Wild Horses and Burros: Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Herd Areas

June 2016 Report by:

Jesica Johnston, Environmental Scientist and
Grandma Gregg, Environmental Researcher
Photographs by Jesica Johnston

Introduction

Buckhorn Road - Wild Horse and Burro Herd Area

Buckhorn Road – Wild Horse and Burro Herd Area

I wish I was in the high desert with our wild horses and burros this very minute … but, I am sitting here at the computer and trying to think how to explain to people what a magnificent world our public lands and wildlife are and how magical it is to actually be there soaking up the fresh air and sounds of the songbirds and screech of the hawks and smell of the sage and the beauty of the wildflowers and landscape and especially what a thrill it is to actually be in the presence of our native wild horses and burros. In the wild.

As two experienced wildlife observers, we searched for two days for wild horses and burros and other wildlife in Northern California-Nevada Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Areas. These areas are specifically designated for the protection of our wild horses and burros and is subject to the management of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). We traveled approximately 155 miles over 2 days and spent over 17 hours in the two herd areas. We drove slowly with many stops; some off-road hiking and almost constant searching with binoculars for signs of wild horses and wild burros. After 2 days, a total of only 25 wild horses and 5 wild burros were observed in total in the two herd areas. Of those, we saw no burro foals, two wild horse foals and two yearlings. All observed horses and burros appeared to in excellent physical condition. What was most obvious in our journey was the notable absence of signs of wild horses and burros or even tracks and traces of them like trailing, or stud piles on their legally authorized acres of public land. There was a noticeable absence of our wild equines and those we saw were very few and far between.

During our survey there were times that only a short distance could be seen due to canyon walls, but for the majority of the time we could see for more than a mile in all directions and further with binoculars. This allows us to estimate that approximately 18% of the Twin Peaks HMA and 27% of the Buckhorn HMA were observed as a rough approximation plus additional areas observed twice. Even though time and mileage were documented and a map available, herd area boundaries are vaguely marked, so some mileage and hours in the herd areas are rounded or estimated

Thursday 6/9/2016

Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro Herd Area: 54 miles, 7 ½ hours – Rye Patch Road, Big Springs, Painter’s Flat and Horne Ranch Road Areas

 On day one, our first sighting of a wild horse family was a band we have seen before on the herd area near highway 395. There are now two stallions and two mares, a yearling and new foal in this group. They have made this area their home range for at least a few years now. Although wild horses do often roam, they typically have home ranges where they feel safe and where they know where the water and forage resources are available to them. Other wildlife we saw on the herd areas were a golden eagle and its nest, ravens, vultures, hawks, jackrabbits and cotton tail rabbits, water birds and many song birds, ground squirrels and several small herds of pronghorn antelope, mule deer and sadly a dead adolescent mountain lion on the edge of the herd area. BLM continually states that there are no predators in the Twin Peaks herd area but years of observation by many people have proven that to be inaccurate. Both live and dead mountain lions have been seen on the herd area. Two years ago a big healthy stallion was photographed with a massive open-wound neck injury believed to have been caused by a mountain lion as the stallion was protecting its family. In recent years, a full grown mare was found half-eaten and foals have been observed and then disappeared within a few weeks. In this herd area, mountain lions are a contributing factor in self-regulating and stabilizing the population for wild horses and burros. It is nature’s way.

The Twin Peaks Herd Area contains diverse ecosystems with both year-round streams and forage and juniper trees as well as dry high-desert regions. Most of the forage is recovering since the massive 2012 Rush wildfire although miles of dead Juniper trees and the post-fire highly invasive and non-native cheat grass can be seen everywhere. The few places of BLM’s post-fire plantings of native shrubs show no sign of life and only the plastic wrappers are left to show the shrubs were even planted. This worthless and costly planting was at our tax money expense and more importantly demonstrates mismanagement of our public lands by BLM.

Except for the fact that most native juniper trees had been burned past the point of recovery and the fact that the highly invasive cheat grass was seen covering many acres of what once was good native grasses, the forage in this area was lush and showed almost no sign of grazing. There are only a few small bands of wild horses and burros in this area that have been documented and it appeared that private/corporate domestic cattle had not yet been turned out in this Spanish Springs area. The grasses were at least knee high and the variety of many colored wild flowers flourished.

Spanish Springs Wild Horse Family

Spanish Springs Wild Horse Family

After many miles without seeing any wild horses or burros we spotted a massive bay stallion grazing in the distance. He was stunning and in the prime of his life but he was all alone. We were almost at Big Spring and decided to have lunch in this incredibly beautiful spot with a flowing stream and where we could see the big bay stallion and he could see us too. Although he watched us with curiosity and kept a big distance between us, he didn’t move away. He peacefully grazed and we peacefully snacked on our lunch and listened to the multitude of meadow larks sing.

Something amusing happened as we headed out near Painter’s Flat. Just as we both started to simultaneously remark about the five burros we had seen near some junipers about three years ago, suddenly we spotted the same five burros in the same exact spot. The burros were easily identifiable because one was noticeably very light colored. These burros had obviously found their niche in nature. As they stood motionless and facing us, they almost appeared to be statues. Although seeing the same burros in the same exact spot three years later might have been a coincidence, it certainly gave us insight to burro behavior and family units and reminded us that in the “big picture” of the world, nature judges time almost in another dimension.

We had a goal to try to get to a particular place near Accommodation Springs which is further into the back-country of the Twin Peaks Herd Area. This was a place where many wild horses had recently been photographed from the air during an independent wild horses and burro survey. When we finally arrived it was obvious that the large group had long-since dispersed and the only signs of them now were some old tracks in the dry mud and some old weather beaten manure. It was many miles of very slow and very bumpy “roads” to get to this spot. We observed an abundance of forage and plenty of water in this part of Twin Peaks but no wild horses or burros were to be found and no fresh manure or stud piles, but it was definitely a challenging and remote area of the Twin Peaks area to visit. The road as seen below is definitely one that has not been traveled frequently or recently.

The final leg of our first day’s journey gave us a chance to see the often photographed pair of wild horses known as “Sox” and his very pregnant mare “Sage”. This pair of wild horses has been documented as having survived the massive Rush wildfire in 2012 and as having foals in the recent years but not a single foal survived to the age of yearling. Because this part of the Herd Area has rich vegetation and easily available water and because both the mare and the stallion are in prime condition it is a representation of low foal survival even in a prime location within the herd area.

Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Areas: 101 miles, 9 ½ hours – Buckhorn Reservoir, Buckhorn Byway, Round Coral, Pilgrim Lake, Burnt Lake, Dodge Reservoir and Rye Patch Road Areas.

We know that nature operates in cycles and it was great to see that Round Corral, Dodge, Buckhorn and Pilgrim Reservoirs/Lakes were once again brimming with water after the past few years of low precipitation; although we found no wild horses or burros near any of those water sources.

What we did find here were 500+ domestic sheep grazing in the middle of Burnt Lake. This is an example of BLM’s setting up wild horses and burros for failure by allowing livestock to strip the nutritious forage earlier in the year leaving the wild horses and burros very little to survive on during the winter months. This is also an example of BLM’s mismanagement of our riparian areas on our public lands and an example of favoritism to the domestic livestock ranchers. As with some other parts of the west, in this Northeast part of California ranchers take precedence on the public lands. In addition, BLM generally attributes this kind of riparian damage and over-use to the wild equine.

Livestock grazing has damaged approximately 80% of stream and riparian ecosystems in the western United States. Although riparian areas compose only 0.5-1.0% of the overall landscape, a disproportionately large percentage of approximately 70-80% of all desert shrub, and grassland plants and animals depend on them. The introduction of livestock into these areas 100-200 years ago has caused significant ecological disturbances. Livestock seek out water, succulent forage, and shade in riparian areas, leading to trampling and overgrazing of stream banks, soil erosion, loss of stream bank stability, declining water quality, and drier, hotter conditions. These changes have reduced critical habitat for riparian plant species and wildlife, thereby causing many native species to decline in number or go locally extinct.

Anyone who has read the BLM assessments regarding wild horses and burros doing damage to riparian areas should be aware that we do not find any wild horses or burros in large numbers in water ways or riparian areas. In contrast, we have observed and documented mass amounts of privately owned livestock being grazed in riparian areas. See below past year photos of livestock damage on the Twin Peaks herd area – cattle inside water trough and sheep in the Pilgrim lake bed.

Grazing livestock on public lands disturbs natural ecosystems and throws off the thriving natural ecological balance that the BLM is responsible to obtain on behalf of the public.  See excerpt below from a very informative book that is a must read for those that care about protecting the future of our public lands.

The majority of the American public does not know that livestock grazing in the arid West has caused more damage than the chainsaw and bulldozer combined. Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West is a book featuring articles and photographs by expert authors and photographers on the severe negative impacts of livestock grazing on western public lands. http://www.publiclandsranching.org/book.htm

Twice we visited the area of Rye Patch Road looking for the white stallion “Magic” and his family that we have been observing for a few years, but they were not to be found. We hope that Magic and his band are up in the surrounding hills enjoying the lush forage and bubbliing springs as he and all wild horses deserve and are legally entitled to under the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

Toward the end of our two long days of searching, we were thrilled to finally see one small wild horse band that we have been following for about four years. We call them the little Spanish family because they are usually found not far from the Spanish Springs area of Twin Peaks. This band has a bay stallion, charcoal grey mare and bay and black offspring and this year a new foal!

What was most obvious is the notable absence of wild horses and burros on these legally authorized herd areas. It may seem trivial to some people, but anyone who has ever looked for wild horses and burros knows that seeing tracks and manure piles is a very important clue to the whereabouts and number of wild equines in an area. Therefore, manure or stud piles are encouraging to see for wild horse and burro researchers, observers, and photographers. When searching for bands of wild horses a few stud piles is generally the first and most obvious sign of horse activity.

These large piles of manure are territorial markings left by
stallions. Recent horse activity is determined by the freshness of these piles. Repeated defecation in a particular area results in accumulation of fecal matter into large mounds, which are known as “stud piles”. These stud piles are particularly useful as a means of communication and declares to other horses not only who the horse is, but also how recently the horse had been there.  For this reason, a stallion tends to defecate over his own feces as this notifies others of his continued presence and avoids unnecessary conflict. For persons looking for wild horses a stud pile is a clear sign of horses in the area and the lack of stud piles is an indication of the absence of wild horses and burros in that area.

Final Thoughts

The few wild horses and burros we observed in the Twin Peaks herd area are in great condition with shiny coats and healthy weight but unfortunately, we recognized that there are very few of them to be found on their congressionally designated land. These ground surveys are extremely important in order to document band locations, animal and resource conditions as well as impacts of livestock grazing, juniper removal and fire restoration.

BLM’s nearby Litchfield wild horse and burro holding facility near Susanville, California appeared to be about one-third full with approximately 300 wild horses and burros still standing in a “feedlot” situation, while literally just over the hill the legally designated wild horse and burro herd area is noticeably absent of wild horses and burros. These wild horse and burro captives have no shade from sun and no shelter from the winter winds and snow and have lost their families forever.

For the past 40 plus years the BLM management appears to be politically driven by financial stakeholders, i.e. livestock permittees, mining and energy corporations, large lobbying trophy hunting “clubs” and many more. But let’s face it … the only persons that have worked for 40 plus years for the extinction of wild horses and burros are those with a financial interest. This has been and continues to be unacceptable.

Mules Ears and Observation Peak

Mules Ears and Observation Peak

BLM’s latest wild horse and burro population estimate for this Twin Peaks area is approximately 1935 wild horses and 518 wild burros but independent aerial and field surveys indicate there are far fewer remaining out there on their Congressionally designated lands. Of course, regardless of the mode of transport when independently surveying this Herd Area, we do not expect to see all of the wild ones but after numerous independent observations over many years, it is more than obvious that BLM’s population estimates are exaggerated. And now they are proposing to capture and remove wild horses and burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Area continually for the next ten years.

The BLM says our wild horses and burros on this Twin Peaks herd area are over their ill-conceived appropriate management level (AML). Thus far, no objective, scientifically supportable and credible surveys of wild horse and burro populations have been done by any government agency. The total Twin Peaks Herd Area land could support more than 4,618 wild horses per BLM’s “240 acres per wild horse” statement. Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, Wild Horse and Burro Herd Areas are to be managed “principally, but not necessarily exclusively to their welfare” (WFRHBA, 1971). In the Twin Peaks Herd Area, livestock are permitted to use 82% of the forage allocations; where wild horses and burros are provided less than 18% of the available forage allocations.

As the district court explained in Dahl v. Clark, the test as to appropriate wild horse 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 numbers of animals or to maintain populations in the numbers of animals existing at any particular time. The only law that requires the BLM to maintain populations is the 1971 Congressional law. The law must be followed and the law states, “that wild free-roaming wild horses and burros are to be considered in the area where presently found [1971]. As an integral part of the natural ecosystem of the public lands”. Thus, an AML established purely for BLM administrative reasons because it was the level of the wild horse and/or burro use at a particular point in time or imagined to be an advantageous population for BLM cannot be justified under statute.

“We do not agree with the BLM’s position that our statement reveals a misunderstanding about how BLM develops its appropriate management levels. We understand that wild horse levels are prepared as part of the land use planning process mandate by FLFNA. However, we do not believe that a level can be justified as representing a sound management decision merely because it is recorded in a land use plan. If a level is developed without regard to land conditions or wild horse range impact, its inclusion in the land use plan does not make it more useful or appropriate. In this connection, BLM provides no evidence to refute our finding (along with the finding of Interior’s Board of Land Appeals) that wild horse levels are being established arbitrarily without a sound factual basis.” The Report 1990 the Government Accountability Office (GAO)http://www.gao.gov/assets/150/149472.pdf

Per the 1971 Congressional Act, the land is to be devoted “principally”, but not exclusively, to the wild horses’ and wild burros’ welfare in keeping with the multiple-use management concept of public lands.   Definition of “principally” is first, highest, foremost in importance, rank, worth or degree, chief, mainly, largely, chiefly, especially, particularly, mostly, primarily, above all, predominantly, in the main, for the most part, first and foremost.

There are no “excess” wild horses and burros on their legally designated lands and certainly not on the Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Herd Areas. In 1971 when the wild horse and burro protection law was unanimously signed by the Congress of the United States, wild horses and burros were found roaming across 53.8 million acres; known as Herd Areas. The American people are being misled by our government agencies that are mandated by Congressional Law to protect these animals. The wild horses and burros already have a place to live; and it is not in government corrals.   These animals and this land do not belong to the government or the Bureau of Land Management; the wild horses and burros and the land belong to you and me.

Modern equids are survivors. Equids evolved to be resilient herd animals, migrating between resources with the seasons. They are long-lived, and populations are able to persist through droughts and harsh winters if their numbers are sufficiently large and interconnected. This resiliency allows them to thrive on some of the most marginal grazing habitat so long as they have regular access to water and room to roam. Modern equids are limited, however, in their ability to thrive in a world increasingly dominated by humans.

Although hopeful, our many trips to Twin Peaks always start with the optimism that we will see many of the wild horses and burros that BLM states are currently living on the Twin Peaks Herd Area. Regardless of the number or background or age or experience of observers or the time of year or the many miles and many hours and many days that have been spent over the many years by many independent observers searching and regardless of the mode of transport – be it hiking or driving or flying over the herd areas only a very small population of wild equines can be found. Instead, we find… miles and miles of beautiful open public land with very few wild horses and burros.

References and More Information and Videos

Twin Peaks 2011 Master’s Thesis by Jesica Johnston: http://csus-dspace.calstate.edu/handle/10211.9/1492

Twin Peaks Independent Aerial Survey Video: Counting Wild Horses: An Aerial Tour of Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro Habitat

Twin Peaks Independent Aerial Survey Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/02/15/twin-peaks-wild-horse-and-burro-aerial-population-survey/

2012 Rush Fire Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2012/10/08/twin-peaks-rush-creek-wild-fire-report-where-are-all-the-wild-horses-and-burros/

Twin Peaks May 2013 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/05/31/citizen-report-wild-horses-notably-absent-from-california-herd-area-after-blm-roundup-and-fire/

Twin Peaks August 2013 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/08/28/exclusive-wild-horse-and-wild-burro-good-news-and-bad-news-from-twin-peaks-hma/

Wild Horse Population Growth Research Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/04/28/report-wild-horse-population-growth/

Twin Peaks October 2013 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/11/02/exclusive-report-where-have-all-the-wild-horses-and-burros-gone/

Twin Peaks June 2014 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/06/23/field-report-life-and-death-wild-horses-and-burros-of-twin-peaks/

Twin Peaks October 2014 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/10/30/wild-horses-and-burros-twin-peaks-coppersmith-and-buckhorn-herd-management-areas-october-2014/

Twin Peaks video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llb8jejdBt0&feature=youtu.be

Twin Peaks video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDxWwfsclIQ

Twin Peaks video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0nKi7Ai7pM

Survey of Livestock Influences on Stream and Riparian Ecosystems in the Western United States http://lshs.tamu.edu/docs/lshs/end-notes/survey%20of%20livestock%20influences%20on%20stream%20and%20ri-1577607170/survey%20of%20livestock%20influences%20on%20stream%20and%20riparian%20ecosystems%20in%20the%20western%20united%20states.pdf

To download report complete with photos click (HERE)
To download BLM Twin Peaks Letter to Interested Parties click (HERE)

 

WILD HORSES AND BURROS TWIN PEAKS, COPPERSMITH AND BUCKHORN HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS October 2014

Report Compiled by:
Jesica Johnston, Environmental Scientist
Lisa LeBlanc, Environmental Researcher
Kathy Gregg, Environmental Researcher
Photographs by Jesica Johnston

“FEW AND FAR BETWEEN”

Wild Burros

Introduction

Wild horses and burros are different from their domestic cousins. Wild equines have to continually learn and adapt to the constantly changing environment directed by nature. During their lifetimes they will see life and death and must learn from their elders and trust their instincts and knowledge of their wild world in order to survive.

Three experienced wildlife observers searched for three days for wild horses and burros and other wildlife in Northern California-Nevada Twin Peaks, Coppersmith and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas. These areas are managed for all American citizens by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and for the protection of our wild horses and burros. We traveled approximately 160 miles over 3 days and 13 hours in the herd management areas. We drove slowly with many stops; some off-road hiking and almost constant searching with binoculars for signs of wild horses and wild burros. After 3 days, a total of only 18 wild horses and 26 wild burros were observed on the three herd management areas. Of those, we saw 1 burro yearling and no horse foals or yearlings. All observed horses and burros appeared to be in excellent health. What was most obvious in our three day journey was the notable absence of wild horses and burros on their legally authorized herd areas on public land. A few of our wild horses and burros were found…but very few and far between.

During our survey there were times that only a short distance could be seen due to canyon walls but for the majority of the assessment a distance of more than a mile in all directions could be seen and often a distance of many miles were observable with binoculars. Even though time and mileage was documented and a map available, herd management area boundaries are vaguely marked, so some mileage and hours in the herd management areas are rounded or estimated in our report.

Click (HERE) to Download and Read the Report in it’s Entirety

Field Report: Life and Death ~ Wild Horses and Burros of Twin Peaks

“Independent Field Reporters, Kathy Gregg and Jesica Johnston, have been back to Twin Peaks HMA on behalf of our wild equines.  Their report, below, is both beautiful and heart rending in the way in which it is presented.  Many thanks to these intrepid reporters and please spread the word as the last of our wild horses and burros need both your voice and your help.  Please click (HERE) to download report complete with photo gallery.  Keep the faith my friends!” ~ R.T.


LIFE AND DEATH
WILD HORSES AND BURROS TWIN PEAKS HERD MANAGEMENT AREA

Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas Survey June 7th, 8th and 9th 2014
Jesica Johnston, Environmental Scientist B.A, M.S.,

Kathy Gregg, Environmental Researcher Photographs by Jesica Johnston

Twin Peaks June 2014

Introduction

Two experienced wildlife observers searched for three days for wild horses and burros and other wildlife in Northern California’s Twin Peaks and the Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas (HMAs). We traveled approximately 138 miles over 3 days and 16 1⁄2 hours in the herd management areas. We drove slowly with many stops; some off-road hiking and almost constant searching with binoculars for signs of wild horses and wild burros. After 3 days, a total of only 12 wild horses and 20 wild burros were observed. Of those, 2 were horse foals and 1 was a burro foal. All observed horses and burros and range conditions appeared to be in excellent health with the exception of our discovery of one recently deceased wild horse.

During the survey there were times that only a short distance could be seen due to canyon walls but for the majority of the survey a distance of more than a mile in all directions could be seen and often a distance of many miles were observable with binoculars. This allows us to estimate that approximately 18% of the Twin Peaks HMA and 21% of the Buckhorn HMA were observed as a rough approximation.  Even though time and mileage was documented and a map available, HMA boundaries are poorly marked thus some mileage and hours in the herd management areas is estimated.

What was most obvious is the notable absence of wild horses and burros on their legally authorized herd areas.

Map of Public Land Roads Traveled (Red)

Twin Peaks Roads Traveled

Saturday 06/07/2014
Twin Peaks Herd Management Area: 54 miles and 3 hours Sand Pass and Smoke Creek Roads

We saw over 54 miles of the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area with diverse ecosystems; some with luscious streams and forage and trees and some with dry desert conditions and observed only 2 burros along Smoke Creek road and 17 burros near highway 395. We saw very few signs of any wild horses and burros in this area like trailing, tracks or manure until we reached the group living near highway 395. The Twin Peaks burros have a variety of colors; some have the mark of the cross on their backs and stripes on their legs and some have a fuzzier brown coat and some are black and some have a white muzzle and we even found one that was completely black. Although they are wild and cautious, they are very curious and attentively stand for photos.

Sunday 06/08/2014
We traveled a total of 66 miles and 9 hours on the Twin Peaks and Buckhorn HMAs.

Twin Peaks HMA: 26 miles 6 hours Rye Patch and Horne Ranch and a few off-shoot roads

Early summer is a wonderful time to visit this area and there are oceans of wildflowers blooming in Twin Peaks. One specifically that dominates the landscape in June is Mule’s Ears (Wyethia mollis) which are bright yellow sunflowers that cover the desert. It was the most spectacular display of this flower. Entire valleys and hillsides were blooming. Photos can hardly show the beauty we saw, but here are some photos. 

We saw two families of sage grouse hens and chicks on the east side of Observation Peak. These birds are currently nominated for the endangered species list and it is interesting to note that these were thriving in this area that was burned in 2012 and where domestic livestock have not grazed for the past two years.

While continually stopping and scanning the horizon with binoculars we saw no wild horses or burros until all of a sudden a big jack burro came trotting out of the juniper trees toward our vehicle and it seemed humorous that this burro gave the impression that he wanted us to be sure and not pass him by without spending some time with him so of course we obliged. He was very curious and although we never got within 50 feet of him, he could be heard snorting not aggressively, just in a communicative way. We saw this same burro a few years ago and had named him “Blink” since he seems to appear out of nowhere when you least expect it. He was very curious and seemed to appreciate our company as he watched us from the adjacent hillside as we ate our lunch.

Twin Peaks HMA and Buckhorn HMA: 40 miles 3 hours on the Buckhorn Byway Road

About 1500 domestic sheep were witnessed trespassing on our public HMA land. We also witnessed about 50 cattle in the off-limits to livestock burn area and there was even a new sign that said “Closed to Grazing”. The areas that burned during the Rush Fire of 2012 are off-limits to all domestic livestock so these are trespass livestock and the livestock owners are in serious and willful federal violation of the rancher’s grazing permit but this appears to be “forgiven” by the BLM and casually ignored by the livestock permittees. Last summer at least ten individual cases of livestock trespass were documented on Twin Peaks and Buckhorn HMAs and these were reported to both the Eagle Lake and Surprise BLM Field Offices, but obviously it is still occurring in great numbers.

We saw one magnificent copper-colored buckskin wild horse casually grazing alone in a meadow. We had not seen him before but he will certainly be recognized if we see him in the future and he will not be easily forgotten. He was stunning. The wild horses and burros in these herd management areas are in excellent condition with shining coats, healthy weight, bright eyes and curious minds.

Monday 06/09/2014

Twin Peaks HMA: 18 miles 4 1⁄2 hours Rye Patch Road

This day gave us the highest and the lowest sentiments of any of our many trips to any wild horse and burro area. After much searching, we finally spotted the white stallion “Magic” way up near the top of a hill with his mare “Hope” and another little family band we call the Spanish family. Magic is the son of the great Twin Peaks stallion BraveHeart, who was captured and died at the hands of BLM in 2010. Because BraveHeart’s son “magically” appeared the following year after the BLM roundup and he had somehow avoided being captured, the name “Magic” just seemed like the only name he should have. We sometimes give wild horses and burros “names”; not to humanize them but for identification purposes when we share stories with other wild horse and burro devotees.

The Spanish family’s two year old colt had been seen just a few weeks ago with this family, but was now missing.

We watched and photographed Magic and Hope and the Spanish stallion with his charcoal colored dapple mare Spring and their dark brown yearling and their new brown foal for a long time by quietly sitting down in the tall grass and flowers. This was the highlight of the entire trip!

Leaving these wild families to continue their grazing, we headed back down to the road and before long we spotted something very startling a dead horse. After close examination, we identified the horse as Shiny. Shiny had been one of the wild stallions that we had the good fortune to see and get to know on our previous visits. He was a bay who got his name from his exceptionally gleaming coat and had been half of a bachelor band with his buddy Curley until just a few weeks ago when these two stallions had been found with two mares.

Shiny on the right and his bachelor buddy Curly on the left – photo Sept 10, 2011

Shiny had been dead for a few days, but his body showed no apparent signs of physical trauma. His time in the desert was over. We can appreciate and be grateful that he lived his life truly wild and free as Mother Nature intended.

Miscellaneous Observations

As noticed on many previous trips since the livestock have been taken out, the abundance of lush forage and the lack of any signs of animals trailing in the Rush Fire burn area were very notable. In past years, animal trailing (trails of animals through the grass) was very noticeable, but with the removal of most livestock in the burn area and with very few wild horses and burros remaining in these herd management areas the signs of trailing are missing. Other obvious clues to the number and location of animals in this area are the conspicuous lack of horse and burro tracks or manure.

Other wildlife we observed: coyote, golden eagle, crows/ravens, vultures, hawks, wild hare, pigmy rabbit, water birds and many song birds, an owl, small herds of prong-horn antelope and deer, ground squirrels, insects and sage grouse. We saw what looked like a beaver pond area and also some underground burrows possibly marmot? The land is finally healing and the wildlife have returned to their habitat after the devastating fire of 2012.

Summary

We found both Pilgrim Lake and Burnt Lake and many reservoirs were dry. This is usually the case in the late summer but not this early in the year despite the fact that the area had some good rains late in the winter and spring. With generations of passed down knowledge, the wild horses and burros do have “hidden” springs that are still flowing in canyons. One favorite oasis of all wildlife is known Big Spring and it has fresh water and high thick grass abounds.

The natural forage of sage, bitterbrush and native grasses was in abundance but in many areas there were acres and acres of invasive cheat grass. In some areas where domestic livestock have grazed, the vegetation was destroyed it was very obvious. In areas where there were no domestic livestock, we especially noticed that the native grasses showed an almost pristine appearance due to the fact that there are so few wild horses and burros and the domestic livestock has been removed for almost two years.

Although in a few spots we saw wild horse or burro manure and stud piles, indicating that there were wild horses or burros living in the area, in most of these wild horse and burro HMAs there was none, validating that the wild horse population is very minimal.

BLM’s latest wild horse and burro population estimate for this area was approximately 1,750 but numerous independent aerial and ground surveys indicate there are far fewer remaining.

Conclusion

So … where are our wild horses and burros?
We found them…
at the Litchfield California and Palomino Valley Nevada BLM holding facilities.

BLM’s Litchfield holding facility near Susanville, California appeared to be about half full with approximately 500 wild horses and burros still standing in this “feedlot” situation while literally just over the hill the legally designated wild horse and burro land is almost empty. BLM’s Palomino Valley holding facility near Reno, Nevada also appeared approximately half full with about 1,000 wild horses standing in their “feedlotcorrals. They have no shade from the blazing sun and no shelter from the freezing winter winds. Horses were even lying down and trying to cool themselves in a few small indentations in the moist soil where a little water had leaked out from the trough. These magnificent wild animals should be in their legal herd areas. The BLM’s management is unjust, illegal and inhumane.

Final Thoughts

Per the 1971 Congressional Act, the land is to be devoted principally, but not exclusively, to the wild horses and wild burro’s welfare in keeping with the multiple-use management concept of public lands. Definition of “principally” is first, highest, foremost in importance, rank, worth or degree, chief, mainly, largely, chiefly, especially, particularly, mostly, primarily, above all, predominantly, in the main, for the most part, first and foremost. There are no “excess” wild horses and burros on their legally designated land. The American people are being misled by our government agencies that are mandated by Congressional Law to protect these animals. The wild horses and burros already have a place to live; and it is not in government corrals. These animals and this land do not belong to the government or BLM the wild horses and burros and the lands belong to you and me.

Click (HERE) to download complete report WITH photos

References

Twin Peaks video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llb8jejdBt0&feature=youtu.be Twin Peaks 2011 Master’s Thesis by Jesica Johnston: http://csus-dspace.calstate.edu/handle/10211.9/1492

2012 Rush Fire Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2012/10/08/twin-peaks-rush-creek-wild-fire- report-where-are-all-the-wild-horses-and-burros/

Twin Peaks May 2013 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/05/31/citizen-report-wild-horses- notably-absent-from-california-herd-area-after-blm-roundup-and-fire/

Twin Peaks August 2013 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/08/28/exclusive-wild-horse-and- wild-burro-good-news-and-bad-news-from-twin-peaks-hma/

Twin Peaks Independent Aerial Survey Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/02/15/twin-peaks- wild-horse-and-burro-aerial-population-survey/

Wild Horse Population Growth Research Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/04/28/report- wild-horse-population-growth/

Twin Peaks October 2013 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/11/02/exclusive-report-where- have-all-the-wild-horses-and-burros-gone/

9th Circuit Condones BLM’s Destruction of Wild Horse and Burro Herds

Years of Litigation Leads to Lopsided Court Decision

Twin Peaks Wild Horses prior to 2010 stampede and removal~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Twin Peaks Wild Horses prior to 2010 stampede and removal~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a split decision on Monday upholding the government’s Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM)roundup of more than 1,600 wild horses along the Nevada-California line in 2010.

In the 2-1 ruling, the appellate panel in San Francisco rejected an appeal by wild equine advocates who accuesed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management of gathering too many wild horses and burros in violation of several laws, including the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

Judge Carlos Bea concluded in the majority opinion the BLM completed the necessary environmental reviews for the Twin Peaks roundup not far from the Oregon line, and that the court must defer to the agency’s expertise.

“In sum, the BLM’s actions fell within the discretion which courts have recognized the BLM has to remove excess animals,” he wrote.

Judge Johnnie Rawlinson wrote in a strongly worded dissent that such deference isn’t warranted if the agency interprets part of a law inconsistently with its overall purpose. She argues BLM violated the intent of Congress to protect the horses.

The ruling upheld an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. in Sacramento that found the BLM acted legally when it gathered horses from overpopulated herds it determined were three times larger than the range can ecologically sustain.

The agency projected that left unchecked, the herds could exceed 6,000 to 8,000 animals within a decade.

But In Defense of Animals and others argued, among other things, that the act prohibits the removal of any mustangs from horse management areas on the range before the agency first identifies old, sick or lame animals to be destroyed humanely.

BLM maintains the term “remove” should be interpreted to refer to the permanent removal of animals, not the temporary gathering of animals to determine which ones should be euthanized and which should be made available for adoption.

“We agree with BLM,” Bea wrote, adding that the act itself does not define “remove.”

“The BLM has definitely done a great smear campaign on our wild horses.” stated Rachel Fazio, advocate attorney,  “To be honest reading this opinion it is as if we never wrote any briefs or researched any law  – and never mind the actual facts- it is as if we weren’t even involved in the litigation at all.  Half of our claims they didn’t even deal with, they didn’t address the prohibition on “capture, harassment, branding and death” – they just focused on the removal language;  they got out from under the Principally language by at the 11th hour claiming that the Twin Peaks HMA wasn’t a range, even though the Act does not permit the creation of an HMA, only the creation of a range, and that Dahl v. Clark actually found that designation of an HMA was done pursuant to the range provision of the Act (ie HMA= range) – and of course the wink and a nod on the long-term holding; its on private lands.”

Click (HERE) to download Decision

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Exclusive Report: Where Have All the Wild Horses and Burros Gone?

Twin Peaks Report from Kathy Gregg, Environmental Researcher and Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist, A.B., M.S., Ph.D. Candidature
 Photographs by Craig Downer

There are no “excess” wild horses and burros on their legally designated land.

This wild horse looking across the vista appears to be wondering the same thing that continually crossed our minds during this three day journey … “Where have all the wild ones gone”?

This wild horse looking across the vista appears to be wondering the same thing that continually crossed our minds during this three day journey …
“Where have all the wild ones gone”?

Although a very few wild horses and burros were seen, the best way to describe our three days on the Herd Management Areas (HMAs) is “mile after mile and hour after hour seeing no wild horses or burros”.

During this three day ground survey there were two experienced wildlife observers with binoculars searching for wild horses and burros and other wildlife in the Twin Peaks, New Ravendale, Buckhorn and Coppersmith Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas (HMAs).   We traveled approximately 160 miles over 3 days and

17 hours in the herd management areas.  We drove slowly with many stops along with some limited off-road hiking and we constantly looked for signs of wild horses and wild burros.  A total of 23 wild horses and 18 wild burros were observed. All observed horses and burros and range conditions appeared to be in excellent health – the only good news.

Near Rye Patch Road, we saw two family groups traveling together.  One family is Magic, our treasured son of the great Twin Peaks stallion BraveHeart who was captured in 2010 and Magic’s faithful mare Hope.  The other family consists of a bay stallion, charcoal colored mare, their yearling and their new foal … and a burro!  Although having been spotted earlier this year – safe and sound – these two families had been missing after the Rush fire raced through their home area last summer.  It was an inspirational moment to see them safe after having escaped the massive 2010 capture and the uncontrolled Rush wild fire – the white/appy stallion again lived up to his name, “Magic”.

This public land is set aside by Congress principally for wild horses and burros, but there are very few that remain since the roundup of 2010.  It is incredible and unbelievable when the BLM says there are 1,684 out here again…

Magic and Hope

Magic and Hope

Per the 1971 Congressional Act, the land is to be devoted PRINCIPALLY but not exclusively to the wild horses and wild burros welfare in keeping with the multiple-use management concept of public lands.   Definition of “principally”: First, highest, foremost in importance, rank, worth or degree, chief, mainly, largely, chiefly, especially, particularly, mostly, primarily, above all, predominantly, in the main, for the most part, first and foremost.

There are no “excess” wild horses and burros on their legally designated land.  The American people are being deceived by our government agencies that are mandated by Congressional Law to protect these animals.  The wild horses and burros ALREADY have a place to live and it is not in governmental corrals.    These animals and this land do NOT belong to the government … the wild horses and burros and the lands belong to you and me.

Please click (HERE) for the entire independent observers’ summary report and many photos.

More information:

See Twin Peaks Masters Thesis by Jesica Johnston:  http://csus-dspace.calstate.edu/handle/10211.9/1492

See 2012 Rush Fire Report:  https://rtfitchauthor.com/2012/10/08/twin-peaks-rush-creek-wild-fire-report-where-are-all-the-wild-horses-and-burros/

See Twin Peaks May 2013 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/05/31/citizen-report-wild-horses-notably-absent-from-california-herd-area-after-blm-roundup-and-fire/

See Twin Peaks August 2013 Report: https://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/08/28/exclusive-wild-horse-and-wild-burro-good-news-and-bad-news-from-twin-peaks-hma/

Exclusive: Wild Horse and Wild Burro Good News and Bad News from Twin Peaks HMA

Exclusive report from “Grandma” Gregg, Environmental Researcher and Jesica Johnston, B.A., M.A in Biology and Environmental Planning

“The forage has grown back from last summer’s fire and there is an abundance of food…”

DSC06304_zps35963a14 (1)Last weekend several experienced wildlife observers with binoculars and long-distance camera lens thoroughly combed 77 miles of the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) and found only 27 wild horses and 5 wild burros.  Is this good news or bad news?  This is good news for those few wild horses and burros that remain on their legally designated land, but bad news for the Twin Peaks HMA as a whole.  The forage has grown back from last summer’s fire and there is an abundance of food as was obvious by the condition of the few vigorous and healthy wild horses and burros that were observed, but this is still a small and discouraging number of wild horses and burros. This survey is consistent with previous surveys and documentation supporting the impacts of an enormous and devastating roundup in 2010. There seems to be few remaining wild horses and burros in the Twin Peaks HMA. In our two days of ground observation the BLM’s mantra of the term “excess” was on our minds as we traveled numerous miles; most of which had no wild horses or burros or even signs of wild horses and burros.  This public land is set aside by Congress principally for wild horses and burros, but there are very few that remain since the roundup of 2010.  It is hard to believe when the BLM says there are 1,750 out here again…

Click (HERE) for the entire independent observers’ summary report and many photos.

There has been no further official round-up announcement for Twin Peaks since last fall’s after the Rush Fire Environmental Assessment was published by BLM stating that they were going to capture and remove all but about six-hundred wild horses and burros. It is unknown at this time when this capture has been rescheduled for but in the meantime BLM did an aerial population survey in April of this year and stated there were 1,750 wild horses and burros on the Twin Peaks HMA.  This data was FOIA’d and although that number was written on the aerial log, they only photographed 460. They had two photographers in the helicopter and per their map a very thorough coverage of the HMA was done, but they only physically photographed 460 wild horses and burros.  Even though we paid with our tax money for four BLM employees and the cost of the helicopter to document the actual population of wild horses and burros … they did not. Over the four days in flight only 26% of the wild horses and burros that were “counted” were photographed.

In fact there were far more photos taken of coyotes, elk, antelope, and other landscape features than of wild horses and burros. Although there was ample opportunity, this left 1.290 wild horses and burros that they “counted” undocumented with photos during the census flight.  Why? The aerial census over the four days clearly fails to sufficiently document BLM’s stated wild horse and burro population.

In the meantime, this Thursday will be an important day for the future of the Twin Peaks HMA and all wild horses and burros. This is the first time in the history of the Wild Horse Act that an Appeals Court will determine whether the BLM’s interpretation of the Act is consistent with Congress’s intent to protect these living symbols of the West over 40 years ago.

The 2010 Twin Peaks roundup resulted in the permanent removal of more than 1,500 wild horses and 160 burros from the range. As of August 2012, 977 of the wild horses and burros removed from the range were still in “holding” and hundreds more have died or been sold by BLM to “questionable” buyers and they cannot be accounted for. The BLM failed to consider data regarding ecological resources in the herd management area, and also illegally harassed and captured horses that were not even considered “excess” by BLM’s own standards. Don’t miss this important hearing – please fill the courtroom and show your support for the Twin Peaks wild horses and burros. They need you there…

What: Appeal Hearing for the Twin Peaks Wild Horses and Burros
When:  Thursday, August 29, 2 pm – please arrive no later than 1:30 pm
Where:  Ninth Circuit Courthouse, 125 South Grand Ave., Pasadena

Click (HERE) to download complete report

Be There for Your Twin Peaks Wild Horses and Burros

The Twin Peaks HMA court case is “alive and well” and the hearing has been set for August 29th, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. in Pasadena, CA at the 9th Circuit courthouse located at 125 South Grand Avenue, Pasadena CA.  Directions can be found on the 9th Circuit website http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/information/locations.php

The Twin Peaks wild horses and burros need you there!

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was unanimously enacted in 1971 to protect wild horses and burros in the West “in order to enrich the lives of the American people”, mandating that they are to be “protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.” 

photo by Linda Hay

photo by Linda Hay

This Twin Peaks Stallion “ACE” was captured at least three times by the BLM in 2002, 2006 and again in 2010. He has been both branded and harassed by the BLM.

This photo was taken of him in 2009 in the Twin Peaks HMA before he was captured for the last time during the 2010 roundup.  Today he is alive and well and is willing to be the first horse, of the 1,791 Twin Peaks Wild Horses and Burros which were illegally removed by BLM, to be returned to their home land …  when this case is won.

Please attend the hearing on August 29, 2013

 

Urgent: Eagle Lake Field Office “Rush Fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation” EA DOI-BLM-CA-NO50-2012-45-EA

Open Letter from Wild Horse Freedom Federation to the BLM

Wild-Horse-Freedom-Federation

To: BLM_CA_Eagle_Lake_FO_Email@blm.gov, kcollum@blm.gov and d65wilso@blm.gov

Wild Horse Freedom Federation submits the following comments:

Wild Horse Freedom Federation is urging no action (Alternative B) until a complete EA in compliance with NEPA or an EIS is submitted for public review.

The BLM has offered the public only 2 alternatives, either one plan (Alternative A) or no action (Alternative B).  This EA is incomplete for offering only two alternatives, and for the reasons cited below, and contains incorrect, conflicting and skewed information.

Comment on 1.2 Purpose and Need
The “emergency” is moot.  The fire is over.  When the BLM decided to let the fire burn (actually telling local residents in advance the date when the fire would be put out) the fire stopped being an unexpected event, and then became a planned (and thus, controlled) fire.  The backfires started by BLM were not always used to stop the fire, but to clear certain areas.

The BLM made decisions that were not only extremely detrimental to the “productive capacity” of the Wilderness Study Area, but impaired wilderness characteristics, watershed function and ecological processes.
The BLM can bypass NEPA to control the immediate impacts of a real emergency that are “urgently needed to mitigate harm to life, property, or important natural, cultural, or historic resources,” but in the Rush Fire, the BLM violated many of the laws listed in this EA and it’s mandate to ensure a thriving natural ecological balance, with a “let it burn” policy that created this supposed “emergency.”

The multiple use mandate does not excuse the BLM from taking a hard look at the effects of its actions.

Before getting to specific topics in the EA, comments regarding this EA as a whole are:

This EA is incomple because it does not include a map of the livestock grazing allotments.

This EA is incomplete because it does not include a map detailing where the highest concentrations of noxious weeds are.

This BLM EA doesn’t address the fact that a main cause of noxious weed infestations is, and will continue to be, livestock grazing, which disturbs the soil and gives noxious weeds a foothold, even though Table 3.5 on page 55 of the EA notes that casual factors for livestock grazing allotments not meeting the standard for upland soils and biodiversity ARE “livestock grazing” and “historic livestock grazing.”

This EA is incomplete because the maps only include every other township and range number on the maps.

This EA is incomplete because the maps don’t indicate all of the private property that is indicated on the BLM 30×60 minute series (topographic) maps for Eagle Lake and Gerlach.

The BLM’s incomplete data inhibits public comment.

Comment on 1.5 Authority, Laws, Regulations and Other Plans:
With the proposed action of this EA, the BLM will be in violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.  Wild Horse Freedom Federation has carefully reviewed the photographs of an independent aerial survey of the Twin Peaks HMA taken after the Rush Fire, which were also directed to the attention of Ken Collum, Field Manager of the Eagle Lake BLM office, which prove that less than 400 wild horses remain.

The BLM’s few photographs and maps using only dots in this EA are not proof positive, and we believe BLM’s inventory numbers and claims of 1,324 wild horses are grossly overestimated.  Wild Horse Freedom Federation believes any attempt to remove wild horses from Twin Peaks will wipe out the last of the remaining wild horses on this HMA and be the total eradication of this one “use” in BLM’s multiple use mandate.

The BLM was in violation of the Wilderness Study Area Manual 6330, for not ensuring a thriving natural ecological balance.  While this EA proposes to only reduce livestock grazing temporarily, the planned removal of wild horses will be FOREVER.  The BLM will not ensure, but eradicate, an entire part of the thriving natural ecological balance.

Comment on 1.5.1 Environmental Assessments, other BLM Documents:
This EA is incomplete because it is tiered to EAs and documents that are outdated and obsolete.  Some documents listed in this section are dated 1998 – almost 15 years ago!  Since then, other uses have been approved in this area.

Comment on Map 4 Location & Distribution of Wild Horses & Burros (page 23)
This map doesn’t indicate how many horses each dot represents, as other BLM aerial survey maps have done (for instance, 1-10 horses would be one color dot, 10-25 horses would be a different color dot, and 25-50 horses would be another different color dot).The photographs on pages 70-72 of this EA do not specify GPS coordinates or the exact date the photo was taken.  Most notably, Photograph 1 at the top of page 70 looks like it has been “photoshopped” or altered in some way – if you look at the bottom, right side of this photo, you will see a rectangle like a photo was placed on top of another photo, and the bottom edge of this area is straight (it looks like the green grass cuts off in a straight line).If this photo was altered without notifying the public, this EA is fraudulent.   Also, Wild Horse Freedom Federation notes that there are no more than 10 horses in any of the photos in this EA, and that the BLM did not indicate if any of these photos contained the same horses.BLM could have just “cherry-picked” these particular photos to make it seem like there is “not enough forage.”Comment on 2.1.3 Invasive Plant Inventory and Treatment

The BLM does not specify (or disclose to the public) in this EA, what chemicals will be used. The BLM has not fully explored the effects of herbicide use on endangered animals, including sage grouse.

The BLM has not informed the public if it will distribute the herbicides using aerial spraying (in which BLM essentially carpet-bombs the land and water with toxic chemicals), or if BLM employees will find the weeds out in the field and spray them directly using tanks carried on all-terrain vehicles or backpacks. This EA also doesn’t include any requirements that the BLM explore other options for removing noxious weeds first, before aerial spraying. BLM should hand-pull, mechanically remove or burn weeds where possible.

Comment on 2.1.5  Protective Fence

Permanent Fence (page 18) and Map 3 (page 19) indicate that out of the 315,577 acres burned in the Rush Fire, the BLM plans to use American taxpayer’s money to build at least one permanent fence on PRIVATE PROPERTY.  For instance, it looks as if the bottom permanent fence on Map 3 is right on private property in the Smoke Creek Ranch area, and not on public lands.

At least one other part of the permanent fence seems to be in areas that would benefit grazing areas for privately owned companies (for instance, John Espil’s Sheep Company and Clark’s Valley Land & Sheep Co.)

On page 13, MAP 2, the 2012 Rush Fire Seeding Sites, out of the entire 315,577 acres that were burned in the Rush Fire, the BLM has selected to have American taxpayers pay to reseed areas including PRIVATE PROPERTY and areas around a powerline.

Comment on 3.10 Wild Horses & Burros

BLM plans to PERMANENTLY remove wild horses & burros, while only temporarily reducing livestock grazing “until vegetative establishment objectives are met.”  This may be less than 2 years.

The BLM claims a reason to remove wild horses & burros is there is not enough forage for to sustain them.  Per maps, less than 1% of the 315,577 acres burned in the Rush Fire were severely burned.  Some areas were not burned at all.

BLM did not address ANY NATURAL regrowth of vegetation in this EA.

The BLM also claims a reason to remove wild horses & burros because there is not enough water for them.  This is contradictory to BLM’s other assertions within this same EA, in section 2.1.11, which indicates there is increased watershed flow and water catchments.

Wild Horse Freedom Federation, after examining independent scientific research, believes the BLM has overestimated the population inventory of wild horses & burros, and that any attempt to remove them will permanently eradicate this “use” from their federally protected Herd Management Area.

Comment on 3.12 Recreation Facilities & Human Safety

On page 77, what data does BLM have/use to substantiate its claim that there is a “low frequency” of wild horse observation?  What comparison studies have been done regarding/differentiating wild horse observation from, for example, wildlife observation?

Has every single member of the public who has gone on public roads or onto public lands been obeserved by the BLM or reported to the BLM why they went where they went or what they went to observe?  Does the BLM not consider wild horses & burros to be part of the thriving natural ecological balance?<

Again, and lastly, Map 1, on p. 3 of the EA, shows areas within the fire perimeter of “no burn”, light burn, moderate burn, and severe burn, but the great majority of the fire area is shown as no burn or light burn, with a minor amount of moderate burn and almost no severe burn (severe burn shows as only a small fraction of 1% of the fire area)., and there will soon be, if not already, natural regrowth, so the BLM should not remove any of the wild horses & burros, or adjust their current AMLs.
Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Straight from the Wild Horse’s Mouth: A Letter to Santa

Submitted by “Ace“, the Twin Peaks Wild Stallion and personal friend of Grandma Greg’s

“I often warmly think about the ‘good old days’ when hundreds of we wild ones roamed free…”

“It’s ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and I awoke, today, to find a letter from a captured, yet now safe, Twin Peaks Wild Stallion in my inbox.  I share that letter to Santa with you and can only wonder if it makes your eyes leak as it did mine.  Be safe.” ~ R.T.

holly

"Ace" ~ photo by Cate Scott

“Ace” ~ photo by Cate Scott

Dear Santa-

I am an old wild stallion.  I am told that I am one of the last Twin Peaks stallions.  I have had a wonderful life as Mother Nature planned for me from the very day I was born.  I lived the first 22 years free and wild and learned from my sire, dam, siblings and family band what was good for me to eat and where to find the fresh water springs that are hidden in the hills.  I romped and played with the young colts and fillies in my extended family.  Under the watchful protection of our family members, we young horses frolicked in the snow and creeks and rested in the shade of the old Juniper trees in the heat of the summer. Life was very good.  I later grew to be a healthy, robust and compassionate herd stallion with beautiful loyal mares and amusing, vigorous offspring.  Although I now have a good “retirement” life in a sanctuary with other displaced animals, my life in the wild was perfect for a wild one like me!

I know you are very busy Santa, but today I am asking you to help all creatures that have not been as lucky as me.  I have heard that there are fewer and fewer wild horses and burros that are allowed to live wild and free on their rightful range.   I do not understand this but I do know it is wrong.  What I am asking from you is for you to watch over and protect all animals and help them to be able to live their lives as Mother Nature intended for them.  Do not allow them to be chased, harassed, trapped, caged, starved, abused and slaughtered.

Although I live for today, I often warmly think about the “good old days” when hundreds of we wild ones roamed free.  Where are my wild friends that I knew those many years?  Where are my mares and foals today?  Why was our family torn from each other and our peaceful and natural world destroyed?  I have over-heard humans say that our life in the wild was traded for money.  Santa, what is money?  Could it possibly be more important than our wild hearts, lives, families and land?

Santa, I will continue to dream of my days gone by but I am asking you today to watch over all creatures’ great and small and to teach all human beings to think with their hearts and to reason with their souls.

Thank you, Santa.

– “ACE”

Urgent: Stop the Twin Peaks Wild Horse & Burro Removal

This plan signals the end of California’s last viable herd

photo by Craig Downer

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Eagle Lake office is proposing to remove 600 wild horses plus burros from the Twin Peaks HMA. They are claiming that there are currently 950 horses on the 800,000 acre HMA.

A recent independent aerial survey estimated that there are less than 400 wild horses remaining here. BLM so far, has stated that the proposal will be in “full force in effect” once it is signed, without public knowledge or input.

A copy of the independent population survey is available for download (HERE) with a link (HERE) to the supporting pictures.

Less than half of Twin Peaks HMA burned. There is over 400,000 acres of unburned range and the burn areas are patchy and still have some forage available for the wild horses and burros. The BLM has failed to consider alternatives like protective fencing or some relocation to the unburned areas. This plan signals the end of California’s last viable herd.

We need EVERYONE to Call and E-Mail Dean Bolstad IMMEDIATELY and ask him to reject the proposal.

His phone number is 775-861-6611 and his e-mail is dean_bolstad@blm.gov.

Sample E-mail Below

Dean Bolstad dean_bolstad@blm.gov

cc: Ken Collum (Eagle Lake field manager) kcollum@blm.gov

cc: Dereck Wilson (Eagle Lake BLM) dereck_wilson@blm.gov

I am writing to ask that you do not sign a decision to remove horses from Twin Peaks until you seriously consider alternatives. The proposal would reduce the herd numbers to well below low AML and threaten the continued health and existence of this herd. There is abundant forage in the burned area and there is the ample opportunity to protect the range through the preferred methods of protective fencing and/or minimal relocation of animals.

I am requesting that BLM reject this proposal – as the continued existence of this herd may hang in the balance. This plan has not fully considered the alternatives and has not substantiated that this is an emergency situation. Signing a decision to remove wild horses will be met with significant public opposition. Please assure me that the BLM is not going to proceed with this action without even giving the public notice and the opportunity to comment on such a proposal.

Sincerely,

Supporting Information

Twin Peaks HMA Aerial Population Survey click (HERE) <or attached>

Link to 144 aerial photos from an independent population survey which estimated that less than 400 wild horses and a small population of burros are currently living in the Twin Peaks HMA.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/89702311@N03/