The Bureau of Land Management is scrubbing their trail on the internet

After NBC News wrote about the Bureau of Land Management featuring a photo of a coal bed at the top of their website, the BLM changed it… to now feature this photo of an oil & gas pipeline.

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation                                                                    All Rights Reserved.          Copyright 2017

The Bureau of Land Management is scrubbing most of its links off of the internet, and in doing so, erasing much of its history from public view.

Many of the blm.gov links that are still remaining on the internet at this point say “page not found,” or the links are no longer cached.

The BLM also suddenly removed state and district websites.  Instead, you will now find “landing pages” that direct you to only one main Bureau of Land Management website.  (You can look at the new BLM website HERE.)

I called a BLM Public Affairs Specialist to ask some questions about the defunct websites and links.  This person said in the past there were about 90,000 pages (and then a bit later stated that it could possibly be only about 60,000 pages) of BLM content on the internet, but that all of these pages couldn’t be maintained or updated, and weren’t centralized.  This person said the BLM’s prior content management system was outdated.

Most importantly, this person also said there were now standards to reduce the amount (of pages/content).

Who made the decision to even have a standard to reduce content available to the public on the internet?  During this website transition, who is making the decisions, and on what basis, of what data to migrate, or not to migrate, to the new BLM website?  These decisions cherry pick what information will be available to the public in the future.

Make no mistake, this “reducing the amount” of content on the internet is erasing many of this agency’s past actions, activities, and government documentation.  Many of these links had historical value.  For example, the BLM activities of BLM employees Sally Spencer and Lili Thomas over the years are now gone.  These types of links on the internet didn’t need to be “maintained” or “updated.”  They were historical in nature.

In the past, in doing a google search for Sally Spencer (a longtime BLM employee, and the Marketing Specialist famous for selling so many wild horses and burros to kill buyer Tom Davis), she was included on many, many BLM government links.  I went to the BLM’s new website and searched “Sally Spencer,” and only 3 items appeared.  When I searched “Lili Thomas” (another longtime BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program employee who oversaw the BLM’s Long Term Holding facilities for wild horses for many years), only 4 items appeared.  And when I searched “John Neill” (a longtime Palomino Valley Center manager), all that came up was “No results found.”

These individuals are BLM personnel who have been central in management issues in the BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program, as evidenced by FOIA documentation garnered by the late Dr. Patricia Haight of The Conquistador Program.

Even when I searched the new BLM website for “Dean Bolstad” (the Division Chief of the Wild Horse & Burro Program) only 2 items appeared.

(Although, luckily, thanks to In Defense of Animals, you can still go online and see this youtube video of Lili Thomas saying “working with wild horses is not a pretty sight” at a public meeting.)

What I can’t understand is, if the new content management system is bigger and better, why couldn’t the new content management system have contained all of the old data along with new data?  If this agency were truly transparent, they would add data, not reduce data, available to the public on the internet.

At first the Bureau of Land Management only removed the Directories for District offices and Field Offices, making it difficult, for example, to find out who was the Wild Horse & Burro Specialist, Hydrologist, Range Management Specialist or other personnel in any particular district or field office or to find an email address or telephone number for them.  BLM personnel frequently transfer to other offices and states, so it was already hard enough to try to keep up with who was where.  But now the public really doesn’t have a clue who is doing what or where.

You used to be able to go to the home pages of BLM state and district websites, and get a quick overview of not only roundup plans for wild horses & burros, but mining expansion plans, oil & gas lease sale plans, and other uses of our public lands in that area, all in one place.

Now, the BLM has divided these by topics or by “regions,” on their new website.   Under the “region” of Nevada (we call them states here in the U.S.A.), there isn’t a box for wild horses & burros (only oil and gas leasing, greater sage grouse, Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Information Access Center, Nevada Resource Advisory Councils & Federal Register Notices).

By scattering information all over this one “centralized” website, the BLM has made it much harder for the public to put together the pieces of information for a clear picture about the multiple uses of our public lands in any one area.

The Program Data page for the Wild Horse & Burro Program is HERE.  When I clicked on the box for Historical Program Data and Public Lands Statistics, I noticed something was missing that used to be available to the public.  It was the column on Adoptions by Locations & Date.  Information from the years 2009-2015 were previously available.

The biggest reason this data was important is because it let the public know the dates of adoption events (including internet adoptions), the locations of the events, the number of the wild horses and burros offered for adoption (until Fiscal Year 2014) and the number of wild horses and burros that were actually adopted at each event.

The BLM likely stopped reporting the number of horses & burros offered at adoption events in Fiscal Year 2014 because it didn’t want the public to know how many horses & burros were racking up “strikes” by not being adopted.  When a wild horse or burro isn’t adopted after 3 events and gets 3 “strikes” it can be sold without restriction (to slaughter), no matter how young it is.  Even this seemingly small reduction of data indicated a lack of transparency by this agency.

Another reason this data is important to the public is because it let the public see what areas of the country adopt the most (and the least) wild horses & burros.

While the new BLM website contains a lot of information, it seems we have lost much more information that was once available on the internet, but was not migrated to the new BLM website.  For example, the BLM News Release on its promised investigation into the deaths of wild horses at the Scott City feedlot is on the internet, but as of today, is not one of the 63 News Releases available to the public on the BLM’s new website.

We will never know how much, or what, the BLM has removed from the internet.  The BLM’s scrubbing of their trail on the internet has not only erased part of the history of this government agency, it is censorship, and it is the equivalent of a modern day book burning.


26 replies »

  1. A few years ago, Bob Abbey, the then director of BLM said it is important to reaffirm throughout the agency the BLM’s fundamental commitment to transparency in all facets of the wild horse and burro program. The BLM is also committed to the accurate, prompt, and public release of information related to the program.

    Even back then there was a problem with BLM’s openness and transparency to the public and now it appears that with the exception of some white-washed information that promotes BLM … all openness and transparency is almost gone.

    Suggestion: If you know of anything that needs to be saved, such as older environmental assessments that might still be found via google – go to them quickly and copy and paste them onto your personal computer for safe-keeping. Example: I just went to the BLM’s new site and looked for the Twin Peaks HMA EA from the massive capture of wild horses and burros in 2010… the response was “no results found”. Apparently the legal documents are gone gone gone … just like those 1,799 wild horses and burros … GONE!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The American people have a right to know the volume and value of the resources that they own. The Bureau of Land Management is now more than ever, failing to deliver the necessary data transparency to fulfill the federal government’s basic responsibility to the American people. That failure, of course, minimizes the department’s accountability and compromises the trust that the public has in the competence of BLM public servants to discharge their basic duties.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like the whole idea that any climate change info would probably disappear – and people from the former administration were attempting to find & save that information before it did disappear. Yes sir we sure do have transparency in our government!
      Altho – the BLM was never known for that!


      • I agree and here is just one of many examples for us all to think about.
        According to BLM published statistics, the Centennial Wild Horse Herd Management Area (south-central California) population increased in ONE year from 40 horses to 527 wild horses.
        That is a 1218 % increase in ONE year.
        That means that the 40 wild horses that they “counted” as of March 1, 2012 had 487 surviving foals in ONE year (March 1, 2013).
        That means that every single wild horse (including stallions!) had at least 12 (twelve) surviving foals that year.

        Quick … call Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

        … or perhaps BLM is guilty of FRAUD?

        Liked by 4 people

      • Fraud? BLM? Now GG how could you even think such a thing!!!
        How can anyone look at these numbers & not comprehend how fraudulent(!) they are? I guess when its to your advantage – ANYTHING is believable! Sort of makes very clear that no one EVER actually reads or looks at the BLM’s math but us – wild horse advocates. The politicians just believe anything this agency puts in front of them. Even my reps in NYS – though they vote for the PAST Act AND the SAFE Act – they still believe the BLM’s version of truth.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Maggie. I think YOU see the truth that proves the BLM fraud. Members of Congress as well as members of the public believe the lies because that is what BLM tells them. We need to do our best to share the truth. Here is another example I think you will appreciate:

        Question: Since when does 175 minus 80 = 635?
        Answer: When BLM does the math.

        BLM’s Estimated Pre-Gather Population 175
        BLM states Number of Animals Removed 80
        BLM’s Estimated Post Gather Population 635

        BLM’s methods are to lie until they get what they want, by which point it will be too late for our wild horses and burros and what once were OUR public lands.

        Completed FY 10 Gathers (per BLM) proving BLM lies:
        Black Mt Wild Burro Herd Management Area Arizona
        (old link – now gone)
        (new link)


      • What’s even more ironic is how many of the anti-Mustang folks that drink the BLM’s Kool-Aid claim that they don’t trust their government. I feel like yelling to them: “Well, darn it, listen to your own narrative and use it before labeling our wild horses and burros as ‘invasive species’.”


  3. We cannot be surprised. Mitt Romney said that Federal Lands would be opened to commerce, or given to the states to lease or sell as the states wanted. This is exactly what the Trump campaign told us he would do, yet all those states voted for him.. This is what they want. The environment is toast, the wild horses are meat, and our Federal Land belongs to Energy Corp. Animal advocates, horse lovers and people who believe in man made climate change that voted Republican are fools. Our little voices mean nothing now.


    • I’m not surprised. The lack of transparency has always been a problem with BLM. They have so much corruption to hide. Now that the Admin. has changed to be run by people who consider animal activists of all types as ‘enemies’, listed the wild horses as a “resource”, the next thing coming is harvesting that resource. The herd management areas are to small, oblivious BLM pushes in horses from some other areas(reservations?) to include transport costs in government paid roundups. Very few people actually using the Federal courts to help our wild horses have a future. And those two? people are exhausted from working alone for years.


  4. Just ran into this myself for a link I saved only last January about the percent of public access to a particular river in a particular state. Now the link says “page not found” with no redirection prompts. I was able to find it by typing in some of the specific language (I had copied and saved the entire piece off) and since it was quoted elsewhere was able to find other sources citing the now missing BLM information.

    I agree wiht Paula, this is what the small percent of eligible voters in this country signed us all up for. Over 90 million eligible voters didn’t bother to do so, and 2016 was a 20 year low for voter turnout per this source (find it while you can). Most sources indicate about 40% of those eligible did not vote, so the winner claimed just over half of the remaining 60%, or about a third of the voting population.

    Democracy belongs to those who show up. I’m sorry to see this grand social experiment die through apathy.



    • The new white house won’t answer questions, they don’t even care about animals or wildlife except for wealthy to “canned” hunt them. Headlines like this are the new normal for America “With Trump Appointees, a Raft of Potential Conflicts and ‘No Transparency'”


  5. Federal judge orders BLM to Provide FoA info about Oregon wild horses
    March 24, 2017

    Last week a federal judge in Portland, Oregon granted a request by Friends
    When it comes to wild horses on Western public lands, BLM has a woeful history of complying with federal laws intended to protect these amazing animals. Since FoA commenced a legal campaign in January 2015 to protect America’s wild horses, BLM has engaged in dozens of illegal roundups, resulting in thousands of horses being violently removed from the wild and placed in BLM-run detention centers. Through legal action, FoA has successfully stopped such roundups in Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and Montana, and we have additional lawsuits making way through the federal courts involving horses in Colorado, Utah and Oregon. Sadly, each time we prevail in court, BLM comes up with a new way to avoid complying with the federal Free-roaming, Wild Horse and Burro Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

    The most widely-used method of avoiding these laws is through the use of so-called “Emergency Action.” Since summer of 2016, BLM has engaged in numerous wild horse round-ups by claiming some sort of imminent threat to the horses, usually due to the horses coming to close to roads or suffering from lack of food. While in some cases risks are present to the horses, the fact of the matter is that BLM is merely using the situation as an excuse to permanently remove horses from the land without complying with the law.

    How do we know this? Because in each and every case that BLM has declared an “emergency” it the agency has not once considered any solution short of permanent removal. FoA has repeatedly asked BLM why it cannot take less drastic measures to protect the horses, such as providing supplemental food, using fencing to protect the horses, or even using temporary removals until the emergency is abated. Every time BLM refuses to consider any option short of permanently subjecting the horses to confinement in dreadful holding facilities.

    FoA is happy to announce that we are a step closer to ending this illegal practice by BLM.



    • If you are referring to Friends of Animals, I feel they are not a friend to wild horses. Their actions in regards to the Pine Nut horses in Nevada is a great example. Now this community is fighting for these horses to stay where they are rather than being rounded up because of “over-population”. They are all trained darters for fertility control, they keep records, and they document all horses in that area. However because of the actions of FoA they have not been able to dart any of the mares for over a year. This is a case of advocacy working against each other.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kamalagandt, do you when the last genetic testing was done on them? Is the Herd still genetically viable? There are 9 grazing allotments on the Pine Nut HMA, so that means there is most likely livestock fencing, cross fencing and possibly cattle guards. Can the Horses still intermingle as they must in order to keep the gene pool healthy?


  6. One positive about the BLM’s new organizational method is that some of the research that has been done about the horses and burros is in this set of pages. I found the Resource Notes published between 1999 and 2000 interesting, and some of what is in them occurs in studies of particular herds.

    I think concerns about the current President’s interest in destroying climate data from previous years that is currently stored at federal agencies such as NOAA and NASA is partly overblown. Many research institutions use this data, but independent scientists also use their own data or someone else’s to check against federal data. NOAA in particular has been criticized a lot in scientific circles in the U.S. The House Hearing on climate change was held just a few weeks ago, so you might want to go the testimony and watch the video or read the transcripts. There is also the matter of the 2009 Climategate, which altered a lot of people’s opinions about the process we are using. There is also the problem with non-reproducibility. No two scientists seem to be able to enter the same data or even have all of the data another scientist has used to reproduce results. This is the minimal scientific standard for findings to be considered valid. The rest is just political.

    The proper community for determining scientific policies is the scientific community, not the political one. But since the political community enlisted social scientists to write policy rather than to do the rather hard work of research science, climate science and our horses’ status as native North American species are caught up in something that can’t be solved until politicians quit meddling in it. However, as for the 1971 WFRHB Act is concerned, this is very much a legal matter. The historical evidence favors the horses and the burros protected in the West.


    • HH, great points, to which I must ask: when have science and politics not been intertwined? Right or wrong, they seem to have always been two sides of the same coin, IMO.


      • We are talking 55-60mil. yrs. of evolution and tons of corporate and museum funding for digs all over our country.The National Museum, now the Smithsonian museum of Natural History. No fossils were to found anywhere in the museum when I visited. The American Museum of Natural History in NYC continues to have the largest collection of horse fossils anywhere in the world.


  7. Basically what I have said All along. The Web of Lies is to brainwash folks that have No Real Clue what really happens in any Agency or in anything really. People spouting internet data and logic based Only on Links and pages can be Destroyed by the Removal of information. I for one when I see something online I print. Why because online morohing, scrubbing, and alterations are of occurring in a whirl and blur. Online facts have even changed the Entires Nations perspectives to Not include hidden facts, agendas or Actual real life data in hard copy Instead of online only. I met a lady spouting BLM webpage info and asked her if she had Ever seen a public land HAM herself? Had she Ever listened to their backpedaling in person at any meetings or public speaking? People don’t depend on that anymore she said….dont depend on the Actual words or A dual viewing of the Lands in person? I pondered this and realized that there are really people who virtually memorize the internet to impress people. The Bureau gets buy with it Unless their taken to Court to provide Transparency. There’s not even ENOUGH people left knowledgeable ENOUGH to take the Bureau to Court which is which Duquette and his cronies make a target out of knowledgeable people they want to scrub off the internet. The main issue IS why now? The Bureau couldn’t get by with this Alternate Universe behavior until a Change in Office came. Every other President fought to inform the Actual Public. The Internet public are self proclaimed experts such as self proclaimed experts drop on their sword work their fingers to the bone ranchers. Funny ENOUGH those guys trying to convince people they ARE ranching by being online All the time are just reading the Internet garbage themselves and acting it out. Personally I spend a few minutes online to seek out the truth FROM all the Lies and walk away feeling as if the truth online rarely exists.


  8. It’s well within the realm of possibility that BLM employees could find themselves working for those same corporations that the agency has enabled for so long.
    Those private/corporate employers aren’t nearly so generous as the American Taxpaying Public.
    Doubtful that employees would be given the same benefits…unless they make it to CEO status.

    From THE ATLANTIC/2014

    Energy Department: The third agency Texas Gov. Rick Perry famously forgot he wanted to eliminate, Energy has also long been a pink-slip candidate. In his five-year budget plan, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky proposed zeroing out the department along with all of the grants and subsidies it distributes to renewable energy, while moving its nuclear research and the Atomic Energy Agency to the Defense Department. And in a 2011 bill, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina offered up a plan to combine DOE and EPA into a new Department of Energy and Environment to eliminate any overlap.


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