Wild Horse Education

WHE and WLD Partner to Fight Grazing Scheme (reform is needed, now)

BLM “managing” livestock for a Thriving Natural Ecological Balance

Wild Horse Education (WHE) and WildLands Defense (WLD) have partnered in filing legal action against another massive livestock grazing Environmental Assessment (EA).

The Alvord Allotment Management Plan EA is a massive document created for one permittee that sub-leases out public lands grazing (many people do not know permittees can lease out their permits). The EA essentially creates plans for public space to be manipulated to suit one of the largest public lands cattle permits in the State of Oregon. (You can view the 179-page EA HERE)


Barren Valley, FY2021

Prior to releasing the new grazing EA, BLM captured 1672 wild horses from within and around the area (You can see phase 1 HERE). They shipped 1639 to an off-limits facility in Bruneau, Idaho and to Palomino Valley in Reno (where most have been transferred to the off-limits facility Broken Arrow). 27 wild horses died during the operation. This leaves 6 unaccounted for (according to the published information).

Below: A gorgeous Barren Valley wild horse rapidly photographed during the recent tour of Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes).

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The grazing EA wants to increase cattle, water for cattle, turn off the water when cows are not out and keep wild horses at the low stocking levels (Appropriate Management Levels, AML) set in the early 1980s. The BLM 2020 plan for wild horses targets a low AML. At Barren Valley that number is 459 on nearly 1 million acres.

None of the HMAs of the complex have an active/updated HMAP or no HMAP. An HMAP is the Herd Management Area Plan designated in the Code of Federal Regulations to set management goals, habitat and herd preservation.

“We keep destroying wild horse habitat, blaming the horse BLM claims to manage, yet the agency makes absolutely zero attempts to create any management plan for wild horses. The paperwork proves wild horses are just being removed to suit livestock.” Laura Leigh, Wild Horse Education.

The EA absurdly states wild horses have been seen literally chasing sage grouse and big horn sheep off water, but provides no documentation. If a stallion with young foals chased off a big horn, he would also have his band drink and leave rapidly so no other stallion would steal his mares.

The EA also claims BLM needs to increase cattle to cut fire fuels, but no mention of other grazers (horses, wildlife) doing the same.

These are a few of the (wild horse related) absurdities contained in the EA WHE and WLD are challenging. The EA also contains a litany of environmental claims that are rolled into a plan driven by the desire to increase livestock production regardless of the cost to the public land itself.

“BLM is managing the Alvord allotments’ 4 Wilderness Study Areas, Steens Wilderness, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout streams, 6 Sage-grouse leks (93% of the allotment is habitat), ACECs and the Wild Horse HMA lands as one huge sacrifice area to the unbridled grass greed of a single ranching operation.” Katie Fite, WildLands Defense.

Bottom line: In the face of 2022’s climate stress and the mega-drought bearing down on the Oregon high desert – BLM goes “all in” on an Alvord grazing scheme worse than was taking place before the passage of NEPA (1970), the Wild Horse and Burro Act (1971), FLPMA (1976) and the Endangered Species Act (1973).

WHE and WLD also partnered in litigation against the Wilson Creek grazing EA. The Wilson Creek EA hits Eagle, Silver King, Chokecherry HMAs hard in Nevada. The legal action is still active. 

Barren Valley

What can you do to help address livestock damage to public lands?

You can help push legislation that will allow a grazing permit to be retired.

The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act gives a (limited number of) permittees the option to sell their permit for the purpose of retiring an allotment. The number of permits that can be sold for retirement each year is limited to 100 permits in 16 western states and not more than 25 permits in any one state. In addition, this legislation does not affect water rights.

This legislation represents a fiscally-sound approach to addressing permittees and landscapes effected by climate change, increasing conflicts under drought, declining productivity of individual livestock operations, etc.

We urge all of you to take action on this item.

You can contact your representative and ask that they co-sponsor H.R. 6935 by using the interface for the U.S. House of Representatives HERE

OR you can use our fast “click and send” letter that will go directly to your representative HERE. 

WHE Report out on BLM On-Range Planning for Wild Horses and Burros. Read it HERE.


Thank you for keeping us in the fight!


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Categories: Wild Horse Education