As the Appropriations debate rages on for fiscal year 2020, that begins October 1, BLM begins to set the end of the 2019 roundup calendar.
Helicopter roundups begin each year in July and run through the end of February. The fiscal year runs from Oct 1-Sept 30. that means roundups through the end of Sept are funded by what is left of the 2019 budget.
The debate in Appropriations for 2020 proposes to remove 15-20,000 wild horses each year, for the next three years. That means after October 1, we could see the largest roundup years since 2009-2012. (you can learn more about big corporate interests and the sell-out from HSUS, ASPCA and RTF that recommends removing 20K wild horses a year, goes along with non reproducing herds, and more HERE).
Our work at Wild Horse Education was pivotal in creating the first policy for humane handling of wild horses called the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy, or simply CAWP. After years of running a marathon from range to courtroom, and winning, BLM finally made CAWP part of policy in fall of 2015. CAWP was a beginning, intended to be revised. It needs to be revised. (more on the fight for CAWP HERE)
Helicopter Roundup Season Begins: Pine Nut and Triple B
BLM has updated the schedule adding two helicopter roundups beginning next moth. They will take 750 out of Triple B. They will take 250 out of the Pine Nuts.
Both areas are in Nevada, both have both had recent roundups; Triple B in February 2018, Pine Nut February 2019. Even though they are both under the same jurisdiction, that of the BLM, and they are both managed by the directives of the same state office, the framework of management (the way BLM addresses the paperwork, NEPA) could not be more different.
The Pine Nut Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) comprises about 95,391 acres of BLM land and 8,925 acres of a mix of private and other public lands for a total of 104,316 acres. It is a single HMA, not a “complex” of multiple HMAs.
The underlying paperwork includes both the Environmental Assessment (EA) and a Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP). The HMAP is supposed to be an in-depth document that serves as a sort of “vision statement” that outlines management and herd and habitat preservation, long term. The EA is a document that analyzes a specific removal operation. (you can see the documents for the Pine Nut operation HERE.)
The idea is that land use plans, Resource Management Plans (RMP) in a district incorporate the management objectives of HMAPs and then where a trigger to remove is met, the EA is a document that would simply analyze the removal. RMP and HMAPs would be where the actual discussion of managing resources, and how, would take place.
You can compare HMAP’s from one state to another and they differ widely. We only have a handful of these HMAPs in the country (a requirement in the BLM handbook and cited as a reference in many BLM documents, including those allowing profit driven uses like oil and gas). In Nevada (we believe) we only have one HMAP, the one at Pine Nut.
Out of 83 HMAs in the entire state, BLM NV has only done one HMAP. Only one conversation that would involve input on management and advocacy is left trying to address those issues when we get to the EA for a removal, an EA or EIS for a mine. Stakeholders having extensive, site-by-site, conversation with BLM on actual management, is very difficult for an advocate to come by and leads to many of the frustrations we see today.
The roundup in February of 2019 had a target of 775 wild horses. The roundup ended early, due to weather, and 340 were removed.
BLM has now placed Pine Nut on the schedule for July. The target is to remove 250.
Triple B from the EA: The Project Area is located in southeastern Elko County and northern White Pine County, comprised of 3,870,919 acres (Figure 1 below). It contains wild horse management units consisting of the Antelope HMA, Antelope Valley HMA, Goshute HMA, Spruce-Pequop HMA (collectively called the Antelope Complex (approximately 1,183,340acres) and the Triple B HMA, Maverick-Medicine HMA, and Cherry Springs Wild Horse Territory (collectively called the Triple B Complex (approximately 1,632,324 acres).
Instead of creating HMAPs and tiering any removal to a document that discusses specifics of preservation and management, BLM went in the opposite direction. Triple B was combined with the Antelope Complex in a removal EA.
The Antelope, Antelope Valley, Goshute and Spruce-Pequop HMA (known as the Antelope Complex), where most of the AMLs has been set back in planning primarily for livestock and kept forage allocations to less than 10%, in the 1990’s and have gone unchanged. The Triple B Complex was a designation in the 2008 Resource Management Plan (RMP).
The document is a monstrosity of catch all statements. Basically “anything, and everything that could ever be invented, could be done to the wild horses to conform with the private profit prioritization of every stakeholder invited to participate in management outcomes for their interest, represented in every other document the removal EA is tiered to.”
All of the acronyms you see in the EA all reference planning documents that are primarily livestock related. Acronyms abound in the documents, without first spelling out the terms. FMUD does not mean “fill me up daddy,” as it does in pop culture, it means Final Multiple Use Decision, a document primarily outlining livestock and extraction.
The only acronym that would represent the equivalent of a livestock permit, miming permit or wildlife buffer mitigation (like this Forest Service Document), would be the acronym HMAP. In the West we only have a handful actually created, to represent a handful of HMAs, out of the the 177 HMAs managed by the BLM.
We have been working hard with multiple districts in Nevada since 2010 to create HMAPs for the 83 HMAs in the state. BLM constantly claims “no time or money” as they utilize funding to prioritize profit driven interests and the “friends and family” club. (we will have an extensive article on this subject for you soon!)
The last removal at Triple B was in Feb of 2018. It removed 1,389 wild horses and 30 died. The roundup ended as mares began to give birth and winter storms moved in.
Triple B has been placed on the schedule in July, with a removal target of 750.
Again, these HMAPs targeted without any actual management document.
If you have ever tried to address management, like forage allocation, in an EA BLM will tell you your comment is “not appropriate.” The comment would be appropriate, if the BLM actually followed the handbook, and created an HMAP.
We created an E-Magazine that focuses on some of the issues at Triple B. You can view a free copy at the link: One HMA, HERE.
Both of the previous roundups, in both of these areas, ended in Feb as storms moved in and mares were giving birth.
Roundups in July happen as babies are being born, in some of the hottest weather. Babies just months, weeks, days and hours old, will be stampeded with their families.
With the debate in Congress on spending moving fast, with an underlying push to remove 15-20K wild horses each year, for three years, the coming roundup season is expected to be intense. The roundup run will resemble the ones we have not seen in half a decade.
The EA is out for comment on Twin Peaks, an HMA managed by California, but physically in NV. We expect to see Twin Peaks added to the roundup schedule, along with the area known as the High Rock Complex (Fox Hog, High Rock, Bitner, Nut Mountain).
We expect to see BLM Colorado move on West Douglas and Sand Wash. Wyoming to move at Green Mountain. Utah at Chokecherry, Mt Elinor, Swasey. Oregon at Stinkingwater, Barren Valley.
We expect NV to be a primary target. Diamonds, Roberts, Fish Lake and Fish Creek, Eagle, Antelope and the Calico Mountains, as first target zones. NV tends to get the hottest, and coldest, months on the schedule. July and August…. December through the end of February…. are the most frequent months you find yourself, at the beginning and ending of every roundup season, watching very pregnant mares and teeny babies run.
Most of these operations will be run without any actual management document designed for wild horses, not other uses, the HMAP.
PLEASE NOTE: roundup schedules can change rapidly, particularly as they are first being set. In years past we have seen a schedule set, reset, and rest again, without the HMAs included that were originally posted.
Triple B is an important area for Wild Horse Education. Observation by our trained CAWP team, and any ensuing litigation, costs money. Please consider a contribution today.
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