Horse News

BLM and SITLA Enter into Wild Horse Management Agreement


Trust lands leases = the state of Utah leasing state land (“interspersed within public lands” ) for mining, oil and gas, grazing, and commercial development.  This is just one more way the BLM partners up with special interests to get rid of wild horses.  –  Debbie

gravel-pit-for-using-TL photo:  State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration

Source:  Emery County Progress

The Bureau of Land Management and Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) announced on Feb. 3, they entered into an Agreement to effectively manage wild horses located on SITLA lands within areas across the State of Utah.

SITLA is an independent state agency that manages and develops the State’s trust-land assets for the benefit of Utah’s public education system and other state institutions. There are about 3.4 million acres of SITLA-managed land interspersed within and among the 22.9 million acres of public lands throughout Utah, with more than 555,000 acres of SITLA lands impacted by wild horses. The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros (WH&B) Act prohibits SITLA from unilaterally removing wild horses from its trust lands. Only the BLM can remove wild horses and then only after it has consulted with and involved state wildlife agencies and other affected interests, and has entered into agreements as necessary when managing wild horses and burros. SITLA, in accordance with the 1971 WH&B Act, originally filed suit in federal district court against BLM on February 3, 2015, for failure to remove wild horses from school section lands held in trust by the State of Utah.

The suit alleged that the impact of wild horse populations has resulted in the damage and degradation of rangeland resources on these lands. SITLA argued that resource degradation caused by excessive numbers of wild horses has diminished its ability to effectively meet its mandate to manage and maximize revenues for the support of its beneficiaries.

In an unprecedented effort to work collaboratively and avoid a lengthy and expensive courtroom struggle, both parties met numerous times over this past year to come up with an acceptable solution. As a result of these efforts, the BLM and SITLA have entered into an Agreement that provides for a mutual commitment to work cooperatively to manage wild horses that have entered onto SITLA lands. The agencies will meet annually to identify priority removal areas, ensure environmental review, conduct aerial population surveys jointly, and monitor rangeland resources and improvements. The Agreement, which is subject to congressional appropriations, places priority on managing BLM herd areas (HAs) and herd management areas (HMAs) in the south-central and southwest areas of state, where the lawsuit was specifically aimed. However, the Agreement also calls for additional efforts in the rest of the state where other challenges arise between SITLA and BLM management.

“The BLM is pleased to be working closely with SITLA on this challenging issue of wild horse management,” said BLM-Utah Acting State Director, Jenna Whitlock. “We look forward to implementing this Agreement to ensure both the horses themselves and the rangelands they occupy are preserved and protected.” SITLA’s assistance in managing the wild horses that have entered onto its lands will complement BLM’s current wild horse management efforts and benefit the overall public interest by supporting healthy watersheds, productive rangelands, and sustainable ecosystems, while encouraging a strong locally based land ethic that will apply current scientific rangeland management principles.

SITLA Deputy Director Kim Christy said, “Management activities conducted pursuant to this Agreement are intended to enable SITLA to fulfill its trustee role in a more robust and effective manner by promoting healthy and productive rangelands on SITLA lands affected by wild horses and burros. We look forward to this unique opportunity of working proactively with BLM and pioneering workable solutions to problems we commonly share as landowners.”

12 replies »

  1. It’s interesting to see that there are no women on the Board

    The Board of Trustees of the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration


    Louie Cononelos
    Board Chair
    Background: Minerals and mining
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Term Expires: Jun 30, 2016

    James M. Lekas
    Board Vice Chair
    President and owner of Lexco Inc. producer of Gilsonite
    Background: Research and development, oil shale
    Vernal, Utah
    Term Expires: Jun 30, 2017

    Thomas W. Bachtell
    Board Member
    Chief Executive Officer of Wind River Resources Corporation
    Background: Resource development and the practice of law
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Term Expires: Jun 30, 2018

    Scott O. Ruppe
    Board Member
    Chief Financial Officer, Brady Trucking
    Background: Business and water rights issues
    Vernal, Utah
    Term Expires: Jun 30, 2019

    Lonnie M. Bullard
    Board Member
    Chairman of the Board, Jacobsen Construction Company
    Background: Finance, Real Estate Development and Commercial Construction
    Farmington, Utah
    Term Expires: Jun 30, 2020

    Roger E. Barrus
    Board Member
    Background: Oil and gas, real estate development, business management, and legislative service
    Centerville, Utah
    Term Expires: Jun 30, 2021

    Michael Mower
    Board Member
    Deputy Chief of Staff and State Planning Coordinator in the Governor’s Office
    Background: Coordinating state planning and public lands initiatives
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    Term does not expire; serves at the pleasure of the governor.
    Term Expires: Jun 30, 2030


  2. SITLA argued that resource degradation caused by excessive numbers of wild horses has diminished its ability to effectively meet its mandate to manage and maximize revenues for the support of its beneficiaries…….equals $$$!!


    • Using education to wipe out wild horses while these folks and their companies pad their collective pockets… I feel like I’m going to toss my breakfast.

      This would not happen if the education system were a truly independent system that depended solely from federal funds with staff reporting only to the Ministry of Education, as it is done in Great Britain, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway -all Europe as a matter of fact- Japan and virtually the rest of civilized world.


  3. UTAH

    Sole Focus on Commodities Threatens Natural Heritage, 44-Year Veteran Warns
    Posted on Oct 10, 2012

    Vernal, Utah -The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has lost sight of its mission in a quest to maximize fossil energy and other resource exploitation on public wild lands, according to the retirement message sent by a career natural resource specialist and posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The sobering message depicts cascading natural system failures due to unchecked oil and gas drilling and related cumulative damage to public lands and waters.

    Stan Olmstead started his career in natural resource management inside public agencies 44 years ago, with stints in the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. For the past 20 years he has been a Natural Resource Specialist and an Environmental Scientist in BLM’s Vernal Field Office in eastern Utah, near the Colorado border. On September 28th, his final day of federal service, he sent a memo entitled “Last Formal Comment” to all BLM employees throughout Utah.

    In this memo, he decried a singular “focus on commodities and economics as opposed to environmental health.” He elaborated by writing “At the Vernal Office little concern has been shown to care for sensitive species … We promote energy development without stop and continue to measure natural resources by dollar value…” Olmstead offered these pointed examples:

    BLM fails to protect sensitive wildlife and as a result “lost the mountain plover; the only known population in Utah… Little effort to prevent this loss was implemented.” He called this dereliction “a serious mission departure.”

    “Plugging and abandonment of well sites have not been a priority. Numerous oil & gas wells have not produced for more than 15 years and yet these sites remain un-reclaimed.”

    Cumulative impacts from oil and gas drilling. For example, “we disturb large percentages of our [grazing] allotments located in oil & gas fields and AUMs [Animal Unit Months] remain the same. If you lose 30% of the forage in a specific allotment it is logical to reduce the AUMs by 30%.”

    He concluded with this call to colleagues:
    “We need to alter our bureaucratic method of operation …Be honest about what is happening.”


  4. A few excerpts from Sam Olmstead’s message to BLM

    To: BLM All
    From: Stan Olmstead – Natural Resource Specialist
    Date: September 28, 2012
    Re: Last Formal Comment on the Commitment to the Mission.

    The mission of the BLM is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. As civil servants we are obligated to all Americans to perform the BLM mission. Yet our elected, appointed and agency administrators ask us to focus on commodities and economics as opposed to environmental health. Commodities and economic gains are easier to measure. We work with our elected officials but we work for our citizens. Outside influences that lead us away from our required service to the American citizen and the BLM mission, should be repelled by the servant. Our service to the American people is to fulfill the mission through science, law, regulations and “team work”. Our fellow civil servants that administer the Bureau should insist that we work together in a common goal to fulfill the intent of the mission.

    Health and diversity of public lands are natural entities. They do not include oil wells, livestock, crested wheatgrass nor guzzlers. These are developments and tools to exploit and have nothing to do with health and diversity. Productivity is not synonymous with commodities.

    U.S. federal land management agencies have it in their power to be the best land stewards anywhere in the world. We fail not in ability but in our attitude, a lack of understanding, lack of futuristic thinking and our implementation. Our actions are based on outside forces inconsistent with the intended mission and wisdom.

    Aldo Leopold had four requisites for land-health:
    1. Cease throwing away its parts
    2. Handle it gently
    3. Recognize that its importance transcends economics
    4. Don’t let too many people tinker with it.

    Without serious fulfillment of the mission we continue to harm public land as it has been harmed so frequently in our historic past. Be honest about what is happening. It is easier to break something than to fix it, so let us stop breaking the land.
    “Our Quest, is to see that we are connected to all things, that there is no separation, only in the mind”- John Mayers; Geologist.


  5. A Lone Voice from the Utah Desert: “Save our Wild Horses”

    Down and dirty; our Wild Horse Freedom Federation office line received a phone call yesterday that went something like this, “Howdy, my name is ‘John D. Taxpayer’ and I live in Utah where the dang cattlemen and crooked politicians are doing everything in their power to sweep the last of our state’s wild horses right off from the map and no one is listening to me. They need to stop and listen to the rest of us taxpayers who grew up with the horses and love the beauty they bring to our wild lands. Will you call me back, please? Will you listen to me? Can you help me so that I can help the horses? Please!”


  6. Utah landowners get $9M for sage grouse protection
    Ben Lockhart, The Associated Press
    Apr 30 2014

    Wyoming landowners received nearly $77 million and Utah nearly $9 million in federal funding during the last three years in exchange for conserving more than 1 million acres to protect sage grouse, recently released government figures show.

    Utah has received about $8.8 million in the past three years as part of these efforts to create better habitats for the bird. About 100,000 acres in Utah are affected by the funding, 62,000 of which are in Box Elder County. Wayne and Tooele counties make up most of the additional acreage.


  7. One piece of the puzzle:
    One legal Wild Horse and Burro Herd Area (HA) in Utah is known as the Blawn Wash (near the Bible Springs HMA).
    BLM Acres: 35,747
    Total Acres: 62,787
    Acres Transferred from BLM: 19,210

    It appears that via highly questionable “agreements” between BLM and SITLA, these Blawn Wash wild horses have been zeroed out with hundreds captured and shipped/sold/disappeared.

    If we dig through the layers it appears that these legal wild horse and burros lands have been “given” to a very powerful and wealthy religious organization … all arranged by a member of that church who was until recently the head of SITLA.

    Regardless if the BLM previously decided to allow administration of a portion of the Blawn Wash Herd Area to the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), the 1971 unanimously passed Congressional Wild Horse and Burro Act gave the principal usage of that land to the Wild Horses and Burros. By law, wild horses must be allowed to remain and use the resources on their legal land. This is still federal land designated to the protection of the wild horses and burros and the land belongs to the American people, regardless of any “agreements” regarding “control” that BLM made with SITLA – the 1971 Congressional wild Horse and Burro Act prevails. It is the law of the United States of America.

    From available data, it appears that the Blawn Wash Herd Area has over 2000 AUMs now used by private/corporate “for profit” domestic livestock ranchers. This acreage and its resources are legally required to be used principally for wild horses per The 1971 Congressional Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, (Public Law 92-195), THAT CLEARLY states that the land where wild horses and burros were found at the time of the passing of the Act, is to be devoted principally but not exclusively to the wild horses’ and wild burros’ welfare in keeping with the multiple-use management concept of public lands.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. New Film, “The East Tavaputs Plateau: A Land Fighting for Survival”
    Posted on November 20, 2015 by Utah Tar Sands Resistance
    This newly-released short film lets you see for yourself the incredible beauty of the East Tavaputs Plateau, slated for tar sands strip mining. Get up close to the natural wonders hiding throughout this enchanting land, and ask yourself what you would do to defend it.
    On the East Tavaputs Plateau of so-called Utah, which is Uintah Ute territory, US Oil Sands is trying to start up the first massive strip mine to produce fuel from tar sands in the U.S. Meanwhile, grassroots groups like Utah Tar Sands Resistance, Peaceful Uprising, and Canyon Country Rising Tide are battling to defend this lush and diverse land.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We’ve Moved Our Vigil to SITLA!
    “In reality, SITLA contributes just 1-2% of the public schools’ budget.
    What do SITLA’s choices actually give the residents of Utah?”

    Posted on October 21, 2015 by Utah Tar Sands Resistance

    BREAKING: Utah Tar Sands Resistance has moved our protest vigil to SITLA, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, located in downtown Salt Lake City!

    October 21, 2015
    SALT LAKE CITY, UT: On October 21 at noon, members of Utah Tar Sands Resistance and supporters launched a 24-hour vigil in front of SITLA (School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration) in Salt Lake City. This summer and fall, beginning in mid-May, they have been holding an ongoing protest encampment in the Book Cliffs of eastern Utah, at the site where US Oil Sands is attempting to start the first commercial tar sands mine in the U.S. Now, they have brought their protest to the front doors of the agency responsible for leasing the lands, SITLA, located at 500 S/700 E, Salt Lake City.

    The group chose to launch their vigil the day before SITLA’s next board meeting, which will take place at 9 a.m. on October 22. SITLA’s board is stacked with developers chosen by the governor, and its decisions to lease land for the world’s dirtiest energy sources—like tar sands and oil shale—stand in stark contrast to its mandate to never sacrifice short-term gains for the long-term wellbeing of Utah’s children.

    In reality, SITLA contributes just 1–2% of the public schools’ budget. What do SITLA’s choices actually give the residents of Utah? The high rate of infant mortality in the Uintah Basin and the red air days in the Salt Lake Valley during which children and pregnant women are told to stay indoors, for starters. Human health will be jeopardized even more if the world’s dirtiest projects are allowed to take root in Utah. Along with decimated ecosystems, dwindling watersheds, and climate chaos, these realities show that SITLA’s choices are giving our children a toxic and frightening future, leaving them to cope with previous generations’ mistakes.

    Jill Merritt, a mother of four and a grandmother, says, “SITLA’s choices put my grandchildren and future generations in grave danger, leaving them with a world torn apart by climate chaos, poisoned rivers, and toxic air. We call on SITLA to immediately rescind their leases for tar sands and oil shale, and start focusing on the long-term wellbeing of our children.”

    Utah Tar Sands Resistance encourages all concerned members of the public to join them in standing up for a livable future. Their vigil is a family-friendly environment that they hope will serve as a public forum in which people can discuss their concerns about the management of public lands and resources. They will be recording stories on the site for a video project on this issue, and they invite kids, parents, and other members of the public to come share about their concerns for the environment and their love of Utah’s public lands.


    • There is only one comment on this article – mine!!! This is certainly a prime example of what happens when “states rights” take over. Another land swap – another public lands giveaway! After watching the video of the East Tavaputs Plateau – before and after this horrible devastation – how much more of this will be allowed? Wasnt there an HMA or HA called Little Book Cliffs – and a roundup there?

      Liked by 1 person

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