild horses do not represent any commercial exploitation opportunity, they are of no value and thus any concern for them is excluded from assessments and management decisions.

    – The only way wild horses can “produce value” for these “stakeholders” are by creating a corporate scheme revolving around the conduction and engineering of roundups, contracts for holding facilties (whose location seems to be a question of national security given the secrecy around them) and regular funneling of animals in holding to slaughter sales. Only “selected stakeholders” (e.g. Catoors, Davis) can benefit from these schemes.

    – And most importanly: Although the judge agreed that wild horse advocates were right in their claims that BLM violated federal laws by conducting the Checkerboard roundup, “stakeholder’s interests” preempt those of wild horses or advocates, since the former are tacitly acknowledged as only legitimate interest possible. It doesn’t matter that the laws written in the books rule in favor of wild horses, even in clear-cut cases, management decisons by BLM (and apparently the judiciary) will ultimately always result in actions -or lack thereof- that satisfy the interests or aspirations of the “stakeholders”.

    In other words, BLM, the welfare ranchers and this judge are telling us “that’s the way the cookie crumbles”.


    • Daniel, do you feel (as I do) that the FONSI is illogical, since the primary argument for removing horses was their supposed overgrazing (meaning: impact), so by removing them surely there would be a significant change in that impact, which is what the RSGA wanted. If there was no significant impact by removing them, then there wasn’t significant impact by leaving them there. ‘t doesn’t seem arguable they can successfully argue it both ways.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely, the FONSI is totally bogus, it cannot be both ways, but I guess they simply regard impact as a measure of forage comsuption by wildlife (livestock excluded). Again, the only consideration seems to be allocating more forage to livestock / commercial exploitation by any means.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Daniel, the only followup I have seen indicates the BLM is dividing up this area to include larger blocks of combined grazing areas for domestic livestock (with little or no public access) so even this is a significant impact. It will be interesting to see if livestock numbers are increased to take advantage of all the forage now available due to removal of wild horses. That also will be an impact.

        This is discouraging in a supposed nation of laws; either our laws mean something or they don’t.


      • Yes, by defragmenting the areas avalable for livestock grazing they are taking a major action that obviosuly has a significant impact, resulting in a de-facto reduction of areas available for wildlife.

        The point of FONSIs is that agencies are suppossed to act always in good faith and is thus presumed that they will always identify the significant impact and act accordingly as set out in laws, but in truth FONSIs have become mere instruments to legalize management decisions stemming from economical and political agendas that were already taken before any assessment was actually made.

        Think of it like the notary public signatures that goes with the Mexican “free-of-EU-banned-drugs” statutory declarations (EIDs) signed by killer buyers: it is just paperwork necessary to make the cut set by Mexican inspectors at the border, but there is no real checks or truth underpinning such declarations. The notary knows it is a fake, the KB knows it is fake and the USDA and Mexican inspectors know it is a sham as well, but they just give it a pass, since the steps of the flow chart devised by some thinking head in a smoke-filled central office somewhere in Mexico DF were met… on paper.

        Similarly, the FONSI is always issued as “no significant impact” either way, simply because it is a requirement to carry on with the gather. This is, in short, the perversion of administrative procedures and laws in order to meet a preset goal. That’s why I said “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” in my previous post.

        Beef cattle operations are reporting record earnings this year… so you can bet more cows will pop-up soon. Without more cows, there is no more money and without money in between there is no apparent reason for these “stakeholders” to push for wild horse removals.


    • Daniel, FWIW, the RSGA grazes only a few cattle in the Checkerboard, it’s mostly a sheep grazing enterprise. Sheep grazing is an even more concentrated business than cattle ranching, with fewer owners of larger flocks, producing an even smaller percentage of the overall agricultural production in the United States.


  7. Here is another one that they can’t have both ways.

    Either make Rock Springs Grazing Ass fence their private land in the Checkerboard lands
    Remove ALL fencing from ALL grazing allotments on Public Lands

    Let’s see if this document disappears from Google

    Rock Springs Grazing Ass Complaint
    Read #28 pg 10 “…Federal Law expressly prohibits fencing on Public Lands….”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s quite obvious that no one in Congress has the balls to go up against the livestock industry and force the BLM to follow the law. What a sad state of affairs that billionaires have made so many legislators their bitches, to do their bidding regardless what the law says or the majority of Americans want. The world laughs at our “Democracy”.




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