On Thursday, September 20th, a meeting of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Resource Advisory Council (RAC), for the Northeastern Great Basin, met in Battle Mountain, Nevada.
These RAC’s were formed by the BLM to add in gathering public input to create land use plans. For the public interested in wild horses these boards make recommendations that include the forage allotments in Herd Management Areas (HMA’s).
From BLM website:
“The Bureau of Land Management formed 29 Resource Advisory Councils (RACs) in the western States to provide advice on the management of public lands and resources. These citizen-based groups provide an opportunity for individuals from all backgrounds and interests to have a voice in the management of these lands, and to help improve their health and productivity. RAC recommendations address all public land issues, including: land use planning, recreation, noxious weeds, and wild horse and burro herd management areas.”
Nevada has three RACs: the Mojave-Southern Great Basin, the Sierra Front-Northwestern Great Basin and the Northeastern Great Basin. Each RAC consists of a 15-member advisory panel that provides advice and recommendations to the BLM on resource and land management issues.
Meeting 3-4 times a year the Northeastern Great Basin RAC covers an area from the Owyhee High Plateau and Central Nevada Basin and Range major land resource areas in Elko, White Pine, Lander and Eureka Counties in Nevada. Membership includes Nevada residents from across the state representing energy, federal grazing, and commercial recreation interests, environmental, archaeological interests, dispersed recreation, and wild horse and burro interests, Native Americans, elected officials, state agency representatives and the public at large.
A Council provides advice to the BLM regarding management of the public land resources within the geographic area covered by the RAC. It gives input on implementation of resource plans, resolution of land use conflicts and gives the assurance of public input into land use and management plan decisions.
Current members of the NE Great Basin RAC include:
Category One: Industry
Jacob Carter, Federal Grazing
Anthony Carone, Energy/Minerals
Thomas Connolly, Federal Grazing
Kevin Lee, Transportation/Rights-of-way
Jeff White, Energy/Minerals (CHAIR)
Category Two: Conservation, dispersed recreation, archaeological/historic interests
Cyd McMullen, Archaeology
John Prier, National/Regional Environmental
Larry Hyslop, National/Regional Environmental (Wildlife)
Julie Hughes, Dispersed Recreation
Jeanne Nations, Wild Horse & Burro
Category Three: Elected officials, Alaska Natives, public-at-large
Vince Garcia, Native American Tribe
William Wolf, Public-at-Large
Bruce Holmgren, State Agency
Laurie Carson, Elected Official
David Meisner, Academician
Meeting minutes can be accessed at the BLM NE RAC website: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/res/resource_advisory/northeastern_great.html
The agenda for this session included these issues specific to wild horses and burros: Wild Horse and Burro Program Emergency Gathers, Water/Bait Gathers, Diamond Hills Complex, Owyhee Complex.
Ken Miller, District manager for Elko BLM, gave an overview of the Owyhee Complex roundup that is open for comment until October 9. The Preliminary Environmental Assessment document can be read here https://www.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/33902/39913/41863/DOI-BLM-NV-W010-2012-0055-EA_PRELIM.pdf comments can be emailed to: OwyheeComplexEA@blm.gov
Ken Miller also discussed the upcoming removal operation in the now called “Three HMA,” Triple B, Antelope Valley and Maverick Medicine. Read the EA here: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nv/field_offices/elko_field_office/information/nepa/eas/triple_b_water_haul.Par.8221.File.dat/Three_HMA_Water_Bait_EA_508compliant.pdf The primary removal tool will be bait and water trapping. Concern was expressed as to the wording of bait trapping contracts and the number of animals that each contractor would remove. Miller assured that each contract would be specific to each removal operation. Public observation of operations was still under discussion. Operations are expected to begin early October.
Shawna Richardson, wild horse and burro specialist for Battle Mountain, did a slideshow presentation on the Diamond Complex. A helicopter roundup is expected to take place in December or January. The presentation included drought monitoring information, voluntary livestock use restriction and information on current allocated use by wild horses in comparison to livestock within the HMA Complex. Currently wild horses are allocated 11% of available forage use in comparison to wildlife at 22.5% and livestock with 66.5%.
The “eco-sanctuary” for wild horses planned for the Elko district was not on the agenda but was discussed after the wild horse portion of the meeting had ended. On July 19 of this year however it was an agenda item. Clay Nanini representing the “SAM” proposal spoke. The minutes of that meeting can be read here: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nv/resources/racs/ne_rac.Par.9793.File.dat/MOSO_NEGB%20Resource%20Advisory%20Council%20meeting%20minutes%20-%207-19-2012%20DRAFT.pdf
A member of the RAC suggested that BLM begin to address the space issue in Long-term holding through sales and euthanasia.
Another member of the RAC was confused that wild horse advocates were not pushing for more animals to be removed through bait trapping, as he perceived it as more humane, and there is a drought.
Only one seat on the RAC is currently held in a wild horse and burro capacity.
If you are interested in wild horse and burro issues it is highly suggested that you engage RAC boards and attend meetings.
NOTE: There was an issue raised by the chair of the RAC as to the presence of still and video imagery. There was an assertion that the RAC members are “private citizens” and taking pictures and video was inappropriate without first gaining permission.
A volunteer for Wild Horse Education, Beth Quigley Lauxon, called the DC office of the BLM to gain information on expectation of privacy for RAC members. Lauxon was informed that all meetings are public and there is no restriction on video tapping. She was also informed that the application process is confidential but once an appointment occurs the name of members and their participation is public.
After all this is a public board speaking at a public meeting representing public land recommendations on the management of public resource.
Additional resource: BLM Handbook on Land Use planning, http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ak/aktest/planning/planning_general.Par.65225.File.dat/blm_lup_handbook.pdf