BLM wants to remove 500 wild horses from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands


Welfare Ranchers Continue Their War on Native Wild Horses

Photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation and Wild Hoof Beats
Photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation and Wild Hoof Beats

Federal authorities propose to remove 500 wild horses from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands, so-named because of its alternating public and private land parcels.

The Rock Springs Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  proposes to remove all the wild horses from the Checkerboard lands within and outside of the Great Divide Basin, Salt Wells Creek, and Adobe Town herd management areas (HMAs).

The three HMAs total about 2,427,220 acres, with 1,242,176 acres falling within the Checkerboard region.

The BLM says wild horses found within contiguous solid block lands in the HMAs will not be gathered.

The agency says 2015 population surveys revealed that about 232 wild horses lived on Checkerboard lands within the Great Divide Basin HMA, about 242 on Checkerboard lands within the Salt Wells Creek HMA, and around 26 wild horses on the Checkerboard lands within the Adobe Town HMA…(CONTINUED)


  1. 500 horses on 2.4 million acres is too many. Really? How many cattle and sheep are on the Herd Management Areas? Probably don’t know because they don’t count them. Only the horses destroy the environment.


  2. There has been one person deeply listening to the words of people who tell their nightmare stories of the BLM and has been looking into the BLM and has verbally denouned them and their actions

    He continues his investigation that man is Donald Trump

    Contact him tell him your story he will listen

    You have nothing to loss and all to gain

    Trump voiced his opinion loudly about Ford leaving the US to build cars in Mexico well guess what?

    Ford is staying in thr USA and has given Trump their proposal


    • Seems he verbally denounces just about everyone and everything (talk to the folks in Scotland about his promises and concerns for wild things). Trump’s only interest in the west is to make deals by selling off and privatizing what are now public lands.

      Hocuspocus indeed.

      Trump Canyon instead of Grand Canyon anyone?

      Read Hal Herring’s lucid observations about what’s going on with our public lands, how high the stakes are for all Americans here:

      “Buyers, in a world packed and competitive beyond the imaginations of those who set aside these unclaimed and abandoned lands as forest reserves and public grazing lands in the early 1900s, are now everywhere, planet-wide. As Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, when he was president of the American Lands Council, famously said of privatizing federal lands, “It’s like having your hands on the lever of a modern-day Louisiana Purchase.”

      When that lever is pulled, and it will be, unless a majority of Americans know enough about what is at stake to oppose it, we will see the transformation of our country. Federal water rights that underpin entire agricultural economies, and that are critical to some of the last family farms and ranches in America, will be in play. Few Americans, even those in the cities of the East who know nothing about these lands, will be untouched by the transformation. Once the precedent for divesting federal lands is well set, the Eastern public lands, most of them far more valuable than those in the West, will go on the international auction block. The unique American experiment in balancing the public freedom and good with private interests will be forever shattered, while a new kind of inequality soars, not just inequality of economics and economic opportunity, but of life experience, the chance to experience liberty itself. The understanding that we all share something valuable in common — the vast American landscape, yawning to all horizons and breathtakingly beautiful — will be further broken. These linked notions of liberty and unity and the commons have been obstacles to would-be American oligarchs and plutocrats from the very founding of our nation, which is why they have been systematically attacked since the Gilded Age of the 1890s.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am dead set against this! If we don’t allow our “wild” to be, we will soon not have any wild at all, and be just like the over populated places in Europe. Why do we have to follow in their footsteps, when what they are doing is failing?

    Sent from my iPad



    • And yet – there are some places in Europe that have set aside land to be left wild. They have returned wild horses & other animals to these areas. It seems some places in Europe are doing what we should be here – leaving the natural world ALONE! Look it up online! If my memory was a little sharper I would give you the name of the site that sends me updates. But I’m sure its available online.


  4. And the BLM just keeps going with this – we have not even received a date for the Oral Arguments in our original case that is now at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the BLM is again doing the bidding of the Rock Springs Grazing Assocaition who is outraged that they did not capture and remove every single horse from private AND public lands in Wyoming.



    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


    • Louie, do you have anything newer from Mr. Eisenhauer, or any information about why he has dropped out of sight since writing his declaration?


  6. THEN…there should be NO fencing of ANY kind on Public Lands
    Livestock fencing within Legal Herd Management Areas should be REMOVED.

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


      How the Department of the Interior Sold Out America’s Wild Horses
      ANDREW COHEN MAR 21, 2013

      Questions of Form

      Let’s for now leave aside the merits of the case. Let’s focus solely on the integrity of the process and the appearance of impropriety. Do you think it is appropriate for a federal official to invite a lawsuit against the very agency for which she works? Do you think it’s a conflict of interest for that agency then to enter into a Consent Decree for the very remedy that was the subject of the lawsuit that the official encouraged to be filed? As a basic precept of ethics and governance, is that how we want and expect our public officials to act?

      The Consent Decree reads like a capitulation by the feds. It does nothing to protect the horses or to recognize that the ranchers receive enormous financial benefits from the below-market leasing rates on public land. The BLM and the ranchers, it reads, “have concluded their discussions and the parties agree that it is in the public interest to resolve this controversy and enter into a stipulation with respect to the wild horses located on private RSGA land and to initiate a process to better manage wild horses on the adjacent public lands,” and further:


    If You Fence It, They’ll Stay Out

    Fencing Out Stock in Wyoming

    What do I do when livestock stray onto my unfenced land?
    If you do not have a properly constructed fence and a neighbor’s bull wanders into your property and takes out everything in his path, then you have no recourse against the neighbor or the bull.
    To avoid the situation of a neighbor’s stock in your garden, fields, pasture and so on, fence your rural property.


  8. THE LAW

    From Ecology Law Currents
    A National Injustice: The Federal Government’s Systematic Removal and Eradication of an American Icon

    ONLY UNDER LIMITED CIRCUMSTANCES can the BLM actually remove horses from their designated herd area. While certain requirements are unclear and highly disputed, the agency must follow a multistep process to address wild horse populations.
    First, the BLM must obtain reliable information about the herd, environment and range conditions.
    From that evaluation they establish the AML, the appropriate number of horses for the land at issue.] The AML is used to determine if “an overpopulation exists.”
    Next, “excess” animals must be identified.

    Under NEPA, any major federal action that significantly affects the quality of the human environment requires preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS).[25] Implementing regulations require any government agency considering a proposed action that falls within NEPA to first determine if the action is one that will normally require preparation of an EIS.[26] Agencies are tasked with ensuring that they utilize “high quality” information and making environmental information “available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions are taken.”[27] The agency can avoid issuing an EIS by issuing a finding of no significant impact only if the agency took a “hard look” at the problem and found the potential environmental impact to be insignificant.[28] The BLM has taken advantage of the statutory structure by assessing individual gathers separately, permitting the agency to issue a finding of no significant impact and avoid conducting an EIS.[29] NEPA’s implementing regulations also require the BLM to consider the cumulative impact of its actions.[30] However, there is no documented instance of the BLM assessing the cumulative impact of multiple gathers


  9. I’m downright fed up with Wyoming at this point. How many roundups are they going to do before they are satisfied? Apparently, removing about 1,300 horses wasn’t enough to make them happy. What will?


  10. A lot of great information given here.
    I remember the judge who decided in favor of the BLM was married to someone in the special interest of the checkerboard lands.
    It’s been a few years but I do recall that was the case.
    What is up with that? Apparently a nice set up for the entitled ranchers.
    This isn’t about what is correct.
    It’s Corruption.
    They know exactly what they are doing.
    Going back to good old boy Salazar.
    Why can’t this be be STOPPED!


    • Robyn, this might answer your question

      On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge NANCY FREUDENTHAL in Cheyenne upheld nearly every component of how the BLM went about the roundup.
      FREUDENTHAL ordered the BLM to correct procedural deficiencies associated with the roundup but otherwise upheld the gather under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.
      A ranching association that requested the roundup says it’s pleased with the ruling.

      Wyoming Governor Nominates Wife for Judgeship
      May 19, 2009
      Gov. DAVE FREUDENTHAL has raised eyebrows for including his wife on a list of nominees to fill a judge’s seat in federal court.

      Energy and environmental issues have been FREUDENTHAL’S catalyst for thought. She was a partner in the law firm of Davis & Canon before being nominated to federal judgeship. Perhaps the most notorious tidbit of her career springs from partnerships. Her husband, Governor DAVE FREUDENTHAL, nominated her along with two others to President Barack Obama for the position of federal judge for the United States District Court of the District Court Wyoming


      • John Hay at Rock Springs Wind Energy Forum
        John Hay of the Rock Springs Grazing Association discusses land used for wind farms. He supports Tasco Engineering’s Wyoming Wind Energy Project


  11. I saved it off somewhere but the EA for the Checkerboard published soon after the last roundup was very clear most of these areas would no longer be managed for wild horses at all (zero’d out). It should surprise nobody here that train has already left the station and any public comment or input is just window dressing. Wyoming is emptying itself of publicly owned wild horses on public lands forever.

    This push is exacerbated by the collapsing oil and gas economy. Not sure America eats enough lamb to justify current sheep grazing populations but we can expect an increase interest in exports. Wyoming will have to change its logo to one of a mutton bustin’ cowboy, feet dragging the ground.


    • And those sheep are apt to be radioactive

      Lost Creek (ISL), Sweetwater County

      NRC cites four license violations at Lost Creek in situ leach mine: Based on an inspection on December 1-3, 2015, NRC has determined that two Severity Level IV violations of NRC requirements occurred. The violations involved the failure to perform daily pond inspections, and the failure to store contaminated waste in accordance with license application commitments.
      Additionally, two Severity Level IV violations were identified during an NRC inspection from December 3-6, 2013, and during two NRC investigations conducted from December 2013 through September 2015. The violations involved the failure to maintain an inward hydraulic gradient and the failure to maintain the minimum freeboard of 3 feet in the waste water storage ponds.

      > Download Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, Jan. 7, 2015 (PDF)
      BLM issues Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for expansion of Lost Creek uranium in situ leach project: Lost Creek ISR, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ur-Energy Inc., has requested to modify their Lost Creek Uranium In-Situ Recovery Project, 43 CFR 3809 Plan of operations, approved October 5, 2012. The proposed plan amendments (Lost Creek East, KM Horizon, and secondary objectives received September 29, 2014) would expand uranium production by in-situ recovery methods and increase associated milling facilities.
      Submit comments by October 29, 2015.

      > View BLM release Sep. 14, 2015
      > Federal Register Volume 80, Number 177 (Monday, September 14, 2015) p. 55149-55150 (download full text )
      > Lost Creek Uranium In Situ Recovery Project (BLM Rawlins Field Office)


    Talk by Michael Blake, Dances With Wolves author/filmmaker, at Stop-the-Roundups press conference preceding a national meeting of the federal Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board




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