Saturday, April 28, 2012

When an answer is not an answer

The BLM being coy: Source:

11. Comment The Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act states clearly that the rangelands must be “devoted principally” to the wild equines when referring to multi-use of the land.

Response : In Section 1333 of the Act, under Powers and Duties of the Secretary, is the only place used by Congress that the term “range” as defined in the Act is used. The Second sentence reads in part: “The Secretary is authorized and directed to protect and manage wild-free roaming horses and burros as components of the public lands, and he may designate and maintain specific ranges on public lands as sanctuaries for their protection and preservation...” The Act further directs the Secretary to consult with the State Wildlife Agency and the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board when “any such range” is proposed. The Cibola-Trigo has never been deemed a sanctuary and therefore it will be managed for multiple use.
THIS IS NOT AN ANSWER: The question was not implying sole use, it was regarding the law which says "principal use"

Coupled with this "response" to comment:

16. Comment:  The BLM concedes that livestock use is authorized on BLM administered lands under the jurisdiction of the BLM’s Yuma Field Office but fails to disclose the number of livestock AUMs permitted in the HMA.

Response: See section 3.2.7 Domestic Livestock .

Section 3.2.7
Approximately 889,700 acres of BLM-administered lands within the YFO are managed as part of grazing allotments ranging in size from 523 to 234,645 acres. All authorized use in the planning area is specific to cattle. Resource management within an allotment is based on Animal Unit Months (AUMs) where one AUM is equal to the forage required to sustain one cow-calf pair for a month (approximately 800 pounds dry forage). Annual and seasonably available species are considered when determining the AUMs available and the season of use authorized. Grazing does occur in a 26,719 acre allotment north of the proposed gather sites. This perennial allotment (Bishop Lease) is unfenced and restricted to 516 AUMs for cattle yearly. Forage for livestock is supplemented from private land during the hot or dry season or supplemental feed stuffs. Livestock control primarily consists of water or bait trapping.

For those not familiar with the lands managed by the Yuma Field Office, this IS NOT AN ADEQUATE RESPONSE AS IT ONLY ANSWERS AMU FOR ONE SMALL PORTION of THE HMA. Are there no other livestock on that range? If not, then their response is unclear. If there are, their response is disingenous. 

And this "response" to comment is laughable.

9. Comment : The EA fails to detail costs for proposed action.

Response: Exact costs of the gather contract are dependent on the number of days of the gather, the number of traps and gather sites, and the number of burros captured.

So, the BLM has NO idea how much it will cost? How much the contractor will charge and how much they will pay per "head". This was plainly a "nun ya' bidness" response meant to annoy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

5: 35 PM They are talking about spaying the mares. The board is split. Dean Bolstad? is talking about Sheldon and the fact that  Dr.Kane has perfected the spaying "procedure" but Sheldon is not "gathering" data but have released the mares. Some within 24 hours. Looks like they are going to study it further.

I can't believe they are actually talking about this! I thought the door had been closed on this consideration and it is back and in full force ... referred for further study!

Some information on this from Humane Observer:  Dr. Kane on his spay procedure:
6:05 PM My first look at Callie. Gosh, what an annoying voice!

Monday, April 23, 2012

THIS JUST IN: The BLM Still Can't Count

After three years and the removal of over 34,000 wild horses, (not to mention the thousands of foals born in LTH) the BLM has announced that there are now 31,459 wild horses on the range per this February 29, 2012 document.

I was expecting some ridiculous number remaining, but not this. With 10,000 removed through last September, the total numbers of wild horses and burros decreased by around 1,000. And not even a whiff of an explanation as to why their MATH has been so bad for years.

Also note acreage transferred from BLM. Where did over 2 million acres go and why?

Also of note, as of April 20, 2012, Gorey was still using last year's numbers on the WH&B site, even though he MUST have known a new census number was available. Sloppy at best.

Updated as of April 20, 2012
Wild Horse and Burro Population
The Bureau of Land Management estimates that approximately 38,500 wild horses and burros (about 33,000 horses and 5,500 burros) are roaming on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states based on the latest data available, compiled as of February 28, 2011. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years. As a result, the agency must remove thousands of animals from the range each year to control herd sizes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

PEER REVIEW on BLM removing cattle grazing from land study

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2011
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
Washington, DC — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is carrying out an ambitious plan to map ecological trends throughout the Western U.S. but has directed scientists to exclude livestock grazing as a possible factor in changing landscapes, according to a scientific integrity complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  The complaint describes how one of the biggest scientific studies ever undertaken by BLM was fatally skewed from its inception by political pressure.

Funded with up to $40 million of stimulus funds, BLM is conducting Rapid Ecoregional Assessments in each of the six main regions (such as the Colorado Plateau and the Northern Great Plains) covering the vast sagebrush West.  A key task was choosing the “change agents” (such as fire or invasive species) which would be studied.  Yet when the scientific teams were assembled at an August 2010 workshop, BLM managers informed them that grazing would not be studied due to anxiety from “stakeholders,” fear of litigation and, most perplexing of all, lack of available data on grazing impacts.

Exclusion of grazing was met with protests from the scientists.  Livestock grazing is permitted on two-thirds of all BLM lands, with 21,000 grazing allotments covering 157 million acres across the West.  As one participating scientist said, as quoted in workshop minutes:

“We will be laughed out of the room if we don’t use grazing. If you have the other range of disturbances, you have to include grazing.”

In the face of this reaction, BLM initially deferred a decision but ultimately opted to –
  • Remove livestock grazing from all Ecoregional assessments, citing insufficient data.  As a result, the assessments do not consider massive grazing impacts even though trivial disturbance factors such as rock hounding are included; and
  • Limit consideration of grazing-related information only when combined in an undifferentiated lump with other native and introduced ungulates (such as deer, elk, wild horses and feral donkeys).

“This is one of the screwiest things I have ever heard of.  BLM is taking the peculiar position that it can no longer distinguish the landscape imprint of antelope from that of herds of cattle,” remarked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting BLM has far more data on grazing than it does on other change agents, such as climate change or urban sprawl, that it chose to follow.  “Grazing is one of the few ‘change agents’ within the agency’s mandate to manage, suggesting that BLM only wants analysis on what it cannot control.”

Earlier this year, the Interior Department, parent agency for BLM, adopted its first scientific integrity policies prohibiting political interference with, or manipulation of, scientific work. The PEER complaint charges that BLM officials improperly compromised the utility and validity of the Ecoregional assessments for reasons that lacked any technical merit and urges that responsible officials be disciplined.

“This is like the Weather Service saying it will no longer track storms because it lacks perfect information,” added Ruch, pointing out that an extensive formalized Land Health Assessment database, including range-wide assessments of livestock grazing across the sagebrush biome, has existed since at least 2008.  “If grazing can be locked so blithely into a scientific broom closet, it speaks volumes about science-based decisionmaking in the Obama administration.” 

First Published Jan 02 2012 03:25 pm • Last Updated Jan 02 2012 03:25 pm
The use of public land for cattle grazing is a political hot potato and one that can easily burn the federal Bureau of Land Management. But the BLM can’t rightfully avoid dealing with the practice, no matter how unpleasant, because grazing can ruin riparian areas, dirty public waters and damage wildlife habitat.
And the agency’s mission is to balance multiple uses of public lands so that one doesn’t preclude the others.
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment
Grazing is one of the West’s traditional industries and one that conservative lawmakers in Utah staunchly defend. But science now provides better data on its impacts. The BLM should follow its own policy, which prohibits political interference with, or manipulation of, scientific work.
A court case and a misconduct complaint recently highlighted the BLM’s seeming affinity for ranchers at the expense of a healthy environment. If proven, that affinity should be replaced by a more objective assessment of all factors affecting public lands.
An administrative law judge will rule on a dispute pitting two environmental groups against the BLM’s grazing policies in the Duck Creek area near Bear Lake. The groups have been intensely studying the effects of cattle grazing on native grasses and willows that are essential habitat for the threatened sage grouse. They contend that the BLM renewed grazing leases without doing enough to protect the grouse habitat.
And they dispute a claim by ranchers, local officials and the BLM that the condition of the riparian areas has improved. Those areas entice cattle to trample stream banks and overgraze on plants needed by wildlife.
Meanwhile, in November the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a scientific misconduct complaint with the Department of Interior that says the BLM intentionally removed a study of grazing disturbance from the agency’s $40 million Rapid Ecoregional Assessments project to map ecological trends throughout the West.
Scientists were asked to choose the "change agents" such as fire or invasive species that would be part of the study. According to PEER, when the scientific teams were assembled, BLM managers told them that grazing would not be studied due to anxiety from "stakeholders," fear of litigation and lack of available data on grazing impacts.
One incredulous scientist was quoted in workshop minutes as saying, "We will be laughed out of the room if we don’t use grazing. If you have the other range of disturbances, you have to include grazing."
We agree. The impact of grazing is too great to be ignored.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lack of oversight on the part of the BLM results in Burro deaths in 2010.


Page 3, 2nd Paragraph " .... in August 2010, 56 burros succumbed due to dehydration, due to the spring source drying up."

Nearly two years ago! If the situation was that critical, they should have removed the remaining burros immediately, not wait for two years. Must be simply convenience to remove them now.

Date: April 15, 2012

TO: Robert Pawelek, Acting Field Manager

BLM Ridgecrest Field Office

Fax: (760) 384-5767

RE: Piute Mountains Herd Area Wild Free-Roaming Burro Removal DOI-BLM-CA-D090-2012-0029-DNA

Dear Mr. Pawelek,

Reading the E/A, and the news reports of the incident from August of 2010, one can't help but be shocked by the numbers of burros that died from dehydration. If there were there known drought conditions in the area at the time, your office was extremely negligent. If there were other problems with the water source, your office was simply negligent.

While at first glance, your reason for removing them sounds like you are trying to protect them but anyone with an inquiring mind starts to wonder when, or even if, you ever will stop removing burros from their designated lands and bit by bit, zeroing out these California herds? And why wait two years before removal? If 13 burros survived in 2010 and there are 25 burros today, it sounds like the population is thriving. Aren't you a little late to this party? (Again) And while I'm grateful for the rancher who sounded the alarm and helped save them two years ago, the law does say that public lands can be closed to livestock grazing if necessary to provide habitat to wild burros or horses. And if cattle are up there, what are they drinking and where are their water sources?

You surely can't say that the BLM lacks the manpower. With so many herds gone or reduced, you probably have many Wild Horse and Burro specialist with nothing to do these days. Do they miss the herds they have helped to wipe out? Will Mr. Neiberg take a cut in pay once this herd is removed as part of his job duties will no longer be needed?

Please don't reply that improving conditions for the burros is not within the scope of the above referenced document. You have been charged by the law to protect and manage these free roaming populations and since they add diversity to the landscape, you should do whatever you can to make sure that the burros remain alive and in the Piute Mountains. Even if it means you have to work a little harder, travel a little farther to do so.

I am against the removal of this Piute burro herd. Burros have roamed there for a hundred and fifty years, and with a little bit of oversight, hard work and actual commitment to the spirit of the 1971 law, they can remain there for another hundred and fifty.