Oil and gas corridors is a subject “deep in the weeds” of advocacy for anything wild; including wild horses.
Our wild horses are the only animal in the nation defined legally by the land they stand, not what they are biologically.
The “land they stand” is fragmented and is a mere fraction of the land base open to profit driven use (livestock, hard rock mining, oil and gas, etc). Wild horses are allowed to, legally, exist on only about 11% of public lands. Within that 11% they are only allotted about 16% of all the resources. Essentially, wild horses get about .2% of all public grazing resources available in the U.S. This land is concentrated in a few western states, with large public land bases, like Nevada and Utah.
Protecting this habitat becomes crucial when we are all acutely aware that BLM has failed the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reviews, for nearly four decades, on basic data collection for wild horse management. BLM does not map priority, critical, habitat for wild horses and instead relies on arbitrarily set boundaries and the “game of AML” that is still set at the number Congress found “fast disappearing” when the Act to protect them was passed in 1971. There was never a recovery number set for population stabilization; western politics simply continued to push for the removal and slaughter of wild horses as federal jurisdiction became a contentious, and dangerous, reality. So the “game of AML” placated that resentment and the wild horse program is a scientific “bad joke.”
The map below shows the current, prioritized, oil and gas (energy transmission) leasing corridors.
Map of current HMAs under BLM jurisdiction. Please note a handful of Forest Service Wild Horse Territories (WHTs) are not on the map below. Many parcels nominated, and gone through the lease sale NEPA process, are also not included on the corridor map and run right through the heart of states like NV.
Simply looking at these two maps you can see the massive impact to our wild horses. In each area that we have truly wild horses in herds that actually exist in large enough numbers to still protect as “wild,” oil and gas is fast tracking as wild horses and their habitat are “fast disappearing.”
Wild Horse Education has been laying a foundation of comments (that can lead to litigation) in the rapid fire avalanche of proposed sales have hit the west in the last two years. Because of this, we were invited to participate in the scoping process to revise these corridors (under court settlement agreements).
During the very first meeting we saw sage grouse habitat, wildlife corridors (antelope and elk), etc marked on the oil and gas corridor map. Nowhere were the words “wild horse or burro.” Nowhere were the boundary lines of HMAs and WHT’s.
The first thing we did was to simply get wild horses recognized as a valid part of this conversation.
Often, that is the position we find ourselves in repeatedly. Federal agencies fail miserably in simply recognizing wild horses as a resource, under law, they are mandated to protect. Agencies are not mandated to remove, they are mandated to manage. Yet, the most basic conversation, identifying critical habitat, is vehemently, stubbornly, ignorantly, refused.
You can check out the website for the review and revision process for the corridors HERE. If you watch the video on the landing page of the initial meeting, you can hear at timecode 54:10 that we were recognized, at the end, pointing out wild horses and burros were not even on the map.
As this massive process of corridor revisions is underway, so are proposed lease sales under the existing parameters that, in many cases, include land use plans (LUP) that are decades old and the technology of fracking was not even contemplated yet. Getting wild horse data included in the corridor revision, at the same time commenting on each proposed EA, was almost an impossible task (remember BLM has been expanding existing, and permitting new, hard rock mining at an alarming rate, and we tried to get comments, and litigation, moving in that area as well).
There will be a 30 day public comment period on the draft EIS for the revisions expected in September or November.
If you are an “on ground advocate,” that can clearly identify critical habitat through data points, we urge you to submit your information through this website (HERE). We urge you to monitor proposed oil and gas sale leasing and comment on every single document to create a record of opposition (HERE).
Please remember a roundup, that places our wild horses in jeopardy for spaying, slaughter and getting lost in the system, begins long before a helicopter flies.
Protecting the land they stand on should be the BLM’s first responsibility, sadly, it’s simply not. Wild horses and burros were not even on the map. That responsibility now falls on the shoulders of wild horse and burro advocates, let’s not let them down.
We need your help. Roundup season begins again WHE has been offered a match! Can you help us stay in this fight to bring justice against abuse and equity in management, for wild horses?
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Categories: Wild Horse Education