Two Deadlines for Forest Service Horses & New Washington Post Article

Comments due soon– Monday, March 22nd and Friday, March 26th! Read all about it on American Herds and comment today.
Thank you!

New Washington Post (AP) article here “Nevada Roundup Wild Horse Death Toll Rises”

Advertisements

Tags:

37 Responses to “Two Deadlines for Forest Service Horses & New Washington Post Article”

  1. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Sandra L., Could you repost the links that this is from? Then we have it all here. Unless Linda gets to it first! mar

    • Linda Says:

      Nope, didn’t come through this time. “Old Betsy” wouldn’t open the PDFs! Did open & print the “cow thing” from the Government Printing Office. Great place to look if you know the reference numbers.

  2. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Cindy’s essay is another example of the mess we are being dealt as if we were not right here and fully engaged in this subject. This ‘ignore the public’ business and reducing the Wild Horse Advocates to terrorists or horse huggers has not reduced our commitment or determination. It simply continues to show the nation that the government is not listening or allowing the processes we were given, and helped put there, to be used as they ought. The continued headlong flight into our public lands has been marred repeatedly by these processes and people being ignored.

    This is wrong and illegal and has long term ramifications for all. At some point we will have the legal ammunition to stop BLM and DOI in their tracks because they are internally arrogant and sloppy. Then even Tom Gorey will not be able to make it go away. mar

  3. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    MAR, IS THAT WHAT YOU NEED? budget.state.nv.us/clearinghouse/Noti…

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      Some of it is posted below at “Comments Needed for Forest Service AMLs” I just wanted to be able to access it here for discussion. I am going back to find it. mar

      • Marilyn Wargo Says:

        Yes, but maybe this one will hook up… mar

        sandra longley Says:
        March 12, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Reply
        RED ALERT: We need an online form to comment on another gather I ran across this on another research project last night..comment period ends March 19, up around Tonapah Nev. BLM and USFS combining to remove horses…redefining HMAs and AMLs..say due to drought conditions no forage for horses..yet have 21 cattle allotments..one HMA would be down to 6 horses..I have just briefly gone over this and need to get into some research on this..go to the link and read and look at the tables..this is a bit more than just a gather..see what you think..hopefully they will post something online here soon.

        http://budget.state.nv.us/clearinghouse/Notice/2010/E2010-150.pdf

  4. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    I DON’T KNOW WHERE ALL THAT SPACE CAME FROM.

  5. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    THESE LINKS HOOK UP ON THE ORIGINAL POST BUT DON’T TRANSFER:

    SANDRA, I FOUND THESE:
    Battle Mountain District Office
    Battle Mountain District Office Map. Click here to view larger map with legend. … The Battle Mountain Field Office manages approximately 10.5 million acres.

    http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/battle_mountain_field.html – Proxy – Highlight – 1 more top result from this site

    Fri Mar 05, 2010
    Pahrump Valley Times
    Austin, Tonopah districts initiate EIS preparation
    Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor Jeanne Higgins has announced the Austin and Tonopah Ranger districts in central Nevada have begun preparing an environmental impact statement for the Monitor-Hot Creek Rangeland Project.
    Battle Mountain District Office
    Battle Mountain District Office Map. Click here to view larger map with legend. … The Battle Mountain Field Office manages approximately 10.5 million acres.

    http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/battle_mountain_field.html – Proxy – Highlight – 1 more top result from this site

  6. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    COMMENTS WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO EMAIL OR PHONE TO GET THERE IN TIME.

  7. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    I BROUGHT THIS FROM ANOTHER WEBSITE–DON’T THINK THE PERSON THAT POSTED IT WILL MIND–WE NEED TO MOVE FAST:

    I believe this information may be related but I could not find a way to it from the .org domain, found via google for austin-tonopah:

    http://www.saveourwildhorses.org/PDF/FWS/ForestService-Herds/Austin-Tonopah-AMLOutline-06.pdf

  8. jan Says:

    i was wondering where else the blm will be doing roundups between now and the slated twin peaks roundup in august – also i read online that willie nelson is now making some movies – mostly cowboy stuff so i wrote and suggested he make a film on the horses – just google willie nelson and you shd come across his office website and you can contact him -believe link was info@willienelson.com but look for website

  9. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    JAN, I LIKED WILLIE’S OLD WEBSITE BETTER.

  10. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    MORE FROM INTERNAL DOCUMENTS:

    Forest Service Response: The Forest Service will continue to provide funding to the BLM for wild horse and burro work conducted by the BLM for the Forest Service. The fiscal year 2010 budget proposal includes a request to Congress for continued authority to expedite the transfer of funds between the agencies for this purpose.

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      Yes, I went from thinking, for an instant, that the other agencies with horses should be influenced to stop their dealings with BLM. So, I look at this commitment by the USFS as a very bad step. It may have been influenced within by DOI. That seems very likely. It is just a move to show us we are locked out. But the more they line up against us the more I perceive the DOI as an internal threat to our Democratic Process. This is extreme anti democratic behavior. At the Mustang Project Tracie has also posted how the BLM will beef up their ‘law enforcement’ officers. More of them. More of a presence on public land to meet the needs of countering criminal activity on the vast public lands. mar

  11. Barb S Says:

    Found this link at Horseback site to an article giving info on Dr.Sanford and showing processing, etc, more BLM propaganda. Needs some good comments here!
    http://www.lahontanvalleynews.com/article/20100320/NEWS/100329992/1055&ParentProfile=1045

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      Not a bad article from the local press. They have tried to do a balanced job. This must reflect the mixed feelings people have who see these things going on in their community. Not everyone is against the wild herds. Not everyone likes what is going on with BLM. mar

    • Linda Says:

      I guess it was okay. Weighted to the BLM side, naturally. As for Deniz Bulbol, BLM lack of transparency and questionable policy/legality is the IDA way to go.

      Didn’t like “stereotype”, especially coming from a “vet”. It’s one of those “clever” words that may have been used to call all mares/horses over 12 into question, justifiy deaths/killings, skew public perception, and have repercussions down the road. Need pay attention and see if it comes up again.

    • Linda Says:

      Didn’t see the promised new article in their Sunday edition.

  12. jan Says:

    well you can email willie and make a suggestion to make a horse film – maybe the history of the mustang – that they have been here a long time – and were here before anybody in washington was here

  13. jan Says:

    isnt the dept of forest under the dept of the interior which is under salazar – isnt he over everything – havent cked out how washington bureaucrats work or not – sure aint the way i learned in school

    • Linda Says:

      The Forest Service is under the Department of Agriculture, which deals with wild horses as livestock in two categories: “feral” or “estray”. Their position is the horses have got to go because of the damage they do. Evidently those dainty cows “tiptoe through the tulips”.

      Here’s the link to the GPO text (verbatium) of the fancy report. You can copy and paste it into a Word file, and edit/comment directly using their language.

      http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-02-23/html/2010-3327.htm

      If you respond to this, please remember it’s about remanaging the range FOR COWS! Stick to that specific issue or run the risk of having your comments discounted.

      Plans for removing the horses are in a totally different document. Wish I could find and copy the GPO text on that one. Makes things a whole lot easier.

  14. Janet Ferguson Says:

    On this link, go down to the question:

    “Why Do We Capture and Adopt Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros?” (FS) – this statement is pretty general.

    http://www.fs.fed.us/rangelands/ecology/wildhorseburro/whb_faqs.shtml

  15. Janet Ferguson Says:

    TCF — Thank you for the new “Tag” (Forest Service)! I can put the tag into your search engine and find all the Forest Service articles on your blog!

    This is the step we need toward indexing all this wonderful information on this blog!

  16. Janet Ferguson Says:

    Here is my letter to the Forest Service re: HMA for 3-26-10 deadline. First draft, will be sent tomorrow with redundancies removed, if any.

    TO: WILLIAMS
    3-26-10

    PRELIMINARY COMMENTS

    It is unfortunate that the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act requires that “no less than 80% of funds appropriated for the Act must be used to fund on-ground range rehabilitation, construction and maintenance of range improvements, and training of personnel. More value might come to the American taxpayer by funding longitudinal studies showing the impact on the lands of domestic cattle grazing, wild equid utilization and migration and other wildlife and ecology studies.

    I believe the “gold standard” (of “no potential for significant impact”) is too lax. 

    This standard is apparently what you use to determine whether the “Project” goes ahead.

    I would suggest that it allows any activity that you can show “no potential” for.

    Though, under this gold standard, it would seem that justifying removals of wild equids is unnecessary, this summary (“Notice”) attempts to do so. However, it fails to show, in my opinion, that the presence of wild equid populations is a direct threat to either sensitive plant communities, riparian areas, or themselves. (Illustrations to follow).

    What is more, this “Notice” makes no attempt to portray the wild equids as an integral, functioning presence in their territories as a part of the “ecological balance.” This is either because of a bias on your part, pressure from another party or parties, or lack of diligence in obtaining or carrying out the necessary objective fact gathering and scientific studies that may show benefits to having wild equids on the lands. The result is to present to the American taxpayer an excessively vague and unbalanced “Notice” from which we are to base our comments.

    You state that, “Under desired conditions a Territory Management Plan for wild horse territories on the Monitor, Hot Creek, Toquima Ranges would be in place and implemented. Why have these “desired conditions” not been met to date? The 1971 Act has been in effect for 39 years.

    I would point out that implementation of any new plans such as what you are suggesting at this moment in our nation’s history strikes me as financially irresponsible. Setting these artificial AMLs will increase cost to the taxpayer to implement and maintain, with little return to the taxpayer that can be gleaned from your “Notice.”

    SCOPING

    You state that initial scoping was begun 5-4-06 for this Project. You state that additional scoping with BLM was initiated in 2009. Who initiated the 2009 “additional scoping.” Please provide all documents pertaining to this additional scoping initiation event, such as a letter, memo or notice showing which agency initiated the 2009 additional scoping, and why it was initiated in 2009.

    TRIBAL COORDINATION

    You say Steven Williams notified the Yomba Tribal Council on 5-12-06 regarding the wild horse and burro Appropriate Management Levels (AML) and that during the meeting, no concerns were raised and that updates will be provided as they become available. Have these updates become available? If so, please provide. Please also provide the date and location of the Tribal Council Meeting. Was a quorum fulfilled? Please additionally provide a copy or a website whereat your original notification to the Tribal Council may be viewed by the public. If not available, please provide information for the public to use in verifying the Tribal Council’s position in the matter, such as a letter of “no concerns and no issues.” Is there a standard document normally produced reflecting such agreements between an agency of the Federal Government and an Indian Tribal Council?

    PRELIMINARY ISSUES (RANGE)

    The 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act 43 U.S.C. &&1901-1908, October 25, 1978, directs the development and implementation of an experimental program to provide incentives or rewards to holders of grazing permits and leases whose stewardship results in improved range conditions. The results were required to be reported to Congress in December 1985, and with their evaluation of the fees established by the Act and other grazing fee options, and recommendations for fees in subsequent grazing years. To your knowledge were such programs developed and implemented at the time within any part or parts of the project area where cattle grazing permits are or were at the time in place?

    Were any such experimental programs developed and implemented, with similar reporting taking place to Congress in any year or years subsequent to 1985 in any part of parts of the project period? Please specify location of experiemental program; dates of reporting to Congress and where the public can locate this information on the record. If no location for obtaining verification is provided, please provide the verification itself, in the form of posting it on your website. Please include one contact name in Washington, D.C. or elsewhere in the Department of the Interior Secretary’s Office or the Department of Agriculture Secretary’s office for each such project carried out, to enable the public to follow up on this important initiatve that affects our public lands everywhere, with over 3 million domestic cattle grazing thereon.

    DUE DILLIGENCE ISSUES

    My overall first impression of the Project is that the project area includes excessive WHTs and that these areas are far too numerous to be carefully and conscientiously evaluated in only one project. There is danger of oversimplification and generalization in massing 11 WHTs together — as I feel your “Notice” so clearly illustrates.

    TABLE 4

    Proposing AMLs for 11 WHTs in such a way is premature and dishonest. I base that judgement on the poor quality of the Table 4 summary information. It is clear, in my opinion, that the “potential ‘No Action’ impacts” (Column 1) delineated in Table 4 are inconclusive, vague and admit to, for example, no documentation having been made to date oneffecs of wild horses on the sensitive plant population in the analysis area. You state that “use by wild horses on these plants (sic) has not been documented.” Further, you report no actual damage of any kind from any hoofed animals anywhere in the analysis area.

    Your Table 4 summary only summarizes potentials (which clearly is all you have to do to “prove” your conclusions, in the world of bureauocratic doublespeak. Everyone loses here, because taxpayer money is at stake. By quoting Brown, 2006 so often this “Notice” puts the science on very thin ice. Not only that, but you only illustrate your conclusions with Brown’s “likelihoods” not actual imminent expectations of damage.

    Where has it been shown that the presence of hoof action by wild equids has adversly affected Marsh’s Bluegrass and Nachlinger Catchfly? You only say “impacts in riparian zones MAY affect Marsh’s Bluegrass and Nachlinger Catchfly.” To what degree will choosing the No Action Alternative “increase the possibility” (your words) of NOT attainting “ecological balance” — as per Brown, 2006? How has this been shown by Brown in Forest Service HMTs? By 1%? By 3%? Over what time period? To what degree will the GOAL of attainting “ecological balance” (your term) be “reduced” before real disturbance to wildlife and their habitats occur? Is this a long trend taking several years or decades? Taxpayer money is on the line here. What studies taking place in the actual WHTs encompassed by this “Project” show that unmanaged wild equid populations “would” (your term) “result in the downard trend” (your term) of the “ecological status” (your term)? Please define “ecological status.” Were these studies (that you may show the public) done on a longitudinal basis? Over what period of time?

    Since you would seem to have no current management studies on the wild equids in the areas of your WHT, or choose not to include those studies (if they exist) in this “Notice” for whatever reasons, you cannot possibly make the above statement with any accuracy or honesty.

    Has the Forest Service ever determined what period of time the “reduction of the possibility of attaining ecological balance” must persist before certain actions must be taken at taxpayer expense?

    BLM wild equid gathers and the subsequent penning and processing of these wild animals costs a lot of money. Also during these gathers and the subsequent penning and processing of these wild animals suffering and death occurs with regularity. This impacts all of us.

    Is this high cost justified by your Table 4 Summary of Potential No Action Impact?

    No. And not only that, the tragedy here is that you only have to justify your actions by proving “No Potential for Impact.” That is the fallacy of this exercise and the injustice you are doing to the American public, young and old alike, who should have a reasonable expectation that you are conscientiously promoting programs that benefit all the wildlife, not just falling back on “No Potential for Impact.” That makes this entire exercise a complete fallacy.

    The time is now to decrease unnecessary cost to the American public. Nothing you show on these pages proves you have any professional overview or stewardship, by any modern standards of any kind, of what your are managing here. Something is missing here, and it is the invisible arm of a party or parties unseen which has a hand in your decisions.

    You have not shown any diligence in preparing these charts; and the text in the charts repeat the generalities over and over again, using only speculations and no firm data as it pertains to any of these HMTs.

    Let me ask you a question using your own terms.

    Does the occurrence of any of the “sensitive plants” determine, assist, or indicate “ecological status” as per this “Notice?”

    You state that the uplands critical sage grouse uplands habitat (sic) “could” also be impacted. You do not say it will be impacted. This taxpayer doesn’t like to think that one dollar should go to anyone because you “think” that a future event “could” happen. What studies have been done that show that there is a direct relationship between wild equid or domestic cattle (i.e. grazing permit) activity impacting “critical sage grouse upland habitiats.” How does the presence of sage grouse determine, assist to, or indicate attaining “ecological status” (your term)?

    TABLE 4 (Continued) Wildlife Species

    You state that, in column 2 (“Summary of potential proposed action impacts”)
    “Establishing AMLs for each wild horse territories(sic)(WHTs) will maintain horse populations at levels that promote ecological balance.”(your term) However, you have not shown that the No Action Alternative would NOT promote “ecological balance.”

    Considering the great cost, both monetarily and in the loss of wild equid’s lives, I state categorically this is NOT a good enough reason to set up ALMs and set in motion the contracted gathers by the BLM which result in deaths and taxpayer expense. Granted, all you have to prove is “No Potential for Impact.” Have you done that? I guess I could spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money in your Department, as long as there was “no potential for impact.” As I indicated, above, this criteria ignores the 1971 Act completely.
    The BLM is moving wild equids off the land with alarming speed and at great cost to the taxpayers. They are also killing horses — a direct result of the gathers, penning and processing. They do not return horses to the range. I ask again, who initiated this “additional scoping in 2009” per your initial comments in this “Notice?”

    MONITORING

    “Recent vegetative assessments” (your words) – What dates did these recent vegetative assessments take place? Where are the assessments published? If in house, please provide documentation showing exact locations within the WHTs where these assessments were completed.

    “Annual and long-term monitoring will be conducted within all the WHTs to determine if the AML is improving range conditions and moving toward “desired conditions.”

    What additional cost will be incurred by this annual and long term monitoring (over and above, of course, the excessive costs involved (see above) in bringing these wild equid populations in line with the new AMLs?

    Why hasn’t annual and long term monitoring been done prevously in the WHTs. The 1971 Act was signed into law 39 years ago. Why not do the study now, before you set the AMLs? What studies, taking place in all the WHTs, back up setting the AML levels that you have chosen? What studies? Dates, please, and places,

    “Census flights of wild horse territories will occur at least every 4 years. . . “ How many census flights have been taken in the last 8 years? Will establishment of new AMLs increase the cost of monitoring significantly. By what %? 100%? The taxpayer needs to know their hard earned money is not going to provide unnecessary program costs. How will the taxpayers gain from these census flights? Who trains the personnel who carry out the census flights? Specify the methods accepted for said census and define scientific community. Specify all Forest Service and BLM personnel, scientists, educators, or corporate personnel or scientists that are involved in the decision making process and all their corporate, fraternal, industry and professional associations. After all, they are paid or facilitated by the American public here.

    What current research will you emply in these census flights? Please be specific.

    How can you tell basic herd health and condition from the air in forest lands? What value, and especially what accuracy has proved to be shown by utilizing these census flights? Where can studies be read by the public about the proven accuracy of these census flights.

    What cost will be incurred in producing seasonal distribution maps in each of the 11 WHTs? Are there seasonal distribution maps for these territories in existence from previous such studies? If not, why not? The 1971 Act has been in place for 39 years.

    If all or a portion of my questions should be addressed to the team members in the BLM who you are coordinating with on this vast project, please let me know, and I will direct my comments to them, if given names and locations of these BLM personnel. Otherwise, I trust you will expedite my concerns with those personnel in a timely basis.

    Have you done an environmental assessment for this project? If so, where can it be found for study by the public?

    Any conscientious program must be run with the taxpayer in mind. There must be sober oversight of any expenditures.

    Word games, vague general references to studies, use of jargon and the appearance of lack of due diligence and forgone conclusions throws up a big red flag to this taxpayer, and I would urge you to take my comments to heart in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      Janet, You gave ’em good hell… You and Linda have now upped the ante on commenting and everyone should learn from this and respond exponentially. How dare they budge a muscle when they cannot give any basis but speculation for what they intend? Will they listen?? hmmm.mar

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      Here is my final version, sent today 3-16-10.

      District Ranger
      Steve Williams
      PO Box 130
      Austin, NV 89310
      775-964-2671

      Dear Steve:

      I wish my comments to be a part of the Public Comment period ending today, March 26, 2010. Please read my comments with the understanding that my concerns and issues revolve around matters chiefly driven by a hope to see our American wild equids fairly treated, competently managed using modern science and methods, diligent, honest, and factual transparency through all steps necessary leading up to the decisions made affecting the herds, and then humanely removed when necessary,all within a common sense view of not squandering taxpayer money unnecessarily. As you indicated you will forward a copy of this email to Dave Palmer. I appreciate it.

      PREAMBLE

      In honesty I feel that the decision and actions of the Bureau of Land Management as regards their Wild Horse and Burro program have been of uneven quality over the years, and though I realize that, within all our agencies, there are honest public servants, and even brave souls who have been seen over the years to ignore Washington in favor of what they feel is a better way, I am at this moment in time convinced that our Wild Horse and Burro program is in real serious and flagrant violation of The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195).

      As you enter into your partnership with them on your Project (proposed) I would urge you to be aware that the eyes of the world are upon you, if you are not aware of that already. The horrendous Calico Roundup — just another of a long string of such gathers — where too many horses were gathered too quickly, flew in the fact of the 1971 Law which dictates humane treatment of wild horses and burros from the gather through the processing periods, including proper food. Their veterinary staff is too small, and inadequate to humanely process these animals. These gathers are dangerous to the people involved, deadly to the wild horses and burros, and damaging to the American public who are aware of the loss involved and suffering of the horses, and the great costs of these gathers. The wild horses and burros belong in the wild, and they are to be managed at the minimal levels — that means, not that you should have the smallest number of wild horses on the public lands, but that the management is done in such a way to minimize requiring these dangerous gathers. It looks to me like the BLM is maximizing these gathers at public expense, with great suffering to the horses.

      DUE DILIGENCE

      My overall first impression of the Project is that the project area includes excessive WHTs and that these WHTs are far too numerous to be carefully and conscientiously evaluated in only one Project. There is danger of oversimplification and generalization in massing eleven (11) different Wild Horse Territories together with the apparent lack of detail resulting. (see below, “Table 4”)

      PRELIMINARY CONCERNS AND QUESTIONS ON THE NOPAA

      It is unfortunate that the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act requires that “no less than 80% of funds appropriated for the Act must be used to fund on-ground range rehabilitation, construction and maintenance of range improvements, and training of personnel. More value might come to the American taxpayer by funding longitudinal studies showing the impact on the lands of domestic cattle grazing, wild equid utilization and migration and other wildlife and ecology studies.

      There is a term I have heard from the Bureau of Land Management, “benefitting subactivities.” Can you please define what BLM means by that and given an example? Does a “benefitting subactivity” benefit the land, or does it benefit the Forest Service? Does a “benefitting subactivity” benefit FROM the activities of the BLM or the Forest Service? Is financial exchange of any kind involved in interfaces with “benefitting subactivities?” I am in the dark on this.

      The “gold standard” (of “No potential for significant impact”) is too lax. This standard is apparently what you use to determine whether the “Project” goes ahead. I would suggest that it appears to allow any activity that you can show “No potential for significant impact” to be approved for spending taxpayer money. Under this “gold standard”, it would seem that, if wild equids are not viewed as beneficial to the natural systems in place where they occur, then justifying removals of wild equids would be unnecessary.

      This NOPA makes no attempt to portray the wild equids as an integral, functioning presence in their territories, or as part of the “ecological balance” you refer to. This is either because there are no studies which have determined them to be a species that is a beneficial presence within the Project Area, or, perhaps there is a bias on your part against the wild equids, or you are under pressure from other parties to reduce the wild equid numbers, or there has been a lack of diligence in obtaining or carrying out the necessary objective fact gathering and scientific studies that may show benefits to having wild equids as a part of the natural systems. The result is to present to the American taxpayer an excessively vague and perhaps unbalanced NOPA from which the taxpayer is to base his or her comments.

      You state that, “Under desired conditions, a Territory Management Plan for wild horse territories on the Monitor, Hot Creed, Toquima Ranges would be in place and implemented. Why have these “desired conditions” not been met to date?

      If no AML’s are “set” in these 11 WHT’s, would all the horses be removed? Will this Project increase cost to the American taxpayer? If AMLs are placed on these WHTS, this will apparently result in costly wild horse gathers. There is no discussion how either of your options impact the herds or the taxpayer. Who is directed to provide this information?

      SCOPING

      You state that initial scoping was begun 5-4-06 for this Project. You state that additional scoping with BLM was initiated in 2009. Who initiated the 2009 “additional scoping?” Please provide documents or records reflecting this decision to initiate “additional scoping, such as a letter, memo, or notice showing which agency (Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management) initiated this “additional scoping.” What reasons were given at the time for the “additional scoping” initiative of 2009?

      TRIBAL COORDINATION

      Are any member of the Yomba Tribal Council or their families employed by, or contract workers for, either the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, wherein a conflict of interest may be seen to be present?

      The NOPA indicates that you, Steven Williams, District Ranger, notified the Yomba Tribal Council on 5-12-06 regarding the Wild Horse and Burros Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) and that during the meeting, no concerns were raised and that updates will be provided as they become available. Have these updates become available? Upon what basis are such updates obtained? Are updates on this issue required on a timetable throughout this comment period? Please provide a copy of any updates you have received. Please also provide the location of the Tribal Council meeting. Was a quorum fulfilled? Please additionally provide a copy of or a website address (URL) where your original notification to the Tribal Council may be viewed by the public. If not available, please provide information for the public to use in verifying the Tribal Council’s position in the matter, such as a letter of “no concerns and no issues” they may have provided to you. Is there a standard document normally produced reflecting such agreements between an agency of the Federal Government and an Indian Tribal Council?

      PRELIMINARY ISSUES
      “Range” (Issue)

      The 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act 43 U.S.C. && 1901-1908, October 25, 1978, directs the development and implementation of an experimental program to provide incentives or rewards to holders of grazing permits and leases whose stewardship results in improved range conitions. The results were required to be reported to Congress in December 1985, and with their evaluation of the fees established by the Act and other grazing fee optinos, and recommendations for fees in subsequent grazing years. To your knowledge were such programs developed and implemented at the time within any part or parts of the Project area where cattle grazing permits are or were at the time in place? Were records kept by the Forest Service or the Department of Agriculture on these programs, if developed?

      Were any such experimental programs developed and implemented, with similar reporting taking place to Congress in any year or years subsequent to 1985 in any part or parts of the project period? Please specify location of experimental program(s); dates of reporting to Congress and where the public can locate this information on the record. If no location for obtaining verification is provided, please provide the verification itself, in the form of posting it on your website. Please include one contact name in Washington, D.C. or elsewhere in the Department of the Interior Secretary’s Office or the Department of Agriculture Secretary’s office, for each such project carried out, to enable the public to follow-up on this important initiative that affects our public lands everywhere, with over 3 million domestic cattle grazing thereon.

      TABLE 4

      Proposing Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) for eleven (11) Wild Horse Territories (WHTs) in such a way is premature. I base that judgement on the poor quality of the Table 4 summary information. It is clear, in my opinion, that the “Potential ‘No Action’ Impacts” (first column in Table 4) delineated in Table 4 are inconclusive and vague. You admit to, for example, no documentation having been made to date on the effect of wild horses on the sensitive plant population “in the analysis area.” You do not specify what the “analysis area” is, nor when and by whom these “sensitive plant populations” have been recorded. You state that “use by wild horses on these plants has not been documented.” Further, you report no actual damage of any kind from any hoofed animals anywhere in the analysis area. Is this “analysis area” within the scope of this NOPA, or within the Project Area?

      Where has it been shown that the presence of hoof action by wild equids has adversly affected Marsh’s Bluegrass and Nachlinger Catchfly? You only say “impacts in riparian zones MAY affect Marsh’s Bluegrass and Nachlinger Catchfly” (under the future possible results of increased hoof action).

      To what degree (1%? 3%? 5%?) will choosing the “No Action Alternative” “increase the possibility” (your words) of NOT (my words) “attaining ecological balance” (as per your Brown, 2006?) By what means, and over what time period, and to what degree will the goal of “attaining ecological balance” be “reduced” (your word) before significant or measurable disturbance to wildlife and their habitats occur? Is this a long trend taking several years or decades? Taxpayer money is on the line here. What studies taking place inthe actual Wild Horse Territories encompassed by this Project show that unmanaged wild equid populations “would” (your term) “result in the downward trend” (your term) of the “ecological status”(your term). Please define “ecological status.” I am not asking if studies have been done, or if studies are done all the time, I am asking you to show me the studies, where they can be viewed by the public, with complete dates and verifyable information. I know from speaking with you today that you are willing to answer my questions, and I sincerely appreciate that.

      Since you have not quoted any current management studies that may be in existence for this Project area, or chose not to include those studies (if they exist) in this NOPA for whatever reasons, I feel that your persist use of overly vague terminology could be construed as misleading, in my opinion.

      Let me ask you a question using your own terms: Has the Forest Service ever determined what period of time the possibility of conditions that may affect the likelihood of a “reduction of the possibility of attaining ecological balance” must persist before certain actions, such as spending taxpayer money on what may be unnecessary BLM gathers must be taken?

      BLM gathers and the subsequent penning and processing of these wild animals costs a lot of money. Also during these gathers and the subsequent penning and processing of these wild animals, suffering and death occur with regularity. This impacts all of us, to the degree we may feel responsible for the suffering we have inflicted on innocent animals either directly or indirectly, through inappropriate legislation or lack integrity in the management processes involved. Is the high cost of and the suffering of these animals through these gathers justified by your Table 4 “Summary of Potential No Action Impact?” No.

      However, the unhappy fact remains that you only have to justify your actions by proving “No Potential for Impact.” That is the fallacy of this exercise and the injustice you are doing to the American public, young and old alike, by omitting, or failing to do the studies necessary on the beneficial effects of having the wild horses and burros in these natural systems. Here is where there might be shown impact. And it is exactly here, where the most important information to this NOPA should be found, where it is not found. The American public should have a reasonable expectation that you are conscientiously fulfilling the legislative intent of The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195). To me that means providing information in your NOPA that is factual, specific, identifies real time threats or damage, and is well-balanced. Do the studies first before you set the AMLs. Work with the herds on the lands before you subject the taxpayer to more excessively expense roundups. Please see my questions, earlier, about how your No Action options might affect the existing herds. Would they all be removed if not placed under the “protection” of these new AMLs?

      Again my question, from earlier: Who initiated this “additional scoping” of 2009?

      MONITORING

      “Recent vegetative assessments” (your words) have been done. Were these assessments done within the Project area? Where and when. What was the result of these “recent vegetative assessments?” Where are these assessments published? Please provide documentation showing the exact locations within the WHTs where these “recent vegetative assessments” were completed, and for what purpose they were completed? Were they completed in conjunction with the issuing of grazing permits? Were they completed as a matter of due course? Were they completed in response to the needs of this NOPA?

      “Annual and long-term monitoring will be conducted within all the WHTs to determine if the AMLs is improving range conditions and moving toward ‘desired conditions’.”
      Has previous annual and long-term monitoring been completed in these same areas? Have you done monitoring of the eleven (11) Wild Horse Territories within this area to determine how closely they have or have not, thus far, “moved toward desired conditions” in the past under the current regime?

      What additional cost can realistically be expected to be incurred under the “Proposed Action” by this annual and long term monitoring (over and above the excessive costs involved in bringing these wild equid populations in line with the new AMLs?

      Why hasn’t annual and long term monitoring been done previously in each of these Wild Horse Territories? The 1971 Act was signed into law 39 years ago. What studies specifically have been done, including objective scientists, (as per the 1971 Act) in any of the WHTs covered in this project at any time in the past 39 years which would support the necessity of setting the proposed AMLs that are presented here? Have studies been initiated by the Forest Service within these 11 Wild Horse Territories that would address the effects of the domestic cattle grazing allotments on these natural systems? If so, please provide where these studies can be viewed by the taxpayer.

      “Census flights of Wild Horse Territories will occur at least every 4 years” according to this NOPA, under the “Proposed Action.” How many census flights have been carried out in the last 12 years? Last 20 years? Last 39 years? What is the result of these prior census flights, if any?

      Will initiating census flights, per this NOPA,increase the cost of monitoring? By how much? 100%? The taxpayer needs to know that their hard earned money is not going to provide unnecessary program costs. How will taxpayers gain from these census flights? Who trains the personnel who carry out the census flights? Will not these proposed census flights prove to make the herd more skittish of helicopters, therefore make them more canny on ways to avoid the chopper, thereby making them more difficult to gather if a gather is found to be required by this NOPA? If you have not read about the Stinking Water Creek BLM shootings (from helicopter) of the savvy horses who learned to avoid their traps you might well begin to edify yourselves on the matter. The BLM records show that during the two-week October roundup, forty “diffucult” mustangs were gunned down. One reason given was because, “The horses had been chased several times in the past. They had been spooked, and some of them were spoiled and afraid of the fences.” This unfortunate event illustrates the importance of careful thought in dealings with horses: they never forget anything.

      What modern research methods do you proposed to emply in these census flights? How can you tell basic herd health and condition from the air in forest lands? What accuracy has been proven by utilizing these census flights? Where can studies or papers be viewed by the public illustrating the necessity of such expensive census flights in the management of wild horses and burros on public lands?

      Seasonal Distribution Maps are proposed to be produced in this NOPA. Are there seasonal distribution maps for these territories in existence from previous such studies? Will the production of these represent additional program expenditures? How will they be used to benefit the wild herds and the American taxpayer? How will matters of accident liability insurance be handled for employees working in this area, if any is required. Will there be additional costs for liability insurance as pertains to these census flights?

      Please list the names of all Forest Service Personnel and Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro personnel involved in this Project. Have any Forest Service personnel involved in this Project ever been emplyed by the Bureau of Land Management?

      Have you done an Environmental Assessment for this project? If so, where can it be viewed by the public. What were the specific reasons an Environmental Assessment had to be carried out, or will have to be carried out for this project? Is it because of the presence of the Toombah Tribe? For what other reasons might an Environmental Assessment be required to be carried out?

      In my opinion, this NOPA is excessively vague and as such fails to communicate factual real time conditions in the Project area. In my opinion, the Summary of Potential No Action Impacts uses concepts and ideas that are so inconclusive and vague as to give the impression of attempting to intentionally mislead the reader. I belive this vagueness and incompleteness stems from the fact that you have chosen, at this time, to take on eleven (11) Wild Horse Territories in this Project. As I said above, you are risking doing a quality job of providing the public with useful and timely information in the form of this NOPA, and I believe the public has received short shrift when given a document covering this vast Project and so little information.

      The use of jargon and in-house catchwords not readily familiar to the public, and the appearance of a lack of due diligence and the existence of foregone conclusions throws up a big red flag to this taxpayer. I do not believe that this NOPA should have been published as it stands for these reasons, and in my opinion, it should never have been presented to the public under the guise of a tool for the purpose of discussion. Furthermore, the quality I describe that I find so lacking in this NOPA suggests, in my opinion, the invisible hand of a party or parties unseen guiding the potential outcome of this proposed Project.

      Thank you, Steve, for the willingness you have indicated to assist me in locating the documents I have requested and your patience in this matter.

      Sincerely,

  17. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    JANET, FROM NOW ON THIS IS GOING TO BE MY LETTER:

    DEAR BLM:
    YOU KNOW JANET FERGUSON THAT WRITES TO YOU? WELL, WHATEVER SHE SAYS–SAME GOES FOR ME.

  18. Linda Says:

    Hi, Janet and everybody.

    Sent this to Nevada about an hour ago. No confirmation of receipt yet. Janet, we may have different styles and approaches, but between the two of us and submissions from others, things should be hoppin’ in the Nevada FS/BLM for a good, long time. That is if they pay attention to ANYTHING we say.

    Updated comments superseding previous submission:

    Notice of Proposed Action and Opportunity to Comment
    Wild Horse and Burro Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs)
    United States Department of Agriculture
    Austin and Tonopah Ranger Districts
    Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests
    Lander, Eureka and Nye Counties, Nevada

    March 26, 2010

    Dear Ms. Mobley,

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the U.S. Forest Service Proposed Action.

    General Comments:

    1. Several areas in the report state information is dated, incomplete, inaccurate, or unavailable. Complete, accurate, and up-to-date information regarding Wild Horses and Burros on these Herd Management Areas (HMAs) is extremely important to me. Except as noted, my references to HMAs include any and all of the 11 specific and individual HMAs.

    2. Please include answers and/or complete information regarding my comments in your report, contact me when the report is issued, and publish the complete report and any and all related materials on the USDA Forest Service website.

    3. This proposal frequently refers to Forest Service (FS) collaboration and coordination with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). To be complete and accurate, this report should include any and all information and data from the BLM, co-mingled with FS data, to allow for direct comparison.

    4. This proposal does not mention or take into consideration other hoofed animals, wild and/or domestic, which naturally inhabit or have been introduced to these HMAs. All activities on these lands are inextricably entwined as part of the overall ecosystem. AMUs/AMLs for hoofed wildlife (deer, elk, pronghorns, big horns, etc.) as well as all species and sub-species of hoofed livestock, including wild horses and burros, on any and all of these FS/BLM HMAs and their impacts on these HMAs should be studied, quantified, and included in any and all information, tables and reports.

    5. All reports should include findings from government agencies, including but not exclusive to the FS, BLM, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture (regarding livestock). They should also include research, findings, conclusions, and reports from fully-independent sources not funded by or connected to any government agency, be it local, state and/or federal.

    Specific Comments:

    Location/Setting
    While some information seems specific to the study area, other information does not. The August 2002 Nevada Natural Resources Status Report (NNRSR) refers to the entire state and was issued nearly 8 years ago. The NNRSR reports “five serious drought periods” in the twentieth century, totaling 23 years over that 100 year period and, by extension, 77 years without “serious drought”, or less than 25% of that period. Please include any and all up-to date information on precipitation for each of those 100 years on the HMAs. NOAA reports droughts in Nevada from 1999-2009. This is too generalized. Please include specific precipitation amounts on the HMAs for that 10 year period.

    Background
    Both The Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of (The Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act) of 1971, as amended, and the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978 refer to wild, free-roaming horses as “part of the natural system”. Specific document references and citations in this section require the FS to coordinate with the BLM. FS policy direct (directs/directive? Please clarify.) (FSM2261.1) states these animals roam between FS/BLM lands throughout the year, and states the two agencies should develop and approve a single territorial plan. This proposal provides the opportunity to fulfill that objective. To be complete and accurate, the report generated from this proposal should include commingled FS/BLM data on any and all topics, including text, maps, charts, graphs, and other information, to facilitate direct comparison.

    Map
    The single map included in the proposal is insufficient. There should be additional maps provided in the report, including locations of any and all rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, springs, catchments, basins and other water resources. These should include historic and free-running waters, as well as those impeded and/or diverted by human activity. There should be a chart indicating water flows at various points on rivers and streams, as well as data on seasonal water availability at any and all locations on the HMAs. There should also be topographical map, as well as a map indicating the boundaries of permitted FS/BLM grazing allotments to include any and all fences and other man-made impediments to animal access and/or movement.

    Table 1: Current Livestock Management
    This table should include the acreage, AMLs, and actual number of all domestic livestock currently on each of the 14 active allotments, and the AMLs on the 7 vacant allotments. In addition, this table should indicate summer and winter usage numbers, including information indicated in my General Comments, 3 & 4.

    Table 2: Winter Habitat
    RE: Capable acres:
    Acres for Monitor North and South are confusing and do not add up. Please clarify. The BLM Hot Creek HMA is missing from this chart. Since it is mentioned under “Purpose and need for action”, statistics from the BLM should be included. Northumberland shows 13,025 total acres and only 60 capable acres below 7,500’. Is this a mountain range? Please explain. It is impossible to determine the total capable acres until this information is revised and/or included.

    Tables 1 & 2 should be combined to allow direct comparison.

    Purpose and need for action
    The Hot Creek Range is mentioned in the first sentence, but not included in any of the tables. This is a BLM HMA, and since it is referenced in this proposal, BLM information on this HMA should be included in any and all studies and reports.

    Alternative 1: “No Action”
    I feel there is not enough relevant, substantive, and all-inclusive information in this proposal to draw a conclusion regarding this alternative.

    Alternative 2: “Proposed Action”
    I feel establishing or revising AMLs on these HMAs may be long overdue, but I do not agree Alternative 2 properly addresses “all activities related to wild horses and burros”. Unless and until all studies and reports generated from this “Proposed Action” include complete and integrated information, as contained in my comments and those of others, there is no basis for fully understanding, recommending, or moving forward on Alternative 2.

    Table 3: Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs)
    All AML numbers must be based on current government and fully independent scientific studies for maintaining genetic viability of the herds. Low AMLs will increase and/or guarantee inbreeding. AMLs for Kelly Creek, Monitor North, Burro, Toquima, and Northumberland are dangerous. The lower end AMLs for Butler Basin, Little Fish Lake, and Monitor South are inappropriate. Only the higher end AMLs for Butler Basin, Little Fish Lake, and Monitor South approach genetically viability, and even those are suspect.

    The ratios of AMLs and Census Numbers as related to Capable Acres are unacceptable. Why so few wild horses and burros on so many acres? The proposal states various herds freely move between FS and BLM HMAs. All contiguous BLM HMA acreage should be included in any and all studies and reports. Also, please refer to my General Comments, 3 & 4.

    Mitigation Measures
    Trap/Pen Locations, Noxious Weeds, and Rare Plants are all acceptable or given.

    Public Safety needs further discussion and definition in light of BLM promises and assurances of complete and unfettered access to all gathers, pens, and holding sites prior to the recent Calico Gather. What actually occurred during and after the gather, and persists to this day, negated those promises and assurances.

    Scoping
    Please provide links to all scoping documents regarding these HMAs from the FS and BLM on the FS website.

    Tribal Coordination
    What was the date of the meeting with the Yomba Tribal Council? How many council members attended? Did any other tribe members attend? Please provide links to the agenda and minutes of this meeting on the FS website.

    Preliminary Issues
    All preliminary issues should include information directly related to my General Comments, 1, 3, 4 & 5.

    Table 4: Summary of the potential impacts
    All potential impacts should include information directly related to my General Comments, 1, 3, 4 & 5.

    Monitoring
    What is the specific definition of “desired conditions”, and who determines those conditions. If they are codified, please provide a link on the FS website.

    Census flights should occur on an annual basis in the spring. The initial census should identify and photograph individual bands and herd members to eliminate inaccurate information and duplicate counts. Records should be kept in a manner similar to that used to identify and monitor whales. This type of complete and accurate census will establish a baseline for future management.

    Comment Process & Analysis Process
    I do not consider a finding of “no potential for significant impacts” valid in and of itself under any circumstances in this or any other study of the ecosystem. It has been employed as a vague and all-encompassing “catch phrase”, and is inappropriate considering the scope of this proposal.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    Linda Horn
    3600 N. Coronado Ave.
    Farmington, NM 87401-4121

  19. Janet Ferguson Says:

    You did fantastic and very clear, concise and easy to read. You cover the whole shebang, too! I am going to follow up with Mr. Williams next week on my concerns.

    He did say this a.m. that he will still accept letters, but they would not be eligible for “appeal process” or something after today.

    May the force be with you.

    • Linda Says:

      Back a’cha, Janet! I’ll follow up as well. Sent mine to Ms. Mobley, but I’m going to send to Mr. Williams as soon as I finish this reply.

  20. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    BE SURE TO PUT ENOUGH POSTAGE–THAT LOOKS LIKE MORE THAN 2 oz. I LOVE IT!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: