Horse News

I-Team Video Update: Mustang Monument Losing Battle with the BLM

By George Knapp , Matt Adams as broadcast on

“Not much need for commentary, here, as George lays it out on the line pretty crisp and clear, ‘The BLM is a corrupt, lying, thieving federal agency that puts not only our wild equines at risk but private citizens and their fiscal futures, also.  A clear example of government corruption at it’s very lowest” ~ R.T.

“…what the BLM said in public is much different from what it thought in private…”

LAS VEGAS – A $25 million eco-sanctuary meant to be a tourist attraction for rural Nevada is closed and may never re-open.

The Mustang Monument in Elko County was created as an alternative for the troubled wild horse program, but the Bureau of Land Management has stopped the project from moving forward.

The I-Team has obtained internal documents which show that what the BLM said in public is much different from what it thought in private.

The wild horse program is through by many to be the worst program in the federal government. Bad for the horses, bad for the range, bad for the taxpayers.

Every two or three years, the feds pay for an expensive study, and every study concludes that BLM needs to try something different.

BLM always reacts the same. It ignores the recommendations.

Mustang Monument was going to be a public private partnership — a radical change good for the horses, the range and the taxpayers.

The public records request shows it never had a chance.

“This is a new batch obviously, these young ones,” said Jerry Reynoldson.

At a corral on the Mustang Monument property, veteran wild horse advocate Jerry Reynoldson checks out some new arrivals. For more than 25 years, Reynoldson has tried to work with BLM on solutions to its troubled wild horse program, and he’s been a key advisor to Madeleine Pickens in her development of the mustang monument as a model for what could be done, but both now believe BLM was never going to allow it to happen.

An obscure road is an example, Pickens planned to use it to transport tourists from her guest accommodations to deeded property on the other side of her range for cookouts and to see the herd of horses that was living out there, that is, until vandals cut the fences and the horses either died or ran off. BLM won’t allow the use of the rarely traveled access road.

“BLM has given her four or five pages of questions about what she would do on the road which include, where would people go to the bathroom? The answer is, it’s a short enough drive they wouldn’t go anywhere but they don’t want to know where, they want to know how many times would they stop, how many times would they need to use a facility. Silly questions,” Reynoldson said.

A road that’s been trod for a century by cows, sheep and horses can’t be used to transport visitors because someone might have to pee.

BLM is making sure they keep putting their foot out and tripping me up every time,” said Mustang Monument founder Madeleine Pickens. “I keep getting up, they stop me.”

Pickens spent $6 million for two sprawling ranches because she was encouraged to do so by BLM. She offered to get other investors to buy another 2 million acres, and take all 30,000 wild horses the BLM had in storage, a plan which BLM admits would save the taxpayers more than $100 million in just five years.

In public statements, BLM said it wanted to work with Pickens, but privately, it’s another matter. Public records obtained by the I-Team show that BLM staff plotted the demise of Pickens plan from the beginning. A 2008 white paper discusses how the law could be used to prevent the project. BLM blacked out the details as being privileged information.

BLM declined to be interviewed for this report, but in a written statement explained why, after seven years, the bureau still has not completed an environmental review.  We need more information, the BLM told the I-Team and since there are “unresolved issues” with the Pickens plan, no such analysis would be appropriate.

In one candid memo, BLM admits an unspoken concern that the proposal would be politically perilous in cattle-friendly Elko County.

BLM staffers imposed ever-changing conditions that they knew would stir up opposition, not only from ranchers but also from wild horse advocates, such as forcing the roundup of existing horses on the range, making all of the Pickens horses sterile, and putting fences around the entire public acreage.

In 2015, BLM finally tipped its hand. When Pickens asked during a meeting what it would take to get the necessary permits, bureau staffers issued a startling demand.

“They said, we’ve had internal discussions. If you’d be willing to surrender your grazing and water rights, we could work with you on the project,” Reynoldson said.

Giving up the grazing and water rights would in effect mean giving up the property itself. Pickens was stunned, and decided soon after that the monument would not open in 2016 for visitors, knowing BLM would never allow it.

“The BLM, the Interior Department have blown up stories and created fabricated issues that simply don’t exist. The only thing I can say is, it’s a failed program. It’s a failed agency. I feel sorry for them. Every time I do something, they fine me, or they find a way to come and get me. It’s a witch hunt,” Pickens said.

The Mustang Monument opened for a period last year and high-end tourists, especially foreign visitors, they loved it. Pickens already had reservations lined up for this year, but she never opened because the BLM wouldn’t allow her to move forward and also because of opposition from Elko County officials and residents.

There will be more on this story Friday.

30 replies »

  1. The plot thickens. Shut that rogue organization down and right now!!! This needs to be shared publicly with everybody who even had a remote interest in the wild horses.



    Liked by 3 people

  3. And yet they let ranchers like the Bundys carry on indefinitely. Such a shame, because visitors would love to see these horses, and it would help the horses. Visitors like our history and unique lands and wildlife, not an overdeveloped, standarized mess from one end of the country to the other. When I travel, I can’t stand to see tacky American fastfood signs, I want to know about the culture I am visiting. She needs Jerry Spence!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking. The “Bundy issue” had to do with grazing on public lands but why isn’t the media covering her story which has to do with a government agency trampling on her PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. And they are opening our National lands to bikers, and ATVers – did they think to ask where they were going to wizz? I can tell you where they go hear(saw one peeing in the neighbors front yard one time). Just my opinion but if the Democrats win this November property and land confiscation will not be far behind(that is why the BLM and other agency’s have gone rogue.)

    The new Malheur occupation: grazing cattle


  5. Where are the guys who proudly tote their Gadsen flags on this story? Are they only pro-private property rights IF you’re a welfare rancher and/or against wild horse and burro preservation? (I’m not saying that all tea party conservatives are like that. There are good people on ALL sides of the political spectrum.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. BLM has plenty of time and (our) tax-payer money to do studies on where people might need to wizz when they are traveling on public lands … and yet they REFUSE to prosecute documented selling of our wild horses to a known kill buyer which was done by a BLM CONTRACTOR.
    “… the issue of a current BLM contractor selling wild horses to a kill buyer, most likely for slaughter, was just swept under the rug.”


  7. As for the I-Team FOIA response being mostly blacked out … that sure does look “fishy” to me. There are certain things that cannot be disclosed via FOIA but they are generally items affecting personal privacy and national security and not wild horses. There is one thing that comes to mind that might have been (illegally) blacked out by BLM and that is data that supports corruption within the agency which is no surprise and which is not protected under the FOIA laws.

    This might help to explain:
    “Regulatory Capture” is a form of political corruption that occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure; it creates an opening for firms to behave in ways injurious to the public. The agencies are called “captured agencies”.


    • I guess someone would to have to ask the folks from WikiLeaks or some Russian hacker to get ahold of that “privileged information” and release it to the public.


  8. Just when you think this government can’t get any more corrupt… What can the public do to actually help? Almost everyone I know signs petitions, writes letters and makes phone calls to stop BLM, but it doesn’t matter. Nothing stops them. No one is giving up though. We will keep trying.


  9. I know we are not supposed to talk about anything political on this site but I’m voting for Trump in Nov because he says he is going to take on the corruption in the government, well, BLM represents that corruption in a big way. The general public has no clue about what the BLM is doing to our public lands as well as the wild horses. With the BLM pushing their lies about the horses causing all of the damage on the range, what is a person that don’t know how corrupt the BLM is to think?
    Please keep what I said in mind because once Trump is in office he is the boss over the BLM.


    • This is a quote from an article I just read –I am on this/other sites for animals, not for any one persons agenda. But on this I must agree with you.

      Hillary is warmly embraced by the Koch brothers, the military-industrial complex, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Kissinger and Paul Wolfowitz.

      Her choice for VP is a supporter of the TPP, the Keystone pipeline, and the wild horse roundups.

      Her choice to head her transition team is Ken Salazar, the notorious killer of wild horses and wolves, a rancher who made his fortune killing cattle.

      In the entire history of the United States there has never been a more corrupt and evil person to run for president.


      • Ida, funny you should mention the first female president, a couple of weeks ago my sister and I went out for lunch and we were seated next to a table of about 8 ladies around our age and they were talking about the first female presidential candidate – when they left they were in ageement- yes we need a woman just not Hilary – she has succeed in alienating woman who love their God and families.


    • How wrong is it that – at this point – most of us will vote for what we believe is the lesser of two evils? Democracy in action.


      • Awful. Before the DNC, I was all set to vote for Hillary, thrilled that we’d have our first (and long overdue) woman president, with lots of political experience. I also like Bernie, but didn’t think he could win. But after her VP choice, I got worried; then with Ken Salazar as head of transition team, I was very worried. She appears to be leaning right to court votes. And with the emails, it doesn’t appear she and more likely her staff did run a very tight ship; surprising, especially troubling for a State Dept. dealing sensitive information. Insecure servers, apt books freely left out, etc.

        I’m not sure what to do – I guess I won’t know until close to election time.


    • Barbara, most of the Republicans in Colorado are running on a platform to sell off our public lands, as did Romney and Hightower (if I remember correctly) so I would not make any assumptions of any candidate of any party without asking them to take a specific position. The President can appoint the new head of the DOI but the ultimate power to change policy resides in the votes of Congress. The President then has only veto power. If we want a change in our wild horse management policies, we need to hold all congressional candidates’ feet to the fire as they are ultimately more influential than any president can be. Even a pro-wild horse survival President could be thwarted at every turn by Congress.


      • Getting out and voting for congressman & representatives should be a priority – sadly that didn’t happen the last time! We all need to vote this November – sitting home & refusing because we don’t agree just is not an option – democracy, remember?


  10. Icy Spots, I know that anything a President wants to do must be supported in Congress but I believe Trump would be more open to protecting the wild horses if he understood their value to the public and to their historic significance. That is what should be explained to him or to one of his aid’s when he is elected. I think he is a negotiator I think he knows enough about business deals to get them to a point where they are agreed on to everyones satisfaction. I trust him more than Clinton from what I have read about the way she treated the staff in the White House when Billy was President including the security people. There was loud screaming fights that could be heard coming from their quarters at the White House. One morning Billy turned up with a black eye.


    • Barbara, I don’t share your hopes that such a vaunted businessman holds any interest in other than making profits, which as we have seen is precisely among the biggest threats to our wild horses. I don’t think Mrs. Clinton cares one whit for them either. My only suggestion is to grill anyone running for Congress to take a stand on supporting keeping wild horses wild, in the wild, before giving them any votes. That is the only way the public will can produce any real change.


      • I fear that the circumstances for our Mustangs and burros will be harsh regardless of who wins. Hillary has Ken Salazar on her transition team and Forrest Lucas, the guy that started Protect the Harvest, will be advising Trump on agricultural policy. For the public at large, the election is between Clinton and Trump. But for our wild ones, it’s between a heathen who illegally had hundreds of wild horses sent to slaughter and threatened to punch out a journalist who was covering the story at the time and another guy who is the founder of a front for Big Ag that’s ridden with lies and propaganda against the preservation of free-roaming equines, the same organization responsible for the character assassination of one of the most educated, strong and principled equine advocates of our time. Not that I’m discouraging anyone from showing up at the voting booth this November. However, IcySpots make a good point. It doesn’t stop at just the presidential elections. There are the races for the House and the Senate and we ought to fire those who have failed us and the horses and burros we love and vote in those who will do the right thing, regardless of their party affiliation. We don’t have to wait on an act of Congress to impose term limits on our public servants. Another thing, don’t forget about your statesmen. These men and women are the closest to their citizens and can have an impact on local animal welfare legislation as we saw with Rep. Townsend from AZ Legislative District 16 who crafted a bill to protect the Salt River wild horses.


  11. I have a friend who believes the “stories” online – are they true? Maybe – but they sound to me like gossip – the stuff that gets laid out on Facebook & other sites too much of the time. I check on whenever I get something like that – 9 times out of 10 its not true.


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