IRON COUNTY – Earlier this week Iron County Commission sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management regarding the agency’s activity in Clark County, Nev., versus its apparent lack thereof in Iron County concerning an ongoing problem of feral horses and burros within the county.
Addressed to Neil Kornze, the BLM’s principal deputy director, and Amy Lueders, the BLM Nevada state director, the letter begins: “Please be advised that the decision of the BLM in Clark County Nevada to force trespass on private citizens has triggered our interest in Iron County, Utah and has spillover ramifications.”
In the letter, the County Commission states the BLM is spending around $2 million to impound the cattle of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, while at the same time saying it has no money to deal with the feral horse issue.
From Iron County Commission’s perspective, the BLM has its priorities skewed.
“The decision of the BLM to allocate funding approaching or surpassing $2 million dollars to gather private cattle owned in Clark County Nevada while the agency refuses to respond to the requests by Iron County to abide by its own laws and policies … is unacceptable. Why do you have money to deal with non-compliance as in the case of Mr. Cliven Bundy, but no funds to keep yourself in compliance?”
The Iron County Commission’s letter requests the BLM turn its focus from Bundy’s cattle to deal with the ongoing problem of feral horses and burros in Iron County instead. The feral herds are destroying rangeland, according to the letter, and it is the BLM’s responsibility to see that herd numbers are kept to appropriate, manageable levels. However, the BLM has not kept up with the management of the feral horse herds, the Iron County Commission said. Repeated requests for the BLM to deal with the feral horse issue have been either denied or ignored with an attached explanation the federal agency doesn’t have the funding it needs to address the problem, the letter said.
“The actions and expenditures in Clark County, Nev., prove otherwise,” the County Commission wrote.
Iron County ranchers, who are being pushed to reduce their own grazing allotments by 50 percent, are having to compete with the feral horses for forage. The County Commission called the feral horses “an imminent threat” to wildlife and livestock, especially since they are competing for range in a time of continued drought.
So the county commission issued an ultimatum to the BLM: Either the agency begin to bring feral horse numbers into compliance with its own policies, or the county will.
“This is not a threat. This is a plan of action,” the commission said in the letter.
The BLM has until 12 p.m., Friday to respond to Iron County Commission.
“If the agency’s decision to expend further resources to gather a private U.S. citizen’s cattle take precedent in lieu of our request,” the letter reads, “it will be understood that your de facto response to Iron County is one of non-priority and that you have no intent to deal with the adverse threat in Iron County in a timely manner.”
The letter to the BLM was signed by Iron County Commission David Miller and Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower.
Concerning budget issues, the BLM rolled out its overall funding priorities Friday morning. Fertility control for wild horses and burros was on the list for the 2015 fiscal year.
“The budget calls for an increase of $2.8 million for the Wild Horse and Burro program that would allow the BLM to continue multi-year studies focused on the development of more effective and longer-lasting fertility control agents and techniques,” The BLM said in a statement. “It would also further the BLM’s implementation of the National Academy of Sciences recommendations made in 2013.”
On Thursday, the Washington County Commission held an emergency meeting concerning the gathering of Bundy’s cattle. It passed a resolution against the transport and sale of the cattle across state lines into Utah, citing the cattle may not have been properly immunized and could contaminate other cattle within the state.
Grazing rights on public land in Clark County. Nev., have either been reduced or closed in the last 20 years in order to secure and preserve habitat for the desert tortoise. However, Bundy chose to ignore BLM regulations and has declared the agency unconstitutional, citing a states rights versus federal overreach argument. Now, after 20 years of back-and-forth between Bundy and the BLM, it and other federal agencies are moving in to physically remove his cattle.
- Letter to the Editor: The spirit of the West; range war
- Letter to the Editor: Bundy forfeited right to graze cattle; counter opinion, range war
- Range war: BLM, Iron County to work together on feral horse issue – Iron County
- ON Kilter: Bundy’s victim mentality costs him grazing rights
- Range war: County Commissioners oppose BLM bringing Bundy cattle to Utah – Washington County
- Range war: Rancher stands defiant as BLM moves to impound ‘trespass cattle’
- Perspectives: The Bundys vs the bureaucracy
- ON Kilter: Trespass cattleman not above the law
- BLM, National Park Service close public lands due to trespassing cattle dispute
- ‘Where’s the line?’ Ivory’s crusade to return public lands to the states
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