EDITORIAL: Nevada Showdown

Injure stallion removed from Humbolt NV in 2014

Injure stallion removed from Humbolt NV in 2014


We are heading into a fourth year of drought. Issues will be escalating with propaganda coming from all sides in an effort to inflame. Be very careful what you support as efforts to grab the limelight will overshadow any discussions addressing truth.

The Livestock industry is gearing up to create a smear campaign designed to discredit wild horse advocates as nothing but “crazies,” be careful not  to give their fire fuel. Rangeland Under Fire, a huge anti wild horse propaganda piece, is again being shown on television in NV: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/02/14/rangeland-under-fire-under-fire-editorial/ We now have a Republican Congress and Representatives making behind the scenes moves to support public land ranching and the take over of public land itself. Have you called or made an appointment with your Congressional Representative?

Find your Senator: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=IL

Find your Representative in the House: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

An educated advocacy is more important than ever. Credibility is something desperately needed as the livestock community prepares to come at wild horses and advocates full bore.

American history in living form. We must not allow private profit interests to destroy it. Curly horse on NV range running wild and free.

American history in living form. We must not allow private profit interests to destroy it. Curly horse on NV range running wild and free.

To help us stay in the fight you can make a contribution by clicking HERE.


Have you ever walked into a movie that is more than half way through and got drawn in by the characters but really don’t know what is happening? You kinda know who you are rooting for but don’t know all the context.

Right now we are getting questions in our inbox from seasoned wild horse advocates on the Nevada situation, so don’t think you are alone. The audience for our website is varied. So to “keep it simple,” we are going to stick with the movie analogy. At WHE it is our goal to try to keep you informed so that at crucial junctures you can inform others and take appropriate actions. Sometimes what we write becomes a literal novel when you piece it together and people do not have time in their lives to read all the previous chapters.

Most writers are familiar with terms like “story arc” or “character arc.” In the case of the “Nevada Showdown” we are more than half way through and you walked in as the stage is being set for the “western showdown.” (Before those of you that have been in advocacy for a long time criticize please remember that this might be a “trilogy,” but each book of “Star Wars” can be a stand alone film).

Nigel Watts, a writer that writes for writers about writing, uses an eight point arc. We are going to borrow that arc.

The quest
Critical choice

Now often in modern writing the last three points in the arc can occur very fast. In the current volume of this trilogy we are about transitioning from point four to five.

Caught in a war for control of public land

Caught in a war for control of public land

Stasis: The status quo of public lands management. This includes all the frustrations that historically transpired with domestic livestock pretty much “ruling the roost” and all the things resulting from it like the wars between land owners and free grazers (livestock producers that did not own any land), the resentment toward the federal government for trying to “tell them what to do,” the tension with mining and environmentalists and in the case of wild horses… being rather ticked off that the feds told them to stop “mustanging” and interfered with a “cash crop.”

Trigger: The triggers in this current volume of the trilogy are “the devil in the details” and where many people get lost. Simply stated, it is a threat to the “ruling the roost” that public land ranchers now face. A multitude of threats now face public land ranching; new mining regulations that make extractive industry the biggest fish in the pond, the potential listing of the sage grouse on the endangered species list that would make the “little chicken” the largest force in management, the drought.

The Quest: Did I mention wild horses or burros as a trigger? No I didn’t.

As the control of public land is threatened a “quest” developed where “what can we control?” became a serious objective or the “quest” of public land ranchers. Wild horses are a small part of public land management. They exist on about 11% of public land and only get allotted less than 15% of the forage in that 11%. BUT that 11% exists primarily in the area of the “castle of the kings” of public land ranching. If the sage grouse is listed (and in attempts to try to stop it’s listing) much of what the “wild horse holds” will be wanted by the “kings.” Wild horses are the little guy, the underdog, in this fight. The “kings” see this as an easy victory. So wild horses have become a target.

In 2012 BLM began to issue restrictions to livestock due to drought. PLEASE read the multiple pieces on the Diamond Complex that we have written. These restrictions literally happened in the “heart of Nevada” and right next door to one of the “kings,” State Legislator and rancher Goicoechea. Enter in stage right; the counties, the Governor, the Cattleman’s Association, the Farm Bureau, the state Department of Agriculture. THIS is when the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) lawsuit against wild horses was born and alliances (funding, propaganda, state legislation) were solidified. First round of the “quest” for control (we are Intervenors in the case to speak on behalf of wild horses).

As part of this “quest” for control multiple things occurred that most of you are familiar with in one form or another. A “short list:” Rangelands Under Fire (A documentary funded by the Nevada Rangeland Resource Commission that is essentially funded by those exact people funding the NACO lawsuit, that aired on KNPB that is anything but “public broadcasting” as again we see multiple overlapping contributors), The Grass March (where Grant Gerber, a rancher and Elko county commissioner, rode on horseback to deliver a petition to Governor Sandoval to oust the BLM manager that had the audacity to restrict livestock during a drought), Argenta closed to livestock (this area has NO wild horses folks, but fires up the quest as control is threatened), the “Cliven Bundy” issue is peripheral but added a level of intensity and brought the state of Utah into play directly to “Battle Nevada,” the introduction of HR 5058 that basically allows states to ignore federal authority and literally ignore the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. And we can not forget the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on the BLM wild horse and burro program that will (should) create significant reform in the way wild horses and burros are managed. (note: there are multiple additional events and players involved, but for simplicities sake I think you can get the plot from the above).

Surprise: In this part of the story line we usually see things that are not really a surprise and things that are. These are usually unexpected alliances, betrayals and the like. These are usually things that expose the conflicts of each character on personal levels. Being advocates and close to the storyline it is not a surprise to see the exposure of certain “wildlife groups” as not actually concerned about the range but siding politically with those fighting for control to avoid the listing of sage grouse. It is not a surprise to see BLM under fire from those that have resented federal authority over grazing for decades. But to those unfamiliar with public lands, it would be a surprise in the bigger picture.

In the NACO suit we now have yet another county, Lincoln, and the N-4 Grazing Board wanting to file in Amicus (support) against wild horses. This does come as a bit of a surprise and we will explain why. In federal court actions against the US government you can not file a programmatic challenge, you must file against a specific decision. The NACO case IS written as a programmatic challenge (something wild horse advocates, and others, have been denied repeatedly by the courts). Why would the state, counties, ranchers and others continue to throw extreme amounts of resources at a case that is fundamentally flawed?

Unless there is another “surprise” coming (not really)… perhaps this case is simply a part of the “bigger control” issues here? Yesterday the Durango Herald published a piece about the state of Utah pushing for control of federal land and preparing a legal action that would join with other states and go to the Supreme Court. The Nevada State Legislature routinely introduces legislation that would intend to usurp federal authority (in Nevada the Constitution of the State strictly forbids such actions) with the one wild horse advocates are most familiar with being the repeated desire to deny wild horses water in the state by changing the federal designation of “wild” to “feral.”

A couple of days ago the Nevada State Legislature passed a few recommendations. You can read the entire article in the Nevada Appeal. One of the recommendations was to “ask” the state of Nevada to join the NACO case. Of note: Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, himself a rancher, said BLM and the Forest Service must be forced to make management decisions on best science and give some flexibility to grazing permittees.“If all you need is a drought monitor who says we are in a drought to remove all the animals off public lands in Nevada, that is not range management,” Goicoechea said.

(Please note another repeat player in all of this is Boyd Spratling. Most of you know him as the co-chair of the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. But Spratling also sits on the Nevada Department of Agriculture and is involved heavily with pro-slaughter groups such as the United Horseman and Protect the Harvest and multiple entities that are members of NACO).

Will he grow up free in Nevada?

Will he grow up free in Nevada?

Critical Choice: This is where we are likely in this storyline. There is a lot happening “behind the scenes” and in the public eye. It is a time of “critical choice.” It is no secret that there is a huge push and a massing of forces to gain control over what was lost… and that includes the resumption of “mustanging” where thousands and thousands of wild horses were killed for profit. Wild horses and burros are caught in this “drama” and are a target of these special interests as they fight to maintain control of public land. 

We are busy gathering the information we need to speak accurately and credibly in order to be effective on this “battlefield.” Our wild horses and burros need us now more than ever and each and every “critical choice” is being made to the best of our ability to rise to the challenges we face.

How this story will resolve? We are doing all we can to create the tools we need to be ready to face what comes as the story reaches it’s climax. We do need your help. As you can see the forces mounting are organized and well funded. The truth is that we are not… but we have passion and determination… and the spirit of the wild horse (and burro) in our hearts.

We will attempt to keep you as informed as you are willing to read, learn and act with us. This is truly a time for “united we stand” with one purpose, the preservation of our American mustangs as burros IN THE WILD as a hyper focused goal.

~~~ It is our hope that this answers all of the questions we have been receiving in our inbox. We need to get back into the field and be ever vigilant right now.

Wild Horse Education is devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction for our wild horses and burros.

Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education