Last week, the Rock Springs Grazing Association filed a lawsuit against the BLM to force them remove all wild horses from private lands – the AP story says “The lawsuit, filed by the Rock Springs Grazing Association, seeks to force the federal government to remove all wild horses from private lands in an area of roughly 2 million acres. The suit covers private lands in so-called “checkerboard” area, a swath of mixed federal and private land that runs along the old railroad route across the southern Wyoming.”
Most of the Wild Horse Herd Management Areas in Wyoming contain some of this “checkerboard” of public and private lands. This includes White Mountain, Little Colorado, Adobe Town, Salt Wells and Great Divide Basin and many more herd areas. The checkerboard was created by the Union Pacific Act of 1862, when the railroad was bring constructed through southern Wyoming, roughly along the I – 80 corridor. Congress granted every other section to be able to be sold to raise capitol for the railroad in a pattern of 20 miles on either side of the railroad.
Then in 1979, the Rock Springs Grazing Association, the largest controller of these private lands, entered into an agreement with the BLM and a wild horse organization called Wild Horses Yes “which provided for the management of specific numbers of wild horses on these privately controlled lands and the contiguous public lands. This was later affirmed as the framework for wild horse management in the area” and called the Green River RMP.
Now, the Rock Springs Grazing Association wants all the horses gone from “their” lands. The problem is, it is a mix of public and private so it is not all “their lands.”
The Complaint is here: http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/07/28/WildHorses.pdf
Not only is RSGA asking that wild horses be removed from private lands they are also asking that wild horses be removed from adjacent lands in the checkerboard – so that means ALL of the wild horses in those herd management areas.
It will be up to the BLM to fight against this lawsuit and protect the wild horses under their care in order to maintain their ability to roam free on public lands in Wyoming. This is extremely unlikely when on page 24 of the complaint they state that Deputy Assistant Secretary Sylvia Baca told them to file suit in order to “secure additional funding for wild horse roundups.” Ever heard the expression, the fox protecting the henhouse?