Ben Masters claims, in his PRO-KILL statement on 9/10/16, that there are 3,160 wild horses in the area he visited on the BLM tour last week. He visited Dolly Varden Spring in Antelope Valley, Nevada. One of our members was there too.
A well established local journalist, Larry Hyslop wrote about the wild horses at Dolly Varden Spring on 8/20/16. According to Hyslop there are 1,100 wild horses. Ben Masters, a new Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board member, claimed there were three times as many in his PRO-KILL statement on 9/10/16.
So who is telling the truth?
How many wild horses are out there? Where is the evidence?
Ben Masters only holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University. He produced and played himself in the film, UNBRANDED, a Bureau of Land Management propaganda film with all those talking heads forced into the story of an epic journey.
This column is the second in a series looking for answers to the question: what is going to be different this time around? What will prevent Elko County from facing the many problems faced by so many other states where hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is being used for oil and natural gas exploration and production? What combination of natural conditions, Noble Energy (Noble) and state/ federal oversight is going to make fracking a good experience for Elko County residents? These columns are not an endorsement of fracking and they focus on Noble although other oil companies may come into the county.
The liquid used in fracking a well is 98 to 99 percent water and sand. About a dozen chemicals are typically added to that, some of which are toxic, to ensure fracture stimulation. Each well uses a slightly different chemical mix but they all usually include acids, clay controls, friction reducers, scale inhibitors, iron controls, biocides and gellants.
Anyone can view the list of chemicals used in each fracking job at fracfocus.org. Under the new state regulations, Noble lists the chemicals within 60 days of each well completion. Go to fracfocus.org, click on Find a Well, select Nevada and Elko County. Wells are listed by an API number, but the correct well can be found using the provided well’s latitude and longitude along with a map.
After fracking, fluids flow back up the pipe. This “flowback” must then be disposed of, treated, recycled or re-used. During oil well production, water from the rock formation also comes up with the oil, called produced water. This and the oil itself must be dealt with safely. Chandler Newhall is Noble’s Rockies business unit asset manager. He said Noble will always contain produced water and flowback in steel tanks or pipes, they will not use lined pits.
For the first two wells, this flowback and produced water was shipped to a licensed facility in Eastern Utah for treatment. If Noble enters a production phase, they will develop a water management program to include treatment, recycling and reuse. In a grouping of future oil wells, produced water could be piped to a central location to be treated and piped back out to be used in fracking other wells. Noble will not use evaporation ponds for disposal. “When the company has to dispose of any water, we will obtain the appropriate regulatory permits and use only state-approved commercial disposal facilities or permitted underground injection,” explained Chandler. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection would issue a permit for any proposed re-injection well.
Re-injection of wastewater has been a problem in other areas, where this process has caused a series of small earthquakes. Many re-injection wells have not caused these problems. It appears this concern can be reduced through control of the amount of water injected per day and the pumping pressure. NDEP regulations do not address any potential seismic issues.
In some areas, radioactive minerals have returned in the produced water. This has not been seen in Nevada. If it does happen, a special permit must be obtained and the radioactive sludge disposed of properly. Very little, if any, natural gas is expected so flaring is unlikely. In North Dakota, such flares light the night skies. Actually, Noble hopes to find a little natural gas to use for powering well site generators.
Spills of produced water and oil are always concerns. Chandler says Noble has strict guidelines for the companies they hire. Emergency response plans will be in place for spills, along with spill prevention programs. If spilled, produced water could seep into the ground, and further actions will be taken to remove the contaminated water and even the contaminated soil. NDEP would become involved in any spills.
This is so early in the exploration process, it is hard to know the future of oil production in Elko County. Only the first well is producing oil in a long-term production test to understand the potential production. Noble’s success scenario would be to produce 50,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production. Chandler says this will be different from the Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota where they produce 900,000 barrels of oil per day. Nevada is currently producing 900 barrels per day.
The initial wells will be vertical wells, to study the subsurface geology and test various zones for oil production. Noble may use horizontal wells in the future, which will use more water and create much more wastewater.
“Horizontal wells minimize the surface impact while recovering more of the resource potential. This would enable us to replace many vertical wells with one horizontal well,” said Chandler.
Advisory board suggests recommendations to the BLM
by FALLON GODWIN-BUTLER FGodwin-Butler@elkodaily.com
Fallon Godwin-Butler, Elko Daily Free Press
Ben Masters, left, Dr. Robert Copeland and Dr. Julie Weikel discuss working group recommendations Friday at Stockmen’s Hotel & Casino.
ELKO — As the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting rounded out its last day in Elko, some of the working group recommendations given aligned with public comment and were focused on alleviating the population issue and restoring viable rangelands.
While the first recommendation — to destroy horses deemed unadoptable or sell them without limitation — was recognized as being the least socially palatable, Dr. Robert Cope said it was necessary to look at all options.
During its time in Nevada, the board was given a first-hand experience of the rangeland and horses in the form of a field trip, “where it became so obvious there’s an incredible crisis situation out there affecting the resource,” he said.
The rangeland was described as the bedrock the burros, wild horses, wildlife and rural communities depend on, said Dr. Julie Weikel.
Cope said it has become apparent the time for discussion was over, instead it is now at a point where “something has got to be done.”
This working group recommended the Bureau of Land Management follow the stipulations of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act “by offering all suitable animals in long and short term holding deemed unadoptable for sale without limitation or humane euthanasia. Those animals deemed unsuitable for sale should then be destroyed in the most humane manner possible.”
The initial recommendation was approved by all present board members save Ginger Kathrens.
It was asked if more horses could be removed from the wild to put less pressure on the land.
“I would like to see them put some more pressure to get more funds to do more gathers,” said June Sewing.
When asked about his feelings on the measure, member Ben Masters said, citing his age of 27, he was angered about inheriting and having been given messes.
He said his ultimate goal is to have a target population controlled by birth control. Masters didn’t think that could be accomplished through adoption and he would like to pass down a better rangeland to future generations.
“It’s a way of taking the public and Congress … on that field trip,” said Weikel.
The second recommendation — which also found approval, with Kathrens abstaining — focused on the prioritization of sage grouse habitat, when removing excess animals.
Kathrens did so based on a lack of information concerning the amount acres and herds impacted by this decision.
Additionally, it was proposed that the degree of degradation on the range was to be used as a criterion when prioritizing and removing excess animals.
The later caveat includes considering rangelands, which can be “restored and maintained in a healthy status.”
“It’s already past time for some of these places,” said Weikel, explaining this is an attempt to ask the BLM what can be saved.
That recommendation was not meant to “usurp” the priorities of the bureau.
Cope brought up the subject of genetic variability, which was touched upon by Dr. Boyd Spratling Thursday during public comment.
This form of variability or diversity potentially allows for a realistic chance of avoiding the problems associated with inbreeding.
Cope researched how high the numbers of horses would have to be to ensure this from within.
“According to what I heard yesterday, that magic number isn’t 150 it’s closer to 5,000,” he said.
Spratling said this is easily solved by placing studs in smaller herds, for example less than 150.
The conversation soon turned to economic viability by developing relationships with other agencies and departments to “conduct an analysis of socioeconomic and environmental effects on communities.”
Encouragement was given to state agencies and BLM redevelopment advisory councils to submit plans for range rehabilitation and herd management, which would be created to serve various areas based on local expertise and understanding.
The working group recommendations looked toward a theme from Thursday’s public comment to help the resource by dealing with the population and create unification to work with Congress and the Secretary of the Interior. One member of the public asked for the BLM’s hands to be untied.
The issue was called a breakdown of scientific management.
A representative of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign said the BLM is not using the contraceptive porcine zona pellucida in a way that is managing the population. Sterilization was also called invasive and barbaric and the board was asked to abandon it in favor of funding acceptable forms of contraception.
It was commonly asked for to remove the horses for appropriate management levels and begin conservation efforts.
Ben Masters starred in UNBRANDED now on Netflix. Masters voted to kill all the wild horses claimed to be unadoptable after receiving-3-Strikes from failed BLM adoptions due to BLM’s poor marketing and rotten customer service.
Protect Mustangs is a 501c3 nonprofit organization who protects and preserves native and wild horses.
Protect Mustangs, a 501c3 nonprofit organization calls for protests against the Bureau of Land Management’s (BoLM) Wild Horse Advisory Board’s decision today to euthanize all the allegedly “unadoptable” wild horses in long-term holding. They also voted to push more wild horses through advertised adoption events to strike them out quicker! Under former Secretary Salazar, the BoLM has irresponsibly rounded up more wild horses than they could ever adopt out at once. Is it because Salazar is a fifth generation rancher paying back a promise to the Cattlemen’s lobby? Since then the federal agency has been hoarding America’s wild horses in captivity at huge tax-payer expense without correcting the failed adoption program. Now they want to kill the mustangs they call “unadoptable” and sterilize all the wild horses living in freedom on the range. Protect Mustangs is calling for the Bureau of Land Management to #PutThemBack on the 1971 herd areas in the West and stop sterilization. More than one-third of the herd areas have been zeroed out.
“We will fight this outrageous plan to kill and sterilize America’s icons of freedom and we will win,” states Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “The public is not going to tolerate this. The Bureau of Land Management is a rogue agency and their advisory board is made up of people favoring the livestock industry except for one person. The bogus board of mustang haters needs to be dismantled and recreated with wild horse and burro experts–not cattlemen with a huge conflict of interest. It’s time to put America’s wild horses and burros back on public land where they belong.”
Who are the wild horses in long-term holding? Are they mostly 3-Strike mustangs from the BoLM’s failed adoption program with rotten customer service? Others are over 10 years old and should have been left out on the range to live their lives out in peace.
Update on Cleo April 2012: We found an adopter for Cleo but the BoLM had already shipped her out. When we told the Nevada BLM that the adopter was willing to go to long-term holding (Midwest) to get her they said that was impossible. They said they would only sell 100 horses at a time out of long term holding. The adopter could only take Cleo. The BLM said it was impossible.
Protect Mustangs is a 501c3 nonprofit organization who protects and preserves native and wild horses.