----- Original Message -----
From: Craig Downer
To: Craig Downer
Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 10:54 AM
Subject: Fw: White River HA, Urgent first hand observational refutation of Ely Plan to eliminate wild horses
July 1, 2009
Supervisory Rangeland Management Specialist
Egan Field Office
Bureau of Land Management, HC 33
Ely, Nevada 89301
Regarding: 4720 (NVL01000)
Dear Mr. Mayer
Two days ago, I drove through the center of the White River Herd Area on the road that goes from State Highway 318 across Wells Station Summit and on to Currant. I had planned to drive the Timber Mountain Pass road as well, but since habitat conditions appear so lush throughout the White River Valley, I did not cross the Seaman Herd Area, believing that the conditions which I had viewed on the White River Herd Area would be representative of those found on the Seaman Herd Area.
On my drive, the ground conditions were breathtakingly beautiful, with greenness, sprouting new vegetation, and lushness. Given what wild horses have to live with in Western Nevada, these conditions represented a remarkably comfortable-looking environment for wild horses which live in that Herd Area.
I saw fewer than a dozen wild horses during the 30-mile drive, and the road contained very little in the way of horse droppings….mostly on the west side of Wells Station Summit. I did not observe any “trailing” areas, or areas where “excessive utilization” might be said to occur, since this area looks marvelous compared to Western Nevada wild horse areas. I did note that areas where water might have occurred in the past did seem a bit dry.
Speaking of water, I note that the BLM claims an absence of water as a primary reason for horse removal. Yet, it appears that in the last 10 years, close to 700 horses were removed from the White River Herd Area, and the current census of animals is estimated at a very modest 168 animals. Clearly, there is water available for that Herd Area. If the BLM doesn’t know where it is, the horses apparently do, since they have been successful in living on that very large Herd Area for years.
I did not see any cows, though it appeared that cattle grazing had occurred there recently, for example, at Hardy Springs. While that may not be in the Herd Area, it suggested to me that ranchers have had their livestock nearby, and probably on the Herd Area.
I send this letter, then, with a large question for myself as to why horse removal is necessary on the White River Herd Area now. Vegetation conditions now are remarkably good, and the large size of the Herd Area compared to the small number of horses estimated to be in attendance, does not warrant horse removal based upon current conditions in my view.
Of course, there are lots of other unanswered questions as well in terms of future plans for livestock use in the Herd Area, wildlife usage (big game species populations, except for mule deer, are at all-time high levels), how much of the damage alleged to be by horses may actually be due to cattle use in the past, etc.
I would wonder if this planned horse removal is nothing more than a politically-inspired action rather than something related to on-the-ground conditions since my admittedly brief look at the center of the Horse Area would not suggest need for a zeroing out of horses in that area at this time.
I would hope you have the capacity to reconsider this decision.
Here is my letter of protest again pasted. The Ely plan must be stopped!
June 27, 2009
John F. Ruhs, District Manager
Ely District Office, Bureau of Land Management
HC33 Box 33500, Ely, NV 89301-9408
Re: 8560(NVL0000) May 29, 2009. Notice of Proposed Action: ‘Elimination of all wild horses from 11 Herd Areas’. Attn. also: Ruth Thompson, wh & b spec. T. 775-289-1826 (Seaman & White River HAs). Ruth_thompson@blm.gov; Ben Noyes, wh & b spec. T. 775-289-1836. (Caliente wild horse HAs Complex) Benjamin_noyes@blm.gov
Dear Mr. Ruhs:
I have received your letter of May 29th announcing the zeroing out of 11 wild horse herd areas (HAs) in your district. I have reviewed your justification for this drastic action and find it to be deceptive and untrue. You and your team, as public servants, are supposed to fairly represent diverse public interests on public lands, not just livestock, big game, mining and other extractive activities. What you are proposing and your justification for such constitute an abandonment of duty. You intentionally target wild horses for elimination in order to clear the way for other more politically pushy interests.
I have noted that in the Seaman and White River HAs, according to the figures you have provided, there are 475,100 legal acres and a presently censused population of 350 remaining wild horses. Don’t you realize that this works out to the enormous area of 1,357.43 legal acres per remaining wild horse! This is hardly the “overpopulation” you claim! Rather “under population” more accurately describes this small remnant within this vast region. Your claim is arbitrary and designed to secure the land and its resources for other interests, e.g. livestock, big game, oil and gas leases, etc. Your final terse statements purporting to justify the wholesale elimination of the two herds slant to lay the blame on the horses for environmental damage while ignoring livestock present, past history and other factors. For example, you make no mention of the role that unwisely located fences -- including those that deprive horses of access to water -- are playing in unnaturally constricting the movements of the horses, contrary to the true intention of the Wild Horse Act within their legal HAs! -- In short, I simply do not believe you here; and your track record demonstrates an extreme prejudice against wild horses in the wild.
Your injustice toward the wild horses in the nine legal herd areas of the Caliente Wild Horse Complex (Meadow Valley Mountain, Blue Nose Peak, Delamar Mountain, Clover Mountains, Clove Creek, Applewhite, Mormon Mountain, Little Mountain and Miller
Flat HAs) is even more egregious! I’m sure you realize that with only 270 wild horses in this vast legal wild horse domain summing to 911,892 acres, there are 3,377.38 legal acres for every remaining wild horse! It is extremely hard to believe that this small number of wild horses are overpopulated in such a vast area, yet this is what you are asking. Also, it is remarkable that you overlook the substantial role that wild horses play in reducing fire hazard by consuming large quantities of dry flammable vegetation over the vast areas where they roam (home range). Yet you tersely list “drought conditions, fire and nuisance animals” as your sole justifications for removing all of the wild horses from this vast complex of legal herd areas. You are not telling the whole story here – not anywhere near! How many allotment drift fences interfere with wild horse movements that naturally moderate grazing pressure throughout these HAs and are themselves contrary to the Wild Horse Act? And for that matter, how many livestock graze in these legal wild horse HAs, where by law the wild horses are supposed to be given priority, i.e. “principal” status (since overall their legal HAs represent only a small fraction of the public lands). This would truly be “multiple use,” not the over-magnification of wild horse presence/impact in which over the years BLM/USFS, has repeatedly engaged!
I am keenly disillusioned with your decision to eliminate all wild horses from these vast and legal HAs in my home state of Nevada. How can you preserve the true spirit of the West without wild horses in the wild? Seems you are bent on killing this spirit rather than preserving or, better yet, restoring it, as you should be doing.
Summing all of the 11 wild horse HAs planned for zeroing out yields 1,386,992 acres; and summing all of the presently remaining wild horses in these 11 herd areas yields 620 wild horses. This signifies 2,237.08 legal acres per remaining wild horse. Yet you still mean to tell me that in these vast areas wild horses are overpopulated and destroying the ecosystem?! I find this extremely hard to believe, especially given my knowledge of wild horse behavior and ecology as well as public lands politics (See Western Turf Wars by Mike Hudak, 2008, Biome Books). It is farcical that such a vast region cannot support a modest population of 620 wild horses. I believe the root cause for their planned elimination is the hostile attitude toward them by certain humans, especially vested interests blinded by their possessions and the uncaring or uncourageous public officials that go along with them!
A couple years ago, I protested this outrageous plan and am again vigorously protesting this travesty. This is directed at the wild horses, a restored native species in North America with so much that is truly positive to contribute to the Western ecosystem and ambiance; and it is also directed at the substantial majority of Nevadan and citizens throughout America who enthusiastically support wild horses in the wild and have repeatedly expressed their strong desire to see them fairly treated and represented upon the public lands – no more nor less than what the Wild Horse Act requires. This is your job as public servants; and I strongly request the cancellation of your decision to zero out these 11 remnant herds. They represent many generations of natural selection to their specific eco-regions, a benign process that establishes harmony with the many sympatric species of plants and animals they, in fact, live with, and not against. Clearly it is we people who need to change, not the wild horses. These powerful and beautiful animals are returning to the land of their evolutionary origin and to that ecological way of life and fitting that is their inheritance from millions of years upon this Earth, and herein upon the North American continent.
Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist
Author: Wild Horses: Living Symbols of Freedom
P.O. Box 456, Minden, NV 89423. firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. I have personally visited several of the herds you are planning to zero out – especially memorable was the Delamar herd amid the Joshua trees – and it would be a tragic personal loss were you to follow through on these ill-conceived plans to eliminate the horses from this life-nurturing place of freedom and biodiversity.
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