Saving America’s Mustangs: A Prospectus
Recently, Madeleine Pickens purchased the 14,000 acre Spruce Ranch and gained control of adjacent BLM livestock grazing allotments amounting to 500,000 acres between Wells and Ely, Nevada.
This private land acquisition and control of the associated public lands sets the stage for Pickens’ intent to create a wild horse sanctuary for 10,000 wild horses in northeastern Nevada.
The Pickens proposal raises many legal and regulatory issues that will need to be addressed by the BLM before any such sanctuary could be created.
Among the issues include questions about her proposal to fence the “Ranch” (presumably meaning the entire 500,000 acres of public lands) to keep horses in as well has her proposal to add horse management facilities and visitor services buildings and related developments – possibly on public lands.
It is also not clear whether the horses would be owned by the sanctuary and therefore subject to BLM management as livestock or whether the BLM would need to create some newly defined special use permit for the sanctuary.
It likely that it will require an act of Congress to actualize many of the objectives as the prospectus envisions.
In any case, much BLM work would need to be done to comply with NEPA and FLPMA absent Congressional authorization that would withdraw the public lands at issue from the public domain. Such a withdrawn area would then require some new designation such as a ‘National Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary’.
That and other possible outcomes will become very controversial very quickly ! Since Mrs. Pickens has already bought the “Ranch”, one wonders if the BLM has already agreed in some fashion to a preconceived outcome ?
Note that Mrs. Pickens also wants the BLM to pay the sanctuary $500 per horse per year ! For 10,000 horses that would be $5,000,000 per year !