The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has completed an environmental assessment as part of its moves to remedy shortcomings pinpointed by a judge over its 2014 roundup of nearly 1300 wild horses from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands.
It has published a 41-page environmental assessment, together with a finding of No Significant Impact, for which it is now seeking public feedback. The BLM opened a 30-day comment period last Friday.
The documents were issued after horse advocates successfully challenged aspects of the roundup through the courts, with a judge ruling in March this year that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its preparations for the Checkerboard muster.
A total of 1263 wild horses were permanently removed during the operation from public and private lands in the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas (HMAs).
The three HMAs total about 2,427,220 acres, with 1,242,176 acres falling within the Checkerboard region – so-named because of its alternating public and private land parcels.
US District Court of Wyoming Chief Judge Nancy Freudenthal issued an order stating that the BLM violated the environmental act when it conducted the operation in the southwest of the state. He remanded the violation back to the BLM to “remedy the deficiencies”.
In the case, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom and photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl contended that the BLM violated federal law by proceeding with the roundup in the absence of any environmental analysis and public participation, and by reducing the populations in the three HMAs below established appropriate management levels.