Which are the “Horse Groups Out There” that “Would/Could Help the BLM?”

A proposal to have the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “move [wild] horses” from one area to another, and to close certain areas in Nevada to wild horse use was discussed at a meeting of the Sierra Front – Northwestern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council (NWGB RAC) in Carson City, Nevada in April, 2008.  According to the meeting minutes published at the BLM website, the idea was “visited” by RAC members, who also suggested that certain un-named “horse groups out there” might help the BLM move wild horses or close wild horse areas:

Wild Horse and Burro Standards and Guidelines

John Gebhardt said he received notification from the State, approved by the State Director, regarding comments that came in on bringing horses from other management areas that do not have viable numbers.

By a court ruling BLM can move horses whether there are unviable numbers to other management areas.

Charles Matton said at the last meeting they visited the idea of moving or closing HMA’s, he said there are horse groups out there that would/could help the BLM.  One idea he had was, if an HMA is not overpopulated, possibly the State Agricultural Department could move their horses onto those HMA’s.  Gail and others said this was impractical since the State’s horses are considered feral, and BLM’s aconsidered wild and free roaming.  Tim Dufurrena and Charles Matton will discuss ideas.

A Resource Advisory Council (RAC) is a creature of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972, that was enacted by Congress, according to a 2007 University of Michigan study, “to address the closed-door, biased, redundant, and industry-captured councils that characterized the advisory council system prior to 1972.”  The U of M study says the BLM established RACs “in 1995 as a means for BLM managers to collaboratively manage public lands.”  A BLM webpage describes how RACs are made up:

Each RAC consists of 12 to 15 members from diverse interests in local communities, including ranchers, environmental groups, tribes, state and local government officials, academics and other public land users.  Each Council must include representatives of three broad categories:

  • Commercial/commodity interests;
  • Environmental/historical groups (including wild horse and burro and dispersed recreation);
  • State and local government, Indian tribes and the public at large.

Members are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to serve an initial 3-year term and may be re-appointed to serve a second 3-year term on a staggered-term basis that is set by each RAC.

Charles (“Chuck”) Matton is the putative “Wild Horse and Burro” representative on the NWGB RAC.  He and his wife Bonnie Matton run an organization called the “Wild Horse Preservation League in Northern Nevada” based in Dayton, Nevada (not to be confused with the  “Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates” (AOWHA) (Bonnie Matton is head of Public Affairs for this group), also based in Nevada; the “American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) based in California, or the “National Wild Horse Association” (NWHA) based in Las Vegas, Nevada).

Tim Dufurrena represents Nevada Cattlemen on the RAC.  John Gebhart represents the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and chairs the RAC.

I am unaware of a court ruling that provides the “BLM can move horses whether there are unviable numbers to other management areas,” but the BLM is generally in the middle of one lawsuit or another, so it is certainly possible that there is such a ruling.

But what does it suggest about the reliability and “sanctity” of appropriate management level numbers (AMLs) in herd management areas (HMAs) that the BLM always cites as gospel (including in court filings) if horses are being moved willy nilly from one area to another?  If several management areas are treated as one complex for the purpose of management and removal of horses, it is not logical to cite AMLs for HMAs at all.  The BLM’s house of cards just comes tumbling down.

Of interest as well in this RAC report by Charles Matton is his statement that with respect to the idea of “moving or closing” herd management areas

there are horse groups out there that would/could help the BLM.

Help the BLM in what way exactly?

And what “horse groups” is Matton talking about “out there” standing ready to help the BLM move or close areas to horses?

The “Gail” referred to in the RAC minutes is Gail Givens, former Field Manager of the BLM’s Winnemucca, Nevada office until his retirement in August, 2008.  Here is the 2005 press release announcing the selection of Mr. Givens as Winnemucca Field Manager:

Press Release WFO-2005-20 Date: February 4, 2005
CONTACT: Jamie Thompson, Public Affairs Officer, (775) 623-1500


Gail G. Givens will take over as Field Manager of the Winnemucca BLM office in the spring.Gail Givens has been selected as the new Field Manager of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Winnemucca Field Office. Mr. Givens is expected to begin his new assignment in late March or early April. He replaces Terry Reed who retired last month. Vicki Wood, Winnemucca’s Associate Field Manager, will serve as acting Winnemucca Field Manager until Gail reports to his new duty station.

Born in Portland, Oregon, and raised in Susanville, California, Givens is a 1968 graduate of Humboldt State College in Arcata, California, with a degree in Natural Resources Conservation. His work experience includes 22 years with BLM in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Washington, D.C. and 13 years in the private sector. His current position is Assistant Field Manager, Nonrenewable Resources, at the Battle Mountain Field Office. In announcing the selection, BLM Nevada State Director Robert Abbey said, “Gail has extensive BLM and private sector experience and will be an asset to BLM in his new role.”

Mr. Givens; his wife Carol and daughter Rebecca, a high school sophomore, plan to move to Winnemucca this summer.

– BLM –


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