Wild Horse Education

Sage Grouse; Gov shutdown and the gift to oil and gas moves forward

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Sage grouse in a wild horse HMA currently in an area of a proposed oil and gas lease sale; Nevada

EDIT: THANK YOU to all of you that took action!

per E&E News The Bureau of Land Management has quietly extended by six days the deadline to file protests of planned revisions to Obama-era greater sage grouse conservation plans after numerous conservation groups complained that the ongoing government shutdown had hampered their ability to file challenges.

The deadline was changed yesterday afternoon on BLM’s sage grouse national project website— to Jan. 15, from Jan. 9 — for plans covering parts of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada/Northern California, Oregon and Utah.

(note: these revisions should be completely shelved until an investigation into DOI, that delves deep into BLM, occurs. But the extra week, helps.)

Over the last few years we have been telling you about “The Greater Sage Grouse.” The recommendation to list the Greater Sage Grouse (GSG) under the Endangered Species Act would have halted industry to protect habitat (much like the listing of the Spotted Owl did to logging). Resumption of industry would have need to occur slowly and highly regulated. This set off massive moves to stop listing the GSG and intensified efforts to gut the Endangered Species Act.

“Sage Grouse, 2.0” under Obama saw the American taxpayer foot the bill for a two year marathon of documents, negotiations and meetings. The estimated cost is over ten million dollars. Within the pages of “2.0” industry, local profit driven and political interests, were given top priority. But industry wanted more.

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A wild horse baby born near a lek on a range no longer pounded by livestock. However the area is now under threat by extractive interests. It will get worse under this proposed plan. The FEIS under consideration opens sage grouse habitat to oil and gas, extraction and creates large cash incentives to continue to pound sage grouse habitat with cloven hooves instead of eliminating the threats,

Under Trump, 2.0 was first on the list  of items to be undone. The existing documents, participant lists, notes and ongoing conversations were all discarded as soon as this administration took the Oval Office. The oil and gas industry given first chair.

So 2.0 was shot down by the “hitmen” in Congress that feed the monster of control for profit on public lands, regardless of the cost to the physical environment. The “public interest” just means priority to ensure the next contribution to their campaign or the job waiting in the private sector. BLM developed the changes in collaboration with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, state wildlife managers in Nevada and California, and other hand picked organizations and individuals, largely through the Western Governors Association’s Sage-Grouse Task Force.

This article focuses on the NV/NE CA Sage Grouse FEIS. Nevada has more wild horses than all other states combined. (you can access all six FEIS’s here: NV/NE Ca, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Oregon and Wyoming. Wyoming has an extended protest period through the 23rd, all te others face a deadline of tomorrow, January 9)

“Nevadans — not Washington bureaucrats — know how to best protect the sage grouse,” Nevada Senator Dean Heller in 2013 and again in 2015.


Non-permitted livestock use on NV rangeland. Dean Heller helped the permittee avoid rightful penalty to the detriment of the range and wild horses. That is not serving the “public interest,” that is prioritizing an interest.

The selective manner in which Heller addressed and represented Nevadans is legendary. Senator Heller will even assist those that break the law and endanger those that don’t, he was notorious for helping trespass livestock operators on federal land avoid penalties and ignoring the threats made by law breakers to citizens legally engaged in process.

Heller is not taking about “including” local voices in any of the policies in debate today, he is talking about maintaining the local control of voices in process without the scrutiny that 2.0 would have afforded the larger American public interest and the voices at the local level that can be bullied or ignored.

Environmental interests quickly found themselves not simply in the background, but not included at all. Our concerns throughout this process have gone ignored.

Among the changes the plan doesn’t include sagebrush focal areas which originally set aside 10 million acres of federal lands across six states for sage-grouse habitat.

This new plan is really simply a gift to the oil and gas industry and opens up many areas restricted from development under “2.0.” To keep other interests at the table a plethora of new avenues to funnel tax payer funding into the “friends and family club” of public lands management is included in the new FEIS’s. 

Both Dean Heller (Senator) and Brian Sandoval (Governor) lost their seats in the last election. 

The sweeping loss of both Heller and Sandoval, major players in the sage grouse revisions, shows that Nevadans do not feel their interests were protected.

In addition the government shutdown has created insurmountable obstacles when asking for additional information or questions. If you click on the link at the bottom you can read the FEIS just for NV. We have multiple FEISs to not only read, but continue a process of engagement.

The state of Wyoming has extended the protest period through January 23. For all other protests the deadline remains January 9. Utah, Idaho, NV/NE CA, Colorado, etc.

This article focuses on NV/NE CA.

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In a livestock allotment that had a population of less than 20 wild horses “sage grouse protection funds” were used to remove wild horses at Owyhee after the Martin fire. Under the new plans it will get worse. The red barrel in the foreground is a “wing drop” bucket for hunters that are still allowed to shoot sage grouse.

Talking points:

The plans do not protect sage grouse habitat.

The framework, as it stands, will allow far too much habitat destruction before measures to protect habitat take effect.

Wild horse impacts to sage grouse habitat are exaggerated  and the studies used in the plans are, admittedly, flawed. BLM ignored the deficits in the National Academy of Sciences review on the wild horse program and simply inserted the broken paradigm.

These plans set up a framework to fast track industry, fast track wild horse removals and fast track the destruction of public lands.

You expect your representatives to protect your public lands, it’s wildlife and waters, and resent the new “sage grouse” plans that give oil and gas a pass to destroy sage grouse habitat. 

The shutdown is impeding the ability of the public to appropriately prepare protests. 

The protest period must be extended and requests to BLM to extend time are going unanswered. 

If you live in NV:

Senator Jackie Rosen and Governor Brian Sisolak need to hear from you. If you live in NV contact their offices and tell them you do not approve of the sage grouse plans created by their predecessors.

Senator Rosen: https://www.senate.gov/senators/116thCongress/RosenJacky.htm

Governor Sisolak: https://stevesisolak.com/contact/

If you live in any other state:

Contact your representatives in Congress. The sage grouse plans must be reviewed and the protest period extended. A clear demonstration that local voices were not represented in planning created by Heller and Sandoval is that they both lost their elections. You expect your representatives to protect your public lands, it’s wildlife and waters, and resent the new “sage grouse” plans that give oil and gas a pass to destroy sage grouse habitat.

The government shutdown is impeding the ability of the public to appropriately prepare protests. Ask that they intervene and delay the close of the protest period.

Find your reps here:

Congress https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Senate: https://www.senate.gov/general/contacting.htm

This is public land that involves all Americans. 

Much of the sage grouse drama is wrapped up in a much deeper network that requires a serious investigation focused on corruption, manipulation and even intimidation. 

Any action undertaken while Ryan Zinke was the Secretary of the Interior, and Brian Steed  sat as Deputy Director, anointed by Ryan Zinke with the authority of the Director of the BLM, require serious scrutiny. Any new policy, protocol, memorandum must come under investigation and should be halted immediately. (note: BLM still has no Director under this administration and the position has been pulled from online leadership charts. “Zinke’s BLM” needs intense investigative probing. )

Taking a sweeping action is highly unlikely. What we can do is to make an attempt to urge intense scrutiny to all proposed actions. The sage grouse plans will instigate some of the most sweeping changes to management of public lands in the western US. The public interest, not just profit driven interests, must be protected. We also need to be protected from tax money being used to further subsidize industry. That is what these sage grouse “protection plans” are really all about. 

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Owyhee orphans removed from the range with additional funding provided through “sage grouse.” Less than 600 wild horses remain in over 1 million acres. Livestock grazing, mining, mine expansions all continue. Some of these foals did not survive. A roundup begins long before a chopper flies. “Sage grouse” plans have removing wild horses as a “first line” before restricting any profit driven enterprise.

The fight begins on the range. We need your help to build a frontline long before a chopper flies. 


As of today the process stands as follows and should be delayed due to the shutdown and highly scrutinized due to the extreme political nature of this document:

Anyone who participated in the process for the Nevada and northeastern California EIS and who has an interest that is or may be adversely affected by the proposed land use plan amendments in the final EIS will have the opportunity to protest the proposed plan amendments.

You can access all six FEIS documents here: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=134121

The final EIS is now available online at https://goo.gl/uz89cT. Instructions for filing a protest with the director of the BLM regarding the proposed RMPA/Final EIS are found online at https://www.blm.gov/programs/planning-and-nepa/public-participation/filing-a-plan-protest. All protests must be in writing and mailed to the appropriate address or submitted electronically through the BLM ePlanning project website. To submit a protest electronically, go to the ePlanning project webpage https://goo.gl/uz89cT and follow the instructions at the top of the home page.

If submitting a protest in hard copy, it must be mailed to one of the following addresses:

U.S. Postal Service Mail: BLM Director (210), Attention: Protest Coordinator, WO-210, P.O Box 71383, Washington, D.C. 20024-1383

Overnight Delivery: BLM Director (210), Attention: Protest Coordinator, WO-210,

20 M Street SE, Room 2134LM, Washington, D.C. 20003

*Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in your comment, you should be aware your entire comment — including your personally identifiable information — may be made publicly available at any time.



Categories: Wild Horse Education