Saturday, February 28, 2009

IDA Helps Rescue 52 Slaughter-Bound Wild Horses

A few weeks ago, IDA received a call from the horse rescue organization Return to Freedom about 52 wild horses in dire straights. The horses had been removed from State lands in Nevada and are likely Virginia Range horses.

Click on title above for full article;

Wild Horse Advocate Dies in Car Wreck

Richard Sewing
February 28, 2009

CEDAR CITY - Richard Sewing passed away February 23, 2009 as the result of an automobile accident. He was born December 14, 1929 in Bell, California. He lived in southern California, graduated from Burbank High School and worked for Shell Oil for 20 years. Richard and his wife, June moved to Utah in 1975 where they operated a farm in Newcastle for over 20 years. Upon retiring from farming they moved to Cedar City. Richard became involved with National Mustang Association, a wild horse advocacy group. He managed their ranch sanctuary in Barclay, Nevada and was their Operations Manager. As a result of his work with the horses, he had a close association with many Bureau of Land Management people. He was currently in his second term as member of the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.

He leaves his wife, June, of 54 years, of Cedar City; two sons, Rick (Robin) of Fort Lupton, Colorado; and Jerry of Arroyo Grande, California; six grandchildren, Christopher (Tammy), Rick (Victoria), Tiffany (Frank), Jennifer (Adam), Heather and Jenny, as well as four and one half great grandchildren.

Richard was a long time member of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod and served as Elder and President.

Services will be held at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 410 E. 1925 N. (Wedgewood Lane), Cedar City on Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Valley View Health Care Foundation.

Arrangements entrusted to Swindlehurst Funeral Home. Please send condolences to www.swindle

Friday, February 27, 2009

Canada to form a "Wild Horse" Task Force

Regional district forming task force to investigate wild horse problem
By Joyce Langerak - Penticton Western News

Published: February 26, 2009 10:00 AM
Updated: February 26, 2009 4:28 PM

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen unanimously supported Area F Director Michael Brydon’s motion to direct staff to investigate the wild horse issue and create a task force to propose solutions.

West Bench isn’t the only area in the regional district that has problems with wild horses, Brydon told the board during their meeting Thursday.

“Summerland has had problems in the past with horses, parts of Area D has problems on Green Mountain road, down near the airport and Riva Ridge. I personally talked to Chief Jonathan Kruger (of the Penticton Indian Band) and they’re on board, at least in terms of yes, something needs to be done, and yes, we can co-operate and work together.”

Ultimately, addressing the problem could involve taxation, fencing or other things, said Brydon.

“Our goal is to get as much senior government support as possible. Ultimately, if we make a service area, the residents will benefit. Owners would have to agree that this is the service they want.”

When it comes to accidents involving wild horses on roadways, the Ministry of Transportation and ICBC would also benefit from a program that keep horses off the road, noted Brydon.

There have been efforts made in the past to control the wild horses, but there has never before been any motion presented to the board, he said.

Brydon had been confident that the board would support the motion, but he did admit that it will take time to make the changes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Live Stream for WH&B Advisory Meeting, Mar 2nd

----- Original Message -----
From: Shelley Sawhook
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 1:03 AM
Subject: [Hooflinks] Great News!!

For those of us who cannot attend the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, it is incredibly frustrating. No matter where we all live, we still care about the wild horses and burros and being left out of the process is unfair.

Stepping in to fill the gap is Nevada HorsePower. They managed to stream the last meeting and will once again be streaming the next one for us to view. Last time, some may have experienced some technical difficulties, but they simply didn't expect the number of people who logged in at once. They think they have worked out the issues and are expecting the crowds. So, please if you can watch do so. It is informative and it involves us because these are OUR horses and burros, OUR tax dollars that support the program and OUR right to know. Read the press release below.

HORSE POWER a non-profit 501(c)3, and their educational partner, Sierra Nevada Community Access Television., is proudly announcing another project together. Bringing the Public the complete National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory meeting, March 2nd, from 8 am - 5 pm.
The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting will be web-streamed live from the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada, Monday, March 2nd , 2009, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by Horse Power ( through their public information partner Sierra Nevada Community Access Television (SNCAT). This very controversial meeting is intended to bring together the representatives from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Wild Horse Advisory Board and wild horse and burro advocates.
The decisions made at this meeting, could by law include the euthanasia or selling for slaughter of the over 30,000 of America’s wild horses and burros now warehoused in government pens. The meeting will include recommendations and input from the Bureau of Land Management, The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board and public comments from Wild Horse and Burro Advocates from all corners.

Posted By AHDF President to Hooflinks at 2/23/2009 11:57:00 PM

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

11 Wild Burros Shot on Public Land

Feb. 23, 2009 03:08 PM
The Arizona Republic

Offroad vehicle enthusiasts found 11 wild burros shot to death on
public land north of Morgan City Wash near Lake Pleasant, Bureau of
Land Management authorities said Monday.

The carcasses were found over the weekend by off-road vehicle riders
in the area.

"We are investigating this crime, and we want people with information
to call us," BLM Supervisory Ranger Patrick Brasington said in a news

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A $5,000 reward is being offered, and anyone with information is
asked to call 1-800-637-9152.

The incident occurred within the last week on public lands north of
the metro area where the BLM manages a naturally-occurring wild burro
heard of 280.

Brasington said the burros, which included a Jennie and several Jacks
and colts, were found in an area that is accessible by ATVs, four-
wheel drive or on foot.

The BLM's National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board is scheduled
to meet in Reno, Nev., next Monday. According to the bureau's
website, the agenda includes discussion on the management,
protection, and control of wild horses and burros on Western public

Colored horses

Colored horses

You know the abandoned horse tragedy is getting worse when they start dumping colored horses. Palaminos, paints, grays, bays, whites and Appaloosas are appearing on forest land in the west, farm ground in the east and the suburbs of Texas.

Which seems a contradiction; before the Horse Slaughter Ban came into effect there was always a market for colored horses. Even rock solid confirmation/cowyness-driven horse breeders and trainers would admit they look twice at the butterscotch beauty with the cottontail and mane, or a striking black and white Paint.

I wonder if once upon a time in Eohippus history, color was used to attract mates? It certainly applies in birds, fish, insects, frogs and humans. In my case, not being tall, dark and handsome, I've had to revert to the equivalent of frog croaking, colorful scarves and an oversize moustache

We humans have used color to promote calico cats, longhorn cattle, Australian shepherds and parakeets. There are times, however, when I think some unscrupulous traders have tried to take advantage of the unsuspecting. For instance, at the big Stock Show in Denver I saw a for sale poster stuck outside the horse barn. It said, "Standing at stud, guaranteed live foal, $500."

It was a colored photograph of a horse wearing a Mexican saddle standing in front of a Mexican bus. The first thing you noticed was that it was a faded light brown Paint horse. As you continued to examine the picture, the horsehide began to resemble a dirty carpet someone had thrown up on.

Then there was the ear. It looked like a little brussels sprout on the tip of a head shaped like a cardboard box. The lower lip stuck straight out as if the box were open. The eye was not so much a pigeye, just more like a knothole in a flat board. His hind legs tucked up under him like he was preparing to leap but you knew by the lip that he was asleep. Thank goodness the saddle covered the rest of him.

In pencil, someone had crossed out the $500 and put $250, which in turn was crossed out and replaced by $100, then in sequence; two Spanish goats. a thee-legged Border Collie and finally by 30 head of broomtail sorrel mares, all bred... call the BLM in Reno.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ca. Horse rescue group extending help to northern valley

John Airrington, Interm Excutive Director for the High Sierra Wild Horse Sanctuary and Gentling Center in Ripon, works with Stanislaus Animal Services Department to help horses find a home.

John Airrington said he wasn't sad when he saw the 10 emaciated and diseased horses found abandoned in Del Puerto Canyon last weekend.

"I was furious," he said. "That's not something that just happens. It's just plain neglect."

Airrington is the executive director of High Sierra Wild Horse Sanctuary & Gentling Center, which was founded 10 years ago in Weldon, near Lake Isabella east of Bakersfield in the Sierra.

Airrington, who lives in Ripon, consulted with the Stanislaus County Department of Animal Services about the horses abandoned in Del Puerto. But with the contagious bacterial disease they have and their physical condition, his organization couldn't take the animals or try to find adoptive homes for them.

The Animal Services Department is soliciting donations to try to treat the horses.

Unfortunately, Airrington added, cases of abandoned horses are becoming epidemic across the United States, leaving horse rescue groups at capacity and struggling to provide help.

High Sierra Wild Horse Sanctuary is a nonprofit rescue and training operation founded by Nadia and Joe Lane that is expanding into the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The sanctuary has acquired a six-acre pasture in Manteca and hopes to offer horses for adoption in this area.

It has about 57 horses, according to Nadia Lane, many of them mustangs that had been adopted out by the Bureau of Land Management and then abandoned or turned over by owners who were unable to care for them.

The organization started with a couple of adoptions from the BLM, Lane said, and grew exponentially as friends alerted them to horses that were going to slaughter or owners who couldn't handle the horses anymore.

The Lanes eventually bought 12 acres near Lake Isabella and formed a nonprofit corporation to allow fund raising to support the operation. Both have full-time jobs in addition to running the rescue.

The horses High Sierra offer for adoption have gone through training and are healthy, Airrington said. The nonprofit group is working with Barnwood Stables in Ripon, where Cherie Mangelos has volunteered to tame and train the horses.

Adoption costs run from $250 to $1,500, depending on the level of training the horse receives, Airrington said.

High Sierra is looking for volunteers to help with horses, and donations, foster care for horses and adoptive homes. For more information, call Airrington at 992-7236.

Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at or 578-2349.

Comments Add Comment Disclaimer Posted by:
2009-02-20 18:10:42
Rated: 0 by 0 users.

i have had horses that have had "stangles". some just had a touch of it, & one had it bad. how bad do these horses have it. i've ALWAYS treated it w/penicillin(over the counter liquid form about $20-$30 for a BIG bottle)i know feed is expensive, but the article made it sound like these were diseased horses w/no hope except for certain death. the chances of these horses getting sick again from this is close to none. i really question animal services & their vet on whether or not they are capable of taking care of these animals properly.

Posted by:
2009-02-20 16:51:40
Rated: 0 by 0 users.

Could they take them after treatment?

Wildlife activists target USDA agency

By Audrey Hudson

Environmental activists Tuesday called on President Obama to abolish an obscure Agriculture Department office they say is a "federal wildlife-killing agency," yet is also responsible for guarding against bird strikes at airports across the country.

The Wildlife Services division was established under the Animal Damage Control Act of 1931 to manage wildlife damage to agriculture and property, and its mission was later expanded to assist airports in reducing the number of birds and other animals that take up residence near airports that costs lives and millions of dollars in damages after colliding with airplanes.

Ranchers and cattlemen defend the need for the program to control predators, but 60 environmental groups and individuals led by WildEarth Guardians say it's a gruesome waste of taxpayer dollars.

"Wildlife Services litters the American landscape with deadly poisons and traps that are inherently indiscriminate and often kill curious pets, threatened and endangered species, and other animals that are unintentionally killed," the groups said in a letter and a 108-page report they sent to the Obama administration.

Eliminating the Wildlife Services division would not only save animals' lives, but would serve as a cost-cutting measure, saving taxpayers $100 million annually, the environmentalists said in their report. Bird-mitigation efforts at airports, it argues, should be shifted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

A White House spokesman declined to comment, saying they have not yet reviewed the report.

The report criticized the lethal use of aerial gunning - shooting animals from planes - as "inhumane, expensive and biologically unsound." Since 2001, the main targets in aerial shootings were coyotes - more than 200,000 - and nearly 35,000 feral hogs.

Predators such as foxes, wolves, bobcats, mountain lions and bears are also controlled by using poisons or traps.

The report said that nonlethal methods should be used to manage wildlife and cited cases in which lethal methods were deployed on private property without the owners' knowledge.

The Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen´s Beef Association say Wildlife Services "plays a key role in protection of livestock from predation, mitigating wildlife damage to agriculture, and disease prevention."

According to the organizations, livestock losses to predators cost producers more than $100 million annually.

"Without non-lethal and lethal predator control by Wildlife Services, these numbers could easily double or even triple," Skye Krebs, Public Lands Council president, said in a letter last month to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The letter was signed by 76 organizations in support of Wildlife Services.

"While we realize wildlife plays an integral part of the rangeland ecosystem, it is important to sustain a balance between species. Through Wildlife Services, we are able to limit disease, enhance public safety and minimize economic losses to ranchers," Mr. Krebs said. "Additionally, they play a vital role in public safety, reducing threats to aircraft by controlling bird populations around airports, reducing bird strikes to aircraft."

Between 2004 and 2007, the groups say Wildlife Services killed more than 8.3 million animals. A breakdown of the numbers shows that number included 750,000 mammals and 7.6 million birds.

On Jan. 16, a US Airways Airbus struck Canadian geese just after takeoff from La Guardia Airport in New York, forcing the pilot to crash land in the Hudson River. All 155 passengers and crew members survived.

"WildEarth Guardians believe that a small number of Wildlife Services' actions that may be needed, could be better handled by other more responsible entities, such as the FAA or individual states," the group said.

Neither the FAA nor the Agriculture Department returned calls for comment.

However, USDA spokeswoman Carol Bannerman told the Associated Press that Mr. Vilsack intends to review all agency programs, but that it would be weeks before he had any idea about possible changes he wants to make.

A new Bill to Protect Wild Horses!

Please support this bill and get post cards from Garnett.( send a donation for postage if possible).
It's a big improvement to the 1971 WH&B Act.
----- Original Message -----
Sunday, February 22, 2009 1:34 PM
Subject: A must read

AWHA Members and Friends,

Please read this: click on title above;

We need to pull out all the stops, and work like we have never worked before, to make sure that HR 1018 is passed. It is, by far, the most significant WH & B legislation since the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act was passed in 1971.

This (finally) is our chance to really make some changes that will greatly benefit the horses.

The nation's WH & B Advocate groups are not large enough to make this happen alone.

We need to strongly involve the General Public in EVERY STATE in the country.

The anti-slaughter bill is a separate bill - HR 503. It also has different sponsors.

I think it was very wise to separate them to have the best chance to accomplish all that we want.

To monitor the progress of a bill go to: and enter the bill number

As you will see - HR 1018 has no Co-sponsors at the moment.

HR 503 has 88 Co-sponsors (up from 60 the 3rd week in January)

Those of you who already have the AWHA cards for the National Postcards To Congress Campaign* need to be getting them written both locally & nationally.

I personally believe that cards, letters, e-mails, and phone calls coming from other States will have more of an impact than those from NV - but it's your call.

Please contact everyone you know, and at least 50 people you don't know, and ask for their support on this critical issue.

If you haven't already done so - you can read the actual text of the bill at the AHDF link - or - at

*If you don't have postcards, or don't know what I am talking about, please contact me at: - and I will give you more information.


"These horses belong to all the people of America and they exist on lands that belong to all the people of America." - Velma "Wild Horse Annie" Johnson

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Anglers concerned about famous NM fishing spot


AP Writer

ALONG THE SAN JUAN RIVER, N.M. (AP) -- Cutting through northwestern New Mexico's high desert, the San Juan River has long been known by anglers around the world for its clear water, big trout and unbelievable vistas.

But from the top of the sandstone cliffs on the river's north side, the change is evident. The water is green and the cobblestones have disappeared thanks to silt washing down from the mesas above.

"It didn't used to be this way," says Andreas Novak, a lifelong fly fisherman who moved to Farmington nearly three decades ago to be close to the world class fishery.

The San Juan has become a $40 million business for the region, but Novak and other anglers are worried that erosion from increased oil and gas activity and low flows mandated by federal officials for endangered species and water users downstream could mean the death of the fishery, if something isn't done.

Supporters of the river have sent a flurry of letters to Gov. Bill Richardson, members of Congress and game officials, asking that the watershed be studied to determine how best to protect the special trout water.

Like the San Juan, hunting and fishing spots across the West are losing their appeal as growing populations and energy development place more demands on the region's natural resources.

Declines in fish, big game and other species have been documented from New Mexico to Wyoming while oil and gas drilling on federal land has more than doubled over the past decade, according to the national coalition Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development.

"You venture onto public lands in the West to get away from the impacts you see in the city and what's happening is the industry zones are coming to the wild country," said Chris Wood, an official with Trout Unlimited.

In northwestern New Mexico, anglers say a tangled web of dirt roads and wells in the San Juan Basin -- one of the largest natural gas fields in the nation -- has resulted in more sediment in the San Juan River.

Not enough water is released from the dam above the fishery to wash away the sediment. With a muddy bottom, fish have nowhere to reproduce and fewer bugs make it through their life cycle, leaving fish with little to eat.

"When I see things happening like this, it just flat doesn't make sense to me," Novak said. "That's when I have to stand up and say 'Hey, is anybody listening, is anybody looking? Can't we do something about this?"

Part of the problem is that a handful of state and federal agencies have a stake in the watershed. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation manages the river's flows, the Fish and Wildlife Service oversees the endangered species downstream, the Bureau of Land Management controls the surrounding mesas and the state Game and Fish Department deals with the trout.

Oscar Simpson, a former game commissioner and member of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, accuses game officials of "sticking their heads in the sand" to avoid a confrontation with federal officials.

He said the state needs to push water managers to develop strategic flows for the fishery and land managers to ensure that energy companies limit soil disturbance and erosion.

"If we don't have a multiple approach ... this world class fishery will be lost within a few short years," Simpson said.

It's not that simple.

Federal officials say each agency is bound by its own regulations and legal requirements.

"It's one of those things, for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction," said Pat Page, a Bureau of Reclamation official.

Page said his office has tried to be flexible in releasing water, but that will likely end as more downstream users develop their water rights and pressures mount on endangered species in the river.

As for energy development, the BLM said it's always looking for ways to minimize runoff but the area along the San Juan is highly erosive. The sandstone is steep and bare in most spots, said Steve Henke, manager of the BLM's Farmington office.

"We do transport considerable sediment when we get the high-intensity, short-duration thunderstorms, but that's very much a natural event in an arid environment," he said.

Some anglers complain that the agencies are writing off the San Juan's problems as complexities of nature, but they say word is spreading that the fishery isn't what it used to be.

The governor took his own look during a float trip last fall. He has since pledged to seek $400,000 in state funds for restoration work.

Novak said up until now, the state has provided only "a Band-Aid to a problem where major surgery is required." The state has done three habitat improvement projects in recent years only to have them silted in by last summer's monsoons, he said.

Anglers estimate that two-thirds of the four-mile stretch of quality water have become silt-laden, forcing the trout into a small area just below the dam.

Assistant Game and Fish director Bob Jenks said the department has no specific plans if it does get the funding but possibilities include more habitat improvements, bank stabilization and methods for keeping sediment out of the river.

Jenks said the first part of the governor's initiative is already done -- the release of about 500 trout in a section of river popular with guides.

"We've been working on improving habitat within the river itself for the last couple of years and we intend to continue doing that but we also want to work with the folks up there so we can get more specific in terms of what their views are and what we can do," Jenks said.

Novak said there are still places where big trout can be found, but he wants to make sure future generations can experience the San Juan as he first did.

"I know it's complicated because of all of the water legislation and the legal stuff that's involved, but hey let's take a look at it," he said. "The state of New Mexico deserves better. The residents of New Mexico and all of those that come here from thousands of miles away, they deserve better."


On the Net:

New Mexico Game and Fish Department:

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development:

Trout Unlimited:

Can West stay wild?

Christian Science Monitor
Sunday, February 22, 2009

In 1993, Washington State classified its Columbia Basin Pygmy rabbit, a burrowing one-pound resident of sagebrush thickets, as endangered. Farming and other human activity had greatly limited the deep-soil habitat available to the bunny.

In 2001, the US Fish and Wildlife Service designated the rabbit, one of only two burrowing species in North America, as "endangered." Alarmed by the animal's continuing decline, that year state officials captured 16 rabbits and began a captive-breeding program to try to ensure the rabbits' continued existence. By 2003, fewer than 30 rabbits lived in the wild, down from 250 in 1995. By 2004, they were all gone. For many, the disappearance of this tiny denizen of sagebrush thickets is a cautionary tale. Captive breeding programs are a noble last resort, they say. But in this case, not enough was done to save the wild population, they charge. While several factors outside of scientists' direct control contributed to the rabbits' demise -- disease, fire, loss of genetic diversity, and habitat fragmentation, in particular -- one factor squarely within human control was not addressed soon enough: livestock grazing. Although the state had recognized the rabbit as threatened in 1990, cows weren't taken from the state-owned Sagebrush Flat, the bunny's last known home, until 2001. Here, the tale of the pygmy rabbit intersects with a long-raging acrimonious debate in the U.S. West. Just over half the land in the West is public land. And what are public lands for -- the preservation of "pristine" nature or resource extraction?

Historically, management of these lands by state and federal agencies has favored resource extractors far more than conservationists would like. But as western economies change and demographics shift, this emphasis on extraction makes less and less sense, economists say.

Meanwhile, attempts to reintroduce captive-bred pygmy rabbits into the wild have so far failed. Of 20 freed in 2007, predators killed 18. Scientists returned the remaining two to captivity. With genetic diversity low, in 2005 scientists added Idaho pygmy rabbits, a close relative. The hybrid offspring were more robust. But in 2006, the last purebred male rabbit died. In coming years, scientists plan to attempt reintroduction of the hybrid rabbit, three-quarters native, again. But the pure Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit is now genetically extinct. Did cattle push the rabbits over the edge?

Steve Herman, a biologist emeritus at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., says cattle may have pushed the animals over the edge. At the site, scientists observed trampled rabbit burrows and broken sagebrush, which the rabbit needs for both food and protection from predators. When cows were finally removed, "it was too late," he says. "We've lost a life form, and it's likely that our species (is) responsible."

Matthew Monda, the Washington (State) Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) wildlife program director for Region 2, counters that although observers had noted trampled burrows and the rabbits were in obvious decline, there was no decisive evidence that grazing was responsible. In fact, he adds, since cows and rabbits had coexisted for perhaps 100 years to that point, some worried that removing cows might make things worse. WDFW initiated a study to determine "if the grazing that occurred on the area was good, bad, or ugly." But when the rabbit populations declined precipitously, the study was halted and the cows removed. Given the stakes, why not just play it safe? Mr. Monda turns the question around: What's the most conservative choice, to remove cows and thereby change conditions, or to keep conditions the same and leave cows on the land? "What's the right answer? I don't know," he says. But "for multiple generations, the area had been grazed. And it was the last place that had rabbits."


Ranchers view themselves as natural stewards of the land. Who knows and cares for the land better than they do? Often abutting public land, working ranches are bulwarks against out-of-control development, say pro-ranchers. Subdivisions -- further habitat fragmentation - are worse for endangered species than are cattle, they argue. In recent years, this historically polarized debate has seen what Courtney White, cofounder of the Quivira Coalition in Santa Fe, N.M., calls the emergence of "the radical center." In an effort toward sustainability, "progressive" ranchers are seeking to apply lessons learned from ecological science. But, say some, even if better management can diminish livestock's harmful impact, cows, an exotic species, shouldn't wander the semiarid western landscape for one simple reason: "There's only so much biomass out there," says George Wuerthner, coeditor of "Welfare Ranching." "If the majority of forage is going into a cow, it's not there for all the other life forms."

The forebears of American cattle evolved in parts of Eurasia much wetter than the US West. They gather and loiter near water. Much of the damage caused by cattle, scientists say, is from their impact on waterways. They can denude riverbanks, leading to erosion and muddy water. The loss of shade-giving plants raises water temperatures. Native fish species that have evolved in clear, cold water may suffer. Nesting birds lose habitat.


Katie Fite, biodiversity director at Western Watersheds Project, a conservation group in Boise, Idaho, lists species that are among those negatively affected by grazing: the sage grouse, the willow flycatcher, the yellow-breasted chat. Reptiles and amphibians like collared lizards and spotted frogs also suffer, she says. A 2005 report by the US Government Accountability Office found that grazing on public lands cost taxpayers $115 million yearly. Ranching critics say that the current grazing permit price -- $1.35 per cow-calf pair per month - is at least an order of magnitude too low. This subsidy, they say, is greatly responsible for much of the degradation on public lands in the West. Humans get a little meat at the expense of wolves, grizzlies, bison, birds, and trout -- intact functioning ecosystems.

"We ought to leave the West mostly for wildlife," Mr. Wuerthner says. "That's where it does really well, and it can't be substituted somewhere else."


Rick Knight, professor of wildlife conservation at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, says it's not so simple. The fate of public and private lands are intertwined in the West. Whither goes one, so goes the other, he says. "If you want to save our natural heritage, you have to save both public and private," Professor Knight says. "They are interlaced."

Mark Brunson, a professor in the Department of Environment and Society at Utah State University, Logan, says that without low-cost grazing permits, many ranchers would go out of business. But it's no throwaway subsidy. If done sustainably (as he and others say it can be), ranchers provide an invaluable service. They supply locally raised beef for a burgeoning locavore movement. Less tangible is the "living cowboy culture" they provide. "The culture of ranching, which is also part of the American psyche, is also important," he says.


To many, this last argument falls flat. Destructive professions shouldn't be subsidized, no matter how iconic. If the concern is development, address it directly with zoning laws.

Demographic shifts long under way may change this debate. If the question is what the public values more -- a working landscape or a pristine one -- the "keep it pristine" camp is on the rise. (Disturbed by rapid development, even farmers and ranchers have begun to push for more landscape-friendly zoning.) Analysis of the past 40 years of economic growth show that preserving nature is the better long-term investment, economists say.

With its expanses of relatively pristine nature and a modern infrastructure, the US West is unique, says Ray Rasker, executive director of Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit in Bozeman, Mont. The region has long been a magnet for immigrants. But late-20th-century arrivals were not, as they once had been, mostly people seeking to work the land. Resource extraction, once a mainstay, is an ever-shrinking portion of western economies. Profound economic, demographic shifts under way

Between 1970 and 2000, nonlabor jobs fueled 86 percent of this growth. Mining, timber, and agriculture (including ranching) contributed only 1 percent. Now, 93 percent of jobs in the West have no direct link to public lands, says Rasker. But wilderness areas, in conjunction with infrastructure like airports, correlated closely with areas that saw the greatest growth.

"The major contribution is that it creates a setting," he says, and that's what immigrants want. Conserving rather than exploiting nature makes more economic sense, he says. People move here to live near nature.

Land-management agencies have been slow to recognize the new role of unspoiled public lands as an amenity, he says. But they're coming around. The marked "blue shift" in the politics of Western states in the recent election suggests a more conservation-minded public.

For Thomas Power, an economist emeritus at the University of Montana, Missoula, the puzzle is why the shift didn't come sooner. He attributes the inertia to the nation's love affair with the idea of ranchers.

"People move here partly to play out the fantasy of being a cowboy," he says. "Rather than having attitudes different from long-term residents, they were trying to imitate or share in many of those attitudes."

*Click on title above to see original article and place for public comments.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

No More Free Ride to Freedom for Nevadas Wild Horses

A Wild Horse Rescue foundation got its last round of horses delivered this week by the state of Nevada.

Last, because Nevada lawmakers say they can’t afford to ship the horses off anymore.

The Wild Horse Foundation in Robertson County has been getting horses from Nevada for the last ten years, but the 36 they got yesterday will likely be the last round.

The State of Nevada currently rounds up thousands of wild horses and transports them to facilities around the country where they can be housed, some stay right here in Central Texas.

Ray Field owns the Wild Horse Foundation in Robertson County where he cares for and then adopts out wild horses that once lived in areas of the US with a high wild horse population, like Nevada, but state lawmakers are changing a current law that takes them to facilities where they can be properly cared for.

Nevada spent more than 35-million dollars on the program last year, but now lawmakers say they need more than 45-million dollars for it.

Field got 36 new wild horses this week, the last transport funded by Nevada.

Field says Nevada currently has more than 30-thousand wild horses in captivity, but another 30 thousand still freely roam and field says they’re at risk of being killed.

Even though they’re wild, some are ready to be adopted.

Field says, “These horses haven’t been here just a little over 24 hours. And I come out here and start playing with them and working with them and I let them come to me. A horse will let you know which one he wants.”

The future of wild horses in Nevada may be uncertain, but field will keep finding stable homes for them through his foundation.

Right now the adoption fee for the Wild Horse Foundation horses ranges from 125 dollars to 800 dollars.

You can get more info about the program at


Call for end to USDA's wildlife killing agency


Conservationists argue in a new report that U.S. taxpayers should stop subsidizing a $100 million program that kills more than 1 million wild animals annually, a program ranchers and farmers have defended for nearly a century as critical to protecting their livestock from predators.

Citing concerns about the economy and the potential for a fresh look at the decades-old controversy in the new Obama administration, 115 environmental groups signed onto a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to abolish the U.S. Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services.

The American Sheep Industry Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and more than 70 other livestock production and state agriculture offices in 35 states countered with a letter citing more than $125 million in annual losses to the sheep, goat and cattle industry as a result of predation.

Now, as Congress tries to tackle the looming federal budget crisis, a new report by conservationists entitled "War on Wildlife," being made public on Tuesday, documents significant increases in recent years in both the number of carnivores killed and the size of the agency's budget — $117 million in 2007, up 14 percent from the average from 2004-06.

"We ask Mr. Obama to get out his scalpel and protect the public's hard-earned dollars from this unscrupulous agency," said Wendy Keefover-Ring, director of carnivore protection for WildEarth Guardians, based in Bozeman, Mont.

The vast majority of the 121,524 carnivores killed in 2007 were coyotes — 90,326. The service also kills hundreds of thousands of other creatures, including ravens and raccoons. But the trapping, poisoning and aerial gunning of the predators also is taking an increasing, unintended toll on other creatures, including 511 black bears and 340 endangered gray wolves in 2007, according to a copy of the report obtained by The Associated Press.

Authors of the 108-page report being presented to USDA, members of Congress and the White House described it as the first comprehensive, national, independent assessment of the agency in 40 years.

"While most people enjoy observing wildlife, Wildlife Services massacres our nation's wildlife mainly to benefit agribusiness," Keefover-Ring said.

"They're killing more and more predators, and more endangered species and using more tax resources," she said.

The result is a "sledgehammer approach" to wildlife management that in many cases could be replaced by non-lethal alternatives, the report concluded.

More than 40,000 of the coyotes killed in 2007 were in just four states — Texas (19,123), Wyoming (10,915), California (7,759) and Nevada (7,447).

In addition to concerns about the fiscal and biological impacts, the use of helicopters and small planes to fly low enough for contracted sharpshooters to pick off the coyotes has resulted in plane crashes killing 10 and injuring 28 from 1979-2007, the report said.

Aides to Vilsack referred questions about the program to USDA's Animal, Plant, Health Inspection Service, which oversees Wildlife Services.

USDA spokeswoman Carol Bannerman said Vilsack intends to review all of USDA's programs but that it would be weeks before he had any idea about possible changes he wants to make.

Bannerman said the federal agency only kills predators when livestock owners or state officials request its assistance. She said most of the time those private individuals or state agencies provide about half the funding for the effort.

"From our perspective, we certainly feel that we have a responsibility to respond to those requests," she said from APHIS headquarters in Riverdale, Md.

Bannerman said the agency is required to review each individual project under the regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act "and move ahead only if there would be no long-term negative impact on the environment."

"With that mandate ... we can give people an outlet to deal with a problem that if they took into their own hands could have longer-term negative impacts," she said.

The agricultural commodities' groups said in their letter to Vilsack about a month ago that livestock losses to predation cost producers more than $125 million a year.

"Without non-lethal and lethal predator control by Wildlife Services, these numbers could easily double or even triple," said Skye Krebs, an Oregon rancher and president of the Public Lands Council, which spearheaded the letter along with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

"The agency provides a means for striking a balance in the wildlife-livestock interface, including limiting the spread of disease from wildlife," Krebs said.


On the Net:

WildEarth Guardians:

USDA Wildlife Services:

National Cattlemen's Beef Association:

US horse welfare group slams range management

February 19, 2009

A group dedicated to the welfare of United States wild horses has slammed the management of wild horses in Nevada.
"Today, the Cattlemen's Association has a stranglehold on the rangelands for a mere $US1.35 per animal unit, which is around 25 to 30 acres per animal," said Ray Field, executive director of the Wild Horse Foundation.

"Wild horses can no longer roam the wild and free land that once was the wild west and rightfully their territory," he said.

"Big business has run the wild horses into the ground where no longer you can see them unless you're in a private facility like the Wild Horse Foundation."

The group was to this week receive what it said could be the last wild horses removed the Virginia Range in Nevada.

The horses are quickly vanishing off the Nevada horizon with the help of agriculture officials, he said.

More than 30,000 wild horses and burros are now held in containment facilities, roughly equivalent to the number still estimated to roam the western rangelands.

The number of captive horses is threatening to overwhelm the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) budget and there has been serious discussion about euthanizing animals considered unadoptable, or easing sale limitations which would open the door to slaughter buyers.

Severty-two per cent all wild horses live in Nevada.

Field was critical of the threat now posed to the wild horses and said horses had historically been blamed unfairly for diminishing vegetation and had "suffered tremendously as a result".

Cattlemen illegally grazing on federal lands without permits were more likely responsible.

"Under the current plan, the state of Nevada and BLM have totally disregarded the obligations of the law in its Wild Horse and Burro Act to protect the wild horses.

"Only the wild horses are counted on these range lands; not elk, caribou, sheep, cattle or any other natural grazer," he said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

UK Importing Wild Horse to Naturally Preserve Range Land

Wild horses welcome new addition

A herd of wild horses roaming the Stodmarsh Nature Reserve near Canterbury has seen the first foal of the new year born.

The Konik wild horses were introduced to the popular reserve in a bid to naturally preserve and protect an area rich in wild and plant life.

This project was developed in a partnership between Natural England and the Wildwood Trust.

The baby foal was born a few weeks ago.

The wild horses are part of a bold plan to re-introduce the wild horse to Britain, the horse imported are the closest living relatives of the extinct Tarpan, the wild forest horse which roamed Britain in Neolithic times.

Peter Smith, chief executive of the Wildwood Trust, said: “This is part of the plan for developing conservation grazing systems to restore natural ecological processes to help Britain and in this case Stodmarsh teem with wildlife again."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Oregon Ranchers Sue over Wild Horse Herds

Family wants Forest Service to manage Murderers Creek herd

East Oregonian Publishing Group

Dayville, Ore., ranchers Loren and Piper Stout this week carried through on their pledge to sue the U.S. Forest Service over the burgeoning wild horse herd in the Murderers Creek area.

Attorneys for the Stouts filed a complaint Thursday, Feb. 5, in U.S. District Court, asking that the court require the Forest Service to comply with its own plan for managing the horses in the Murderers Creek Wild Horse Territory. The lawsuit says the Forest Plan for the Malheur National Forest calls for limiting the herd to 100 head, a target number set by interagency wildlife experts.

The Stouts contend that the herd is double or even triple that size today.

Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials surveyed the area in January, counting 115 horses. They estimated that the herd actually numbers about 200 to 250, however, since the helicopter spotters weren't likely to see every horse.

Officials also said they hope to round up some horses in February, but a horse gather scheduled for last fall was canceled due to conflicts with hunting season and a shortage of holding pen space.

The Stouts said they went to court to make sure the Forest Service carries through with a gather this winter.

The Stouts hold a grazing permit to run their cattle on forest land in the Murderers Creek area. However, they have been barred from using the grazing allotment since the Oregon Natural Desert Association won a preliminary injunction in District Court in May 2008. The environmental group contends that cattle grazing in the area damages steelhead population that is protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The Stouts are going into their second season without use of the grazing allotment while the injunction remains in place.

The Stouts contend that cattle grazing isn't harming the steelhead. However, they say that if cattle grazing is to be restricted, the agencies should also be required to manage the horses and elk that roam the area.

"Cattle represent only about 10 percent of the total annual use of the range, while horse and elk use is 90 percent of the range carrying capacity," Loren Stout said.

He said cattle are on the range about 12 weeks a year during a time when the adult steelhead have already left the stream and after the steelhead fry have emerged. The horses and elk, he said, use the area year-round, including in the spring when the steelhead deposit their eggs in the streams.

"The government and the environmentalists should be looking at the big picture of all the users of the watershed and not put the full weight of watershed protection on the back of ranching families, particularly in tough economic times," Loren Stout said.

The Stouts' complaint was filed by attorneys Scott W. Horngren and Julie A. Weis of the Portland firm Haglund Kelley Horngren Jones & Wilder LLP. It follows a Dec. 30 notice of intent to sue the agency over the horse management issues.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

NAT-GEO does Wild Horses

Spirit of the Shrinking West

Feb 4, 2009
National Geographic,By Alexandra Fuller

In the winter of 2oo5 Nelson Quispe, new from Peru to North America, was hired to herd sheep in Wyoming's Red Desert. His sheep-rancher boss, Pat O'Toole, gave him a six-year-old mustang to help him cover the long miles over snow whales and sagebrush to open range. The mustang was white all over, with dark spots on his rear, betraying some Appaloosa in his ancestry, but with hooves like dinner plates, suggesting the additional introduction of something more along the lines of a draft horse. He'd been named Dot by the inmates at the Honor Farm near Riverton, where he'd been trained as a wild-born five-year-old. As a result the mustang had both native sense and correctional-facility manners, and you can do a lot worse than that in a horse.

Click on title above for full article;

Wild Horse Santuary Featured on Japanese TV

NHK Japan Public Broadcasting Will Air in April

HOT SPRINGS, S.D. (2/2/09) - The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary will be featured on NHK Japan Public Broadcasting. The three-person production crew filmed one day on location at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in January. The television documentary will feature the Indigenous tribes, wild horses and bison of the Great Northern Plains. The program will air in Japan April 2009.

NHK Enterprises produces programs in documentary, TV drama, entertainment, cartoon, and culture genres, as well as Japanese-language version of programs purchased from overseas, in addition to a wide variety of FM radio program. The production company works on international co-productions, including "Planet Earth" with the BBC and programs for Chinese broadcasting stations.

NHK Enterprises is a subsidiary of NHK, Japan's largest public broadcaster which also broadcasts internationally, possessing two terrestrial, three satellite, and three radio broadcasting signals. From TV dramas to documentaries, the production of 8,000 programs yearly makes us Japan's largest television content producer. Majority of them are produced in High-Definition.

The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary is the largest private non-profit wild horse sanctuary in northern America and has been in continuous operation since 1988. It is home to over 500 wild mustangs. The Sanctuary's locations have been featured in film and documentary projects including; Touchstone Pictures HIDALGO (2004), TNT Television movie CRAZY HORSE, History Channel COMANCHE WARRIOR and Paramount/Vantage Films INTO THE WILD.

Karla LaRive
Studio West Management


No Rise in Grazing Fees for 2009

You would think with our govt, desperate for ways to generate more income in these economic hardtimes, would think about raising the rediclously low grazing fees. But of course, the ranchers who line the politicians pockets would not be too happy about that, so of course, they leave it alone. The fees remain the same: rediclously low.

Updated: February 2nd, 2009 12:44 PM

Feds keep grazing fees low

Cost for using public lands same as last year


This year, public lands ranchers will pay $1.35 per "animal unit month" (AUM) for public lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per "head month" (HM) for lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, a BLM news release states. The 2009 grazing fee is the same as it was in 2008.

The two agencies consider the "animal unit month" and "head month" measurements—which are equivalent for fee-paying purposes—as the occupancy and use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month, the news releases states.

The fee, determined by a congressional formula and effective on March 1, applies to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and more than 8,000 permits administered by the Forest Service.

The formula used for calculating the federal grazing fee, which was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act, has continued under a presidential executive order issued in 1986. Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year's level.

The $1.35 grazing fee applies to 16 Western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service, including Idaho.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

52 American Wild Horses sitting on Death Row in a Nevada Prison awaiting execution!

These horses desperately need your help immediately. There are only a few days left before the 52 mares, stallions and babies will be shipped to the nearest livestock auction and sold for slaughter where they will end up on a dinner plate in Europe or Asia. You can help us save them all!

But you need to help us NOW. We need to get the horses out of the *Carson City, Nevada prison before February 7th or it may be too late.

Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue is frantically trying to raise $6000 - the cost for shipping a semi-truck and horse trailer full of wild mustang mares and stallions to a safe-haven in Texas where they will be cared for and adopted into homes. There are 8 weanling foals in the herd. They will come to Lifesavers in Lancaster, California and will also be cared for and adopted to approved loving homes.

But this cannot happen without your immediate donation. $6000 is a lot of money but it is what its going to take to save 52 lives.

Please act now as there is so little time to raise so much a lifesaver and donate now; click title above to go to:

The money will go straight into Lidesavers account and we can start making plans to rescue all 52 Death Row Horses - including the sweet little babies.

Monday, February 2, 2009

USDA deems Western Oregon a natural disaster

By Salem Monthly Editors
from WillametteLive, Section News
Posted on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 12:39:26 PM PDT


In mid-January, 12 Oregon counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas due to the physical losses of crop caused by the freezing temperatures that occurred during the wintry blast of December 2008.

Farm, nursery, and ranch operators in Benton, Columbia, Douglas, Jackson, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, and Yamhill Counties are eligible for Farm Service Agency (FSA) low interest emergency loans.

Nate Rafn, host of Living Culture and SM's "Date with Nate" columnist, acknowledges some farmers that have experienced weather related problems.

"I know that many farmers experienced greenhouse collapses, due to the ice. I've heard of other farmers having trouble with increased rainfall in certain areas. Rain has an effect on soil erosion and quality of water run-off. That's why, for many farms, cover crops are so important. They hold the earth together, and absorb some of the water."

In additional to those counties, 11 other Oregon counties were named as contiguous disaster areas, where operators may also qualify for loan assistance. Those counties are Clatsop, Coos, Curry, Deschutes, Hood River,

Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lincoln, Tillamook, and Wasco Counties.

"As far as spring produce goes, I'm just not sure of all the long term impacts," Rafn said. "If a farmer lost a greenhouse, and can't replace it right away, then he/she would be late on starting tomato, pepper, lettuce, cucumber, and squash plants, among others."

All loans will be considered by the FSA by weighing the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs available in addition to these emergency loans programs to help farm operators recover from adversity.

Farm, nursery, and ranch operators are encouraged to contact their USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures. The FSA also has information online at

BLM oil, gas leases hit $18.9 million

Jan 28 2009 5:38PM
Eds: APNewsNow.

Bismarck, N.D. (AP) The Bureau of Land Management says its most recent sale of oil and gas leases totaled more than $18.9 million.

BLM officials say Slawson Exploration Co., of Wichita, Kan., had the highest bid of Wednesday's sale. The company bid $3.5 million for leasing rights on a 1,358-acre parcel in Mountrail County.

CP Energy Inc., of Lafayette, La., had the highest per-acre bid of $3,500 for a 580-acre parcel in McKenzie County Of the 71 parcels offered, 26 were in Montana and 45 were in North Dakota. BLM says all but one of the North Dakota parcels got bids. The agency says six parcels in Montana did not get bids.

Competitive oil and gas lease sales are conducted at the BLM's Montana state office in Billings. Money from the sales is shared with states and counties. All leases are issued for a 10-year term.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Virginia Range Horses under attack again!

Sun Feb 1, 2009 12:52 pm (PST)
Please cross post wherever appropriate.

Here's a link to a YouTube video of Tony Lesperance's comments to the
Nevada Legislature where he describes his intentions to remove Virginia
Range horses. He still seems pretty adept at manipulating or perhaps
outright manufacturing information to further his agenda. Plus he is
clearly demonstrating the principle that if you can mismanage a program
to the point that it becomes dysfunctional, then you are free go around
to our elected officials and claim that it doesn't work.

Please read rebuttal of sorts that can be called up by clicking "more
info" in the upper right portion of the web page. It probably wouldn't
hurt to post comments in the "Comments on this Video" box as well as
contacting appropriate officials.

It's one thing to make difficult decisions about the Virginia Range
horses based on facts. It's another thing altogether to engage in spin
and perhaps outright deception and it seems to me that Lesperance is
trying to paint a picture that he's simply out of options and has to
round up and probably sell "problem" horses.

Why would people buy Virginia Range horses if they won't adopt them,
unless they purchase them for resale for export (slaughter) to make a
quick buck.

Click on title above to see video;

Thanks for following the Virginia Range horse issue.



Decision Allows Farmers and Ranchers to Apply for USDA Assistance

RENO, NEVADA, January 13, 2009- Roger Van Valkenburg, State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Nevada, announced today that the entire state of Nevada was designated as a primary disaster area due to damages caused by drought that occurred from January 1, 2008, and continuing.

USDA designated Nye and White Pine counties on November 18, 2008 and designated all remaining Nevada counties and the independent city of Carson City on January 2, 2009.

These designations make all qualified farm operators in primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program, which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Farmers and ranchers have eight months from the date of the designations to apply for the loans to help cover part of actual losses. FSA will consider each application on its own merit by taking into account the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability.

Interested farmers and ranchers may contact their local FSA offices for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at:

BLM and Forest Service Announce 2009 Grazing Fee

Published on Jan 31, 2009 - 7:49:49 AM


Jan. 30, 2009 - The Federal grazing fee for 2009 will be $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM) for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the Forest Service. The grazing fee for 2009 is the same as it was in 2008.

An AUM or HM - treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes - is the occupancy and use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. The newly adjusted grazing fee, determined by a congressional formula and effective on March 1, applies to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and more than 8,000 permits administered by the Forest Service.

The formula used for calculating the grazing fee, which was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act, has continued under a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986. Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year's level.

The annually adjusted grazing fee is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM/HM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states. The figure is then adjusted according to three factors - current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. In effect, the fee rises, falls, or stays the same based on market conditions, with livestock operators paying more when conditions are better and less when conditions have declined.

The $1.35 per AUM/HM grazing fee applies to 16 Western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The Forest Service applies different grazing fees to national grasslands and to lands under its management in the Eastern and Midwestern states and parts of Texas.

The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more land - 256 million surface acres - than any other Federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 Western states, including Alaska.

The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages 193 million acres of Federal lands in 44 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Q & A with Ken Salazar

The Denver Post, 02/01/2009 12:30:00 AM MST

The new Interior secretary and former U.S. senator from Colorado sat down with The Post's editorial board last week. Here's some of what he said.

Salazar: We ought to look at oil shale as one of the items on our energy portfolio as a possibility. But we ought to move forward with it in a very thoughtful and deliberate way. We need to figure out how much water is going to be used. Is that going to be enough for oil shale?

The commercial oil shale leasing regulations were premature. Having said that, they have been issued. There are probably 10 or so decisions and actions that were taken by the Bush administration in its waning days that we'll be reviewing … . But we haven't yet gotten to the level where we have … examined all of the different options.

The Post: An inspector's general report indicated that Bush Interior officials meddled with scientists studying endangered species. How will you change that process?

Salazar: We need to make sure the decisions that are made under the — or, for that matter, any other decision being made by the government — is based on sound science. Scientists ought to be the ones telling us whether a species has been recovered or not. It's not a political decision.

The Post: Will you push for reform of the 1872 hard-rock mining law?

Salazar: Any law that has been out there for 136 years and has not been changed needs to be looked at. And in my view, the 1872 mining law is archaic in many ways and needs to be brought into modernity. There are lots of places where the environmental community and the mining community could reach consensus, including issues such as the patenting of public lands and the requirement that fair market value be paid for surface lands that are sometimes now patented as, essentially, giveaways.

The Post: What did you think of the New York Times editorial that said, in effect, you're not tough enough for this job?

Salazar: Those of you who know me better know that I can be a junkyard dog. Nobody should ever reach a conclusion that because I try to bring people together to fix problems, I'm somehow too nice to get the job done.

The Post: Which provisions in the stimulus bill will help you tackle energy issues?

Salazar: I believe the energy package will have three components to it. The first is all of the investments that will be made in the new energy economy coming out of the stimulus package. And there are huge investments in renewable energy, on efficiency, in how we use energy, advanced technologies such as batteries and a whole host of other things. So this economic stimulus bill, the economic recovery bill, in many ways will lay the foundation for what will be doing in the next chapters on energy.

The next chapter I believe will be an energy bill that we will work on that will look at things such as a renewable portfolio standard. It will look at royalty reform and a whole host of other things.

The third leg of the stool will be the legislation that will implement or we'll have to create with respect to climate change, and that's a more difficult and a more controversial subject.

But I do believe that we'll get the climate change legislation that will have the concepts of cap and trade that we had in the Lieberman-Warner legislation last year.

Last year was the beginning of the debate, and there are some very tough questions embedded in the legislation itself, but I believe we will get there.

The stimulus package is chapter one, I think the energy bill be chapter two, and I think the climate change bill will be chapter three.

The Post: When will Congress start discussing the energy bill?

Salazar: We've already had discussions about it. We are not at a point yet where we've laid out the substance or the timing yet. But we will be working on it.

The Post: Can you do all three things in four years?

Salazar: Definitely four years. I don't know the exact timing of this. There are a lot of conversations going on with the White House.

We had a Cabinet meeting yesterday. I actually raised the issue, and we talked about this kind of approach to dealing with energy issues.

I don't know ultimately how we'll go forward, but it seems to me we have to put all three together to get to the point where we can say we have a comprehensive energy program for the nation.

The Post: Tell us about your plans to replicate Great Outdoors Colorado on a national level.

Salazar: I think the magic of Great Outdoors Colorado is that it created a purse of money to avoid the problem that most governments encounter by trying to protect lands or special places along rivers like as they often do using eminent domain.

What we did with GOCO is incentivized great things to happen in Colorado. Colorado Springs will never grow together with Denver because of the Greenland Ranch. The rivers of our state, the Platte River, the Rio Grande, the Cache la Poudre, the Colorado River through Grand Junction, the Gunnison. We all have these river restoration efforts that happened because there was a pot of money there that incentivized good things to happen in rivers.

Some may say what is it that the federal government may be able to do? Well, through the land and water conservation fund, which frankly has not been funded for a very long time, we might be able to create the kinds of monetary incentives to do those things in areas where we know that most of our species frankly depend on (it) for their survival.

And you can do it in a way where I think you can address both the values of economic development as well as the values of environmental restoration.

When you look at Denver and what we've done here on the South Platte River ... now when I go down to the South Platte, I go through the Central Platte Valley, you see the economic renaissance that has happened because we as a city here decided to turn our faces to the river and restore it. We stopped looking at that river as a wasteland and a dumping place and at the same time we have developed that economic renaissance in the South Platte and for those who share the South Platte. I mean the legacy project goes all the way to Adams County now.

You have also seen huge benefits to the environment, including native vegetation, including native species that inhabit the area, the bald eagle. I mean lots of things that are going on.

So I think that concept is there, the pieces of how exactly we will do it I don't know. It may end up part of what we do with the royalty reform. When John F. Kennedy described his vision of the land and water conservation fund, he described it as a $900 million year vision and felt that revenue streams coming from the royalties and oil and gas development and the offshore would essentially fund the land and water conservation fund.

Well, it's not been funded. There's money that's allocated from the Treasury every year for funding the Land & Water Conservation fund but yet it goes to other places and so what ends up happening is by the time it gets to congressional level and appropriation there's a big fight and then you have had a fight for the last four years in restoring money into LWCF, but we end up with $50 million, $60 million a year. It may be as we go through royalty reform, we'll figure out a way of fully funding the Land and Water Conservation fund. I don't know that we'll be able to get there, but I think that as we do that, one of the things that I will ask the assistant secretary for parks and wildlife to undertake is the opportunities to do the kind of thing here in Colorado with the money that comes in.

— Compiled by Mary Idler

Thousands of Saguaros Cut for Power Lines

Az Republic, Jan. 30, 2009

Thousands of saguaros have been eliminated along an electric power
line that runs 257 miles from the Navajo Generating Station near Page
to a substation near Sun City.

Arizona Public Service Co. said the cactuses and other vegetation
were removed for safety and to avoid fines from federal regulators.

The dustup highlights tough choices utilities make to maintain a
reliable power supply and the limited options that land managers
often have to balance utility paths with preserving plants and

Saguaros sprout gaggles of arms and can take 70 years before
sprouting an arm. Their iconic shape has helped identify Arizona's
landscape in everything from Roadrunner cartoons to the back of the
state quarter.

Much of the route for the line is high desert or forest, but so far
10 miles have been cleared in saguaro habitat. Saguaros are strictly
protected on public lands outside of utility right of ways.

Each mile of line has 100 to 500 saguaros in the right-of-way under
the power lines, and there are 24 miles to be cleared, although there
are fewer saguaros near western metro Phoenix. The plan calls for all
saguaros within 50 feet of the wires to be removed.

About 100 of the plants are being relocated when it's possible and
reasonable, but big mowers have turned the majority into green pulp
spread on the desert floor.

Arizona Public Service spokesman Alan Bunnell said the utility
decided to clear brush under the line that was built in the late
1960s and early 1970s because federal regulators have clamped down on
vegetation along power lines.

The ulitity could be fined for not clearing the brush, he said. And
electricity arcing from the power line into one of the water-dense
saguaros or a brushfire could interrupt energy supplies.

"It is strictly an issue of safety and reliability," Bunnell
said. "No doubt, it is not an easy decision for us to remove any
vegetation, especially a saguaro. We respect and admire those
majestic plants."

It costs the company $750 to $2,500 per plant to relocate the

The line crosses Bureau of Land Management, state, forest, tribal and
private lands.

"The bottom line is, they can do what they want (in the power-line
right of way)," said Rem Hawes, the BLM manager who authorized the
Arizona Public Service project on 27 miles of federal land.

Forty-nine of the saguaros under the power line on BLM land will be
salvaged, he said.

It is otherwise illegal to remove saguaros from public lands, and
landowners need a permit from the state Agriculture Department to
move them from their own property.

BLM officials said selling the plants or even their skeletons, which
are popular for landscaping and other decorations, was off the table.

The agency decided the plants should be shredded to preserve the soil
nutrients, spokeswoman Pamela Mathis said.

Other landowners along the power line where saguaros are located
could make other arrangements, she said.

Bunnell said Arizona Public Service can't sell the plants because it
doesn't own the land.

Bob Mitchell, a recreational prospector from Phoenix, filmed a big
mower liquefying a saguaro in the Black Canyon City area on Jan. 24
and posted the video on his Web site and on YouTube

"To see a large company such as APS totally devastating their utility
right of way . . . struck a nerve, frankly," he said. "I understand
they are within their rights to do so. Yet, I also believe it to be
overly damaging and absolutely hypocritical to be allowed by the same
agencies that keep such tight controls on us prospectors and claim


Information from: The Arizona Republic,