More Fake News in Nevada about Wild Horses

Wild horse & burro advocate Bonnie Kohleriter gives her opinion below about an article in Range Magazine written by Rachel Dahl, a sixth generation Nevadan.  Dahl worked as a campaign manager for the former Sen. John Ensign and served on his Senate staff by managing his Carson City office.  (Sen. John Ensign later resigned after an ethics investigation.)

Private Cattle being herded onto public land at Antelope AS wild horses are being stampeded away ~ photo by Terry Fitch

The Queen of Fake News in Nevada

by Bonnie Kohleriter

Rachel Dahl is a writer for the Range magazine in Nevada, a pro cattle magazine, and is a resident in Mesquite, Nevada.

Grabbing a twisted tidbit from here and a twisted bit from there, Rachel Dahl attempts to impress her readers as a journalist. Having read her winter rant in the Range magazine, I feel compelled to retort with the following comments.

As Ms. Dahl reported, in the fall of 2016, at the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting, the Board did not vote to remove excess horses nor did it vote to sell the animals with no limitations or to euthanize the sick and the aged.  The Board, on the other hand, voted to euthanize 47,000 wild horses and burros in holdings off the range.

The horses, according to Ms. Dahl, are to blame for the ruinous condition of our public lands.  All hope is rested in removing them.  Or is all hope rested in removing cattle from the 27 M acres where the horses only are able to be and allowing cattle to be on the other 155 M acres of our public lands where they are currently.  It is understood cattle grazing on our public lands is a privilege and not a right as some ranchers want the public to believe.  Then, in addition, perhaps all hope is rested in the ranchers not being allowed to divert and cut off water from the horses.  Oh, horrors, Ms. Dahl, that there should be another way to look at managing our resources.

Again as Ms. Dahl reported, in the fall of 2016, the Board spent the day viewing where horses forage and viewing dead horses.  The Board spent the day viewing no dead horses and viewing where horses drink.  Dead horses were dramatically reported by Goicoechea who is a known horse hater and multi-generational cattle rancher.  The devastated land, according to the permittee, was done when overgrazing was done by  animals other than horses and burros and not by the horses themselves.

According to Ms. Dahl, Ben Masters, a member of the Board,  said the viewing that day was “one of the worst disasters he had ever seen.”  Ben is a young man who made a “movie” using Mustangs who were abused in the movie.  It is an absurdity that Ms. Dahl should use him as a source to substantiate her argument that horses have devastated our public lands.  Masters is no expert on our public lands.  He is also new to the wild horse and burro issues on our public lands.

Then Ms. Dahl brought up the name of Boyd Spratling to substantiate her argument as well.  Boyd Spratling had been on the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board and is from Elko, where the Board was currently conferring.  Boyd is primarily a cattle veterinarian, represents cattlemen on the State Agricultural Board, promotes harvesting our wild horses, and presents falsified pictures to tug at the heartstrings to convince the public of those poor, poor horses on the range.  But he can’t tell you where he gets his pictures and the dates they were taken.  Boyd Spratling is a traitor to wild horses and burros.  He does not have their best interests in mind.

Ms. Dahl sounds the alarm wild horses and burros are dying everywhere on the range and in private sanctuaries in Nevada and even in WOW!   South Dakota.  Wild animals die in times of environmental disaster just as humans are dying due drought  and famine in Kenya, South Sudan, and Niger.  Is the answer to kill them?

Ms. Dahl has pulled out all stops to degrade horses using Mrs. Pickens and Mrs. Sussman, who have taken care of wild horses, but have nothing to do with our herd management areas for wild horse and burros on our public lands.  Can she find any other areas in which to attack horses or the people who have and/or care for horses.  Her article is like “Let’s talk about dinner foods, now think about Cheerios.”

“Every ranch kid learns you are responsible for taking care of an animal when you take custody of them,” says Ms. Dahl.  So Ms. Dahl, you are a part of the public who by law, has custody of our wild horses and burros?  Are you simply going to kill them for meat because some ranchers and politicians have manipulated their allowable numbers on the range to be less than genetically viable numbers for perpetuity?  Or are you going to try to come up with solutions for them to keep them on the range as healthy horses, celebrating their place on our public lands as part of our cultural, historical heritage?

Get real, John Ruhs

  John Ruhs, BLM Nevada State Director

                   

    Yosemite Sam, Ruhs’ doppelganger

Dadgummit!  After John Ruhs, Nevada’s BLM State Director, said that he wanted to round up 4,000 wild horses in Elko County last summer (supposedly in response to the continued lies blaming wild horses and burros for the “deterioration of drought-stricken rangeland”), we’re noting that many mines that will use billions of gallons of water are now on the verge of expanding in Nevada.

Ruhs recently spoke at the Elko Convention Center, and stated that “We are pretty proud of the fact that this last year we have worked with the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and NDOW to provide some public opportunities to talk about sage grouse land use amendments and what they mean to the grazing program. A lot of work still needs to be done.”

The BLM ALWAYS works with the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association.  And the National Cattlemen’s Association.  Actually, the BLM works FOR them.  Notice that the focus of talking about sage grouse land use amendments is all about what they mean to the grazing program?

Ruhs also lamented that wild horse and burro issues dominate a large part of the Nevada BLM and Ruhs went on to talk about the difficulties in wild horse management.

Wild horse and burro issues dominate?  Like, bigger than all of the mines and outnumbering all of the livestock?

And talk about difficulties?  How about all those abandoned mines in Nevada, John?

And management?  There is only wild horse and burro “MISmanagement.”

Ruhs then said “We are somewhere in excess of 37,000 horses on the rangeland that is a big priority for us and it’s one of the things that I hope in the new administration that we will see some changes that will finally allow us to get some work done on the ground.”

We hope that the work that Ruhs is referring to getting done “on the ground” will include getting an accurate count of the wild horses and burros, rescinding some livestock overgrazing permits and making sure the extractive industries don’t use every last drop of water.

Why even bother to imply that the BLM “manages” anything, except impending environmental damage from the “multiple uses” that make a buck?  Don’t stash the truth, John.

Public Comment Needed on Nevada Mine that will Use Over 2 Billion Gallons of Water in 10 Years (further threatening wild horses)

This map shows the Gold Bar Mine area, the approximate HMA (in solid red) and HA boundaries(in broken red lines), the approximate Mt. Hope Mine Project area and well field, and the approximate combined Gold Bar Mine and Mt. Hope Mine 10′ water drawdown area (in blue).  The 10′ water drawdown (in blue) effects almost the entire Roberts Mountain HMA.  The 1′ water drawdown will effect a much larger area.  (Streams can dry up with as little as a 1′ water drawdown.)

BE SURE TO LOOK AT ALL 8 MAPS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS ARTICLE.

It’s best to write comments in your own words so that the BLM counts each comment as one, instead of counting a thousand similar comments/form letter as only one.  You can read the joint comments submitted by Wild Horse Freedom Federation and The Cloud Foundation below, and a quick summary on pages 5-41 of the DEIS HERE.  Comments are due by April 17, 2017.

Some suggested talking points are:

  1. Be sure to ask for the NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE.
  2. The Gold Bar mine project will use over 2 billion gallons of water in 10 years.  The BLM needs to take into consideration past (historic), current and likely future droughts and climate change when deciding if they will approve this DEIS.
  3. The Project will negatively impact the water, forage, safety, and “free-roaming” abilities of the Roberts Mountain wild horse herd on the Roberts Mountain HMA, as well as the nearby wild horse herds on Whistler Mountain and Fish Creek Herd Management Areas.
  4. The BLM is minimizing the area of impact by only indicating the 10′ water drawdown, and not the 5′ or 1′ water drawdown.  The 5′ and 1′ water drawdown will cover a much larger area of land.  A stream can dry up with as little as 1′ of water drawdown.
  5. When the nearby Mt. Hope mine becomes operational, it is proposed that it will use an additional 7,000 gallons per minute for the life of the mine (40-50 years).  Mt. Hope mine will use over 3 1/2 billion gallons of water per year and over 36 billion gallons of water in 10 years.
  6. The BLM refers to the Cyanide Management Plan (1992), (noted in Vol. 1A, 1.4.3) and the Solid Minerals Reclamation Handbook (1992), (noted in Vol. 1A, 1.4.4).  These are 25 years old and outdated.  Ask for updates of this Plan and Handbook for this DEIS.
  7. The area of Gold Bar Mine will be expanded by 40,000 acres or 62.5 square miles, creating more environmental degradation.

The DEIS is available online at HERE.   Interested individuals should address all written comments to Christine Gabriel, Project Manager, using any of the following ways:

Fax: (775) 635-4034

Email:  blm_nv_bmdo_mlfo_gold_bar_project_eis@blm.gov

Mail:  Bureau of Land Management

Mount Lewis Field Office

50 Bastian Road

Battle Mountain, NV 89820

Wild Horse Freedom Federation and The Cloud Foundation submitted these joint comments regarding the BLM’s Gold Bar Mine Project:

           

Bureau of Land Management

Mount Lewis Field Office

50 Bastian Road

Battle Mountain, NV 89820

Email: blm_NV_bmdo_mlfo_gold_bar_project_eis@ blm.gov

DATE:  April 5, 2017

Subject: DEIS MMI Gold Bar Mine Project

Dear Ms. Gabriel:

On behalf of The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF), 501(c)3 non-profit corporations, and our hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout the United States, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to submit scoping comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for McEwen Mining Inc.’s (MMI) Gold Bar Mine Project (Project).

TCF, a wild horse and burro advocacy group and an advocacy group for all wildlife on our public lands in the West, and Wild Horse Freedom Federation, a voice for the protection of wild horses and burros and public lands, strongly oppose the expansion of the Gold Bar mining project and we urge the NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE in this DEIS for the following reasons:

Wild Horse Herds To Be Affected:

The Project will negatively impact the Roberts Mountain Wild Horse Herd as well as the nearby herds of Whistler Mountain and Fish Creek Herd Management Areas.

Sage Grouse Habitat Affected:

Not only wild horses will be affected in this area. All wildlife will suffer.

Open pit mining is the most environmentally destructive type of mining anywhere. Extreme weather events can overwhelm all mandated precautions, threatening migratory birds and small mammals. In the case of a flood, even large mammals like wild horses risk exposure to potentially lethal mining waste.

Direct habitat damage due to mining plus further fragmentation by roads and large equipment traveling on these roads will eliminate hopes for the recovery of the Greater Sage Grouse in this area. The transport process in itself is dangerous—accidents, dust, spread of contaminants, noise, etc.

Greater Sage Grouse were once so numerous that the “sky was black” with these large birds, according to Ginger Kathrens’ late Uncle, Allan Ralston, who spoke of this area after his return from WWII. Now the birds are threatened and a species of critical environmental concern. BLM should prioritize these risks.

Impacts on Water Sources:

Per the Gold Bar DEIS, page 4-147, under 2 different scenarios, the mine will either pump 380 gpm (gallons per minute) or 500 gpm (gallons per minute).

If the mine pumps 380 gpm, this equals 22,800 gallons per hour, 547,200 gallons per day, and 199,728,000 gallons per year.  Over 10 years, it will pump over 2 billion gallons of water.

If the mine pumps 500 gpm, this equals 30,000 gallons per hour, 720,000 gallons per day, and 262,800,000 gallons per year.  Over 10 years, it will pump over 2 1/2 billion gallons of water.

This does not include the water which the Mt. Hope mine will use once mining begins.  Mt. Hope is projected to use 7,000 gallons per minute for the life of the mine (40-50 years).

The project will deplete surface and ground water resulting in the drying up of ephemeral streams. Reducing water tables to dangerously low levels will negatively impact perennial streams. This DEIS minimizes the impact on water resources by not providing 5’ or 1’ water drawdown maps and thus minimizing the additional area of land that will be effected.  A stream can dry up with as little as 1’ of water drawdown.

Maps created by Wild Horse Freedom Federation are included in the Appendix.

Map 1 – (Figure 4.23-11 of DEIS) Gold Bar Mine Wild Horse CESA (Cumulative Effects Study Area).  On page 4-265 of the DEIS, it states “The CESA for the wild horses and burros includes Roberts Mountain, Whistler Mountain, and portions of the Fish Creek HMAs, as well as Kobeh Valley and Roberts Mountain HAs where wild horses existed based on past inventories, and where they could be potentially affected by the Project…”

Map 2 – shows the addition of the approximate 10′ water drawdown area – (Figure 4.19-3 of Gold Bar Mine Project), 500 gpm (gallons per minute) for 10 years.

Map 3 – shows the addition of the approximate HMA and HA boundaries.

Map 4 – shows the addition of the approximate Mt. Hope Mine Project area and well field – (Figure 3.13.1 Mt. Hope Project EIS).

Map 5 – shows the addition of the approximate Mt. Hope Mine 10″ water drawdown area – (Figure 3.2.18 Mt Hope Project EIS).

Map 6 – shows approximate sketch of Gold Bar Mine and Mt Hope Mine with HMA and HA boundaries

Map 7 – shows approximate HMA boundaries over grazing allotments map – (Figure 3.7 – 1, Gold Bar Mine EIS)

Map 8 – shows approximate mining, water drawdown, and grazing with the HMA and HA boundaries.

BLM writes in their description of the Roberts Mountain HMA: Water availability is a key influence to wild horse use during summer months. Wild horses will generally travel much farther to water than will livestock. In many HMAs water sources are plentiful and supplied by perennial streams, springs, and human constructed water developments such as livestock water tanks and ponds. In other cases, water sources are limiting, and in drought years, wild horses may have difficulty accessing sufficient water, (emphasis added) especially if the population exceeds the Appropriate Management Level (AML). In these cases, wild horse distribution is closely tied to the location of the available waters, which becomes very important to the health of the herd.

Drought Ridden Region

Drought is common in this driest state in the Union. Emergency removals of wild horses because of the lack of water are common. Removals of 14 wild horse herds occurred in 2009 south of Ely by BLM. The Agency cited the lack of reliable water sources as the reason for the removal of wild horses on 1.4 million acres of public land.

The proposed expansion and creation of more water dependent, extractive uses of the land is irresponsible.

Outdated Plan and Manual

This DEIS is based, in part, on a plan and a manual that are each about 25 years old and outdated.  We are referring to the BLM Cyanide Management Plan (1992), (noted in Vol. 1A, 1.4.3) and the Solid Minerals Reclamation Handbook (1992), (noted in Vol. 1A, 1.4.4).  We ask that you review these outdated materials and update them if you are going to base any part of this DEIS on these outdated plans.

Economic Uncertainty

The potential for failure of this project is so high that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) states: . . .in addition to greater uncertainty as to the economic feasibility of Mineralized Material compared to proven and probable reserves, there is also greater uncertainty as to the existence of Mineralized Material. U.S. investors are cautioned not to assume that measured or indicated resources will be converted into economically mineable reserves. The estimation of inferred resources involves far greater uncertainty as to their existence and economic viability than the estimation of other categories of resources.

Couple the above with the failure of the previous mine developers, Atlas Corporation, who filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the land in an unreclaimed condition in 1999.

Wide Scale Damage

McEwen Mining, a Canadian Mining company, is poised to take over and create even more environmental degradation. The area would be expanded by 40,000 acres or 62.5 square miles, or about 1/3 the size of the Colorado Springs metropolitan area where TCF is headquartered. In other words, this is destruction on a grand scale.

Damage from gold mining is permanent. No amount of mitigation can return the landscape to anything approaching a natural state. Over flights of the area reveal large-scale destruction. Increasing this permanent destruction for the hope of short-term gain is not a reasonable, and certainly not an environmentally friendly decision.

For the above reasons, we urge you to select the NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE for the Gold Bar Mine Project.

Thanks very much for your consideration of our position on this important issue.

Sincerely,

          

Ginger Kathrens                             Debbie Coffey

Executive Director,                         Vice-President,

The Cloud Foundation, Inc.          Wild Horse Freedom Federation

107 S. 7th Street                                P.O. Box 390

Colorado Springs, CO 80905        Pinehurst, TX  77362

MAPS:

Map 1

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Gold-Bar-Mine-Map-1.pdf

Map 2

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Gold-Bar-Mine-Map-2.pdf

Map 3

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Gold-Bar-Mine-Map-3.pdf

Map 4

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Gold-Bar-Mine-Map-4.pdf

Map 5

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Gold-Bar-Mine-Map-5.pdf

Map 6

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Gold-Bar-Mine-Map-6.pdf

Map 7

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Gold-Bar-Mine-Map-7.pdf

Map 8

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Gold-Bar-Mine-Map-8-with-mining-water-drawdown-and-grazing.pdf

Court Denies Wild Horse Appeal Sought by Nevada Counties

Story by Scott Sonner ~ Ace AP reporter

“We’re pleased that the courts continue to dismiss attempts by these grazing interests to use the judicial system to rewrite federal law that Congress designed to protect wild horses…”

BLM Antelope Complex attack on Nevada wild horses in 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Wild horse advocates in Nevada scored a victory Monday in an ongoing legal battle with rural interests they say want to round up federally protected mustangs across the West and sell them for slaughter.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied an appeal by the Nevada Association of Counties and Nevada Farm Bureau Federation representing ranchers and others who argue overpopulated herds are damaging the range and robbing livestock of forage.

The decision upholds an earlier ruling by a federal judge in Reno who dismissed their lawsuit in 2015 seeking to force the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to expedite widespread roundups across Nevada.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a similar decision in Wyoming in October.

In both cases, the American Wild Horse Campaign and others argued the courts have no authority to order the agency to gather horses in violation of the U.S. Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

“We’re pleased that the courts continue to dismiss attempts by these grazing interests to use the judicial system to rewrite federal law that Congress designed to protect wild horses from capture, not to favor the livestock industry,” said Nick Lawton, a lawyer for the campaign that formerly went by the name American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

The Nevada suit filed in 2014 demanded BLM sell older horses deemed unadoptable without the usual prohibition on resale for slaughter. The Farm Bureau argued the overpopulation “has severe impacts on the health of the horses as well as the ecological health and sustainability of Nevada’s rangelands.”

A three-judge panel of the U.S. appellate court agreed with Judge Miranda Du of Reno, repeating her conclusion the plaintiffs had failed to identify any specific final agency actions that could be challenged.

“Instead, NACO seeks judicial oversight and direction of virtually the entire federal wild horse and burro management program in Nevada,” the three-page ruling issued Monday said.

The BLM estimated a year ago that there were 67,027 wild horses and burros roaming federal land across 10 Western states — 40,000 more than the agency maintains the range can sustain. About half are in Nevada.

BLM removed about 8,000 of the horses and burros from the Western range in 2012, but fewer than 4,000 in each of the past two years, due in part to budget constraints.

Terri Farley, a Reno-area based author of the children’s book series, “Phantom Stallion,” and Mark Tewell, who owns Wild Horses of Nevada Photography in nearby Dayton, joined the campaign in opposing the rural counties’ lawsuit.

“This decision should help put a stop to baseless lawsuits from the livestock industry” intended to force the government to round up mustangs across the West, Lawton said.

Visit Scott’s page for more great journalism: https://www.facebook.com/ssonner

74 Wild Horses Torn from Freedom and Family

Source: Elko Daily Free Press

BLM removes 74 horses in eastern Nevada

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

ELY – The Bureau of Land Management’s Ely District has concluded an emergency wild horse gather, removing 74 excess horses from public and private lands adjacent to U.S. Highway 93 and State Route 322.

The plan had been to remove approximately 100 horses from inside and outside the Eagle and Silver King Herd Management Areas in eastern Nevada. The BLM removed 31 wild horses from between Pioche and Eagle Valley, and 43 wild horses from the Bennet Springs area southwest of Panaca.

Horses removed from the range were transported to the BLM’s Indian Lakes off-range corrals located in Fallon, to be prepared for the BLM’s adoption program.

Un-adopted wild horses will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The BLM does not sell or send any wild horses to slaughter. (yeah, right)

BLM to begin rounding up wild horses in Nevada

BLM "caring" for Nevada wild horses ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM “caring” for Nevada wild horses ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

SOURCE:  Capitalpress.com

BLM to begin rounding up wild horses in Nevada

The agency will remove up to 50 wild horses from between Pioche and Eagle Valley and another 50 from the Bennet Springs area southwest of Panaca.

ELKO, Nev. (AP) — The Bureau of Land Management says it’s rounding up 100 wild horses in eastern Nevada for public safety reasons.

The Elko Daily Free Press reports that the animals are being removed by a helicopter along U.S. Highway 93 and State Route 322. The roundup is being conducted this week within and outside the Eagle and Silver King Herd Management Areas.

The agency’s Ely District will remove up to 50 wild horses from between Pioche and Eagle Valley and another 50 from the Bennet Springs area southwest of Panaca.

The BLM is aiming to remove horses that have wandered outside the two management areas in search of forage.

The animals will be taken to an agency corral in Fallon, where they will be offered up for adoption.

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

By George Knapp , Matt Adams as broadcast on LasVegasNOW.com

“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.

http://www.lasvegasnow.com/news/i-team-madeleine-pickens-losing-battle-with-the-blm

Nevada Gov Sides with Welfare Cows While Trashing Wild Horses

Story by Scott Sonner as published on The Spectrum

Sandoval urges relaxed grazing restrictions as drought wanes

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

RENO, Nev. – Gov. Brian Sandoval is urging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to reconsider livestock grazing restrictions in northeast Nevada, saying that may now be unwarranted given a wet winter that has drought conditions on the mend.

The Republican governor who recently called for expedited roundups of wild horses in Nevada says the agency’s current management scheme wrongly prioritizes mustangs ahead of ranchers — a matter of much debate for decades in the 10 western states where the mustangs roam from California to Colorado.

Sandoval said widespread precipitation has provided healthy forage and water resources in areas stung by five consecutive years of drought.

“Drought conditions in 2015 were a very different story and decisions based on that timeframe need to be revisited — especially decisions that drastically affect an industry and the livelihoods of many hardworking Nevadans,” he said in a letter last week to BLM Nevada State Director John Ruhs arguing against grazing restrictions anticipated this summer based on last fall’s assessments.

Sandoval said he’s concerned about the growing over-population of horses, “the negative impact they have on our rangeland, and the burden of the proposed solution being solely put upon the livestock industry.”

He said the proposed action “prioritizes wild horse populations above livestock producers.”

Nevada is home to nearly 28,000 wild horses — more than half of the 47,000 estimated in the West. BLM argues the range can sustain less than half that many — about 12,000 in Nevada and 26,000 nationally.

Nevada BLM spokesman Stephen Clutter told The Associated Press that agency officials are conducting tours with grazing permittees to observe on-the-ground conditions and discuss management options and changes for the 2016 season.

Clutter agrees there’s been “significant improvements” in drought conditions over the past year but expressed caution. “The effects of drought are cumulative and it can take several years of good precipitation for vegetation to fully recover,” he said.

At the governor’s wildland fire briefing in Carson City last week, Nevada State Water Engineer Jason King said the 2015-16 winter was good when considering the four years prior.

“I characterize it as an average water year,” King said. “We’re doing much better than we were, but we’re not out of the drought and we shouldn’t forget that.”

Clutter said grazing restrictions are one of the tools the agency has to protect the ecological health of the range, and the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 is just one of many laws that guide BLM.

Under that law, areas where the animals were found in 1971 are to be managed “principally but not necessarily exclusively” for wild horses or burros, Clutter said

Greta Anderson, deputy director of the Idaho-based conservation group the Western Watersheds Project, said it’s clear ranchers have no legal right to graze their livestock on public lands.

“They have the privilege of having the preference to graze when conditions are favorable as determined by the BLM and based on science,” she said. “First in line should be the endangered species like the sage grouse that absolutely need to be relieved of livestock grazing in their range if they are going to recover.”

Anderson said Sandoval’s letter is “indicative of how politicized public lands livestock grazing is — with the industry getting politicians to strong-arm agency decision making.”

“Instead, the governor should be concerned with job creation programs for a sustainable economy,” she said, “and propping up the cowboy culture of the arid West isn’t it.”

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/news/2016/05/29/sandoval-urges-relaxed-grazing-restrictions-drought-wanes/85141246/

Scott Sonner on BLM Nevada Director urging the roundup of 4,000 mustangs

SOURCE:  Las Vegas Sun

“Suggesting that wild horses are a problem for sage grouse, while ignoring the comparatively massive impacts of cattle and sheep, is a bit like suggesting that the captain of the Titanic should be worried about the ice cubes in his passengers’ cocktails rather than the icebergs floating in the North Atlantic.”  – Erik Molvar, WildEarth Guardians wildlife biologist

BLM’s Nevada director urges roundup of 4,000 mustangs

In this June 5, 2013 photo, some of the hundreds of mustangs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management removed from federal rangeland peer at visitors at the BLM's Palomino Valley holding facility about 20 miles north of Reno in Palomino Valley, Nev. The Cloud Foundation and Friends of Animas are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare wild horses threatened or endangered in North America under the Endangered Species Act. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

In this June 5, 2013 photo, some of the hundreds of mustangs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management removed from federal rangeland peer at visitors at the BLM’s Palomino Valley holding facility about 20 miles north of Reno in Palomino Valley, Nev. The Cloud Foundation and Friends of Animas are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare wild horses threatened or endangered in North America under the Endangered Species Act. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

RENO — Concerned about continued deterioration of drought-stricken rangeland in Nevada, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s state director wants to round up 4,000 wild horses in Elko County — more mustangs than were gathered across 10 Western states combined last year.

BLM Nevada Director John Ruhs says it’s unlikely he’ll be able to consider lifting livestock grazing restrictions in the northeast corner of the state without removing the mustangs from four-herd management areas over 600 square miles stretching to near the Utah line.

Ruhs, Gov. Brian Sandoval, livestock interests and state wildlife officials argue the roundups also would benefit the greater sage grouse.

Nevada Agriculture Director Jim Barbee anticipates that without the roundups, anywhere from a 25 percent to a total reduction in grazing will be necessary in some areas, resulting in as much as $1.8 million in damages to Elko County’s economy.

Conservationists say the call for more roundups is a misguided attempt to placate ranchers at the expense of horses and grouse. Cattle do far more damage than mustangs to the range and the imperiled bird, they say.

“The BLM is scapegoating wild horses instead of addressing the true causes of range degradation and threats to sage grouse,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

Nevada is home to nearly 28,000 wild horses — more than half of the 47,000 estimated in 10 western states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

BLM officials argue the range can sustain less than half that many — about 12,000 in Nevada and 26,000 nationally.

Ruhs estimated in an April 13 letter to the agency’s headquarters that it would cost about $4 million to remove about 4,000 animals in Elko County. He said the population of those herds is at five times the appropriate carrying capacity. “Some of the allotments/pastures within the impacted area will need to be closed to livestock grazing in 2016 and into the future to limit further damage to these ecosystems or until appropriate management of the wild horses has taken place,'” he wrote.

Sandoval warned last week if the Interior Department refuses to adequately fund the program, “the state will pursue all legal options to protect our local producers and communities.”

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, said in a letter to Secretary Sally Jewell that he’s disappointed the BLM has not responded to a request he and others made in November for an update on herds across the West.

“Over the past few years, many ranchers have already taken reductions in their grazing allotments, yet horse populations have only increased, not decreased, over that time,” Heller wrote Friday.

The BLM gathered 7,242 horses nationally in 2012; 4,064 in 2013; 1,689 in 2014; and 3,093 last fiscal year. It removed about 1,000 in Oregon in November, about 125 in southern Nevada in February, 54 in Utah in March, and this summer plans to remove about 535 in Wyoming and 300 in Utah.

But the agency currently plans no large-scale roundups in Nevada — or anywhere else — through the end of September because of budget shortfalls driven largely by the cost of housing more than 45,000 mustangs now in government corrals and pastures at a lifetime cost of $48,000 per animal.

The Nevada Association of Counties, Nevada Farm Bureau and others filed a lawsuit last year to force the government to step up roundups, but a U.S. judge in Reno dismissed the case.

“Unfortunately, the removal of cattle from areas where horse populations are significantly over (appropriate management levels) does not alleviate the impacts to native species, including sage grouse,” Nevada Cattlemen’s Association President David Stix Jr. said.

WildEarth Guardians wildlife biologist Erik Molvar disagreed. “Suggesting that wild horses are a problem for sage grouse, while ignoring the comparatively massive impacts of cattle and sheep, is a bit like suggesting that the captain of the Titanic should be worried about the ice cubs in his passengers’ cocktails rather than the icebergs floating in the North Atlantic,” he said.

BLM to let pubic have a quick peek at our wild horses imprisoned in Indian Lakes Rd. holding facility (on private property) in Fallon, NV

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It’s just a really quick peek, and instead of allowing the public to walk around the corrals, like we were allowed to do on the original tours, the BLM now puts you on a wagon, so that you can’t look too closely or take too many photos.  (photo: Debbie Coffey)

SOURCE:  BLM

Release Date: 05/04/16
Contacts: Jeremy Wilhelm, 775-475-2222, jwilhelm@blm.gov
News Release No. 2016-014

BLM offers two public tours of Fallon wild horse and burro corral

RENO, Nev. —The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is offering two public tours of the Indian Lakes Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corral in Fallon, Nevada, on Friday, May 20. The corral is one of three in Nevada that provides care to wild horses and burros removed from the range. Tour attendees will be able to observe a new water sprinkler system designed to increase animal comfort and reduce dust at the facility.

The public tours are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and each will last about two hours. Each tour will accommodate up to 20 people. Spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The public can sign up to attend and get driving directions to the facility by calling the Palomino Valley Center (PVC) at (775) 475-2222.

About a 90-minute drive east of Reno, the Indian Lakes Off-Range Corral is located at 5676 Indian Lakes Road, Fallon, and is privately owned and operated. Tour attendees will be taken around the facility as a group on a wagon to learn about the facility, the animals, and BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. The new water sprinkler system will be in operation during the tour. The system includes 25 high-powered sprinklers that have the ability to provide cooling and dust abatement for most of the facility. The sprinklers are supplied by a commercial well that has the ability to pump approximately 700 gallons of water per minute.

The Indian Lakes facility can provide care for up to 3,200 wild horses or burros. The facility encompasses 320 acres containing 43 large holding pens, each pen measuring 70,000 square feet that will safely hold about 100 horses. The horses receive an abundance of feed tailored to their needs each day, along with a constant supply of fresh water through automatic watering troughs. Free choice mineral block supplements are also provided to the animals in each pen. A veterinarian routinely inspects the horses and provides necessary medical care as needed.

BLM strives to place horses that have been removed from the range into good, private homes. Horses at the Indian Lakes facility are made available to the public for adoption or sale throughout the year at off-site adoption events and through BLM’s Adoption or Sales Program. For more information visit: on.doi.gov/1Lkz8DD.

Visit on.doi.gov/1KUorJq to learn more about the Indian Lakes Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corral and the scheduled public tours.