The Rock Springs and Rawlins field office of Wyoming Draft ResourceManagement Plan (RMP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) are available for public comment through April 30th.
The preferred alternative reflects a closed door agreement made by BLM with the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA) to dismiss a lawsuit. The lawsuit was not adjudicated (decided) on merits, but simply negotiated with the BLM. The RSGA owns a very small portion of the land in question. BLM agreed to craft this land use plan revision.
The EIS proposes:
• Change the Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) to a Herd Area (HA), which would be managed for zero wild horses, and if the BLM determines there are more than 200 wild horses within the herd area, the area would be re-gathered to zero wild horses;
• Change the Great Divide Basin HMA to a HA, which would be managed for zero wild horses, and if BLM determines there are more than 100 wild horses within the Herd Area, the area will be re-gathered to zero wild horses;
• Change the Adobe Town HMA appropriate management level (AML) to 225-450 wild horses or lower, and that gathered wild horses will not be returned to the Salt Wells Creek area; and
• Manage the White Mountain HMA as a non-reproducing herd by utilizing fertility control and sterilization methods to maintain a population of 205 wild horses and to initiate gathers if the population exceeds 205 wild horses.
Some fast numbers to reflect what this EIS implies:
BLM Wyoming manages 18.4 million acres.
The acreage BLM Wyoming manages wild horses on represents about 20% of all acreage managed. (Wyoming manages 16 Herd Management Areas, HMAs, on approximately 3.6 million acres of BLM lands and 1.1 million joint acres with other jurisdictions and private lands. )
BLM Wyoming manages 3,543 allotments livestock grazing allotments on 17.4 million acres of BLM Wyoming public land, or 96.6% of all BLM administered public acreage in the state.
The EIS proposes a decease in acreage of over 34% for wild horse management, or to a mere 13% of all BLM acreage in the state of Wyoming.
This EIS clearly does not represent a balanced public interest or fair multiple use.
WHE view: if Wyoming is going through the expense to create a new land use plan revision? they have multiple options that include land swaps, raising AML and cutting livestock in other areas, etc. to make a simple pretense of balancing interests. This EIS simply reflects a backdoor deal using litigation as the backdoor. Has BLM ever, once, taken litigation filed by a wild horse org and granted the demands? or do they need a court ruling to even get them to walk through that door? Usually they even ignore court rulings on environmental interests and we go back to court.
You can see all of the associated documents and access the BLM e-comment portal at this link: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage¤tPageId=23512
Why don’t we have a petition or sign on letter? For public comments in NEPA (EAs, MAPs, etc) sign on letters are irrelevant and dismissed. In recent litigation (Case No. 3:18-cv-00059-LRH-CBC, Triple B) an org tried to use a petition to demonstrate a legal threshold. It failed. Petitions and “sign on” are good for legislative issues, not NEPA comments. If we gave you a petition? your input would be dismissed. Yes, we know there are still petitions for NEPA comments. Federal agencies and courts will dismiss your investment as just “button click.” Take the time to craft a comment to demonstrate your interest as a taxpayer with a stake in the outcome.
We have included a sample letter from a volunteer below. WHE’s comments will take a lot of time to prepare and include references to the consent decree, prior litigation in this area, legal citations from other court cases and is really voluminous. Our comments are not complete and will probably be sent in just a few days before the deadline.
Many of you have requested that we give you comments now. These herds do represent a significant public interest. Your interest will not be demonstrated by a petition, but by the time you take to demonstrate your interest. Please write your own letter.
Comments re: DOI-BLM-WY-D040-2011-0001-RMP-EIS
Thank you for the opportunity to weigh in on changes to management plans for wild horses. As a taxpayer I take my interest in my public lands very seriously.
This EIS fails to weigh historic multiple use. These HMAs have been managed for 50 years by BLM. Conflicts with one private profit interest on public lands can not outweigh BLM’s mandate to manage for preservation of a public resource (wild horses), and must weigh the public interest with equity. This EIS does not reflect any attempt to do so.
BLM responds to the failure (of not weighing historic interest) in scoping comments (that the EIS in in noncompliance with this mandate) by stating “that is a legal conclusion.” In essence, BLM recognizes that wild horse stakeholders will need to litigate this EIS (as a conclusion) to determine the legality.
- BLM must consider partnerships with advocates to decrease conflicts through use of temporary fertility control, retirement of grazing allotments and offering land (or permit) exchanges to effected permittees.
- BLM does not have Congressional authority to manage a “non-reproducing” HMA, essentially an on range holding pasture. BLM can not turn an HMA into an on range holding facility. A Consent decree does not create the legal authority for the action. Entering into a decree is within BLMs discretion, carrying out the action is not.
- As a national health emergency sweeps through our country, I respectfully ask that you extend the comment period until the emergency has passed. Many Americans will not have time to carefully review these documents in full.
- The wild horses BLM intends to eradicate within these areas are wild horses enjoyed by the American public throughout the 50 years BLM Wyoming has managed them and beyond. They must be preserved for future generations.
- In addition, BLM must recognize the distinct curly wild horses and propose a plan to preserve this unique genetic component.
- This action proposed in this EIS is far too extreme to be used to appease a solitary interest that already uses over 96% of BLM Wyoming lands. Cutting wild horse acreage to this extent is not acceptable.
Zeroing out Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, dropping the AML in Adobe Town and turning the White Mountain HMA into essentially an “on range holding facility of non-reproducing animals” does not reflect balanced public interest or preservation of historic multiple use.
Thank you for your consideration.
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