Horse News

BLM plans to “zero out” Seaman & White River wild horse Herd Areas, while digging in heels to keep privately owned livestock grazing on these public lands


by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) changed the Seaman and White River wild horse Herd Management Areas into Herd Areas in 2008.   Now, this proposed BLM Environmental Assessment (EA) is a 10 year plan for the BLM to “zero out” (remove ALL wild horses and leave “0” as the population) the Seaman and White River Herd Areas in Nevada.

Please be sure to send your personal comments to the BLM about their plans to remove the last, remaining wild horses from these two Herd Areas.  (DO NOT JUST SIGN A FORM LETTER PROPOSED BY ANY ADVOCACY GROUP.)  Write comments in your own words and email, mail or fax them to the BLM.

Comment submissions will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.  All comments received during the public comment period will be fully considered and evaluated for preparation of the Final PEA.

Questions and written comments should be directed to:  Bureau of Land Management, Ely District Office, Attention: Ruth Thompson, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist
702 N. Industrial Way, Ely, NV 89301

Comments can also be submitted electronically at

Email messages should include “Seaman-White River Herd Areas Wild Horse Gather” in the subject line.

You can read the Environmental Assessment HERE.

At a quick glance, some of the many things that chap me about this plan are:

1)  The BLM is removing the last 42 wild horses and foals from the Seaman HA, and the last 323 wild horses and foals from the White River HA (ALL WILD HORSES FOREVER) while:

still allowing the Blue Diamond Oil Corporation (Gary Sprouse, Pres.) to graze 5,590 sheep and 76 cattle for 5 months and 10 days each year (11/1 – 4/10) on the Fox Mountain allotment (100% public land),

still allowing Double U Livestock to graze 1,269 sheep for 6 1/2 months each year and 210 cattle for 5 months each year on the Needles allotment, and another 724 sheep for 5 months each year and 147 cattle for 4 months each year on the Dry Farm allotment.

still allowing Carter Cattle Co. to graze 650 cattle for 8 months each year on the North Cove allotment and another 650 cattle to graze for 8 months each year on the Wells-Dee Gee allotment.

still allowing 635 cattle to graze for 5 1/2 months each year on the Hardy Springs allotment, on 100% public lands.

still allowing 1,517 sheep to graze for 4 1/2 months each year on the South Coal Valley allotment

still allowing 226 cattle to graze for 10 months each year on the Forest Moon allotment.

(REMEMBER, the BLM counts a cow/calf pair as only 1 animal, so all of the numbers above will likely double):

There are many other allotments listed on page 36 of the EA.  On this page, the BLM omitted informing the public of the number of “public acres” on each of the allotments – many of the allotments are on 100% public acres.

2)  The BLM refuses to consider reducing livestock grazing on the Herd Areas.  In section 2.4.5 of this EA:

“2.4.5  Remove or Reduce Livestock within the Seaman and White River HA 

This alternative would involve no removal of wild horses and would instead address the excess wild horse numbers through the removal of livestock or reductions in livestock grazing allocations within the Seaman and White River HA. This alternative was not brought forward for analysis because it would be inconsistent with the current land use plan. This gather document and subsequent Decision Record is not the appropriate mechanism for adjusting the authorized livestock use within the allotments associated with the Herd Areas in order to reallocate forage to wild horses.”

3)  The BLM once again mixes apples and oranges: while the BLM states the estimated number of wild horses and foals on the Herd Areas, the BLM only describes livestock (privately owned cattle and sheep) by AUMs, the amount of forage the livestock eat per month (Animal Unit Month).  This makes it more difficult for the general public to actually figure out the number of privately owned livestock grazing on public land, compared to the number of wild horses on public land.

4)  The BLM cites its authorization to zero out (remove all) wild horses as the Ely District 2008 Resource Management Plan (RMP).  The Record of Decision was signed by John Ruhs, who was then the BLM’s Ely District Manager (and who is now BLM’s Nevada State Director), and Ron Wenker, who was then the BLM’s Nevada State Director (and who was arrested in 2012 for sexually abusing a girl – a relative –  from the time she was 8 years old until she was 13 years old, when he was finally caught by the girl’s brother.  In May, 2013, Wenker was sentenced to three life terms after pleading guilty to Sexual Assault and Lewdness with a Minor Under the Age of 14.  He will be eligible for parole in 2043.In my opinion, all decisions signed by Ron Wenker on behalf of the BLM should be reviewed and revised.

Five parties filed protests to this 2008 RMP:  Cindy MacDonald (a great wild horse & burro advocate and researcher.  Be sure to see the blog she still maintains at American Herds), longtime wild horse & burro advocate Craig Downer, Center for Biological Diversity, Clay Iverson and Western Watersheds.  However, the BLM determined that only two of these parties “had standing” as defined in the BLM Land Use Planning Handbook (H-1601-1).

On pages 3 & 4 of this EA, the BLM states “The Ely District Record of Decision (ROD) and Approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) (August 2008) at Management Action WH – 5, which states: “Remove wild horses and drop herd management area status for those … as listed in Table 13.” Seaman and White River were reverted from Herd Management Area (HMA) to Herd Area (HA) status with this management action and identified the need to have all excess wild horses from these HAs (manage “0” wild horses).

The management action of achieving 0 wild horses within the Seaman HA as well as White River HA result of a management evaluation using multi-tiered analysis from the Ely Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement (November 2007) table 3.8 – 2 and page 4.8 – 2. The EIS (November 2007) evaluated each HMA within the Ely District for five essential habitat components and herd characteristics: forage, water, cover, space, and reproductive viability. If one or more of these components were missing, or there was no potential for a stable shared genetic pool, the HMA was considered unsuitable. The Seaman HA as well as White River HA have inadequate forage, marginal to very little water on public lands, and inadequate reproductive viability. The combined Seaman HA also has no summer habitat and inadequate cover.”

So, the BLM admits that it has failed to maintain a “thriving natural ecological balance.”

You can read this 2008 RMP HERE.

5)  On Page 16, the BLM also states: “While the BLM is authorized to remove livestock from HAs “if necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury” (43 CFR§ 4710.5), this authority is usually applied in cases of emergency and not for general management of wild horses since it cannot be applied in a manner that would be inconsistent with the existing land use plans. (43 CFR § 4710.1)”

It is an EMERGENCY if the BLM needs to remove an entire species from an area because there is not enough forage, water or habitat.

6)  Everyone should ask the BLM to provide the Land Health Status for each of the allotments listed on page 36 of this EA.

7)  The BLM is planning to completely REMOVE these wild horses from these public lands FOREVER.  Note that the BLM is not attempting to relocate these horses to other Herd Management Areas or Herd Areas.

8)  Since the BLM complains about the cost of wild horses & burros in BLM holding facilities, and has a poor record of adoptions (many horses have been sold to slaughter), the BLM should leave these wild horses on public lands, where they can live and graze at no cost to American taxpayers.






21 replies »

  1. Regardless of what the BLM EA spews, the removal of wild horses or burros for the benefit of for-personal-profit domestic livestock alternative must be included in the analysis of the EA proposal since it is highly relevant and NEPA requires that a “hard look” be taken at all relative data. In actuality, the BLM must remove or reduce livestock within these wild horse and burro Herd Areas because if for no other reason (and there are others), as being contrary to BLM’s multiple-use mission. This domestic livestock preferential treatment policy assumes an unethical definition of multiple use. Under CFR 4710.5 and 4710.6, BLM has the authority to curtail or CANCEL livestock grazing privileges on public lands in order to ensure thriving, healthy herds of wild horses and burros ON THEIR LEGAL LANDS.

    § 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing.
    (a) If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “This alternative was not brought forward for analysis because it would be inconsistent with the current land use plan.”

    How can an area designated as a Herd Area, then reduced to an HMA NOT be considered a land use plan? The approved plans since 1971 have ALWAYS included wild horses. This is pure fiction (aka BS) to claim otherwise.

    As noted, grazing privileges have ALWAYS been subject to revision and revocation, and need it be noted yet again that the only remaining legal areas for our last wild horses and burros is but a FRACTION of the public lands which are subjected to livestock grazing.

    Further, there is NOTHING in the 1971 Act protecting wild horses and burros on public lands that authorizes any of these lands to be forever emptied of them intentionally (zero’d out).


    Follow the money and speak up loudly, often, and soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Icy spots, note that at the bottom of page 3 of this EA, the BLM states that “Seaman and White River were reverted from Herd Management Area (HMA) to Herd Area (HA) status….” It’s usually the other way around – the BLM usually downsizes larger Herd Areas to smaller Herd Management Areas.


  3. R Dale Robertson, Chief Nov. 6, 1987
    U.S. Forest Service
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
    P.O. Box 96090
    Washington, DC 20090

    Dear Sir,

    As a full-time cattleman with a lifetime of experience
    i n t h i s h i g h l y competitive and econo mically
    treacherous business, I am disturbed by your agency’s
    refusal to extract full market value from leasees now
    grazing cattle on the public lands of the West. A decade
    or so ago I thought the unfair taxpayer subsidies to the
    West’s welfare ranchers were going to be phased out,
    and that fair market value on leases and pennits would
    become actual policy and.practice.

    I am cullently paying $9/AUM for leased grass here
    in south-central Oklahoma. In the past 15 years I have
    paid as little as $7/AUM and as high as $10/AUM. My
    78 year old father can only remember a few times when
    grass was worth less than $2/AUM — in the past 60
    years! The $1.35 – $1.50 you are charging is offensive
    to every cattleman I know who is aware of this practice.
    Now I’m finding out that you want to abandon the
    fair market value policy without ever giving it a real try.
    This year my 500 head of cattle on leased grass will cost
    $54,000 for grass alone. At the standard Forest Service
    rate of $1.35/AUM I would be paying $8,100, or $45,900
    less than fair market. Where’s my subsidy money? — I
    want to know where to apply. I’d like to know why
    you’re giving up on fair market rates on public lands


    David Sheegog
    3SJ Land & Cattle Co.
    Pauls Valley, OK

    Click to access Chapter%207%20pp368-371%20and%20373-421.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  4. (Photo) Forest Service employees installing a fence. (USFS)

    Those ever-present barbed wire fences that criss-cross
    our public land and line our roads cost roughly $2000 to
    $4000 a mile to build, and an average of perhaps $10 to $20
    annually per mile to maintain ( depending on terrain and
    economic variables). Taxpayers bear most of the cost.
    Large sections of fence damaged or destroyed by “natural
    disasters” (fire, flood, earthquake, landslide, etc.) usually
    are repaired or replaced using tax money. I read of one case
    where a fire started by a permittee on his private land burned
    onto adjacent Forest Service land and fence and cattleguard
    braces. A Forest Service range conservationist called the next day offering new wooden posts.

    Click to access Chapter%207%20pp368-371%20and%20373-421.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The several hundred thousand stock ponds and other
    stock watering systems that dot our public land vary greatly
    in price, according to the size and complexity of the projects.
    Their cost ranges from a few hundred dollars to $100,000 or
    more; most fall into the $2000 to $10,000 range. Several
    thousand new water developments are built by BLM and FS
    each year. Maintenance costs are high.

    Believe it or not, livestockmen in Oregon successfully sued the
    BLM during the ’70’s when a water development failed and
    canle were lost. Like suing Santa Claus, huh?
    –Edwin G. Dimick, Livestock Pillage of Our Western
    Public Lands (Dimick 1990)

    Click to access Chapter%207%20pp368-371%20and%20373-421.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    • Costs for many of these improvements are eased through government cost sharing programs as well, some with easy terms and substantial costs borne by taxpayers through multiple programs. The idea is these also support habitat and wildlife while keeping the impact of cattle and sheep much lower on scarce water sources. The downside is these can sometimes be shut off or fenced off by the private permit holder (or the BLM as they took out the Bundy’s stock water system early on). Wild horses have been killed by dehydration from lingering near fenced off familiar water holes, smelling water only a few feet away as they died from dehydration.


  6. This and all of the above posts are from an older document, so costs are most likely much higher now.

    (PHOTO) BLM’s 267,193-acre Vale Seeding
    Project in eastern Oregon cost
    about $307,692 per permittee affected.

    Range vegetation manipulation projects also vary greatly in
    cost. The 2 agencies annually spend several million dollars to “treat” hundreds of thousands of public acres with machinery, herbicides, prescribed burns, and grass seedings.
    The initial cost to seed crested wheatgrass, for example, averages around $40 per acre

    Click to access Chapter%207%20pp368-371%20and%20373-421.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    • Crested wheatgrass is NON native, was originally largely planted on private and public lands in the American west for cattle and has now been discovered to be an invasive, aggressive species that is incompatible with native species.

      Crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) is a Russian native that was originally introduced as a good, cheap livestock feed. It thrives in harsh conditions, including drought, and initially, some saw it as an ideal remedy for overgrazed rangeland. But in many places, it has taken over entirely. According to the U.S. Forest Service, over 26 million acres in North America have been planted in crested wheatgrass, almost half of it in the U.S. West. Wide bands of the grass cover rangeland across half the states in the country, where the plant forms a wall-to-wall monoculture, a Western version of an Iowa cornfield. Although livestock producers still find it useful for cattle, it CROWDS OUT NATIVE PLANTS, growing in tight bunches that don’t leave room for anything else. It also makes for poor winter forage for wildlife.


      • How many fires could be allowed to bum naturally instead
        of being suppressed to protect forage, range “improvements,”
        30,000 public lands ranch headquarters, and
        livestock? How many destructive fires are indirectly or
        directly the result of public lands ranching: cheatgrass,
        “weed,” and brush “invasions”; artificial forage monocultures;
        range activities that start accidental fires; range arson;
        and range fire suppression that allows fuel to build up to
        dangerously high levels? (For example, ranching-spread
        cheatgrass is credited with extending Idaho’s fire season by
        2 months [ONDA 1990].) How much of the brush disposal,
        herbiciding, controlled burning, and forest thinning done in
        the name of fire prevention is actually done to benefit public
        lands ranching?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Isn’t the continued assault on the TAXPAYING Public’s Wild Horses and Burros rather like “biting the hand that feeds it”?

    Approximately 90% of the mass of an iceberg floats below the surface of the water. The ranching subsidies outlined so far collectively comprise what is termed agency “range programs.” Now we begin the arduous task of plucking out and revealing the indirect, unseen, and covert subsidization
    of public lands ranching

    The Forest Service spent nearly half a billion dollars on its Timber
    program in 1987, while BLM spent $7.1 million on its Forest Management
    program. Among the timber related activities intentionally designed to promote ranching are brush disposal, fuelwood cutting, and timber thinning. As mentioned, some logging projects are also covertly designed to create more grazing land, or at least land that is more grazable. Additionally, forest management in grazing areas must allow for (and is sometimes complicated by) fences, gates, grazing plans, rancher access, and livestock themselves. Reforestation and soil erosion control tree plantings, usually of pine or fir, frequently are damaged or destroyed by livestock that eat and trample the small trees and damage structural improvements.

    Click to access Chapter%207%20pp368-371%20and%20373-421.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This plan to go ahead and eliminate all remaining wild horses from these legal herd areas is yet another egregious example of the type of smug in-your-face injustice that BLM metes out to the returned native wild horses and burros throughout the Western states. See my book The Wild Horse Conspiracy available on Amazon

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Top 100 Private US Landowners own over 27M acres… wonder how many of those used to be public lands, and if any were HAs or HMAs? Need to look further into this but thought it worth sharing here:

    “…over the past decade, the nation’s wealthiest private landowners have been laying claim to ever-larger tracts of the countryside, according to data compiled by the Land Report, a magazine about land ownership in America.

    In 2007, according to the Land Report, the nation’s 100 largest private landowners owned a combined 27 million acres of land — equivalent to the area of Maine and New Hampshire combined.”

    Land Report link (with related databases):

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s the top 100 from the link just posted, in case it disappears from the internet:

      No. 1 John Malone

      2,200,000 acres

      Leslie and John Malone acquired Florida’s historic Bridlewood Farm in August 2013. More than 100 stakes winners have been bred and raised under the Bridlewood name, including the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones. That tradition not only continues under the Malones stewardship but was embellished when Tapwrit won the 2017 Belmont Stakes. Not only did the Tapit colt train at Bridlewood, but the Malones own a share of the stakes winner. “We’re approaching retirement age, and we were originally thinking of a retirement place. And the thrill and excitement of the Thoroughbred industry, coupled with the opportunity to preserve such a famed operation, was an opportunity too good to pass up,” John Malone told The Blood-Horse.

      1. John Malone
      2. Ted Turner
      3. Emmerson Family (up 9,666 acres)
      4. Stan Kroenke
      5. Reed Family
      6. Irving Family (up 236 acres)
      7. Brad Kelley (up 150,000 acres)
      8. Singleton Family
      9. King Ranch Heirs
      10. Pingree Heirs
      11. Peter Buck NEW TO LIST
      12. Ford Family (up 158,000 acres)
      13. Wilks Brothers (up 30,000 acres)
      14. Briscoe Family
      15. Lykes Heirs
      16. Hamer Family NEW TO LIST
      17. O’Connor Heirs (up 7,000 acres)
      18. Martin Family
      19. Thomas Peterffy NEW TO LIST
      20. Stimson Family (up 52,000 acres)
      21. Holland Ware BACK ON LIST
      22. Westervelt Heirs (up 41,000 acres)
      23. D.R. Horton
      24. McDonald Family (up 64,000 acres)
      25. Simplot Family
      26. Fisher Family
      27. Philip Anschutz
      28. Jeff Bezos
      28. Holding Family
      30. Hughes Family
      31. Malone Mitchell 3rd
      32. Stefan Soloviev
      33. Collins Family
      34. Shannon Kizer
      35. Llano Partners
      36. Bass Family
      37. Mike Smith
      38. Collier Family
      39. Fasken Family
      40. Kokernot Heirs
      41. Killam Family
      42. Lee Family
      42. Anne Marion
      42. Jones Family
      45. Babbitt Heirs
      46. Galt Family
      47. Lyda Family
      48. Coffee Family
      48. True Family
      50. Reynolds Family
      50. Sanders Family
      52. Barta Family
      53. Paul Fireman
      54. D.K. Boyd
      55. Koch Family
      56. Riggs Family
      57. Nunley Family
      58. Kenedy Memorial Foundation
      59. Louis Bacon
      60. Bidegain Family
      61. Yates Family
      62. Cassidy Heirs
      63. Scott Family
      64. East Foundation
      65. T.R. Miller Heirs
      66. Hearst Family
      67. A.S. Gage Heirs
      68. Russell Gordy
      69. Cocanougher Family
      70. John Ed Anthony
      70. Eugene Gabrych
      70. Hunt Family
      70. Langdale Family
      70. Arthur Nicholas (up 55,989 acres)
      75. Skiles Family
      76. Offutt Family NEW TO LIST
      77. Williams Family
      78. Durrett Family
      79. Bridwell Heirs NEW TO LIST
      79. Haynes Family NEW TO LIST
      81. Kennedy Family
      82. Robert A. Funk
      83. Mike Mechenbier
      84. Broadbent Family
      84. Irwin Heirs
      86. Sugg Family
      87. Jones Sisters
      88. Cogdell Family
      89. Fanjul Family
      90. JA Ranch Heirs
      91. Ellison Family
      91. McCoy Remme Ranches (down 22,300 acres)
      93. Boswell Family
      93. Eddy Family
      93. Green Heirs
      96. David Murdock
      97. Wells Family
      98. L-A-D Foundation
      99. Don Oppliger
      100. Benjy Griffith III (down 80,000 acres)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Simplot family the 25th largest land owner, yet they still graze their cattle for cheap on public lands. Not only that, the BLM then pays them to warehouse wild horses on the Bruneau, ID, Off Range corral


      • We tax-payers have paid Simplot $8,555,883 in the last 3 years to keep our wild horses in their feed-lot corral. This is not a “range” … it is a feed-lot.


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