ELKO - Elko County Commissioners voted to be a cooperating agency as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management considers changing a grazing-allotment use for wild horse activist Madeleine Pickens.

Her Tommy LLC is asking the BLM to renew her Snow Water Lake and Warm Creek permits for those grazing allotments but change the use from livestock to domestic horses.

"We are in the process of collecting information before we do an environmental assessment," Lesli Ellis, Elko BLM's public affairs specialist, said Friday. "This will be a very public and open process like any other EA we do."

Randy Brown, director of natural resources, planning and zoning for the county, told commissioners the Elko County Natural Resources Management Advisory Commission "thought it was important the county be involved" in the permit process.

He said one of the concerns is that horses, which "even if adopted are still wild" will damage springs in the allotment.

"I think it is important. We want to be at the table," said Elko County Commissioner Charlie Myers.

Ellis said Friday was the deadline for providing data and information for preparation of the EA on the Tommy LLC proposal.

"Elko County has asked to be a coordinating agency in the permit renewal process and as such they are planning to submit information but we have yet to receive it. Although our deadline is today, it does not mean we will not accept data or information after that date," she said.

Pickens currently has the two allotments as part of her ranch properties near Wells, where she wants to establish an eco-sanctuary for wild horses.

The grazing permit change would be for domestic horses, which means she will hold title to the horses, Ellis said.

Pickens also has submitted proposals to the BLM for both the private and public-private options for creating an eco-sanctuary for wild horses in partnership with the BLM, Ellis said.

"They are still in the review process," she said.

The BLM asked for proposals for providing long-term pasture for wild horses with the provision that some sort of public access be allowed, along with an education component about wild horses.

Pickens and the Saving America's Mustangs Foundation "are currently developing Mustang Monument: Wild Horse Eco-Preserve, in Nevada, as a permanent home to protect and care for wild horses presently in captivity. The sanctuary and living museum will be a location for the public to visit, learn about, and appreciate the horses and American culture," according to the organization's website.

Pickens rescued Paiute horses earlier this year and brought them to the ranch.

Myers also commented that the government has opened horse slaughter again. Congress had forbid slaughter the past five years but President Obama signed a spending bill that indirectly restores the American horse-slaughter industry.

The agriculture spending bill Obama signed did not include a ban on the inspection of horse meat.

In other action at their Wednesday meeting, Elko County Commissioners:

• Agreed with former Assemblyman John Carpenter of Elko that their planned Wild Land Fire Summit would be best held in September. Carpenter is chairman of the summit.

"Fire concerns many people. It will take time to get everyone together," he said, explaining that waiting until September will allow time to plan for a field trip and gather more research.

"This could easily become a yearly event," said Commissioner Jeff Williams, "if it is done right."

• Approved closing the edges of county roads for the Ruby Mountain Relay planned for Aug. 3-4 from Lamoille Canyon through Spring Creek, the South Fork Indian Reservation, over Harrison Pass to the Ruby Marshes, through Ruby Valley to Starr Valley and into Wells.

Organizer Robert Johnson said he hopes to see runners from California, Idaho and Utah, as well as Nevada.

"They're going to love it," Johnson said, telling commissioners that similar races in the region have been "phenomenally positive."

• Approved first reading of an ordinance raising the limit for the prosecution of a misdemeanor from $250 to $650 for bad checks, possession of stolen property and petit larceny.

(6) comments

elisregina

The Elko County Commissioners believe that a property owner should be free to do whatever they want with their property, regardless of the effect on the neighborhood (recall their approval of the construction of a wind turbine in a residential neigborhood) unless it affects their financial interests (ranching). Can someone say h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-s.

PATRIOT II

Maybe I am wrong, but I thought the original intent of grazing permits were for agricultural purposes. (producing food) Where does this rich, spoiled brat get off with raising her pets on our (the taxpayers) range land? If it were me wanting to do the same thing, the BLM would not give me the time of day. Someone give me a clue why the BLM caters to her. Is it simply because she is married to a very rich man?

nam vet

Maybe on the property next door the taxpayers can build a slaughter house and get back some of the money that we're losing on this idiotic adventure - if you want to call it that - I have more colorful terms but can't print them!

mandersen1

elisregina what you seem unable to understand is the debate is not over what Pickens does with her private property it over public property! So get that straight she can run her horses on her private property if she wants and know one would care! I have one question and only one question that I would like to see answered what would she do with all the horses if a wildfire burned up her range? Ranchers have to move their cattle, where would she move her horses too? There is not enough private ground for a thousand head of horses nor enough hay produced by her ranch.

elisregina

I understand that the Pickens issue is grazing on public lands. In 1934, the Taylor Grazing Act formally set out the federal government's powers and policy on grazing rights to federal lands, including the right of the government to auction off grazing rights to federal lands for a fixed period of time. Thus, grazing rights are the private property of whoever acquired them for the term of the permit - generally 10 years. If you don't like it, your beef is with Congress, not Ms. Pickens.

Hiking

Grazing rights are not private property. Grazing on public lands is a privilige not a right.

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