Friday, August 7, 2009

Wild Horse West Douglas Decision

In a letter to the BLM Wild Horse and Burros Managers, Kathleen Hayden of Coyote Canyon Caballos d'Anza writes:

"Dear BLM Wild Horse and Burro Managers and interested parties,

By now you have probably reviewed the attached West Douglas decision/ conclusions.

Please compare similarities between the Douglans case issues with removal of non excess Mojave burros and Coyote Canyon herds.

We were pleased that the court addressed the basic intent of the Wild Horse and Burro Act based on preservation and believe this decision can be helpful in saving and restoring our local heritage herds with your help.

AS a member of multiple organizations and personally, I am requesting initiation of emergency ACTION on the following issues.

Some members of the Wild Horse Advisory Board have personally voiced support in this particular matter.

Particularly we would appreciate and welcome comments and statements from you (receiving this email) that could support correction of the deficiencies that removed these free roaming heritage herds such as:

1. redefine the deficient 1971 Coyote Canyon herd area boundaries based on additional Beauty Mt area information

2. determine that the zeroed out herd areas removed animals that were not in excess.

3. examine and correct deficiencies in the management plans inconsistent with the Congressional intent of the free roaming wild horse and burro Act.

Not addressed in the attached litigation but necessary and imperative in reviewing the management plans used to remove the southern Ca. herds :

Issues of NEPA, NHPA Sec 106 , forage evaluations, AMLs for genetically viable herds, compliance with ESA distinct population segments (comparable with Peninsular Bighorn), and consultation with county governments etc.

This is a time sensitive issue. We are requesting that burro gathers be halted until these issues are corrected. Your anticipated assistance is greatly appreciated.

Kathleen Hayden

(representing following organizations)

Coyote Canyon Caballos d'Anza INC.

Ca.Equestrian Trails and Land Coalition

CCCDA of Ca.State Horsemen's Assoc.

bcc, groups

p.s Note;

The BLM was required to identify the areas "presently occupied" at the passage of the Act to be recorded and preserved as Herd Areas and thereby included as federally protected habitat and populations in conformance with the federal mandates of PL 92-195. The case study for inquiry and pursuit of this line of thinking for the Beauty Mt. Allotment is taken from the lead direction provided in 2004 Resource Management Plan for the Nevada Wild Horse Range (NWHR).

The original acreage was dedicated due to a cooperative agreement by then BLM State Director and the Commander of Nellis as the nations "first" wild horse range in 1962 with acreage revision done in 1965 - 6 years before the passage of the Act. Acreage ballpark of 400K, maybe a little more or less.

After the passage of the Act, the NWHR became absorbed into the general WH&B Program and all cooperative agreements were dissolved in 1972 (approximately) and re-established through new agreements. And so, BLM managed the NWHR for the next 35 years.

According to BLM in their 2004 Resource Management Plan, they completely came out of left field and stated that the original Herd Area was never properly identified for the NWHR at the passage of the Act and 30 years later, they were attempting to remedy this error.

After an interpretation of data that had everyone involved in the RMP up in arms, BLM went ahead and expanded the NWHR acreage to 1.3 million acres based on this new assessment (this is three times what the original Range was established at and twice as much as what the National Program Office statistics cited)

One of BLMs leading arguments for this massive increase in acreage was, just because WH&Bs had not been documented in the areas did not mean that they weren't there when the Act was passed.

This assertion was approved despite a Protest filed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and "Viola!" 33 years after the passage of PL 92-195, BLM went back in and finally identified the original HA acreage and it legally stands now at 1.3 million acres; a more accurate assessment of the true territory of the WH&B populations in 1971 .

So this is the premise and the precedence for the idea behind the Beauty Mt. Allotment. There is precedence established that BLM did not always accurately record HAs as was required but that it is "never too late" for them to remedy their previous errors.

Evidence has been found to support Beauty Mountain Herd Area (as used to justify the NWHR), and the argument is applicable to that same argument already used and approved that, if BLM failed to properly identify the HA at the passage of the Act and with evidence in hand to show WHs did occupy the area, then by law, BLM would have to "revisit" their Coyote Canyon HA designation.

Evidence that WHs were identified in the allotment in 1971 or before, changes the ball game with respect to the CC HMA usurped by State Parks. Now its back in BLMs jurisdiction and as such, they are required to go through the motions as required by law of preserving and protecting WH&B habitat as identified as occupied in 1971."

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