Official request to end GonaCon™ Experiment and others

The War on Wild Horses

The War on Wild Horses

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Official request to stop experiments on Water Canyon wild
horses and others
From: <>
Date: Thu, January 28, 2016 6:30 pm
To:,, “Tom Gorey” <>,,,

Dear Sirs,

The public is outraged that the small Water Canyon herd is being harassed and ruined for an experiment with GonaCon™–paid for with tax dollars. American wild horses are an indigenous species aka “returned-native” as well as being a national treasure. The public loves them.

Protections given to America’s free roaming wild horses and burros–according to the law–must be enforced.

The federally protected Water Canyon herd was underpopulated–with less than 60 wild horses of various ages on the herd management area (HMA). The herd is located on the western side of the vast Antelope Complex in northeastern Nevada, north of Ely.

This herd is already threatened with low genetic viability because the population is so small. American wild horses are not overpopulated on public land and are not “pests”. They should never be experimented on with an EPA restricted-use pesticide, or anything else.

PZP, another EPA restricted-use pesticide, was originally proposed by Nevada RAC member Jeanne Nations for a Water Canyon Pilot Program.

Now, according to your website, Ms. Nations is the Project Coordinator (volunteer) of the GonaCon™ Experiment. How did her previous PZP proposal flip into the GonaCon™ Experiment? Was the public allowed to comment on the proposed GonaCon™ Experiment?

Protect Mustangs is against forcibly drugging wild mares with risky pesticides, used for birth control, such as GonaCon™ (sterilant) or PZP (made from slaughterhouse pig ovaries) because they eventually sterilize the mares, ruin natural selection, negatively effect the herd’s immune system, cause abnormal herd behavior, etc.

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) overpopulation claims are fraudulent and any action taken based on fraudulent information is wrongful. There are no “excess” wild horses on public land today. Read more about that here: There are too many herd management areas that currently have no wild horses on them.

Commercial livestock often outnumbers wild horses on public land at more than 50 to 1. Native wild horses must no longer be the scapegoat for range damage.

53 Water Canyon wild horses were trapped last fall for this controversial experiment. Public observation was discouraged. 15 mares were harassed and forcibly drugged with GonaCon™. Then 15 mares along with 7 studs were returned to the Water Canyon federal herd management area (HMA).

Evidently one Water Canyon wild horse has already died during the experiment. Please provide information and photos/video documenting the Water Canyon wild horse who died as a result of this experiment. Have any other wild horses died since then? Will you be killing wild horses as part of the GonaCon Experiment?

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has broken up family bands, branded, harassed and permanently removed half of the small herd to forcibly drug and experiment on 15 wild mares with GonaCon™. The BLM has also harassed and endangered wild horses with radio collars who were returned to the range for the experiment. This is outrageous and all paid for with American tax dollars.

Ultimately the BLM plans on spending $11.5 million tax dollars on various experiments on wild horses over the next 5 years. The various experiments are listed here:


The Water Canyon and other wild horses available for adoption are “wanted” but BLM’s adoption publicity, marketing and interface with the public is failing. If adoption rates are falling in the last decade it’s because BLM is removing more wild horses than they can adopt and doing a poor job at customer service with adopters. BLM’s failing adoption program does not justify experiments of any sort on wild horses and burros. Your adoption program needs an overhaul and the first thing you need to do is fix your rotten customer service.

Protect Mustangs and our members are very interested in the Water Canyon wild horses. We have visited the 11 orphans at the Palomino Valley Center (PVC), outside Reno, several times per week since December 18, 2015. Our members are shocked the weanlings and yearlings each have one strike against them after the failed trap-site adoption on December 5th.

We are is committed to ensuring the 11 Water Canyon orphans (#WC11) will not receive a 2nd or 3rd strike. The 3rd strike would strip away their federal protections according to the Burns Amendment of the Free Roaming Wild Horse & Burro Protection Act (1971). Legally this would allow the BLM to euthanize the youngsters or engage in unlimited sales to kill buyers for slaughter.

We have been regularly evaluating the youngsters, documenting their situation, publicizing the need for them to find good homes in pairs–to get them out of the pen at PVC with no shade or shelter while helping adopters navigate the BLM red tape and BLM’s slow adoption communications.

Did you realize the public wants to adopt the Water Canyon wild horses because they know about them now and like them? As of this writing, all but 2 orphans at PVC have been adopted.

According to an August 2015 BLM news release, “The BLM plans to remove 30-40 excess wild horses and offer them to the public for adoption through its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program.” Where are all the other Water Canyon wild horses who have been permanently removed from their home? How many have been adopted as of today?

Are the other Water Canyon pregnant mares, studs and colts at the Broken Arrow facility in Fallon, Nevada–which is closed to the public? If so we officially request you immediately open the facility for public observation and to promote adoption.

Members of Protect Mustangs would like to view the Water Canyon wild horses, take photographs and video of the wild horses to promote them for adoption. One of our videos had more than 24,000 views in a few days which sparked a huge interest in adopting the Water Canyon wild horses.

The American public wants to adopt and/or purchase the remaining Water Canyon wild horses removed from public land–including the pregnant mares. Those over 10 can be purchased outright through the BLM’s sale program.

The public is outraged the BLM is experimenting on America’s icons of freedom and symbols pioneering spirit of the West.

Protect Mustangs wants to ensure no other wild horses will be used for any kind of experimentation. America’s wild horses are naturally fertile for the species to survive through natural selection. Using federally protected wild horses as lab animals for population control experiments is cruel and unusual treatment and must stop now.

We officially request you cease the Water Canyon GonaCon™ Experiment and all the other experiments listed here now.

Federally protected wild horses and burros are to be protected from harassment according to the law. You can read the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 here:

Anne Novak

Anne Novak
Executive Director
Protect Mustangs
Tel./Text: 415.531.8454

Read about native wild horses:

In the news:
Protect Mustangs is a nonprofit organization who protects and preserves native and wild horses.

Water Canyon Wild Horse Growth Suppression Pilot Program

Public observation of gather, etc was discouraged:
12/16/15 Adopt a Water Canyon Foal Press Release

Release Date: 12/16/15
Contacts: Chris Hanefeld , 775-289-1842 ,
News Release No. ELY 2016-006

BLM Offers Public Unique Opportunity to Adopt Water Canyon Wild Horses

ELY – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is offering the public the opportunity to adopt a foal gathered from the Water Canyon portion of the Antelope Herd Management Area in eastern Nevada. Nine weanlings and two yearlings are being held together at the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley, north of Reno, Nev.
The horses are available for walk-up adoption from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays. All of the horses have received vaccinations and their bloodwork is completed. Brand inspections will be performed and health certificates issued on all adopted horses.
Pictures of the horses are available online on the BLM’s Flickr album “Water Canyon Foals Available for Adoption” at Applications are available for download (.pdf) at
For more information, contact Jeremy Wilhelm, BLM public contact person, at (775) 475-2222.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.

Ely District Office 702 North Industrial Way Ely, NV 89301

Water Canyon Wild Horse Growth Suppression Pilot Program:

USDA-Developed Vaccine for Wild Horses and Burros Gains EPA Registration (Feb 13, 2013):

GonaCon™ the EPA restricted use pesticide information sheet:

GonaCon™, PZP and SpayVac® have all previously been used in experiments and should not be used because America’s wild horses are underpopulated–especially the Water Canyon herd. Here is some scientific data. The experiments were called for based on an overpopulation myth:

Context. Contraception is increasingly used as a management technique to reduce fertility in wildlife populations; however, the feasibility of contraceptive formulations has been limited until recently because they have required multiple treatments to achieve prolonged infertility.

Aims. We tested the efficacy and evaluated potential side effects of two contraceptive formulations, a porcine zona pellucida (PZP) formulation, SpayVac® and a gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) formulation GonaCon-B!, in a population of free-roaming feral horses (Equus caballus). Both formulations were developed to provide several years of infertility with one injection.

GonaCon™ experiment is already going on at Theodore Rossevelt National Park so no need for a Water Canyon experiment:

Conversation about fertility control with Brett Hass, retired biologist previously with NSA (part 1)

Don’t let pesticides like Gonacon™, PZP or SpayVac® manage native wild horses to extinction. The Spin Dr.’s and some ignorant horse advocates are pushing fertility control on underpopulated wild horses. Know the truth and expose those spewing the spin.

PM Gonacon Pesticide Fact Sheet

Read the entire Gonacon™ Pesticide Fact Sheet


John Cox: Brett, you’re a retired biologist, previously with the NSA for how many years?

Brett Hass: 46 long years John. We met in Vietnam, when we a lot younger my friend (smiles). We were doing wildlife and vegetation studies in your AO (area of operations). That was my first assignment with the NSA, as a matter of fact.

John Cox: Let’s cut through all of that. What do you think of Gonacon™ and some of the other fertility controls BLM is using?

Brett Hass: As usual, and as government agencies do and BLM and DOI are extremely guilty, they pretend that science guides its wild horse and burro management strategies. So the agencies involved go forth and resolve issues, supposedly, with experimental drugs–in this case GonaCon™. The question is, in reality, does it resolve anything at all, or is it simply to further experimentations with this drug and the wild horses the most expendable of situations currently?

The problem is very obvious, with the first-time use of an experimental drug, they act like children with a new toy–but this toy is extremely dangerous, to not only the horses and actually lead them to extinction, but the environmental consequences are apparently neglected entirely? (shakes his head negatively). . .

But let’s get real, the very absence of science contradicts any time of sound reasoning for its use whatsoever. So once again we have a government agency, using a Nazi-Type experimental fertility drug on horses and other wildlife–without knowing, or even acknowledging for that matter, what the long-term consequences are–or in perception–the problems that will arise in its actual use.

There is no resolution, as I reviewed the population situation and see first hand there is no over-population if wild horses just within the BLM numbers alone; but livestock, that is a completely different matter, in reality.

John Cox: In your appraisal of the information you’ve read, would you, as a tenured Wildlife Biologist for over 50 years, use this drug?

Brett Hass: Absolutely not! There is no pertinent reasoning to use it right now and especially on wild horses or much of anything else for that matter. Our wildlife and environment is simply too important to be so frivolous with such activity, especially an unknown situation, as fertility drugs used in our natural environment. But as you say, ignorance is quite something, and our government seems to portray ignorance quite well, and frankly the only situation they seem to be competent to accomplish.

Much more on this discussion with Brett Hass later . . .


Below is the original PZP Pesticide Fact Sheet before HSUS seems to have lobbied the EPA to make changes to the chemical class. It’s still only approved as a pesticide to manage pests. PZP is made from slaughterhouse pig ovaries mixed with modified freund’s complete adjuvant.

PM PZP Test mares

(American wild horses used in fertility control experiments)

© John Cox, printed with permission

John Cox is a Vietnam Vet, living in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest who writes about the environment. He’s passionate about saving America’s wild horse herds and wolves. 

Read John Cox’s blog at:

Have you read about the Gonacon™ Experiment on the Water Canyon herd and the UNLUCKY 11 orphans? It all started as a PZP proposal and went down the slippery slope. . .  Read about it here:

BLM Resource Advisory Council Meeting to be Broadcast on Web

Cows in Nevada (Photo © Anne Novak)

Cows in Nevada (Photo © Anne Novak)

From a BLM press release:

Reno, Nev.— The joint meeting of the Nevada Bureau of Land Management’s three Resource Advisory Councils (RACs) will be broadcast over the web on February 6 and 7 at

The meeting is being held at the High Desert Inn, 3015 Idaho Street, Elko, NV. A public comment period is scheduled for Feb. 6 from 4 to 4:30 p.m. Written comments can also be submitted to RAC Coordinator Chris Rose at or by mail at: RAC Comments, Attn: Chris Rose, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89502.

The agenda and additional information will be posted at Individuals who plan to attend and need further information about the meeting or need special assistance such as sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodations may also contact Chris Rose.

The Sierra Front-Northwestern Great Basin RAC, the Northeastern Great Basin RAC, and the Mojave-Southern Great Basin RAC each have 15-members that represent a variety of public land interests. The Nevada RACs advise the Secretary of the Interior, through the BLM Nevada State Director, on a variety of planning and management issues associated with public land management in Nevada.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands

RAC 2014 tri rac agenda

Request for public participation in BLM Wyoming RAC meeting using communication technology

(Photo © Cat Kindsfather, all rights reserved)

(Photo © Cat Kindsfather, all rights reserved)

Growing Concern BLM will wipe out certain Wyoming herds to appease the local grazing association

The public feels their written comments are not taken into consideration by BLM.

Stakeholders want to participate in the Wyoming RAC meeting giving oral comments using technology such as a teleconference or Skype to foster the public process.

The scoping notice is alarming:

Protect Mustangs is circulating a petition requesting the BLM use communication technology to allow oral comments.

Below is the formal request to include the public in oral comments using communication technology and Livestream the controversial meeting.

From: <>

Subject: Public wants to give oral comment using technology



Date: Friday, February 1, 2013, 1:22 AM

Dear Sirs & Madames,

The public is up in arms that such an important opportunity for public comment is being held in a remote area without the ability to make oral comment using technology to bridge the distance.

Most people have jobs that prevent them from traveling to Rock Springs, Wyoming to spend the night and speak at 8 a.m. the following morning.

The cost of traveling to your location is also excessive.

The public comment period will be Feb. 8, at 8 a.m. Interested persons may make oral comments or file written statements for the council to consider. Depending on the number of persons wishing to comment and time available, the time for individual oral comments may be limited. If there are no members of the public interested in speaking, the meeting will move on to the next agenda topic. ~ BLM

I’d like to ask you to please find a way to engage all the stakeholders in oral comment and allow enough time for this to occur.

We’d like to go on the record to ask you, as an act of good faith, to facilitate the public’s wish to comment orally by implementing a teleconference during the comment period or allow stakeholders to comment orally via Skype.

We request you LiveStream the 2 days of meetings to show you are engaging in transparency.

Thank you for your kind assistance.

Best wishes,

Anne Novak




Release Date: 01/09/13


Cindy Wertz (307) 775-6014



The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming Resource Advisory Council will meet Wednesday, Feb. 6, Thursday, Feb. 7, and Friday, Feb. 8, at BLM’s High Desert District, Rock Springs Field Office, 280 Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, Wyo., in the Pilot Butte Conference Room.

The meeting is open to the public. The meeting will begin on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility on Lionkol Road. The meetings will begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday and Friday at the Rock Springs Field Office. Planned agenda topics include a discussion on checkerboard land ownership, landscape scale partnerships, invasive weeds, trails and follow up from previous meetings.

The public comment period will be Feb. 8, at 8 a.m. Interested persons may make oral comments or file written statements for the council to consider. Depending on the number of persons wishing to comment and time available, the time for individual oral comments may be limited. If there are no members of the public interested in speaking, the meeting will move on to the next agenda topic.

The purpose of the council is to advise the Secretary of the Interior through the BLM on a variety of issues associated with public land management. For more information contact BLM RAC Coordinator Cindy Wertz, (307) 775-6014.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, recreational and other activities on BLM-managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends. In FY 2012, nearly $5.7 billion will be generated on lands managed by the BLM, which operates on a $1.1 billion budget. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.


Wyoming State Office   5353 Yellowstone Rd.      Cheyenne, WY 82009



Anne Novak

Executive Director

Protect Mustangs

P.O. Box 5661

Berkeley, California 94705

Links of interest:

Wyoming Resource Advisory Council Meeting:

BLM scoping statement Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Area:

California BLM RAC Meeting June 13-14

Bureau of Land Management
Northeast California Resource Advisory Council
Field Tour and Meeting
June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California

Summary Minutes

June 13

Council members toured recently acquired lands in the Homecamp Area.  At Boulder Reservoir and Divine Springs they discussed proposed recreation site improvement projects.  They also discussed proposed grazing management strategies.  The lands were acquired through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act.

June 14

Vice Chairman Skip Willmore convened the meeting at 8 a.m.


Category One:  Ken McGarva, John Erquiaga, Jack Razzeto, Skip Willmore.  Absent: Todd

Category Two:  Frank Bayham, Judy Oliver, Louise Jensen, Gale Dupree, Alan Cain.

Category Three:  Brad Hansen, Sean Curtis, Carol Montgomery.  Absent:  Nancy Huffman, Jim Chapman.

There is a quorum.

BLM Staff:  District Manager Nancy Haug, Eagle Lake Field Manager Ken Collum, Alturas
Field Manager Tim Burke (also acting field manager for Surprise), Public Affairs Officer Jeff

Guests:  Jackie McGarva, Likely; Carla Bowers, Volcano.

Opening Business

Vice Chair Skip Willmore chaired the meeting in Nancy’s absence.

Approvals:  The agenda for this meeting was approved.  The minutes from the February meeting were approved.

Bureau of Land Management
Northeast California Resource Advisory Council
Summary Meeting Minutes, June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California


Field Tour Comments

Tim asked for comments and suggestions about proposed recreation developments at Boulder Reservoir and Divine Campground, and proposals for temporary non-renewable grazing use or trailing permit grazing use on the acquired Homecamp lands.  RAC comments:

Ken McGarva:  There should be more irrigation in the meadows at mare field.  Work
should be undertaken on irrigation system improvements for the meadows.

Skip Willmore and Ken repeated comments made during the field tour that grazing
stubble height should be less than six inches to keep the grasses healthy and to prevent
rodent damage.  The lower grass height also attracts more birds.  John Erquiaga said
grazing is far preferable to burning.

Carol Montgomery questioned the rationale for campsite development at Boulder
Reservoir.  She said remote camping areas should be left undeveloped, and that users are
generally respectful of primitive use areas and refrain from littering and damage.
Developed camping spaces, vault toilets and other developments would make the area
less desirable for those who prefer a primitive camping experience.

Frank Bayham agreed that fencing cattle out of the reservoir is a good idea.  He said
campground development would detract from the dispersed recreation experience.  A
fence and water trough project to manage cattle would protect the cultural site at the

Louise Jensen:  Fencing the lake is a good environmental idea to protect the water quality
of the reservoir.  Redirecting the water for cattle use would be a good idea.

Gale Dupree:  Supported fencing cattle away from the reservoir.  A pit toilet is a good
idea to prevent pollution from human waste.  Fire rings would help prevent spread of
indiscriminate fire rings and camping areas.  BLM should visit the primitive campsites on
the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and ask users there what they prefer in primitive
camping areas.

Tim noted there are proposals to dredge the pond and cap the archaeological site.

Frank suggested there should be more archaeological testing before those projects are
done.  It would provide information on the extent and quality of the cultural resource
information there.

Skip agreed that the site should be left in a primitive condition.  It is too remote to put
much money into. Development would require more money and staff time for

Bureau of Land Management
Northeast California Resource Advisory Council
Summary Meeting Minutes, June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California


State Director’s Report

Nancy Haug delivered a statewide status report from State Director Jim Kenna:

Leadership Team in Washington/State Office:  BLM Director Bob Abbey has retired
as of May 31, 2012. Associate Director Mike Pool has assumed the Acting Director role
beginning June 1.

Legislative – Just six months remaining in the 112th Congress. Focus still remains on
jobs and the economy. It’s going to be a busy summer for the California delegation as
they prepare for election season. We expect some changes in Congressional districts in
the Northeast part of the state with Congressman Herger retiring and the redistricting of
the new District 01.

Hill Visits Recap – The State Director recently completed his annual trip to Washington
to brief Congressionals. Jim met with 13 members/staffs of the California delegation
including Senators Feinstein and Boxer and Representatives Herger (CA-2) and
McClintock (CA-4). Jim emphasized BLM-CA priority issues (new energy frontier, sage
grouse conservation, economic benefits to communities and America’s Great Outdoors.
He also discussed BLM-CA emphasis on sustainability, heritage and community. Overall
he received positive feedback about BLM-CA and the good work by field offices and
many partners.

Budget – The FY2012 funding level for BLM-CA was $1,127,839 million compared to
the FY2013 request of $1,127,335.

BLM Priorities:  Our priorities continue to be renewable energy and America’s Great
Outdoors, including the National Landscape Conservation System, youth initiatives and
recreation. Sustainability, Heritage, Community.

Wild Horse and Burro – Adoption season is underway. An adoption in Clovis earlier
this month resulted in the adoption of seven horses and one burro.

Promoting Economic Growth BLM-California is an engine of economic activity and
raises more revenue each year for American taxpayers than it spends. Special areas bring
tourism dollars to local communities, and royalties for use of public lands amount to
millions of dollars each year.

BLM-California brings in $117 million in oil and gas royalties, $1.8
million from wind projects, and $8.6 million from geothermal projects
statewide each year. Approved solar projects will contribute nearly $23 million in annual rent and royalties, once built out

Bureau of Land Management
Northeast California Resource Advisory Council
Summary Meeting Minutes, June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California


District Manager’s Report

For the Northern California District, Nancy updated the group on the status of management changes in the Surprise Field Office, and development of conservation strategies for sage grouse west-wide, including involvement of local governments in developing management alternatives.  A sage grouse decision to amend land use plans is due by September 2014.

Surprise Field Office Management:  Nancy told the RAC that Allen Bollschweiler had taken a position in Grants Pass, Oregon, as field manager. For the foreseeable future, she has assigned Tim Burke, Alturas field manager to oversee the Surprise Field Office. Nancy has also asked Tim to assess workload and staffing at the Surprise Field Office as well as the Alturas office and determine if there are ways to achieve efficiencies.

John Erquiaga said that this looks like an attempt to close the Cedarville office. Nancy responded that no decisions have been made and that is not a consideration at this point. She said that the BLM is taking this opportunity to see if there are areas where we can share workload or staffing. She also said that Tim would be talking with our partners and the counties about the ongoing work and partnerships and possibilities for future management of the two offices.

Sage Grouse:  Nancy reminded the group that the BLM’s development of sage grouse
conservation strategies will result in amendment to the Alturas, Eagle Lake and Surprise resource management plans. Because they were completed in 2008 she said they are in “fairly good shape” regarding conservation of sage grouse habitat.  There will likely be some changes, however.

Monitoring Program: Nancy also reported on the soil, water and air monitoring project
involving Utah State University.  The RAC heard information on the topic at their February
meeting.  The work is designed to develop quantitative data upon which to base defensible livestock grazing decisions for all three northeast California field offices.

Wild Horse and Burro Management

Nancy Haug reported:

Director’s Challenge Project:  The Eagle Lake and Surprise field offices were allocated
$25,000 in the Director’s Challenge Initiative to support volunteer work to gather data on
resource conditions in wild horse and burro herd management areas.  Volunteers will work in the Twin Peaks, High Rock and Nut Mountain HMAs.  BLM can help cover volunteer expenses.  The volunteer announcement has been posted online at, announced through the news media and through other venues.

Alan Cain, who represents wild horse and burro interests, said he likes the idea of providing opportunities for people to study range conditions first hand.  Volunteers will also have the hance to learn about range effects of horse populations.

Bureau of Land Management
Northeast California Resource Advisory Council
Summary Meeting Minutes, June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California


Upcoming Gathers:  Nancy also reported that the Surprise Field Office is working on a range of alternatives in an environmental assessment being prepared for the proposed Coppersmith, Buckhorn and Carter Reservoir gathers.  Coppersmith and Buckhorn are anticipated this fall; Carter is proposed for next summer.  The environmental assessment will be released soon for public comment.

Sean Curtis urged the BLM to consider the ability to help the Modoc National Forest with their plans to gather the Devil’s Garden herd territory.

Carol Montgomery suggested that the RAC should receive more information on actions and recommendations of the national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.  Public Affairs Officer Jeff Fontana agreed to forward information on web links to current information as it becomes available.

Action:  The RA unanimously recommended that its wild horse and burro subcommittee
(Todd Swickard, Alan Cain, Sean Curtis and Chair Nancy Huffman) review the EA for
the upcoming Surprise Field Office gathers and develop recommendations for the full
RAC.  A RAC conference call, open to the public, should be scheduled for the RAC
review of the recommendations.

Medicine Lake Geothermal Development

Tim Burke updated the council on the history and current status of proposals for geothermal leasing and development in the Medicine Lake Highlands in Siskiyou County.  Leases were first issued in the 1970s, and development projects for 49-megawatt power plants at locations called Telephone Flat and Four Mile Hill were approved by the BLM and Forest Service in the 1990s.  Subsequent court actions invalidated the leases at the Four Mile Hill project site.  The development company, Calpine Corp., is now proposing developing at least one 49-megawatt power plant at the Four Mile Hill project site, and is considering the possibility of developing up to 480 megawatts of geothermal power in the entire Known Geothermal Resource Area (KGRA). The BLM will need to complete new environmental analysis to extended the leases, an action that is required if the company is to pursue development plans.  The company has not yet informed the BLM about its preferred course of action.

During the previous environmental analysis on proposed developments there was opposition from Native American tribes, environmental groups and a homeowners association at Medicine Lake.  There was also support expressed.

Legal questions remain about the validity of leasing at the Telephone Flat project site.

The item was informational only.  The RAC took no action.

Bureau of Land Management
Northeast California Resource Advisory Council
Summary Meeting Minutes, June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California


Infernal Caverns Acquisition

Tim discussed the historic significance of the 1868 battle site in the Likely area where local
tribes and settlers clashed. The site contains memorial markers for the six U. S. Cavalry members who died.

Mitigation funds from the Reno-Alturas Intertie powerline project were used to buy part of the property and it was donated to the BLM for management.  An adjacent parcel is privately owned; BLM is negotiating acquisition.  There are mitigation funds still available that could be used.

Discussions and negotiations are continuing about possible acquisition, including the possibility of a land exchange.

Eagle Lake Field Office Projects

Ken Collum updated the council on the status of two projects:

Horse Lake Wind:  Invenergy has submitted a plan of development for a 50-megawatt wind energy development on Fredonyer Peak, near Horse Lake, east of Eagle Lake.  The
environmental review process has not yet begun.  The field office has advised the company about concerns with proposed wind turbine locations within priority sage grouse habitat, where developments must follow BLM’s interim guidance for habitat conservation.  BLM has asked the company for an alternative that includes turbine placement outside of grouse habitat to avoid conflicts with interim sage grouse habitat management.

The Eagle Lake Field Office also asked the company for more extensive analysis of bald eagle and golden eagle use of the project area to determine possible wind energy impacts on the birds.

Another year of analysis could be required.

The BLM will not move forward with environmental analysis until the two requirements are met.

Bly Tunnel:  There is no water flowing from the tunnel. The field office closed a controversial bypass valve last February.  There has been no action on five appeals filed with the Interior Board of Land Appeals, including one request for a stay of the BLM action.

Public Comments
Carla Bowers: Presented information on allocation of forage allocation to wild horses and burros, wildlife and livestock. She stressed that nationally, wildlife receive 51 percent, livestock 45 percent and wild horses two percent of available forage.  Carla presented several handouts.  She said horse numbers are comparatively low compared to wildlife and livestock.  She was concerned with BLM aiming for low AML during gathers.  If achieve nationwide, she said there will be about 18,000 animals on the range instead of the 26,500 that BLM says is the national AML.   She was also concerned that under the BLM’s population target 78 percent of wild herds would be under 150 animals, a number that threatens viability.  She expressed concern that BLM has not managed wild herds with consideration for protection of their family units.  She cited Bureau of Land Management Northeast California Resource Advisory Council Summary Meeting Minutes, June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California
information from Karen Sussman, president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, in saying that small herd numbers damage  the educational structure wild herd family units  and leads to higher than normal reproduction rates.
She also recommended that the BLM use more water and bait trapping, particularly for smaller herds, where there is a need to gather excess animals.
Carla also summarized a proposal for a special management approach for the Carter Reservoir Herd that roams public land east of Cedarville.  She noted these horses have “old world” Spanish markers, making them unique.  She was concerned with the low AML currently in place, and said it is important to increase the AML to preserve the line of horses.  At a minimum, she said the currently population level of 55 should be maintained.
She expressed support for expanding HMAs west wide and said wild horse activists are
interested in working with Congress to expand ranges.  Carla expressed support for cooperation among wild horse interests and livestock operators.

Public Land Access Issues

Skip Willmore said some of his constituents are concerned that agencies are closing down road access to public lands.  Sean Curtis noted that the BLM took a more user friendly approach to travel route designations than did the Forest Service when it established travel route designations in the Alturas, Surprise and Eagle Lake resource management plans.

Skip said there are constituent concerns that closures would extend to BLM-managed lands. Managers said there are no efforts underway to expand route designations beyond those contained in the resource management plans.

There was discussion about management of public lands that are surrounded by private lands, and processes that can be used to address the issue.  Managers said the process differs by location and access issues are addressed on a case by case basis. In some cases, the BLM negotiates for public access to isolated parcels.  They can also be designated for disposal from public ownership or retained for various natural resource values.

Socio-Economic Draft Strategy

The RAC reviewed the BLM’s draft national socioeconomic strategy developed earlier this year.  Members received copies in advance.

Nancy Haug summarized that BLM capability in socioeconomic analysis has declined over the years, while need for the analysis has become increasingly important.  This draft strategy is recognition of this, and an attempt by the BLM to increase capability in analyzing socio economic effects of its land management decisions.

RAC Comments:

Bureau of Land Management
Northeast California Resource Advisory Council
Summary Meeting Minutes, June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California


Sean Curtis:  The RAC should have had the opportunity to comment on the goals and strategies – – the meat and potatoes of the document.  Ideally, socio-economic data should be as important in BLM decision making as the natural resource data.  BLM decisions can have dramatic local socio-economic impacts, but these effects would be insignificant on a national basis.  Analysis of socioeconomic data needs to be part of the decision-making process rather than just a box to be checked.  What is missing now is the ability to interpret socio-economic data collected during planning.  There are sources of data, but it needs to be interpreted in context.  BLM needs to better analyze long range and broad socioeconomic implications of its decisions. For example, how a local school system would be impacted by as a result of widespread reductions in federal
land livestock grazing.  Aside from this draft report, socioeconomic data is needed for local
communities to make the case for the importance of commodity based programs.

Louise Jensen:  There has to be flexibility to customize this for local communities.  That layering to create a local toolbox for socioeconomic analysis does not appear to exist here. There is no good modeling to measure unintended consequences of an action.  The BLM needs to have control over the modeling and the data that are used.  It would be important that all field offices used the same standards for modeling and data analysis.  The data collected has to be easily used by staff.

Frank Bayham:  Good socioeconomic information is important in BLM decision making  He was concerned that this document is a prelude to restructuring of the BLM in some way, positioning political and economic considerations above other needs and thus impacting the agency’s natural resource expertise and capability on the ground.  It appears this could become a major entity within the BLM.  There is value in some of the information addressed in the document.  He said expertise is sometimes needed to gather the correct information in the correct way to be most useful in an agency decision making process.  In principle he supports the document, but feels it is too loaded with unnecessary specifics.

Judy Oliver:  She feels the BLM is doing socio-economic work already, but doesn’t doubt more data could be used.  She suggested there are outside sources of information and data collection, such as universities.  She sees this as a response to BLM’s need to address increasing competition for rangeland use and resources.

Jack Razzeto:  Jack questioned whether the socioeconomic data will really affect the agency decision making process.

Ken McGarva:  It will cost money to hire people to study the topic and there is no money to take care of what we have now.  This looks like a plan to spend more money.

Skip Willmore:  The BLM appears to be “fishing” to so something it does not need to do.   There is BLM expertise on the ground to answer the socioeconomic questions.

Action:  The RAC unanimously agreed to consolidate their opinions in several statements, as follows:

Bureau of Land Management
Northeast California Resource Advisory Council
Summary Meeting Minutes, June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California


— The document writing is not clear, too complex.  The document is jargon laden and
cryptic which obfuscates the intent.

An example:  Some of the tools referenced might not even exist yet.

— The RAC should have been consulted in development of the document goals and
strategies prior to the narrative being developed.

— An omission:  There is no standard among the natural resource agencies about how to
measure and analyze socioeconomic data in the context of ecosystem management. This
exercise seems premature until there is a standard.

— Omission:  There is no idea or assessment of the costs to the BLM of implementing
most of the proposed actions.  Specific actions in strategy 2.2 are one example.

— Omission:  There is no BLM commitment expressed to use socioeconomic data in the
BLM decision making process.

— Omission:  There is no timeframe for implementation and no indication for a plan to
evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed actions.

–Omission:  Strategy 1.1 needs to include stakeholder involvement.  This is solely in-

–The RAC had difficulty prioritizing proposed actions because of the notes listed above.

Field Managers’ Reports:

Tim Burke presented a written report for the Alturas and Surprise field offices (attached)

Comments/Questions:  Tim said he will bring RAC comments on the Boulder Reservoir proposal back to the staff for consideration.  For example, he will reflect support for the buck and pole fencing and dredging proposals.  He will ensure that the RAC receives a copy of the decision.

Ken Collum reported for the Eagle Lake Field Office (attached)

There were no comments or questions.

Bureau of Land Management
Northeast California Resource Advisory Council
Summary Meeting Minutes, June 13-14, 2012, Cedarville, California


Closing Business

Next meeting: November 7-8, Alturas

Location:  Field Trip to Little Valley area

Topics Status report on Bly Tunnel, status of Horse Lake Wind proposal, status of sage grouse conservation strategy, updates on proposed wild horse gathers in the Surprise Field Office, update on management of Surprise Field Office, status of Alturas Field Office PG&E lands acquisition, status of Medicine Lake geothermal development proposals, update on Homecamp decision/Boulder Reservoir project.

Summary notes compiled by
Jeff Fontana
Public Affairs Officer
BLM Northern California District