Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Corruption at the Interior Dept; Dec 31, 2008

Times-News, Twin Falls

How could things go so wrong for Dirk Kempthorne at the Department of the Interior?

The former Idaho governor and U.S. senator and his predecessor, Gale Norton, presided over the most corrupt period in the agency since Albert Fall and the Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s.

"Short of a crime, anything goes at the Department of the Interior," said the agency's inspector general, Earl Devaney.

Devaney has been a busy man during Kempthorne's 33-month tenure as secretary of the interior, which ends when Barack Obama is sworn in as president on Jan. 20. This month Devaney reported to Congress that on 15 separate occasions the department's political appointees had weakened protections for endangered species against the advice of the agency's scientists, whose work they either ignored or distorted.

Julie MacDonald, a former deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, resigned last year after an earlier report found she had run roughshod over agency scientists and violated federal rules by giving internal documents to industry lobbyists.

In September, Devaney delivered three reports to Congress detailing widespread corruption in the Minerals Management Service, the division responsible for granting offshore oil leases and collecting royalties. According to Devaney, officials accepted gifts, steered contracts to favored clients and engaged in drugs and sex with oil company employees.

Just in the past few months, the Interior Department sold oil and gas leases near Arches and Dinosaur national parks in Utah, shortened the public comment period for actions under the Endangered Species Act, and opened up 3,700 miles of new pipeline and power corridors across public lands in the West.

Even Kempthorne's successes were muted by ideology and flawed science. In declaring the polar bear threatened because of climate change, he said the action "should not open the door to use the (endangered species list) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, power plants and other sources." Then he issued special rules exempting from the law offshore oil and gas drilling in prime polar bear habitat off Alaska's north coast.

It's been disheartening to watch a man who was an honest politician and an independent thinker back in Idaho become part of the corrupt culture of the agency he leads - and become captive to Vice President Dick Cheney's philosophy that the Interior Department is essentially in business to assist oil and gas companies.

Simply put, Secretary Kempthorne botched his stewardship of the public lands in his care. Americans - and Idahoans - deserved better.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Activists Screws Up Govt Land Lease Auctions in UT

Click on title above to read more about this Great American hero!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BLM Revises Manual, Creates More Power for Itself;

Particularly when it comes to "special status" endangered species. Click on title above to read full report, but I warn you, read it carefully for there is much invisible writing and/or meaning in between the lines. It would do well to remember that it is not always what you say that counts, but what you dont say.

BLM now NSPL? A Pig by Anyother Name,....

Fear anything with the word "National" in it, as in NAIS;

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has signed a Secretarial Order to officially designate the 258 million acres of lands managed for multiple-use by the Department’s Bureau of Land Management as the National System of Public Lands.

“These lands constitute an invaluable recreational, cultural, economic, and environmental legacy for the nation,” Kempthorne said. “And yet, those who own these lands – the American people – remain largely unaware of their critical importance to our quality of life, their value to present and future generations, or even the purpose for which these lands are preserved in public ownership.”

As the principal steward of the public lands, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is directed by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 to manage the public lands for multiple-use, including recreation, conservation, wildlife habitat and economic activities, such as livestock grazing, energy and mineral production and the development of timber and forest products.

“It’s time these great lands and resources, whose historical roots date back to the earliest days of our nation, are given their due by recognizing them officially,” BLM Director James Caswell said. “This official designation will ultimately make it easier for the public to identify these lands and more readily understand the multiple-use mission that Congress has given to the BLM.”

While providing BLM-managed lands an official designation confers no change in land status, Caswell said that it will underscore several principles that are important to the stewardship of these lands.

“Calling these lands the National System of Public Lands implies that all of our lands and resources are linked in some capacity,” Caswell said. “This linkage is at the heart of our landscape approach to land management.”

He also said that the designation will emphasize the interconnectedness and interdependence of the public lands and all who benefit from them; better convey the diversity of interests and values associated with the public lands and how these are served through balanced, comprehensive, management; and increase the critical importance of enlightened citizen stewardship to the preservation of these lands and to the success of BLM’s work on behalf of the American people.

Caswell said that the BLM will minimize any costs associated with the designation by institutionalizing it over time and incorporating the identity in publications, signage and other materials in the normal course of renewing and updating such materials.

The BLM manages more land – 258 million acres – than any other Federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 Western States, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

Contact: Chris Paolino (202) 208-6416
Jill Moran (202) 452-5068

Knotty issues at Interior put Salazar on tightrope

By Mark Jaffe
The Denver Post

Article Last Updated: 12/17/2008 01:32:07 AM MST

As head of the Department of the Interior, Ken Salazar will face a delicate balancing act in managing public lands for conservation, recreation and development, according to industry executives and environmental activists.

"It is a balance that kind of got out of whack in the last few years," said Jane Danowitz, public land director for the Pew Environment Group.

Salazar will also face issues his predecessors have not, including starting up offshore oil drilling, helping institute the Obama administration's renewable-energy policy and adding climate change to public-lands planning.

"This is a very full and complex plate," said Bill Meadows, president of the Wilderness Society, an environmental group based in Washington, D.C.

"Ken Salazar is a good choice for the job," Meadows said. "He has a conservation ethic, and while we haven't always agreed with him, he is someone who will listen with an open mind."

Salazar is seen as a centrist who will listen to all sides.

"We've worked with Sen. Salazar, and he understands the importance of natural gas development to American energy independence," said Marc Smith, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States.

"There are interest groups that may be loud and opinionated," Smith said. "It will be Ken Salazar's job to keep it all balanced."

As a fifth-generation Coloradan with credentials as a state attorney general and director of the state Department of Natural Resources, Salazar is widely seen as having a command of Western and public-lands issues.

Among the initiatives he draws praise for are starting Great Outdoors Colorado, a lottery-money trust fund for state open-space programs; helping create Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve; and his effort to pass a "good Samaritan" bill to help clean up abandoned mining sites.

"The good Samaritan legislation, which would have encouraged private cleanups, is a good example of Salazar," said Allan Front, senior vice president at the Trust for Public Lands.

"It wasn't flashy," Front said. "It was a workmanlike solution that tried to accommodate industry and conservation."

Salazar also has been lauded for his opposition to the Bush administration's efforts to push through oil-shale development rules and drilling on the Roan Plateau.

In 2007, Salazar won more time for the state to comment on the Roan leasing plan by holding up James Caswell's nomination as director of the Bureau of Land Management until Interior Secretary Kirk Kempthorne relented.

One area where Salazar is drawing fire is his positions on the Endangered Species Act.

In 1999, as state attorney general, Salazar opposed the listing of the black-tailed prairie dog under the act, saying there was insufficient data. The Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating whether the species should be protected.

Critics such as WildEarthGuardians and the Center for Biological Diversity contend that Salazar tilts in favor of agribusiness over threatened species.

Salazar also is chided by these groups for endorsing the Bush administration's appointment of Gale Norton, a Coloradan, as interior secretary.

Still, a large number of environmental groups have praised his selection.

"Ken Salazar knows the West. He knows the land. He knows the communities," said Sharon Bucchino, public-lands director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mark Jaffe: 303-954-1912 or


Key issues for the next interior secretary
Environmental advocates and industry executives say the issues include:

• Developing renewable energy resources on public land.

• Balancing oil and gas development with conservation.

• Amending and rewriting BLM plans issued in the past six months that fail to adequately protect land or do not provide for wilderness designations or potential climate-change impacts.

• Developing a plan for oil and gas drilling off the Eastern Seaboard that protects marine environments.

• Revising the endangered-species listing process to once again make it science-based. The Bush administration was criticized in two audits for political interference.

• Developing a more comprehensive management policy for mining on public lands.


About the Department of the Interior
Created by Congress in 1849, the Department of the Interior is the country's primary conservation agency. With more than 70,000 employees and 280,000 volunteers, the department's mission is to provide stewardship of the nation's natural and cultural heritage. The department manages 500 million acres of land, about one-fifth of the land in the United States.

Its land-management divisions include the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. The department also manages various resources through its Minerals Management Service, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is part of the Interior Department. The BIA provides services for about 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior

Public asked to Weigh In on Wild Horse Gather Proposal

Staff report • December 17, 2008

The Bureau of Land Management's Winnemucca District has released a preliminary environmental assessment analyzing impacts associated with a proposal to gather and remove excess wild horses in the Buffalo Hills Herd Management Area about 80 miles north of Reno. The bureau is asking the public to provide input on the assessment by Dec. 24.

According to the assessment, vegetation and population monitoring shows the wild horse population is exceeding the rangeland's ability to sustain them over the long term.

The report goes on to say that sufficient winter forage is not available and resource damage is occurring because of overpopulation and continuing drought conditions.

The BLM proposes to capture and remove some 462 of the 650 horses estimated to be on the range management area.

There are an estimated 650 wild horses in the herd management area. BLM would leave 188 animals in the area, which is the low end of the established appropriate management level for that area of 188 to 314 animals.

Keeping the population within the appropriate level is to protect horse health and sustainability and help create a thriving natural ecological balance among wild horses, wildlife, vegetation, riparian-wetland resources, water resources and domestic livestock.

The plan and assessment are available online at: by clicking on the Winnemucca District on the map.

The public is encouraged to mail comments on the plan and assessment to Susie Stokke, Wild Horse and Burro Program Manager, BLM Nevada State Office, P.O. Box 12000, Reno, NV 89520.

The BLM reminds those responding with comments that submission may be made publicly available, including any personal identifying information such as e-mail address and phone number and address.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Omnibus Land Bill put on Hold

Omnibus Land Bill Put on Hold


Faced with increasing opposition, Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) November 17 postponed Senate action on an omnibus lands bill until next year.

But Reid warned critics of the 150-bill measure that the bill (HR 5151) will be a top priority when the new Congress meets in January with a large Democratic majority.

“One of the first things we’ll do (in January) is there will be a bipartisan piece of legislation introduced that will include all the stuff that was held up these past two years, so-called lands bills,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “That would be first or second thing we do when we come back in January.”

The bill was tripped up by increasing hostility from a wide range of interests, beginning with western House Republicans and extending to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, private property rights advocates, and conservative think tanks.

Reid said he quit on HR 5151 because critic Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) would insist on a reading of the bill that could take more than 24 hours. The Senate’s time is limited because it was working on a short week and still had to address an economic stimulus bill. “But I think the discretion is the better part of valor and we will alert everyone that we will do this when we get back,” said Reid.

The Heritage Foundation led the intellectual campaign against the bill with a widely distributed position paper. “The lands bill removes public land that would be available for recreational, commercial, and private ownership use by designating such land as wilderness areas, heritage areas, conservation areas and wild and scenic rivers,” said author Nicolas Loris. “Furthermore, the bill places restrictions on existing federal property.”

Loris said the cost should also be considered. “The Congressional Budget Office places an $8 billion price tag on the omnibus lands bill: $7.1 billion in discretionary spending and over $915 million in mandatory spending,” he said.

The critics most object to a provision in HR 5151 (S 1139 as a stand-alone bill) that would give Congressional certification to the 26 million-acre National Landscape Conservation System managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM.) The House approved its version of the NLCS bill (HR 2016) on April 9.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and conservationists are swimming against that tide by asking the Senate to expand the NLCS by adding 6 million acres from the California Desert Conservation Area to it. The NLCS already includes 4 million acres of CDCA land, but Feinstein wants to add the whole CDCA on the Senate floor, bringing the system to 32 million acres.

Karen Schambach, California coordinator for the environmental group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, sees mischief in the exclusion of the CDCA acreage from the NLCS. “The unspoken plan is for corporate conversion of large parts of the CDCA into giant energy farms and transmission corridor superhighways,” she said.

The Senate Energy Committee developed the omnibus lands package based on committee-passed bills. However, not all committee bills made the cut because both Democratic and Republican committee leaders enjoy a veto.

The idea was to produce a bill that would provide something for everyone on both sides of the aisle. However, one key senator, Coburn, objected to the cost and possible land use restrictions. When we asked a Republican Senate Energy Committee staff member if he knew of any other Senate Republicans who publicly opposed the measure besides Coburn, he said, “No.”

Indeed, there is considerable support for HR 5151. Twenty-four Democratic House members wrote Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) October 30 and asked her to schedule a vote on HR 5151, if the Senate acted on it.

But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, western House Republicans and their allies won the day, for now. Their main objection is to the NLCS provision. Back on August 4 27 House Republicans had asked President Bush to veto HR 2016 if it came to him by itself. However, they did not mention a recommended veto of an omnibus bill.

In addition to the NLCS measure, HR 5151, as amended by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) from committee passed bills, would:

* WYOMING RANGE: The omnibus includes a bill (S 2229) from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) that would authorize non-federal interests to buy out oil and gas leases on 1.2 million acres of the Wyoming Range of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

BLM and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have offered different estimates of the amount of oil and gas the range contains. BLM said on Feb. 27, 2008, that the area may contain 331 million barrels of oil. But on June 19 the USGS estimated only 5 million barrels of oil. Similarly, BLM estimated the area may contain 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and USGS estimated 1.5 trillion cubic feet.

* OWYHEE LANDS (IDAHO): The omnibus includes this bill (S 2833) from Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) that would designate 517,000 acres of BLM-managed wilderness. An alliance of retired BLM employees, the Public Lands Foundation, objected recently to the bill and said that before designating wilderness sponsors should work with BLM to identify precise boundaries. The retirees also objected to a grazing permit buy-out provision. The administration supports.

* WILDERNESS (NINE OTHER BILLS): The omnibus includes several individual wilderness bills that would protect up to 2 million acres, including: Wild Monongahela Wilderness (West Va.), Virginia Ridge and Valley Wilderness (Va.), Mt. Hood Wilderness (Ore.), Copper Salmon Wilderness (Ore.), Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (Ore.), Owyhee (Idaho), Sabinoso Wilderness (N.M.), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Wilderness (Mich.), Oregon Badlands Wilderness (Ore.), Spring Basin Wilderness (Ore.), Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wilderness (Calif.), Riverside County Wilderness (Calif.), Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness (Calif.), and Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness (Colo.)

In addition, the amendment includes individual bills that would designate two new National Park System units, authorize additions to nine existing National Park System units; authorize by our count a dozen land exchanges and conveyances; designate four national trails; authorize studies of additions to four National Historic Trails (all in the West: Oregon National Historic Trail, Pony Express National Historic Trail, California National Historic Trail, and The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail); add three wild and scenic rivers including the Snake River Headwaters in Wyoming; and designate a Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area of about 3.5 miles of cave passages in Lincoln County, N.M.

Contraceptives for Utahs Wild Mares

Mares and foals from the Onaqui Herd near Dugway, Utah. © BLM

Dec 16, 2008

Eighty wild mares gathered by Utah authorities will be released back in the wilderness after receiving contraceptive pellets.
The Bureau of Land Management in Utah is this month removing wild horses from the Cedar Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA).

About 630 wild horses currently roam the Cedar Mountain area, which covers about 212,000 acres north of Dugway, Utah.

The appropriate management level for the area has been established at 190 to 300 wild horses.

The bureau wants to remove 440 horses to get to the low end of that level.

About eighty of the mares gathered will be administered a pelleted contraceptive vaccine and returned to the range.

Since 1992, the Humane Society of the United States has collaborated with the BLM to develop a contraceptive agent that meets the BLM's requirements for practical and cost-effective wild horse population control.

Fertility control is not intended to totally replace the removal and adoption of wild horses.

The gathered horses will be transported to the Salt Lake Wild Horse and Burro Centre in Herriman, Utah, to be prepared for adoption. The first opportunity to adopt these horses will be on February 21 through BLM's Adopt-a-Horse-or-Burro Programme.

Animal welfare groups have expressed concern over the number of horses being held in captivity by the Bureau of Land Management. More than 30,000 are currently in holding facilities, roughly equivalent to the number still roaming free across the rangelands.

The number in captivity has put pressure on the bureau's budget and it has explored the possibility of euthanizing horses considered unadoptable, or selling them without limitation - a move horse welfare groups believe will result in many going direct to slaughter.

Such plans are on hold while other options are considered, including a proposal by Madeliene Pickens, wife of billionaire oil man T. Boone Pickens, to buy up to a million acres of rangeland to provide a home for the horses.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tellin it like It is Down Ne-va-dee' Way

October 30th, 2008


Toiyabe Trails

P.O. Box 8096

Reno, NV 89507

Dear Editor:

Tina Nappe's "Too many wild horses - help!" (Toiyabe Trails, Oct.-Nov., 2008) is a very deceptive article lacking in just perspective. She engages in gross hyperbole and fails to recognize the proven fact that the horse (Equus caballus) is a returned native species in North America, its place of origin and long-standing evolution. For her to merely call the horse another domestic species displays either her woeful ignorance or, more as I suspect, her willful bias. I notice that Nappe says nothing about the relative proportions on the public lands of real livestock, mainly cattle and sheep, big game animals, such as deer and elk, and wild horses and burros. If she would bring herself to look at these figures, she would see just how ludicrous it is for her to scapegoat these wild equids for abuses that are human caused and stem from trying to force too many livestock and big game animals upon the public lands, along with too much of other forms of invasive exploitation. I recommend that she examine her own attitudes and how they have been shaped here in Nevada, where for years she was a fish and game commissioner, that she might learn what her own blind spots really are and reconsider the great evolutionary past history of horses and their kin in North America and the positive ecological role they have to play here. I would be glad to provide her with key information from peer reviewed publications.

I know that Ms. Nappe has had a hand in subverting the Wild Horse Act on many occasions, such as in the Santa Rosa Range where it was decided that a large legal wild horse herd area would be assigned a pathetically low Appropriate Management Level for its wild horse population. This type of subversion has occurred throughout Nevada and the West, and its perpetrators have earned themselves a lot of points with the big game hunter establishment and, yes, even the public lands livestock establishment - two of the traditional enemies of wild horses, natural predators, etc. - the very enemies for which laws were passed to defend against!

The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1972 (P.L. 92-195) set aside a minor portion of public USFS and BLM lands for the maintenance of thriving herds of these two equid species. But of the 53,444,499 acres originally set aside, 19,003,349 acres, or 36% have been zeroed out, their wild horse and burro populations eliminated from the wild. Out of fairness, one would expect that those remaining equid-occupied areas, called Herd Management Areas, would surely be "principally" devoted to maintaining viable herds of wild horses and burros as the law states - but not even this is the case! For even within these greatly reduced areas, livestock and big game interests are - contrary to the law - being allowed to monopolize the resources and the wild equids are being marginalized and continually persecuted, either under the guise of authority or with blatant illegality. One revealing statistic is that our so-called "public servants" in the BLM and USFS have colluded with the wild equid enemies to the extent that they are planning to leave only one wild horse or burro per 1,871 acres of original legal herd areas nationwide. In Nevada, this figure is 1,745 acres. When we consider that an acre is the near equivalent of one football field, we can appreciate the absurdity of the claim that wild horses are overpopulated. Also, wild horses do not camp on streamside riparian areas as do livestock, but broadly disperse their grazing pressure in unfenced territory. The law further stipulates that their territories shall not be over-fenced, but all the opposite is happening! Livestock and big game out-consume wild equids on the public lands by at least one hundred to one and by a substantial margin even within remaining herd management areas still populated by scant populations of persecuted wild horses and burros!

By no truly objective criteria are the wild horses and burros overpopulated as Nappe claims. They are really under-populated, most existing at genetically non-viable levels. However, her making this claim and her unfairly and un-objectively lumping the wild horses with livestock rather than treating them as returned native wildlife, certainly serves her anti-wild horse agenda very well, gaining her dirty political points with the anti-wild horse establishment, people who have targeted the wild horses for discreditation and elimination by whatever means handy.

There is an old saying: "There are none so blind as they who will not see," and such is certainly the case with Ms. Tina Nappe and her prejudice views of the wild horses.


Craig C. Downer

Wildlife Ecologist, Author: Wild Horses: Living Symbols of Freedom

P.O. Box 456

Minden, NV 89423

Tel. 775-901-2094

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

There are ways to deal with wild horses; The Virgina Range

The Virginia Range horses are an intriguing component of our Northern Nevada landscape.

Most of these animals are descendants of horses used by early Nevadans in the development of our state and during the gold rush. Living for generations in the Comstock National Historic District and surrounding ranges, they are modern day reminders of Nevada's rich history.

The region surrounding the Comstock has been under great pressure as urban development consumes what was once open space.

The Virginia Range herd is feeling this pressure. Historically, the field-active wild horse groups have played a significant role in developing resources for the horses and mitigating conflicts between the horses and human activities.

Over the years, we have experienced cycles where politicians and bureaucrats felt the need to seize total control with the faulty notion that government is the only entity possessing the knowledge and resources to manage our affairs.

More bureaucratic control usually produces less relevance, less efficiency and higher costs to us taxpayers.

We are presently experiencing another round of bureaucratic empire building in the Nevada Department of Agriculture, complete with the typical unnecessary waste of our tax dollars. Recent decisions have led to a breakdown in the privately funded support system for the Virginia Range herd. Costs are spiraling and the herd is at risk.

In some instances, even the public is being put at risk. A recent rash of horses being struck on U.S. 50 can be directly attributed to bureaucratic decisions that eliminated the involvement of regional horse groups in activities designed to keep horses away from our highways and in keeping the wildlife deterrent reflectors alongside that highway in operational condition.

We are at a crossroads with respect to our Virginia Range horses. If we really want to preserve the Virginia Range herd, "We the People" need to hold our public agencies accountable and demand intelligent management of these animals, and intelligent management involves a lot more than just throwing more of our tax dollars at a problem.

The region's wild horse groups have walked the walk. Now it's time for folks whose salaries we pay to do likewise.

Willis Lamm

Stagecoach, NV

Feds, BigOil, Ranchers, Sign "Revolutionary" Conservation Deal to Protect Chicken & Lizards

Hot News frum BigMouth Broad Casting, Dec. 10, 2008

Feds, Big-Oil & Ranchers sign 'revolutionary' conservation deal to save chickens & lizards


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management on Monday signed agreements with an oil and gas company and a rancher to help protect two rare species in southeastern New Mexico, and federal officials hope the agreements will pave the way for cooperative conservation efforts across the country.

Interior Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett called the agreements "nationally significant," saying that until now federal wildlife managers had no legal framework to partner on conservation efforts with ranchers who have federal grazing permits or energy development companies that lease public land.

"I cannot tell those gathered here how significant this is, that we find a way through these tools to collaborate across boundaries public and private. Nature itself knows no boundaries," Scarlett said during a signing ceremony at the Rio Grande Nature Center. "We need the tools that allow us to transcend those boundaries. The signing of this agreement is one such creative tool that helps us on our way."

The agreements are aimed at helping the lesser prairie chicken and the sand dune lizard, both candidates for possible protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Lesser prairie chickens are round, stocky ground-dwelling birds famous for their courtship displays. Conservationists say the species — which has been a candidate for federal protection for more than a decade — has declined by 90 percent over the past century and is facing threats that include energy development, climate change and the loss of their native prairie habitat.

The sand dune lizard, which lives among sand dunes and shinnery oak in the southeast corner of the state, has been a candidate for endangered species protection since 2002. The lizard faces many of the same threats as the chicken.

Under the conservation agreements, Lea County rancher Chris Brininstool and Marbob Energy Corp. of Artesia will take certain actions to protect the species and their habitat, including modifying fences to reduce collision by prairie chickens and relocating well sites to limit habitat disturbance.

In return, Brininstool and Marbob have assurances they will be able to continue using the land regardless whether the species ever comes under ESA protection.

Federal officials said they are in the process of getting more landowners and businesses to participate.

"No agency or group can accomplish this alone," said Benjamin Tuggle, regional director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. "Working together puts us in a stronger position to ensure conservation objectives are fulfilled."

Scarlett said the goal of the agreements is to take steps with landowners and leasees who are willing to cooperate now rather than having to list the species and force regulatory changes.

"When you think about it, listing in some respects is a signal that we haven't done our jobs, that we've let these species decline," Scarlett said. "This is a tool to do our jobs and ensure that species flourish while they still are in numbers sufficient to carry forward. I think it absolutely is a key part to 21st century conservation."

Scarlett said she hopes the agreements will serve as a model for other regions in the country that have species at risk on public lands.

But some conservation groups say the federal government is being irresponsible by trying to avoid listing the prairie chicken and lizard under the Endangered Species Act.

"We believe it makes absolutely no sense for the Fish and Wildlife Service to be talking about avoiding listing either of these species," said Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians.

The group submitted comments to the agency earlier this year, saying that conservation agreements are voluntary and speculative and cannot replace the protections provided under the act. The group also argued that the agreements would not remove or reduce all of the threats facing the species, such climate change, drought and disease.

"The conservation measures are simply menus of possible tools that may be used. There are no quantitative goals for species recovery," Rosmarino said, adding that the agency is "gambling with the future" of the species.

Tuggle said the agreements do not mean the species will not be listed. He said the agreements help establish a framework for conservation that give federal wildlife managers and landowners a good starting point if listing occurs.

"We think having the opportunity to provide that level of participation up front with industry and landowners is the way of the future," he said.


On the Net:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest region:

Bureau of Land Management:

WildEarth Guardians:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Region's U.S. Border Patrol mustangs to march in D.C.

Senior U.S. Border Patrol agent Joe McCraw works with Slash, a wild horse recently adopted by the agency to help on backcountry patrols, in Colville. Eight mustangs will be deployed in June to help the agency patrol rugged stretches of the border from Glacier National Park in western Montana to the Pasayten Wilderness in central Washington. The wild horses have received special training for their mission.

Region's U.S. Border Patrol mustangs to march in D.C.

Jim Camden

Staff writer
December 9, 2008

Senior U.S. Border Patrol agent Joe McCraw works with Slash, a wild horse recently adopted by the agency to help on backcountry patrols, in Colville. Eight mustangs will be deployed in June to help the agency patrol rugged stretches of the border from Glacier National Park in western Montana to the Pasayten Wilderness in central Washington. The wild horses have received special training for their mission.

September 2007 story: Mustangs are vital tool for Border Patrol
May 2007 story: Homeless horses get jobs

Mustangs that were running wild less than two years ago will be part of next month’s inaugural parade for Barack Obama.

The formerly wild horses are part of the U.S. Border Patrol’s mounted unit, which operates out of Colville, Metaline Falls and other Inland Northwest locations. The unit received an invitation to bring eight of its mustangs to Washington, D.C., next month to march in the parade with the agency’s honor guard and bagpipe and drum team.

For the unit, the invitation represents a chance to show off a successful program that blends environmentally friendly practices and criminal rehabilitation. For the horses, it represents a long journey from running wild on federal land to marching down the broad avenues of the nation’s capital.

“We think it’s a great success story,” said Danielle Suarez, the agency’s spokeswoman for the Spokane District.

The agency adopts horses captured and auctioned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for $125, then has them trained by inmates in a rehabilitation program with the Colorado state prison system at a cost of about $900 each.

“We think that not only did they tame the horses, the horses tame them,” Suarez said.

The horses are then sent to Border Patrol stations in the Spokane Sector, which covers Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Western Montana.

“It’s some of the most rugged and remote areas of all of North America,” Suarez said.

The horses can get into some back-country areas more quickly and economically than motorized vehicles. In areas such as Glacier National Park, which restricts motor vehicles, horse patrols are used to minimize environmental damage.

The agency currently has 17 horses that are stationed across the northern tier. Other towns include Curlew and Oroville, Wash., and Eureka and White Fish, Mont.

Horses from the sector have marched in Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day and Spokane’s Lilac Parade. The agency hasn’t picked which eight horses it will send to Washington, D.C., yet, but staff is expected to do that in the next few days and begin training them.

For horses that spend most of their time in the back country, they need to get accustomed to walking on paved streets, with potholes, Suarez said. They also will get acclimated to crowds.

Preliminary plans call for them to train in Colville, and be shipped in trailers to Washington, D.C., in mid-January.

The biggest logistical challenge will probably not involve the horses, but their riders and handlers, Suarez said.

Parade organizers have made arrangements for all equestrian units to be boarded in Maryland, Suarez said. Their riders are on their own, and lodging is getting scarce for what’s expected to be a heavily attended inaugural celebration.

“We’re just happy to be in the parade,” she said. “We’ll stay anywhere.”

SOS for National Parks, Utah

We have an urgent matter we need your help on. On December 19th, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to hold a lease sale for oil and gas tracts in the state of Utah. Ninety-three of these parcels are on or near the borders of Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dinosaur National Monument. If this moves forward, thousands of acres could be developed for oil and gas, industrializing the landscapes surrounding Utah's national parks.

It's going to take all of us to help put a stop to this. Tell Secretary Kempthorne to put a stop to the sale.

The front doors of our national parks are no place for oil and gas drilling. You and I know that, and the BLM should know this too. And the truth is, we don't have much time. Write your letter to Secretary Kempthorne TODAY and tell him to stop the BLM development rush. Take action!


Dionna Humphrey
Director of Advocacy
National Parks Conservation Association


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Miners, Foes, Fight Over Project in Az

Miners, foes fight over project near Superior

By Ed Taylor Tribune

CONTROVERSIAL PROJECT: Tom Goodell talks about ongoing work at the Resolution Copper Mine in Superior.


Hit by the declining price of copper and slowing demand for the metal, Resolution Copper Co. is throttling back development of a huge and controversial mine near Superior.

But company officials still say they’re maintaining a long-term commitment to the underground project, which could cost billions of dollars to develop before it opens in 2020.

“We take a long-term view,” said Chief Executive David Salisbury. “The price of copper could rise and fall many times between now and 2020, so we’re not overly concerned about the price of copper today.”

Still, Salisbury said the company will be cutting back the number of contract employees working at the site. The exact number has not been determined, but it will be greater than 50, he said.

As a result, development work at the mine will slow down, he said.

Resolution, which is a joint venture of international mining giants Rio Tinto PLC and BHP Billiton Ltd., supports a total of 419 jobs, of which 349 are employed by subcontractors. Roughly 110 of the company and contract employees live in the East Valley, according to company figures.

Subcontractors are doing much of the construction work at the site, including drilling a $1 billion exploratory shaft, which is scheduled to reach 7,000 feet below the surface in four years and will determine the feasibility of developing the entire mine.

Click for full version

Resolution officials believe they have found one of the world’s largest untapped copper deposits, potentially supplying 20 percent of the nation’s copper needs for at least five decades. But its great depth makes it difficult and expensive to extract.

Once developed, the mine would provide 1,400 jobs and inject nearly $800 million into the state’s economy each year. Resolution officials say it’s potentially one of the largest single development projects ever in Arizona, and so far they have spent about $300 million in pre-feasibility work. But the project has drawn intense criticism from environmentalists, rock climbers and Native American tribes, who believe it will damage the scenic landscape near the Apache Leap cliffs and other traditional tribal homelands. The company concedes there could be land subsidence resulting from the block cave mining method planned for the site, although the extent of the damage is unknown.

That opposition has so far prevented passage in Congress of a federal government land exchange that Resolution says it needs to develop the mine. All of the activity so far has been on private land, but the company wants 3,025 acres of adjoining federal land in the Tonto National Forest to complete the project.

The property being sought includes the 746-acre Oak Flats campground, from which mining was banned by a presidential order signed by Dwight Eisenhower in 1955.

Resolution officials said that restriction would be lifted if they obtain title to the land.

Resolution has proposed giving the federal government more than 5,000 acres of “environmentally sensitive” land that it has acquired in Arizona in exchange for the land it needs for the mine. The company also has made various commitments to protect the environment around Superior. But continued opposition has prevented the land-exchange bill from passing Congress every year since it was first introduced in 2005.

Salisbury said the company will push again for passage in 2009 if no action is taken in the current lame-duck session.

“We are ready to invest several billion dollars and create thousands of jobs,” he said. “We see this project as an opportunity for economic stimulus at no cost to the government.”

He added the company has “a high level of confidence” the project is feasible “or we wouldn’t be spending a billion dollars in preparation.”


But the environmental protections offered so far by the company are insufficient, said Sandy Bahr, conservation outreach director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter. She called the version of the bill currently before Congress “a joke” and “a huge rip-off of the public.”

There is no way to determine if the value of the land being offered by the company is comparable to the land it is seeking, she said. Also, the bill provides only “minimal” payment of royalties to the public for the copper production that would result, she said. And the bill doesn’t call for a detailed study of the environmental impact on the scenic surroundings until after the exchange takes place rather than before, she said.

“This land has been protected from mining for 50 years, and we should not give it up easily. It is too hard to get those kinds of areas protected,” she said.

As for the economic benefits, Bahr said they would be only temporary.

“There is a boom and bust effect that goes with mining. If you have a town that is so focused on a single activity, it can be really devastating, not to mention the environmental and health effects,” she said.

“Long-term sustainability is important. This project doesn’t cut it from that perspective.”


In testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources earlier this year, Shan Lewis, president of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, focused on the danger of the collapse of the land surface in an area “of unique cultural, spiritual and archeological significance to American Indian tribes in the region.”

In addition to the threat of destruction to Oak Flats and Apache Leap, the mine could damage Devil’s Canyon, through which U.S. 60 runs east of Superior, Lewis said.

“This land and its environmental beauty and resources are national treasures. There are times that our government should just say 'no,’ and this is one of them. This type of mining in this location should not occur.”


Salisbury said the company so far has not been able to open a discussion with the tribes about what the company could do to mitigate their concerns. He said Resolution plans to hire a Native American representative on its staff to try to build a relationship with the tribes.

Among the actions taken by the company to try to reduce the environmental impact is construction of a water treatment plant to treat runoff from the site that might be contaminated and treat water from a flooded existing shaft left over from previous mining.

The treated water would be used to irrigate farms southeast of Queen Creek. And the company has been allowing access by rock climbers into the area because the mine is near a popular rock-climbing spot. But attempts to create a new state park for rock climbers away from the mine site have collapsed under the weight of the state’s budget crisis.

As for the potential damage to Apache Leap, Salisbury said the company’s shaft and surface operations are located between the ore body and the cliffs. Any collapse of the cliffs would also destroy the company’s infrastructure, which couldn’t be allowed to happen, he said.


The fate of the land-swap bill could be influenced by the makeup of the new Congress. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, a critic of the legislation, could be tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to be Secretary of the Interior, a move that would take him out of the process in Congress.

However, he still could lobby members regarding the bill.

Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, whose congressional district includes the mine site, is replacing Republican Rick Renzi, who chose not to run for re-election and who is charged with trying to arrange the land exchange to benefit himself and a partner.

Kirkpatrick indicated in a written statement she would support an exchange if environmental and tribal concerns are addressed.

“I’ll continue to meet with supporters and opponents of the … exchange in order to thoroughly weigh all their positions,” she said. “At the end of the day, I believe that it’s very important that we find agreement so we can continue to move forward on this critical project.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

Grand Canyon Protections from Mining about to End

Hot News from Big-Mouth Broad Casting;

Dec. 6, 2008

The Bureau of Land Management today is expected to eliminate a regulation that gave two congressional committees the ability to block future uranium mining and exploration on public lands near the Grand Canyon.

The little-used provision, which is buried in Section 204 of the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, has for decades provided the House and Senate natural-resources committees with the authority to take emergency action to protect threatened federal land.

It was last invoked in June by Tucson Democrat Raul Grijalva, in a failed attempt to order Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to ban immediately new mining claims on more than 1 million acres of property near the Canyon for a period up to three years.

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The department ignored the order, questioning its constitutionality, and started in late October the public process to abolish the rule.

Thursday, Grijalva, who is rumored to be a leading candidate to head the Interior Department in President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet, blasted the Bush administration's decision to abolish the regulation.

"This last-minute change puts at risk the health of millions of citizens of the West," Grijalva said in a statement, adding that "in my view, the Grand Canyon is one of those places that deserves extra protection from the impact of industrial activities."

Roger Clark, air and energy director for the Grand Canyon Trust, expressed similar sentiments.

"We are deeply disappointed that the Bush administration places a higher priority on helping the mining industry than it does on protecting the Grand Canyon," he said.

Environmentalists fear that uranium mining could adversely harm the national park and have a negative impact on the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to residents in Arizona, Nevada and California.

But the BLM, one of several agencies under the umbrella of the Interior Department, has argued that ample protections are in place to protect the Grand Canyon and to ensure the sanctity of federal lands.

This week's action likely will not end the fight; environmental groups have sued over the mining issue, and that case is pending in U.S. District Court.

More on BC Wild Horse Killings

Hot News from Big-Mouth Broad Casting Co.;

Dec. 8, 2008

B.C. Government Killing Wild Horses and Wolves to Save Caribou

by Valhalla Wilderness Watch

The Vancouver Sun newspaper has learned that the BC Ministry of Environment has been paying aboriginal people to kill wild horses in the Chilcotin area of BC to use as bait to trap wolves. It's part of a program to increase the population of endangered mountain caribou. In addition, the Ministry of Forests has been paying aboriginal people to round up wild horses alive, to be sold at auctions where they are bought by slaughterhouses. The purpose is to clear the range for the ranchers' cattle.

Aboriginal people are divided on the issue. Some say they've always rounded up wild horses and they need the money from selling them. But do the taxpayers of the province and the nation want to pay them to do that?


There needs to be a public outcry against killing other species, purportedly to save the mountain caribou, because many scientists concerned about the mountain caribou are furious about the use of predator control to artificially pump up caribou numbers. Top carnivores such as wolves and cougars are critical to the health of ecosystems. They aid the survival of many plant communities and small animal species by keeping prey species as well as mid-sized predators in check. Areas where the top predators have been slaughtered have experienced heavy overgrazing of wildlife habitat and the subsequent death by starvation of thousands of deer and elk.

In 2007 fifty independent scientists signed a petition saying that predator control was being over-emphasized in the government's plan to recover mountain caribou populations. The petition calls, not only for protection of adequate habitat, but also for decommissioning hundreds of kilometres of logging roads that create travel lanes for predators to access caribou.

The real problem is that mountain caribou are dependent upon the same old-growth forest that the timber corporations want to log. In October of last year the BC government announced that it was "protecting" 2.2 million hectares of mountain caribou habitat. But beneath this cover, the government is adamantly unwilling to reduce logging significantly to save the caribou.

There are two ways to create an appearance of saving caribou without reducing logging. For one thing, the government can "protect" caribou habitat that is outside the Timber Harvesting Land Base. Such areas are abundant in BC because the mountain caribou live in steep, rugged mountains. The government can "protect" high altitude alpine meadows or sparse subalpine forest that are outside of the Timber Harvesting Land Base; "protecting" these areas (from what, we wonder?) will not reduce the allowable annual cut or the logging industry's wood supply. It won't save caribou either.

However, the government can create the illusion of bringing back the mountain caribou by killing its predators and competitive prey species such as deer, elk and moose. This will boost the population long enough for the logging companies to get by with plundering the last remaining habitat of these animals. The mountain caribou would then be on artificial life support until they die out.

What has likely added an edge of desperation to the government's program is that BC will be host to thousands of foreign visitors visiting the 2010 winter Olympics. They will not be pleased to know that our government is involved in wiping out an endangered type of caribou. But they won't be pleased to know the government is slaughtering wolves, cougars and other predators either, so these programs are kept secret.

What the Vancouver Sun discovered is only the tip of the iceberg. We have learned that the BC Ministry of Environment has been trapping wolves in the South Selkirk Region, because a dog named Rosie recently stepped into the traps and had her legs crushed. She had to be euthanized. And we know that the government has removed the bag limits on wolves in a number of areas in mountain caribou habitat.

Please read the Vancouver Sun article and consider writing a letter to the government. You can find the newspaper article about the killing of the Chilcotin wild horses at If you act quickly, you can also add a comment on the Vancouver Sun website, where many people have expressed their outrage. Letters to government should be sent to:

Premier Gordon Campbell Tom Ethier, Director
Room 156 Fish and Wildlife Branch
Parliament Buildings Environmental Stewardship Division
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4 Ministry of Environment This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it PO Box 9391
Victoria, BC_V8W 9MB This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For information on the ecology of mountain caribou and wolves, and predator control in British Columbia, see How the BC Government is Killing Mountain Caribou by Valhalla Wilderness Watch at Mountain Caribou Greenwash by VWW, also available at the same website, tells the story of the BC government's misleading plan to "save" the mountain caribou.

Valhalla Wilderness Watch
P.O. Box 335, New Denver, British Columbia V0G 1S0
Phone: 250-358-2610; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

December 6, 2008


B.C. Gov't Hires Aboriginals to Kill Wild Horses for Wolf-bait, Slaughter

Chilcotin aboriginals paid to shoot wild horses

B.C. government program to use animals for wolf bait is raising debate over management of horses

Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun

Published: Saturday, December 06, 2008

The B.C. government paid aboriginal people in the Chilcotin to shoot wild horses for wolf bait and to round up other wild horses for live sale, ultimately to slaughterhouses, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The Ministry of Environment purchased the shot horses as wolf bait for a predator study related to the recovery of threatened caribou herds in the Interior, while the Ministry of Forests and Range bankrolled the live capture of horses as part of a program to reduce competition with range cattle.

News of the provincial actions is generating debate even within the aboriginal community over the management of wild horses in the Chilcotin and the need to ensure their humane treatment.

Joe Alphonse, director of government services with the Tsilhqot'in National Government (TNG), said in an interview Friday his people have been capturing horses for generations for personal use. The sale to auctions and ultimately to slaughterhouses is also a way for natives on economically depressed reserves to earn money.

"It's acceptable," he said. "It's a last resort, but it still can provide a little bit of income. That's been a part of what we've had to rely on."

But Alphonse said his people cannot condone the shooting of wild horses for use as wolf bait.

"That's not something we would endorse," he said. "I think that if the majority of our people found out the Ministry of Environment is trying to hire people to shoot horses, there'd be outrage.

"If you're going to take a horse, you pay respect and get out on the land and chase that animal in on horseback. If you can't do that, to sit and hide there and shoot guns at a horse out in the wild where the animal could get wounded and suffer, we wouldn't endorse that."

Alphonse said the forests ministry, through an agreement with TNG, paid the Stone band $200 a horse to catch 25 horses last winter to reduce competition with ranchers' cattle. Up to half of the horses were sold at auction and ultimately sent to slaughterhouses, he said, and the rest were kept in the Chilcotin as saddle horses.

The forests ministry would like to continue the program this winter if funding is available.

Environment Ministry spokesman Dan Gilmore confirmed the ministry paid members of the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation of the Nemaiah Valley $500 apiece for four horses last winter.

"When it came time to consider how best to lure and capture wolves for the purposes of the mountain caribou recovery program, it was recommended that we use horseflesh," he said in a statement.

"Knowing of the activities of first nations, we undertook to ask if any first nations communities could offer us horses for the purposes of our mountain caribou project.

"We had a number of positive responses, and acted to purchase horses for an agreed price. First nations people selected the horses to be supplied to us, and dispatched them in preparation for transport."

Rodger Stewart, regional manager of environment for the Cariboo, said his office dealt directly with the Xeni Gwet'in administration, which has management control over the horses, and said he would not rule out making another request in the future. The Xeni Gwet'in could not be reached to comment Friday

BLM Ready for New Federal Resource Plan, Wants Your Comments

This is for the overall plan for all BLM lands in general, and not for any one specific area such as the BLMs Big Horn Basin Rescourse Management Plan which also needs our comments;

Hot News from Big-Mouth Broad Casting
Dec 5, 2008

BLM is ready for new federal resource plan

The Bureau of Land Management is taking public comment on a plan that will establish how oil, gas, coal, grazing, wildlife and other resources are managed for the next 20 years in the Powder River Basin.

BLM official Chris Hanson said the agency wants to hear from as many people as possible about their interests and worries so that the agency can incorporate them into a new management plan from the beginning. Comments are due by Jan. 5.

"Think of this plan as our road map for the next 20 years," Hanson, manager for the BLM's Buffalo field office, said. "This is the very front end of the process and we want to hear how you think we should manage the wildlife, the OHV (off-highway vehicles) access, grazing and these world class energy resources that we have here."

With more than 800,000 acres of surface land and 4.7 million acres of mineral estate holdings, BLM land in the Powder River Basin has become the final frontier for much of the region's energy developers. Most of the private energy resources in the area already have been developed.

A significant population of Western sage grouse — a possible candidate for the federal endangered species listing — also inhabit the area, a fact which has added extra tension to every decision the BLM has made on both issues in the past several years.

All comments by the public or any interested agencies made during the next 30 days will be incorporated into the so-called "scoping" phase of the process and will be used to guide the BLM on how it sets priorities, Hanson said.

He made it clear that because the BLM is a federal agency, it is obliged to also consider national concerns, such as domestic energy production.

Sheila Larsen of Gillette-based TLC Oil Tools and TLC Drilling said she isn't sure a 20-year plan can keep up with the fast-paced changes hitting the region.

"How can it possibly keep up with all the updates in technology?" she said. "Technology is changing by leaps and bounds. Look what we have learned about the water issues and water technology in just the past five years."

That's exactly why the BLM is asking for comment, Hanson said.

"I encourage you to think about things like alternative energy, clean coal, coal gasification and whether it is better to burn coal here and transmit the power via new transmission lines or add another railroad line," he said.

It is these kinds of big questions that the new plan is designed to assess, he said.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wild Horse Preserve Brings Joy to Cancer Patients

December 04, 2008

Carlos and Pam Lopopolo own the Cindy Rodger Lopopolo Wild Horse Preserve east of Socorro.

Big Mouth Broad-

-- Five miles east of Socorro, past the Four Hills Ranch, is a place where people suffering from cancer can enjoy the natural wonder of wild horses.

The Cindy Rodger Lopopolo Wild Horse Preserve is owned by Pam and Carlos Lopopolo. The preserve has 640 deeded acres and 1,280 optioned acres, which are leased to the New Mexico Horse Project.

The New Mexican Horse Project’s mission is to bring together key people who love wild horses for the purpose of promoting healthy herds, enhancing and protecting their habitat and encouraging community involvement.

The goals:

1. Locate and DNA test all free-range horses in New Mexico and surrounding regions that appear to be similar to those that have been tested and proven to be New Mexicans.

2. Research and archive the history of the horse in the United States and Canada.

3. Establish preserves where the animals that are proven to be New Mexicans may live and prosper as free animals without interference from human intervention.

4. Share the information, as requested, with people or groups with the same goals as those of the Project.

5. Re-establish the breed of horse and its descendants in the United States and throughout the world.

The preserve’s primary purpose is to allow wild horses and humans suffering from cancer to come together.

“This preserve is being established in the memory of those of the New Mexican Horse Project who fell victim to cancer. The preserve is a place where those brave individuals who are combating this wretched disease will be able to relax and enjoy some of nature’s wonders,” said Carlos Lopopolo.

The Lopopolos have two businesses in Socorro. They purchased the Socorro Leather Company and started the Wild Horse Art Galley, both located between Ace Hardware and the El Camino Family Restaurant on California Street.

The proceeds from the two companies and their third business, the Kanab Leather Company, will go toward the upkeep and maintenance of the preserve.

“Our new logo will feature three running horses. The first will have a Spaniard Conquistador rider, the second horse will have a Native American riding bareback and, of course, the third rider will be a cowboy,” Carlos said.

The Preserve is along the Bureau of Land Management’s Quebradas National Scenic Byway road, east of Escondida. To visit the preserve and see the horses, call Carlos at 505-417-7005.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Here Went the Leo Heil Will Money

Leo Heil was a Nevadian who loved the wild horses. When he died, way back in the 70's or 80's, he left nearly $500,000 to the state of nevada for the sole purpose of preserving nevadas wild horse herds. Well, once the state politicians got a hold of it they had a field day for themselves that started with the creation of the State of Nevadas "Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses" to manage the "Leo Heil Trust Fund."

Click on title above to see the piece of state legislation that created them and defines their purpose and their goals, and of course, outlines how the funds should be managed. Somehow over the years, by thoughtful and careful investment, the $500,000 was turned into millions, and in a later post I will show you what actually happened to the money, of course, the VAST MAJORITY of it NOT going to the cause of preserving Nevadas wild horses, but to lining the pockets of do-nothing bureauocrats instead.
The rest of it was used to bribe politicians in washington to allow the state of nevada to write the national policy for wild horse (and burro) management on public lands. They knew what they were doing from the start. They never liked the equines roaming the lands. They used to have a bounty on them. These are they guys that wrote the book designed to destroy our National Herds.

Here is a link to the original 1984 newspaper story, and more;

Protest Against Power Plant Confined to "Free Speech" Zones!!? WTF?

Defense experts testify power plant will harm environment


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

WEST PALM BEACH — A leader of a local environmental action group testified Wednesday that he resorted to civil disobedience - blocking the entranceway to a huge power plant's construction site - after other efforts to stop the project failed.

Peter Tsolkas, 27, and six others are on trial, charged with unlawful assembly, resisting arrest without violence and and trespassing after their arrest Feb. 18 while protesting Florida Power & Light's West County Energy Center. Tsolkas testified that the groups Everglades Earth First! and the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition had tried letter writing and speaking at planning meetings.

"We found ourselves basically ignored," Tsolkas said.

So he and others linked themselves together in a contraption of PVC pipe, chicken wire and tar and would only move if FPL's chief executive or the governor arrived and agreed to stop the plant's construction. Meanwhile traffic along Southern Boulevard backed up for miles, as trucks were blocked from entering the site. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office dispatched a helicopter and its Emergency Field Force to resolve the matter, according to testimony.

"This was a moment that felt pretty crystal clear to me," Tsolkas said.

Tsolkas' partner, Lake Worth City Commissioner Cara Jennings, and others supporters packed County Judge Laura Johnson's small courtroom. Jennings signalled to Tsolkas to look at jurors as he testified.

"Why not go in the free-speech zone?" asked Assistant Public Defender Charles Fountain II, referring to an area set aside for protesters.

"Because I came to stop a power plant, not stand in a free-speech zone," Tsolkas said.

A fellow defendant on trial, Lynne Purvis, testified that she ignored the "No Trespassing" signs on the Palm Beach Aggregates property and intentionally disobeyed the sheriff's deputies commands to leave, which surprised her a little, she said.

"We were hoping they would sympathize with us and say, 'Thanks'," said Purvis, 29.

Also on trial for the misdemeanor offenses are Marc Silverstein, Russell McSpadden, Richard Halsted, Brandon Block and Noah Wilson. They are using a rarely employed "necessity" defense- that it was necessary to commit the crimes to prevent imminent danger or death.

To that end, jurors heard hours of testimony from experts Wednesday about global warming and the effects of the new natural gas-powered plant on the surrounding water supplies and aquifers.

Dr. Sydney Bacchus, a hydroecologist, testified the plant's water requirements equal that of 50,000 homes and it is potentially one of the largest plants of its kind in the nation. Bacchus testified FPL is permitted to unload 13.5 million gallons a day of contamained water, injecting it into underground aquifers and allowing it to seep into water bodies. With her testimony, came charts and graphs and photos of aquifers and water bodies.

Two jurors leaned all the way forward in their chairs, mouths agape as they studied them.

Bacchus talked of cypress roots which will rot and trees that will topple after marshes are drained. She compared it to receding gums, showing jurors a large photo of a set of teeth.

"Are you saying this tooth decay was caused by the West County Energy Center?" Prosecutor Danielle Croke repeatedly asked.

On cross examination, Croke sought to demonstrate that none of the power plant's perceived threats to safety and the environment are imminent enough to necessitate a crime.

The state attorrney's office has aggressively pursued the arrested protesters, in part because of the considerable cost the Sheriff's Office incurred after dispatching the elite field force.

The protesters could face steep fines and jail or probation if convicted.

Closing statements and a verdict are expected Thursday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Powell Tribune Wants to Know

The Powell Tribune has a new blog and they have written about the wild horse situation and want our comments. By all means, lets let them have it.

Click on the title above to go there.


The Ranchers Reply to BLMs Proposed Big Horn Basin Resource Management Plan

In Response to BLMs Proposed "New Resource Managment Plan," Big Basin" County Commissioners call for protection of ranching

Written by CJ Baker
Friday, 28 November 2008

Oppose wilderness designations

Protecting a Western way of life is one of the main priorities of the Big Horn Basin’s County Commissions over the coming years.

“There is concern our Western culture is being destroyed or detrimentally changed,” they said, as part of 22 pages of remarks on government land use.

The Park, Big Horn, Washakie and Hot Springs County Commissions submitted comments to the Bureau of Land Management on Monday, outlining their visions of how federal land should be managed in the future.

The BLM is currently drafting a new Resource Management Plan for the entire Big Horn Basin — a process that will take several years. The plan will guide nearly every aspect of the Basin’s 3.2 million acres of federal land over the next 15 to 20 years.

As part of a scoping process designed to determine concerns and issues, the BLM sought public comments up until Nov. 24.

The four county commissions commented together in remarks compiled by Ecosystem Research Group (ERG) — a Missoula, Mont. environmental consulting firm.

The Park County Commissioners listed grazing as their highest-priority issue, and the collective comments emphasize its importance in the Basin.

If grazing is reduced, “the highest value of these lands ... is to sell to developers and ‘hobby’ ranchers,” they wrote. “With large ranches being subdivided into smaller tracts, many unintended consequences emerge. Our wildlife corridors and habitat are forever altered. We are witnessing urban sprawl creeping into these special places, and our landscapes and viewsheds are being chewed up by housing, roads, and rural businesses at alarming rates.”

By protecting ranches, the commissioners contend, open spaces will be protected.

“Ranchers and farmers can be great stewards of the land,” they said. “The benefits of keeping working landscapes from being subdivided and developed should be considered in the (plan).”

If the commissions have their way, none of the Basin’s lands will be designated as wilderness. Wilderness areas are typically remote, untouched by development and largely roadless. A wilderness designation — which can only be made by Congress — usually bans all motorized travel from the area.

“Millions of acres in the west are designated as wilderness. We oppose designating any of the lands within the (planning area) as wilderness,” they wrote.

Currently, the BLM is studying 12 areas as potential wilderness sites. Restrictions are placed on those Wilderness Study Areas to keep them as potential wilderness candidates. The commissions ask that the study areas be returned to general management.

The county officials also lay out their support for oil and gas development in the comments, while calling for an increased emphasis on site reclamation.

Also, the commissions call for the BLM to study the safety of chemicals used in oil and gas exploration — something that environmental groups have called for as well.

“Recent articles regarding ... hydraulic fracturing have uncovered a series of contamination incidents that raise questions over the Environmental Protection Agency’s stance that the process poses no risk to drinking water,” they wrote.

However, the comments stress the importance of not being too restrictive.

“Mitigation tools can be implemented, but they need to be reasonable, not used as tools to shut down this industry,” they wrote. “Oil and gas contributes a great deal to the socioeconomic stability of our communities and nation.”

The commissions say oil and gas development is at times underappreciated.

“Discussions and analyses regarding the negative impacts of oil and gas are often underscored while the benefits ... to the public and the BLM are not identified or ignored,” they said.

Opportunities for alternative energy sources, such as wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal power should be also considered, the commissioners said.

The comments note the special public interest in the Basin’s wild horses. The BLM should examine all options in management, they said.

“As part of the wild horse management plan, the use of contraceptives should be continued, and adoption and slaughter of excess animals should be considered,” they wrote.

The commissions also ask the BLM to stop using helicopters for roundups, citing cost and the equine’s well-being.

“Helicopter roundups negatively impact the wild horse program and public support,” they wrote.

Maintaining high water levels at Big Horn Lake is also a concern. The commissions say keeping the level high will benefit fisheries, recreation, hydropower production, weed control and also sediment and erosion control. They write that “the most effective (and the only cost-effective) way to drop out sediment where it causes the least damage is to maintain lake levels above 3,625 feet during spring runoff.”

For this coming spring, the BLM projects that levels will dip to 3,619 feet.

The lowest level at which it is safe to launch boats is 3,617 feet, according to the BLM.

The commissions would also like the BLM to provide expected costs of the available management options for public consideration. They suggest creating a volunteer program for under-funded projects. The comments also addressed air quality, vegetation, tourism impacts, and other areas of concern.

Over the next couple months, the BLM will be reading and analyzing all of the comments received — comments from government, environmental groups, and concerned citizens. Those will be used to help come up with a plan that outlines the issues to be examined. The management plan is scheduled to be finalized in 2011.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Virginia Prosecutor & Wild Horse Advocate

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views

A blog that focuses on our unique program to teach children to gentle wild horses and start colts using natural horsemanship. In addition, this blog discusses our efforts to prevent the extinction of the Corolla Spanish Mustang

Click on title above to see Mr Edwards blog, and the wonderful thing he is doing with wild horses and children!

Government Needs to Restore Wild Horse Herds

While relieved that the lives of the 33,000 wild horses seem to have been spared though the generosity of Madeleine Pickens, I still hold our federal government responsible and call for the restoration of the now largely empty, but still legal herd areas. America should consider the relative proportions of wild horses/burros, livestock, and big game animals, both within the original 53,444,499 acres where the wild horses/burros have a legal right and upon the public lands as a whole. Doing so will reveal a terrible injustice that has been perpetrated contrary to the law and public will.
Over 95 percent of the original herd areas and over 98 percent of the reduced herd management areas are leased to livestock grazers and most of their remaining resources relegated to big game animals. This is in clear violation of the Wild Horse Act that states that wild horses/burros are to be treated as the “principal” presences in these areas. The unappreciative bullies who seem to call the shots on the public lands are not satisfied with already getting the hog’s share of public lands resources, but perversely insist on marginalizing the wild horses/burros even within those greatly reduced herd management areas that are still inhabited by their scant populations.
Over 19 million, or 36 percent, of the original legal herd areas on BLM/USFS lands have been zeroed out, including 7,658,302 BLM acres, or 18 percent of the original acreage, and 5,986,112 forest service acres for an outrageous 53 percent. There has been an effective displacement of the wild horses/burros from at least 3⁄4 of the public lands to which they are legally entitled. In other words, of the ca. 4,522 livestock permittees originally having to share, 1,612 no longer have to bother. Forage eaten yearly by livestock on BLM lands is about 7 million animal unit months. This contrasts with only 381,120 AUMs used by the tiny remnant of wild horses/burros.
The latter consume only 5.3 percent of the total used in combination with livestock. And when forage consumed by big game animals is taken into account, wild horses/burros are responsible for less than 2 percent. On Forest Service lands, livestock devour 6.6 million AUMs per year, yet wild horses and burros eat a mere 32,592 AUMs – than .005 percent of what livestock consumes. (Two percent is also the proportion of nation-wide livestock production represented by all the public lands.)
I call for major reform in our nation’s wild horse and burro program and a restoration of these National Heritage Species in all of their over 300 original 1971 herd areas.
This is where the 33,000 captured horses should be released but this time under the protection of public servants who really care for them and defend their rights to freedom, to fill their vacant ecological niche in the natural world.
These wide-ranging herbivores are perfect for reducing dry flammable vegetation, re-seeding native plants, and building soils. They are also a wonderful aesthetic resource. And North America is their evolutionary cradle and rightful home.

• Craig Downer is a wildlife ecologist and Minden resident.

Click on title above:

No Concern for Wild Horses in BLM's New "Resource Management Plan!"

No concern for wild horses & burros in BLMs new proposed Resource Management Plans" for the Big Horn Basin area,...and ranchers reply;

Click on title above for more information and TWO places to comment


BLMs Proposed Big Horn Basin Resource Management Plan Says NOTHING of Wild Horses! Wants Our Comments!

The BLMs Proposed Big Horn Basin Resource Management Plan:
Notice that WH&B Management IS NOT even listed on their "Primary Issues" list!

Click on title above to read report;

I have just spoken with Mr Caleb Hiner, Project Manager for the Worland Field office of the BLM, who says, eventhough the comment period expired on Nov. 14th,... it is still NOT too late to send our comments; the Big Horn Basin Managment Report is not due to be completed until the year 2010, so please do send in your comments to remind them of how important WILD HORSE & BURRO PRESERVATION is to you!

How Do I Comment?

The BLM is requesting public comment on issues, planning criteria, and potential alternatives for the Bighorn Basin RMP. The BLM encourages you to attend scheduled scoping meetings, but comments will also be accepted throughout the planning process via mail or e-mail. Please send electronic comments to

For further information and/or to have your name added to the project mailing list, contact Caleb Hiner, RMP Project Manager, at the Worland Field Office (307) 347-5171.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bushs' Dark Eco-Legacy for Obama

December 02, 2008

President George Bush's dark eco legacy for Barack Obama

In his last days in office as President, George Bush is busy watering down hard-won environmental regulations, which new boy Barack Obama may find difficult to roll back. Jimmy Lee Shreeve reports for the Daily Telegraph

He could've coasted the last days of his presidency pursuing his hobbies of bass fishing and watching baseball.

Instead George W Bush is working at breakneck speed to water down many major environmental safeguards protecting American's wildlife, national parks and rivers.

Critics say it's all about protecting the interests of his big business buddies before the removal trucks roll into the White House on 20th January.

One thing is for sure, it looks like Dubya was listening when the "Drill, baby, drill" mantra echoed through the Republican National Convention in Minnesota on 3rd September.

Even then, he probably sensed the game was up for the lacklustre John McCain/Sarah Palin campaign and that Barack Obama would walk the presidency. Therefore, he knew he had to move fast to knock back the "pesky" environmental regulations that have long hindered the plans of his pals in Big Oil.

When Barack Obama won the election on 4 November, the Bush administration got down to announcing a whole raft of so called "midnight regulations" which would drastically change America's environmental laws – for the worse.

Yet the mood of the nation has undergone a huge sea change. Americans voted in overwhelming numbers to move away from the failed energy policy of "drill, baby, drill" to one based around clean, efficient and renewable energy – the strategy advocated by Obama.

That's what the people want. But, like it or not, passing last minute regulations is what outgoing presidents do – in fact, the precedent was set in 1801 when John Adams appointed a group of "midnight judges".

And as long as such regulations are published sixty days before the end of an administration's time in office, they are difficult to reverse. As David Vladeck, an administrative law professor at Georgetown University puts it: "[The practise of midnight regulations] condemns the next administration to spend years fighting the old administration's agenda."

Supporters of Bush say he is merely doing what he can to preserve the conservative principles of pro-business laissez faire economics and light-touch regulations – both of which are typically undermined under the Democrats.

Critics, on the other hand, say he is showing utter contempt for the environment and is pandering to the old school business lobby that puts "profit above planet".

This is certainly the way it looks. On 17th November, for example, the Bush administration announced new regulations that would allow commercial oil shale operations to go ahead on up to two-million acres of public land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Objections from Colorado Gov Bill Ritter and a majority of the state's congressional delegation were dismissed. Ritter called the decision "not just premature, it's hasty and I would even argue reckless." Worryingly, amendments were built into the regulations to prevent public appeals against the proposed projects.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), part of the Department of Interior, published the new rules on 21st November that will take effect just after Congress reconvenes with a larger Democrat majority.

The move was geared to lay the legislative groundwork for the creation of a giant US oil shale industry. Shale is seen as the new black gold because it contains Kerogen, a type of immature oil.

Extracting oil from shale, however, is still in its early stages. But oil companies see the process as a natural progression from tar sands operations in Canada which have successfully used a similar extraction technique.

In a statement, Bureau of Land Management director Jim Caswell said: "The goal of the BLM's oil shale programme is to promote economically viable and environmentally sound production of oil shale on Western lands, where we estimate deposits hold the equivalent of 800 billion barrels of oil – enough to meet US demand for imported oil at current levels for 110 years."

Clearly, there's a definite case for the US reducing its dependence on the Middle East for oil. But is the project really ecologically sound?

Not according to environmentalists. They claim that the energy needed to extract oil from shale – a process that requires extremely high temperatures – means the resulting product has a carbon footprint 5-10 times higher than regular oil.

"Cooking rocks and scorching the earth is not a solution to our energy crisis," says Amy Mall, senior policy-maker at the Natural Resources Defence Council(

"This is just another government giveaway to Big Oil, which doesn't make sense when we have better, cleaner energy sources available now.

"We need to invest in clean energy solutions – like plug-in cars – that will reduce our dependence on oil, not dirtier fuels that spoil public lands, hasten climate change and suck up limited water supplies."

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is also under siege during these last days of George Bush's administration.

Under new rules published on 21st November, Federal agencies would be able to decide for themselves whether projects like new highways or dams pose a threat to wildlife and the environment.

Currently, under the Endangered Species Act, Federal agencies are required to get clearance from a wildlife biologist who is not generally shy of ordering modifications to proposed projects.

Since the ESA came into effect in 1973, 1-in-3,500 Federal actions have been blocked. This is very likely to be reduced with the new rules.

The Bush administration is also easing the rules on environmental pollution. Under another of Dubya's midnight regulations, factory farms will be allowed to decide whether or not they need permits to release waste into streams and rivers.

The fear is that factory farmers will be unable to resist dumping waste – harming already overburdened rivers and streams.

On top of this, the Environmental Protection Agency is finalising new air quality rules that would make it easier for carbon intensive industries, like coal-fired power plants and oil refineries, to be located near national parks. Fourteen regional administrators in the agency itself have voiced strong objections.

Rules have also been proposed to dilute pollution controls on new fossil fuel power stations, and the White House has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw a new regulation mandating that truck manufacturers install equipment to monitor vehicle pollution.

The Bush administration denies that the flurry of rule changes is politically motivated. White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, insisted that there had been no attempt to rush regulations into place "ahead of the incoming, next administration."

A House of Representatives Select Committee report on energy and independence, released in early November, however, stated that: "While the first 100 days of the Bush administration initiated perhaps the worst period of environmental deregulation in American history, the last 100 days of the Bush presidency could be even worse."

Will Barack Obama roll back the midnight regulations?

After accusing the Bush administration of "moving aggressively to do things that are probably not in the interests of the country," John Podesta, a senior figure in the transition team, hinted that the new administration would roll back any measure it didn't like as swiftly as possible.

Will they succeed? Only time will tell. What is certain is the incoming Obama administration has got the mood of the nation

Marine Corps Proposes Public Land Acquisition for Military Base

Marine Corps Announces Public Meetings for Proposed Land Acquisition Projec
December 2nd, 2008


Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

Marine Corps Announces Public Meetings for Proposed 29Palms Training Land/Airspace Acquisition Project

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has announced that they will be holding three Open House Scoping Meetings in early December. The meetings are on the Navy's Proposed Action to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed acquisition of approximately 366,000 acres of public land, including approximately 189,000 acres of Johnson Valley OHV Area, from the Bureau of Land Management.

As most of you already know, the transfer of these public lands would be devastating to the OHV community and recreating public. It's time to step up and let them know where you stand. Please try to attend one of these meetings. See the USMC invitation with the dates and locations of each meeting below.

Thanks in advance for your involvement,
Ric Foster
Public Lands Department Manager
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 107


Proposed 29Palms Training Land/Airspace Acquisition Project

Proposed Action
The Department of the Navy is in the initial stages of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed acquisition of lands and establishment of airspace contiguous to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.

The EIS will consider a range of reasonable alternatives for the proposed action sufficient to meet Marine Expeditionary Brigade training requirements.

The U.S. Marine Corps invites you to participate in the
Proposed 29Palms Training Land/Airspace Acquisition Project

Attend an open house scoping meeting to let the Marine Corps know what issues and interests you have for consideration in the development of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Representative from the Marine Corps will be available to provide information about the proposed action. Your comments are welcome.

The U.S. Marine Corps wants your input!

Oral and written comments will be accepted at the open houses.

Written comments may also be submitted to:
ATTN: Land Acquisition Program Manager
Box 788104, Building 1554, Room 138
Twentynine Palms, CA 92278-8104

Comments must be received by Jan 3l, 2009, for consideration in the Draft EIS.

For more information, visit

Open House Scoping Meetings

Twentynine Palms:
December 3, 2008, 5 to 9 p.m.
Twentynine Palms Junior High, Hays Gym
5798 Utah Trail
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

December 4, 2008, 5 to 9 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn
12603 Mariposa Road
Victorville, CA 92395

December 5, 2008 5 to 9 p.m.
Ontario Convention Center
2000 E. Convention Ctr. Way
Ontario, CA 91764