Stone Cabin/Saulsbury (Spotlight)

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Stone Cabin/Saulsbury Complex has a rich and deep history, is relatively easy to visit and is home to some amazing wild horses. At WHE, this area has been one we have focused on for a very long time and have run into the obstacle of politics (all sides, including advocates themselves) as we try to advocate to gain protections for these herds. 

In May BLM finalized another ten-year roundup plan that includes a dangerous mash-up of multiple fertility control methods and substances. WHE has begun our legal battle for this amazing herd. 

Although BLM did not place the area directly onto the roundup schedule, instead placing areas where they have not finalized underlying paperwork, the threat to Stone Cabin (as mining and gifts to livestock permittees are approved) is imminent. 


§1331. Congressional findings and declaration of policy Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

The coloring referenced as a Stone Cabin Grey begins as a darker color at birth that can range from almost black to red. They begin to “roan out” after they she their baby coat, look very roany by 3-4 years old and are (usually) completely white between 12-15 years of age.

The Stone Cabin Grey was revered by Velma Johnston, Wild Horse Annie, and she wrote about these gorgeous horses in her correspondence with BLM and other advocates. 

The very first official roundup under the Act was at Stone Cabin. The very first official litigation came with it. The order stated that BLM could not keep removing wild horses and claim it made some undefined improvement to the landscape and they had to include wild horses and burros in the NEPA process governing all proposed public land activities. The adoption program (back then it was a “foster program” with no transfer of title and the wild horse retained protections against sales to slaughter for their lifetime). (More about the first battle and the battle today HERE)

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The Stone Cabin Grey horses are descendants of a Steeldust Grey Thoroughbred, that Jack Longstreet (famous gunfighter) won in a poker game (allegedly) at the saloon in town and is known to have let loose into the Stone Cabin Valley to breed.

Buried at the historic Belmont Cemetery, Longstreet was one of those colorful characters of the pioneer days of the American West. He was charged with the murder of his brother-in-law while employed by the Tonopah Stage as a hired gunman. After the court trial he was acquitted of the crime.

Jack involved himself in a disputes with the Bureau of Indian Affairs concerning the mistreatment of Paiutes. In one instance during the fervor to arrest native Americans due to Ghost Dancing, allegedly Longstreet was responsible for turning the peaceful dance into action. He led a party that abducted and (allegedly) beat a mine owner until he paid the Pauites back wages. The mine owner quickly rode into the Sheriff’s office and demanded warrants for Longstreet’s arrest. the officer responded that Longstreet was “a chronic case of refugee, and no Sheriff’s posse has ever been able to comer him.” 

The story is told that “one-eared Longstreet” had a hiding place built into the cabin for him to hide should the law show up at his door unexpected. His missing ear, some think, was a punishment he received for stealing cattle while he was still in his youth.

In 2004, a $90,000 grant from the Nevada Public Land Management Act was used to restore the Longstreet Cabin and springs in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. 

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Longstreet’s cabin in Ash Meadows is highlighted as a symbol of the pioneer spirit and history of the West.

But the herd that represents, not a stone building or bar Longstreet once occupied, but a living symbol of that pioneer spirit is given no more recognition than a meaningless line on a BLM website.

We tried for years to get BLM to update the management plan to address both the historic significance (and the agencies historic flaws) in management planning for this herd. BLM failed to do any of the studies outlined in the first planning documents for Stone Cabin.

The area these wild ones travel through (today) spans two BLM Herd Management Area (HMA) and a USFS Wild Horse Territory (WHT). Historically, even BLM themselves recognize the area in between held wild horses at the time of the Act but simply did not include the areas in the boundaries of today.

The Stone Cabin HMA is 407,706 acres and Saulsbury HMA includes 135,018 acres. The total proposed gather area represents 542,724 acres within the Stone Cabin Complex HMAs, and 343,457 acres outside of designated HMAs, in areas primarily adjacent to HMAs where wild horses have moved or may move to during gather activities. (If you note the observation about the Monitor WHT, this language also means wild horses that call Monitor “Home Range” and may flee back home. The Monitor WHT is 380,000 acres.)

In essence, this approved plan gives BLM the authority to implement a vast mashup of fertility control from multiple vaccines to sterilization as they implement removals over 1.3 million acres for a period of ten-years. In other words: this proposed plan does not remove a certain number of wild horses one time, it removes an unknown number (and implements multiple forms of fertility control to an unknown number without analyzing the impact) repeatedly over ten-years to repeatedly push the population down to 242-402 on nearly 1 million acres.

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We need your help to take the court battle as far as it needs to go to protect Stone Cabin. 

When livestock operators file suit, time and again we watch BLM cave and create a settlement deal. With wild horses, we only see settlement deals when it involves fertility control, not fixing foundational flaws. 

We won’t back down. Stone Cabin deserves so much more. The historical value alone must become a driver to preserve this herd and the habitat they need to thrive so future generations can experience just a glimpse of what this amazing herd represents. 

You can help us take a stand. Learn about Stone Cabin. It will be well worth the time and help us elevate this battle where it needs to go…. before the chopper flies.

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!

An archived issue of WHE Wild Word, Stone Cabin Magazine. https://viewer.joomag.com/stone-cabin-anniversary-issue/0392798001524161006

Categories: Lead, Legal