Wild Burros

How BLM “researches” their Wild Horse and Burro Usage Data

The “welfare ranchers” on public lands whine and blame the wild horses & burros for eating too much forage, but the bigger problem is that the Bureau of Land Management turns a blind eye to the impacts of privately owned livestock grazing on public lands.  This article by Grandma Gregg rings true today. 

by Grandma Gregg

How BLM “researches” their Wild Horse and Burro Usage Data

Years ago, BLM Director’s Challenge awarded $300,000 to assist field offices in on-the-ground volunteer field research about our wild horses and burros and our public lands. The research on the public lands was to be done by the public under the direction of BLM. I witnessed a member of the public who just happened to be an environmental scientist/ biologist (obviously the BLM representative didn’t know that) getting a return phone call from BLM Eagle Lake field office employee Derek Wilson, the coordinator for this “volunteer opportunity”.

This BLM representative told the potential volunteer that the assessment was to be on the Twin Peaks HMA and all usage found was to be counted as wild horse and burro usage regardless if the usage was from private livestock or other wildlife. Since this was to be done on an HMA that had 82% of its forage allocated to privately-owned domestic livestock the biologist asked how the study would differentiate between the usage of livestock and wild horses/burros. The BLM told the biologist that ALL usage observed during the study would be attributed to the wild horses and burros … ALL … and none to the livestock or any other possible user – regardless of the fact private domestic livestock was permitted about 5 times more than the permitted wild horses and burro usage. It clearly appeared from what the BLM representative explained, that the BLM were going to use the public volunteers to gather information to paint another negative picture for the horses and burros based on this fraudulent, non-scientific study.

I was in the room during the phone call. The biologist remained cool calm and collected and polite … but got the same “all-resource-usage-observed would be delegated to the wild horses and burros’ usage” explanation from the BLM over and over. It was obvious to me that the BLM representative had no idea he was talking to a biologist and experienced wild horse and burro observer who was completely knowledgeable of the entire issue. The BLM representative had trapped himself in an attempted fraudulent so-called study but his canned response was not fooling this scientist. With a scientist’s point of view, the biologist politely continued to ask the same question until the BLM representative became rude with the potential volunteer and threatened to hang up and discontinue the phone call. Although this supposed scientific study was ultimately unsuccessful and just so we all are aware … that is how the BLM does their so-called “scientific studies”.

Per information I acquired from BLM’s Nancy Haug, the Eagle Lake BLM field office never did approve a single volunteer for this project although she admitted they did keep $9,000 of the $25,000 that was designated to go to this aborted research project.

The law clearly states in its interpretation that “excess” wild horses and wild burros are not determined by numbers but must be determined by the monitoring of their habitat. The test as to appropriate wild horse and burro population levels is whether such levels will achieve and maintain a thriving ecological balance on the public lands. Nowhere in the law or regulations is the BLM required to maintain any specific number of animals or to maintain populations in the number of animals existing at any particular time Dahl v. Clark, supra, at 595. A determination that removal is warranted must be based on scientifically defensible research and analysis, and on legitimate, non-biased monitoring programs, which include valid, justifiable studies of grazing utilization of all animals on the habitat in question, including trends in range conditions and actual use. The Eagle Lake field office’s 2012 attempt to use funds from the BLM Director’s Challenge award volunteer field research was despicable as well as deceitful with what would have ultimately been deceptive and non-scientific data and duplicitous data.

Here is the official announcement of the volunteer program:

On Jun 11, 2012, at 3:40 PM, Fontana, Joseph J wrote:

The BLM is seeking volunteers to help with resource monitoring projects in wild horse and burro herd management areas.

News Release

For Immediate Release: June 11, 2012 CA-N-12-70

Contact: Jeff Fontana (530) 252-5332 (jfontana@blm.gov)

BLM Announces Volunteer Opportunities in Wild Horse Country

Volunteers are needed to assist the Bureau of Land Management with rangeland health monitoring on northeast California and northwest Nevada public lands that provide habitat for wild horses and burros. The project will run two to three months this summer in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area northeast of Susanville, Calif. and the Nut Mountain and High Rock Herd Management Areas east of Cedarville, Calif.

Interested volunteers can apply by filling out the online volunteer application at http://www.volunteer.gov and emailing a resume with two references to dwilson@blm.gov. The complete job description can be found by using the keywords Twin Peaks on the volunteer.gov website.

Volunteers will develop landscape descriptions; take photographs, record geographic information system data, measure grazing use of various plants and record information on condition of streamside areas, also known as riparian areas.

Some techniques will require skill and proficiency in scientific methods, while other tasks will require lesser degrees of skill. All volunteers should have experience working in rugged and remote backcountry conditions, and could have to hike several miles to reach some monitoring areas. Map reading skills are important.

“This monitoring work is important because riparian areas are critically important to wild horses and burros and to other range users,” said BLM Northern California District Manager Nancy Haug. “We need to collect information about conditions and trends in these areas, which are the most productive, diverse and sensitive on public lands. The volunteer work will assist the BLM in expanding the number of monitoring sites in our herd management areas, thus increasing our knowledge about conditions.”

Volunteers will need to provide their own high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles and must be capable of driving in rough terrain and adverse weather. There is no salary offered, but the BLM can reimburse for expenses including personal vehicle mileage.

More information is available by contacting Derek Wilson at the BLM Eagle Lake Field Office,

(530) 252-5306.

-BLM- Northern California District 355 Hemsted Drive Redding, CA 96002

Jeff Fontana

Public Affairs Officer

BLM Northern California District


(530) 252-5332 (desk) (530) 260-0189 (cell)



13 replies »

  1. Twin Peaks roundup

    BLM: “Enter Ranchers, Stage Left, ACTION”
    BY R.T. FITCH ON AUGUST 26, 2010 • ( 76 COMMENTS )

    (PHOTO) A Citizen Observer challenges “Rancher” comments while BLM security observes from behind tree in background – Photo by R.T. Fitch

    It happened just like clockwork, the timing was excellent. There had been no local “Ranchers” to speak of at the Twin Peaks roundup the day before, but today was different; there was a reporter from the New York Times on hand with a photographer documenting the carefully orchestrated “gather” and for the grand finale, wild horse advocates were on the menu.

    While the reporter and photographer were down in the trap area the handful of citizen observers were far back up a hill standing quietly with cameras in hand, watching, waiting and whispering. The observers had no way of knowing that just over the crest of the hill behind them a storm was brewing and heading their way with a vengeance.

    “Those horses are feral, ya know.” One would say.
    “Yeah, our cattle have purpose while your horses have no purpose.” Chimed in another.
    “You people don’t have a clue about what is goin on out there.” Another “Rancher” added.


    Liked by 2 people

  2. Diary of a First Time Wild Horse Stampede Observer, Part Two (excerpts)
    Series by Lisa LeBlanc – SFTHH Chief Investigative Reporter


    I’ve been a Horsewoman for 17 years; I have never met a Horse that didn’t have something appealing, something to recommend itself to the world. You deserve to know them, the Twin Peaks bands, to know who you fight for.
    Come with me and meet the Wild Horses of Twin Peaks.

    By their nature, Wild Horses, when left to a natural progression, develop characteristics unique to their environments. The Twin Peaks bands are the Horses I observed and I owe it to them to try and bring them to life for you.
    The dominant colors run the gamut from the Blue Blacks, beautifully tainted with brush strokes of pure white, to truly white Grays and Cremellos. There are variations and dilutions of Blue Roan and Blue Appaloosaand Black & White Paints. There are the occasional forays into rose and gold – Red Roans, Sorrels and Palominos, to break it up a bit. All the ‘standard’ Horse colors are represented to some degree, but a personal favorite and rare oddity is the nose-to-tail and hoof-to-hoof pure Pewter Grays, with no other color to be found on them, not even in their manes or tails.

    The true treasure of the Twin Peaks Horses, however, must be viewed close up: Each of them, without exception, possesses a distinctive metallic sheen.

    Over and over I saw ‘common’ colors, glowing brilliant in the sunlight, bringing out in Bays, Buckskins, Grullos and Duns an uncommon beauty, all clad in a coat of living metal.

    Through self-selective breeding, they have produced well-muscled bodies of excellent conformation. Many, particularly the Stallions, have deep, muscular chests and butts, physical developments that should run counter to this harsh environment but are, instead, a testament to Nature doing more with less.

    These adaptations are not limited to their physical development. While observing at the short term sorting pens, they showed remarkable intelligence and a characteristic unique to higher minded beings – compassion.


    Liked by 2 people

  3. Diary of a First Time Wild Horse Stampede Observer, Part Two (excerpts)
    Series by Lisa LeBlanc – SFTHH Chief Investigative Reporter


    PHOTO BLM Contractor’s Helicopter Harassing Twin Peaks Wild Horses – Photo by Hector Amezcua

    Most stood calmly, as if assessing their predicament. One Stallion and his Mare – the leaders of the small band the Thesis Author had studied over her year-long research in this area – worked in tandem to keep others in the pen from fighting or panicking by running interference rather than through discipline. An unrelated yearling Palomino took cues from the pair and remained focused and observant. And all remained uninjured.

    In another pen, three Mules, offspring, no doubt of illicit moonlit romances, stood shoulder to shoulder in a crowded pen with a collection of Horses, all alert and aware but undefeated.

    There were occasional but rare bouts of panic, but all tried to be polite and respectful of one another.
    When a truckload of infants arrived, the foals were already frightened and squealing for their mothers. The Mares responded but rather than a chaotic cacophony, each Mare called out, one at a time, in measured cadence, and the foals were quieted.

    I’m sure the contractors and the wranglers would take credit for this if they could but the fact is you can’t achieve a good outcome without starting with a superior product. And these Horses are superior – in appearance, in intellect

    I had heard of the terrible fights among Stallions captured the day before, a natural response to the unnatural acts forced upon them. I had heard a story related of a Stallion who refused to follow his family into the trap but stood, calling them over and over. When he could not save them, he tried to call others to him, to head them away from the trap.

    But this is a roundup and none will be spared. It will be left to humans to decide who will be saved and who will not. I saw these Horses twice – once from a distance and once in a cage – and even in these circumstances, their singular beauty and extraordinary intelligence were evident.

    I hope, in some small way, I’ve been able to help you see them as well.


    Liked by 2 people

  4. Twin Peaks Roundup Litchfield Corral 8.13.10.
    Video taken by Jessica Johnson of newly captured Twin Peaks wild horses shows visibly lame horses, a downed mare and foals recently separated from their mothers.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is utterly flagrant! Shows the kind of true brain-washing and shameless arrogance that goes on in this agency and how these wonderful restorers of the West are dishonestly even maliciously targeted!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Isn’t it amazing how shameless BLM was about its corrupt intent? Even when given multiple opportunities to back down from an obviously-fraudulent scheme, BLM insisted on pursuing it.

    There is a particular detail to this story that bears considering: Of the $25,000 Challenge Grant, BLM kept $9,000 (36%) even though, ultimately, no “study” was ever done. How could that be? And why was BLM awarded funds when the proposed data-collection was to be performed by unpaid volunteers? Here’s how and why.

    Whenever government-funding is awarded for a program or special project, it is assigned an identifying grant-number. It is expected that the grant will cover the salary and benefits of the staff-member coordinating the project. When that staffer completes his time-sheet, he will charge the number of hours he worked on the project to the grant-number. The payroll unit will then ding the grant accordingly. Other staff-members that participate to a lesser degree on the project will also charge some of their work-hours to the grant. Again, the grant will be dinged. But the dinging doesn’t stop there. The staff-members’ supervisor(s), the field-office manager, possibly the district manager, and perhaps even the state-office manager will also charge a percentage of their work-hours to the grant for overseeing the project. Yet again, the grant will be dinged. All of the above employees can begin charging to the grant as soon as the planning-stage begins all the way through to its close-out. The usual grants to which they would otherwise have charged those respective work-hours are thus conserved, and the unspent funds can be carried over into the next fiscal year to offset potential budget-cuts.

    That is how and why BLM benefits even when a project fails.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Turn a blind eye blm they are a bunch of crooks. The ranchers are everything. Crooks too. We will fight for the animals and land. To he’ll with crooks they will get theirs.

    Liked by 2 people

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