Today, Wild Horse Education founder filed a protest to the proposed amendment to the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the BLM Rock Springs and Rawlins Field Offices, Wyoming.
The amendments will change the status of the Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs) to Herd Areas with a population limit of zero wild horses, and change a portion of the Adobe Town HMA to HA status as well.
The proposed amendments are not everyday activities. The proposed amendments change the status of actively managed HMAs (Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas) to unmanaged or “zeroed out.” Adobe Town HMA will see a portion of the designated HMA turned into HA, or zeroed out. Population levels drop, more mass removals and/or implementation of fertility control techniques that will change the behavior of the remaining wild horses. These changes will cause permanent and irrevocable harms to our members that regularly enjoy these herds.
The RMP amendment reduces the state of Wyoming’s wild horse habitat by more than half.
In order to determine if the agency followed the law, complied with existing protocol and fully analyzed the consequences of the proposed changes, we needed additional documents from the agency. The agency has refused to provide those documents; instead, requiring that we file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Obtaining those documents can take months.
A lawsuit filed over a decade ago by the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA) demanded the BLM remove all wild horses from sections of the Wyoming Checkerboard. RSGA members graze private livestock on the public lands within the checkerboard, engage in easement or water sales for pipelines and view wild horses as competition for cheap forage and a complication in deal making with extractive industries. In 2013, the BLM settled the suit. BLM agreed to conduct a process to amend the RMP to address the expressed RSGA demands in litigation.
However, the agency failed to address existing NEPA for wild horse management.
The basis for our protest is that the EIS is inadequate and deficient in analysis for the stated purpose and need. The EIS is also deficient in disclosure of information and public engagement.
We will keep you updated.
A Resource Management Plan is part of regulated management planning through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Resource management plans identify the allowable uses on public lands across a planning area. Specific proposed actions at a given site are referred to as implementation decisions or activity-level decisions. (For those of you that want to learn more about the RMP, you can access the BLM Land Use Planning Handbook HERE)
If you have participated in the comment periods, the deadline to file your protest is June 6.
The close of the scoping period was back in 2013. You may not have been following the planning process for wild horses in 2013. In 2020 the agency released a draft Environmental Assessment (DEIS). You may be participated in that comment period. If you did, you can file a protest if the Final EIS does not address your concerns or you feel a proposed action has not been fully analyzed.
One change from the draft plan is that the White Mountain HMA will maintain its status as protected wild horse habitat and will not be managed as a non-reproducing herd as originally proposed by the BLM.
You can find all of the documents HERE and file your protest by following the noted format by clicking the green button on the line that includes the active FEIS.
Edited to add:
People are asking what a Protest is and who can file one.
The Protest Period for the RMP amendment is your last opportunity in the NEPA process to address your grievances prior to BLM implementing the decision. After that, a federal filing would be your only redress after you have exhausted all other measures (ie. comment, Protest).
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines the participant and requirements this way:
(a) Any person who participated in the planning process and has an interest which is or may be adversely affected by the approval or amendment of a resource management plan may protest such approval or amendment. A protest may raise only those issues which were submitted for the record during the planning process.
(1) The protest shall be in writing and shall be filed with the Director. The protest shall be filed within 30 days of the date the Environmental Protection Agency published the notice of receipt of the final environmental impact statement containing the plan or amendment in the Federal Register. For an amendment not requiring the preparation of an environmental impact statement, the protest shall be filed within 30 days of the publication of the notice of its effective date.
(2) The protest shall contain:
(i) The name, mailing address, telephone number and interest of the person filing the protest;
(ii) A statement of the issue or issues being protested;
(iii) A statement of the part or parts of the plan or amendment being protested;
(iv) A copy of all documents addressing the issue or issues that were submitted during the planning process by the protesting party or an indication of the date the issue or issues were discussed for the record; and
(v) A concise statement explaining why the State Director’s decision is believed to be wrong.
(3) The Director shall promptly render a decision on the protest. The decision shall be in writing and shall set forth the reasons for the decision. The decision shall be sent to the protesting party by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Thank you for keeping us in the fight!
Categories: Wild Horse Education