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BLM envisions tri-state mega complex for wild horses


free roaming wild horses in Nevada                                                                          photo/Carrol Abel

Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) California, Oregon and Nevada District Offices along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife are in the conceptual stages of creating a two million acre management complex for wild horses in Southeast Oregon, Northeast California, Northwest Nevada and the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge also in Northeast Nevada.  The concept involves a management shift from individual Herd Management Areas ( HMA's) and smaller HMA complexes to an aggregate of HMA's called the Tri-State Complex.

BLM's Winnemucca District Office manager, Gene Seidlitz says, " We're just in the initial discussion stages of developing that sort of strategy of treating all of those areas as one big complex based on what we've been finding recently which is a significant amount of movement between HMA's and outside HMA's into other areas."

As District Office Manager, Seidlitz oversees Nevada's Calico Complex, recently under scrutiny for the highly controversial roundup of almost two thousand wild horses. " BLM somewhat has always had a tendency to look at individual HMA's on an individual basis... we just looked at those imaginary boundaries and thought that's how these horses were to be managed." Seidlitz explained that they learned from the last two roundups in the Calico and are carrying that knowledge forward for more effective management.  "Odd as it may seem" said Seidlitz, " we're constantly learning something and adjusting based on that knowledge and expertise."

Appropriate Management Level ( AML)

Wild horse advocates and animal welfare groups have long been at odds with BLM's determination of AML for wild horses and burros.  Many existing HMA's have levels far below what is needed for genetic viability and the ratio of cattle to horses has been quoted as 200:1.  Combining HMA's into small complexes has been known to result in a loss of acreage for wild horses and the lowering of AML. The Ely District recently zeroed out several HMA's during such a process.

"Within Winnemucca right now, all our HMA's are managed with an AML which means horses are present... none of those HMA's right now have plans internally with the BLM or externally with the horse groups or the general public to be zeroed out. " Seidlitz assured.   As to AML's in general, he stated,  " I think another thing that we need to do, not  only in this district and State but in other States, is to reassess what that true AML of that complex really is.  Obviously that assessment is going to be a very detailed analysis of data from the rangeland including forage, habitat, water, etc. to arrive at an AML for the complex.  With no pun intended, when you actually manage theses as a complex, it literally becomes complex.

Voices involved in the process

"I think the key to success on any project of this conceptual magnitude" said Seidlitz, " is having not only the State office and the Washington office fully engaged but linking that in with the district and field offices who actually will be tasked with making it work on the ground level."

The process would possibly include a Memorandum of Understanding ( MOU)  between the various entities and input from Resource Advisory Committees ( RAC's) involved.  " If this concept does become a reality, " said Seidlitz, " we're gonna have to have a very solid communication plan for it.  This entails your interactive public, our stakeholders, our County, City and State governments.  It won't be a hidden agenda is what I'm saying."

Though Environmental Assessment (EA) processes require that public comments be allowed and addressed, input from the general public could possibly be limited to comments made at regional RAC meetings because an EA is not required until action is actually taken on the ground. Seidlitz says, however, " You have a spectrum of people who truly support something and those who adversely oppose.  I'm a firm believer in bringing folks together around the table and listen and learn from their concerns and find a middle ground."

Mega-complexes could be the wave of the future for BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program

"Speaking just on behalf of Nevada," explains Seidlitz, "I think these complexes are going to be the future.  Whether it's complexes out of the Ely District, the Elko District, the Winnemucca District or Nevada Mountain District.  I think you're going to see more of these HMA's being treated as complexes based on the location of them and based on the similarities of movement, forage, water, etc."

NOTE:  A collaborative population survey flight is planned for late spring or early summer of this year.  The census area will include all but the Oregon acreage involved in the Tri-State Complex concept.

Could this twist in a management approach be a step needed to put BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program on the right track? Should the concept become a reality, the proof will be in the pudding.

 Look for reactions and questions from different factions concerned with wild horse and burro management  in an upcoming article.






  • WildHorse Anni 5 years ago

    The BLM / USFS have done nothing but murder horses, lie, wreck our public lands /water and wildlife and rip off the AMERICAN people.
    Our Beloved Wild Horses need to be protected from theses brutal lying , murdering , corrupt, thugs immediatly.

  • Mountain Girl 5 years ago

    Something has to change, for sure. However, the first change would be to take the control out of the BLM's hands, have a moratorium on roundups, and conduct a Congressional investigation and hearing into the wild herd management. The BLM has already proclaimed they are not wild horse managers, but land managers. Take them out of their misery and relieve them of the horses, NOW!

  • Mustang Joey 5 years ago

    NOT a BAD idea.. Duuh, wonder where they came up with something like this?
    Can you say Madeleine Pickens?
    I TOTALLY agree, the Mustangs and Burros HAVE to be taken out of the corrupt BLM's "hands". (Forest Service too..)
    The BLM needs to be "broken up".. That "Good 'ol Boy" thing just does not, or will not "fly" any longer.
    New Blood is needed or the same thing will be happening with in 5-10 years from now.
    We need scientists, biologists, vets ect.. to make sure the animals are healthy, the range is healthy and NO WORRIES of slaughter become an issue.

  • Suzanne Moore 5 years ago

    My reaction is a solid "It depends..." Like the other posters, I can't trust the BLM. They have lied and spun so much that their credibility is 0. I would want an independent investigation too, as well as a moratorium on the roundups. A few more Calicos and there won't be any wild horses to worry about.

    And yes, get them out of the horse biz. I believe it was Seidlitz himself that said the BLM was the Bureau of Land Management, not the Bureau of Horse Management. Okay, manage the LAND. That was what they were supposed to be doing anyway - removing horses when their assessment of the RANGE showed it was necessary, not pulling some figures out of the air and saying there was overpopulation without ever LOOKING at the land.

    So, I'll be looking forward to the reactions from different factions, and your future articles, Carrol.

  • Karen McLain 5 years ago

    Thanks for getting the news out. I would like to see a independent investigation and s system over haul.

  • Cheryl H 5 years ago

    I also think we need a good faith effort and to cease all future roundups until a sustainable solution can be developed to handle all of the horses now in captivity. We need an impartial assessment since the BLM has woven so many stories and are so biased to the cattle ranchers, it is really difficult to believe anything that is going to be done for the wild horses is indeed sincere.

  • Rita Donnelly 5 years ago

    So, all of a sudden they're a friend to the horse?
    Something is up.
    This is probably a timely aversion to get people to calm down, and turn their attention elsewhere, and possibly an excuse for another land grab, if it involves land outside the current HMA's. I say this because if they were serious about saving the horse they would be doing an immediate moratorium on round-ups. The article itself states that this will take careful planning between county, city and state governments and we know how long that can take. In the meantime, round-ups continue. There are somewhere between 15,000 and 35,000 horses left. How many more round-ups and the horses are all gone? Horse slaughter legislation is starting to get passed in various states, and the Forest Service just proposed that only 236-437 horses and burros be allowed to roam on 730,000 acres in central Nevada, on 11 HMA's. This is considered to be dangerously low AML's. Public comment for that proposal ended yesterday.

  • Donald Barr 5 years ago

    Ok folks take a breath, the horse just turned his head toward and down to us and it looks like he will take the halter. It's a small step in the correct direction, don't pull back . I know no one trust the BLM but it is at least a step in the right direction. Larger HMA"S , more diversity, healthy herds, preditor for herd health and control. JEEEEEEEES did someone change the water bottle at the national office.
    75 to 80 percent of the HMA'S are below 150 and you know what that means , the end to the horse. It would take time but sooner or later it would happen, climate, illness, you name it , it would play out and everyone would be sorry but the horses would be gone all the same. Times are changing and people are starting to care about what they leave for their children in the way of a national wilderness. IT HAS BEEN SPOKEN , THEY WANT HORSES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WILDERNESS

  • Donald Barr 5 years ago

    You have to remember that the blm is in a no win situation now, and you put them there. They can stop gathers and the numbers would sore to levels they can not manage with adoption, they would have to kill 30 to 60 thousand horses in the next 10 years, the american people have said no to that and even if they did, they would all be going to some other place for empolment. So really what choice do they have except make large areas for horses managed by preditors (mointain lion , wolfs and such) and get the horses a strong foundation. we will see

  • Laura Leigh 5 years ago

    Folks this is not the first time BLM has combined HMA's or entered into agreements with Sheldon NWR.
    Often in BLM speak "Complex" is another word for reducing AML.

    If this is different... time will tell.

    But if it is presented with the same guys at the helm, the same testimony in EA's, and the public given opportunity to "comment" it will be just the dip in the same dance.

  • Rita 5 years ago

    Donald Barr, I respect your comments, yet for some reason they are bothering me. For starters, how long do you think it will take the (now benevolent) BLM to implement this program? And how much longer until only non-genetically viable herds are left? So, is this new proposal for real, or something else?
    Also, would herd numbers really sore to unmanageable levels as you said? At one time over two million horses roamed the western states. They do have natural predators, and are living a surival of the fittest life, as do all wild animals. And they are wild, even the domesticated ones. It is only because of their generous loving spirit that they allow halters, bridles, saddles and humans on them. Turn a few horses out in a pasture and in no time they've reverted to their natural wild state, their happiest state.

  • donald barr 5 years ago

    I hear ya, grand dad said talks cheap, takes money to buy wisky. Like I said we are at 75 to 80 non- genetically viable herds now. Here is the way I look at it. how long do you think it is going to take to break the blm and put this in the hands of lets say the park service, All the time the horses go down and down,this plays out like the navajo it going to be a mess. But maybe they are seeing the writting on the wall. If they keep doing calicos there in for a mess, if they try to kill horses they can't go there and if they zoo them they may loose their law suit. That law suit is key, the judge as much told horse supporters how to present the case. Saving tigers doesn't mean putting them in a zoo. Thats true for horses too.I have applied to be on the advisory board , just so you know where I come from. I have watched the Blm for years and seen them blamed for things that I know were and are not true. I have also seen them do things like not have observations at calico. that was stupid

  • donald barr 5 years ago

    I thought horses might be going over the border to slaughter, I check, went there checked every horse, all was ok, good people good homes. talked to every person, losded every horse. Pulled their records and checked past adoptions . all good, but alot of people were saying they were tending a blind eye, but they weren't. I voted for Reagan later I wished I had my vote back,I'm not ready to vote for the blm, but I am willing to see them run on this new platform and see what they do. My stance as a advisory person would be this new patform of good herd sizes preditors and reduced cattle permits. Water will also be a priority. I have tried to use this criteria for working to save wild horses, what is good for the horses may not be good for me, but what is good for me must be good for the horses.

  • Carryl Edwards 5 years ago

    This might actually work if the BLM will leave the horses alone. And what about the Calico herd suffering in the Fallon holding facilities? Set them free PLEASE!

  • Cat Kindsfather 5 years ago

    Hi Carol, great reporting and I love your photo!! Spectacular image!!
    I agree with Laura Leigh, suspicious, & Suzanne Moore, yes, BLM, not to manage horses anymore, but land. Its too obvious they are not competent in this, and the special interests of land uses, have hurt our wild horses so much. Mustang Joey, yes, do think Madeliene is good in the mix with influencing Salazar, hopefully her wisdom of humane and wild answers will see fruition. Many good comments here! Thank you carol for this and all who have spoken here, great.

  • Anne 5 years ago

    We need scientists, biologists, vets ect.. to make sure the animals are healthy, the range is healthy...

    "Amen !

  • Anne 5 years ago

    to Donald from Anna

    You say the Wild Mustang numbers would soar ? not with my plan !

    see my plan is to return EVERY SINGLE FOAL; MARE AND GELDING to the Plains; Range and Wild Grass lands a.s.a.p.

    Here is the key: Do not put any Stallions in the mix...this way;
    the population will not soar; and the population will remain same

    What the BLM does is: they put UNFIXED STALLIONS (many of them up to 100's BACK ON THE PLAIN...after they round them up...(atleast they used to do this;) so what happens is:

    The Unfixed Stallions which the BLM purposely returns to the Herd
    produce many Mustangs; then the BLM says: "too many Mustang; gotta round 'em up...point is: BLM BREEDS Mustangs in the Wild so as to fool the american peoples into thinking there are too many; NO ! BLM breeds them in the wild; increasing their population; PEOPLE SAY; we must put Stallions back in the Herd to continue the genetic line; I say; there are plenty of Stallions in the Herds; I don't like gelding either

  • Anne 5 years ago

    After the pix of "One Day"; the Little White Foal who was born to a Mother who did not get the proper Nutrients during gestation

    and after the Lil Foal "One Day" couldn't stand up properly; 9due to Fallon Vet. did not give gestating Mares proper Nutrients

    what did the blm vet do to lil one day ? Did Sanford rush out with IV Nutrition; did the BLM rush out with a blanket and warm water bottle; did they scoop the LiL Critter in their arms and move the Lil mustang to a pile of Hay with the Mother and encourage the lil one to nurse; did they give Lil One Day a bottle? Did they give Lil One Day's Mum extra nutrients nursing? Did the BLM give the Lil One antibitoics or any type of medicine?

    No No and No..what did the BLM do for Lil One Day: the white foal
    WARNING UNPLEASANT ANSWER: The BLM went out and "shot Lil OneDay(either with a needle or a gun; not sure which one yet ! STOP THE MADNESS; AMERICA'S WILD MUSTANGS ARE NOT THE ENEMY! STOP THE BLM'S MAD WAR ON OUR NATIONS WILD ONES

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