Statement of Larry Johnson, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited

This man IS on the BLM Advisory Board? I see this as a conflict of interest . Read the bottom section about the BLM mustangs. They apparently are trying not only to reduce the numbers of the mustangs but eliminate them all together. Horses on the range? 25,000. Horses in captivity ? 28,000. Let’s hear it for freedom!


Statement of Larry Johnson, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited
INTRODUCTION
My name is Larry Johnson. I am an engineering geologist by profession. I am President of a geotechnical engineering and construction service consulting firm in Reno. While I serve on numerous professional boards and committees, my true love and life is in the Nevada outdoors. As such I have been a director of Nevada Bighorns Unlimited for the past 15 years.
Nevada Bighorns Unlimited was founded in 1981 by a small group of Nevada sportsmen and conservationists. Since its beginning, NBU-Reno has grown into one of the most successful and respected, action-oriented, non-profit organizations in the State of Nevada with a growing membership base of well over 3,500. NBU is an organization concerned with the conservation and management of not only Bighorn Sheep, but all of Nevada’s wildlife. The organization’ s mission is to promote and enhance increasing populations of wildlife in Nevada, to fund programs for professional management and habitat improvements, and to protect the heritage of sportsmen and hunters. The organization is led by a rotating group of 16 volunteer Board Members dedicated to making a difference in Nevada’s natural habitat. The membership is made up of primarily hunters, but also includes conservationists, outdoorsmen and wildlife lovers of all ages. NBU-Reno is striving to protect wildlife, habitat resources, and hunting rights through the use of game reintroduction programs, conservation activities, education, scientific research, legislative action, and honest hands-on labor. NBU holds only one major fund raising event each year. The annual banquet and auction attract well over 1,500 hunting enthusiasts and wildlife lovers from all over North America. The funds generated from this event are what enable NBU to accomplish their mission. We have invested millions of dollars into Nevada wildlife projects. Now more than ever, those who participate with NBU by donations, time, or participating as a member have a profound effect on the future of wildlife resources not only throughout Nevada but throughout the world as well.
WILDLIFE PROJECTS
Before the turn of the century, Bighorn Sheep were Nevada’s most numerous big game animal. Emigrant journals documented Bighorn Sheep silhouetted against the sky on every rock pinnacle in the Truckee River canyon below present-day Reno.
Historically, Nevada was the only area in the nation to have three subspecies of Bighorn Sheep; the Rocky Mountain Bighorn, the California Bighorn, and the Desert Bighorn.
By the turn of the century, however, Desert Bighorn populations had been drastically reduced while Rocky Mountain and California Bighorns had become completely extinct within the State. This virtual extinction was caused by a combination of market hunting, loss of habitat, and disease from the introduction of domestic sheep.
NBU’s mission to promote and enhance increasing populations of wildlife in Nevada, and to fund programs for professional management and habitat improvements was born out of the desire to put back what was lost. NBU’s goals of protecting our heritage as sportsmen and hunters was inspired by a group of individuals who believe there is nothing more important than protecting our land and its wildlife.
NBU is well known for transplanting big game animals back into their original habitat – animals including not only Bighorn Sheep, but also Elk, and Antelope.
Today the Division of Wildlife, funded by groups like NBU has reintroduced these majestic animals back into their original habitat throughout the state.
The future of big game in Nevada is extremely promising due to a high percentage of public land, and the fact Nevada has one of the most progressive Division’s of Wildlife in the nation.
NBU, along with Federal Pittman Robinson matching funds, provides all funding for the Nevada Division of Wildlife’s Big Game Reintroduction Program.
A lengthy land management process which takes several years is necessary for a single reintroduction decision to be made. On average an original reintroduction consists of approximately twenty animals. Within five years, another augmentation of a similar amount to the same area from a different gene pool is then reintroduced. This process will produce a huntable population of viable sheep within a decade.
Bighorn Sheep when reintroduced into an ecological niche that was once their original habitat usually experience a population explosion.
For the first time in modern history, the State is opening up the management areas for hunting each year.
At this time, Bighorn Sheep have been reintroduced into over 50 mountain ranges in Nevada. Though a tremendous come back by any measure, there is still work to be done.
NBU’s actions prove that true sportsmen are consummate conservationists. In their efforts to create a more balanced and healthy wildlife population in Nevada and beyond, generations of hunters and non-hunters alike will benefit for years to come.
HABITAT PROJECTS
Not much more than a hundred years ago, Nevada’s landscape was primarily that of grasslands and wooded mountains. This habitat supported grazers, including Elk, Antelope, and the three species of Bighorn Sheep.
With the spread of mining and ranching came the deforestation of the mountains and the destruction of the grasslands. Sagebrush then took over as the primary vegetation. Many of the native big game animals became extinct in Nevada. Deer, never present in much of Nevada before, came to feed on sagebrush.
The federal grazing laws of 1932 put a stop to uncontrolled livestock grazing and true wildlife and habitat management practices began to be implemented.
NBU supports Nevada’s habitat with funding for a number of special restoration projects, as well as many volunteers donating hands-on labor for these projects. NBU’s major habitat improvement programs take areas of poor quality and restore them to usable land which benefits all types of wildlife, including man.
Reseeding
Range fires have devastated millions of acres of big game winter range and habitat over the years, significantly decreasing the animals’ potential winter survival rates. Without the assistance of groups like NBU, reseeding efforts would not have been possible.
If these areas had not been reseeded with sagebrush and other natural grasses, a noxious weed known as the cheatgrass would have taken over almost immediately, choking out all other forms of vegetation. Cheatgrass has no nutritional value. Deer have been known to literally starve with a belly full of cheatgrass.
Timely donations from NBU and other organizations have aided in purchasing seed and private helicopter services to assist in the reseeding effort of critical range areas literally saving the lives of potentially thousands of animals.
Water Developments
Water is often the limiting factor in the expansion of wildlife populations. Nevada’s climate ranges from arid in the south to semi-arid in the north, making access to a healthy water supply an even greater issue.
NBU is involved with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Fraternity for the Desert Bighorn’s water projects in all facets of planning, design, funding, and construction of water development projects. This allows for expansion of habitable ranges for wildlife, including Desert Bighorn Sheep, California Bighorn Sheep, Antelope, Elk, Sage Grouse, Chukar, and a multitude of non-game species.
Hundreds of these water development systems known as “Guzzlers” have been completed in Nevada over the past couple of years with great success. As a consequence, big game animals are not the only animals benefiting from these water developments. As anticipated, everything from Coyotes to Eagles to Bats have been sighted drinking from these guzzlers.
Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project
Nevada Bighorns Unlimited is involved in a successful collaborative partnership with the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition. The objective of the Coalition is to develop a consensus on the overall health of the Great Basin in eastern Nevada, and to implement actions to restore the health of the land. The Coalition is a partner with BLM’s Ely Field Office as they implement the Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project. The goal of this 10 million acre project is to restore and maintain the biological and ecological conditions of the Great Basin landscape in eastern Nevada through collaborative efforts.
In order to maximize restoration capability and success while achieving mutual goals, approximately 75 independent, non-governmental partners including agricultural, conservation, cultural, environmental, universities, private enterprise and other interests have joined the Coalition to help the BLM implement decisions on public land. The centerpiece of the Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project is the partnership between the Coalition and the BLM. Nevada Bighorns Unlimited has supported this project from its inception. Other partners include Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, University of Nevada at Reno, Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, Nevada Woolgrowers Association, Society for Range Management, Red Rock Audubon Society, White Pine, Lincoln and Nye Counties, and others.
Public involvement is expanded through landscape teams. These teams, comprised of agency staff and scientists from outside the BLM, will identify landscape goals, conduct landscape/watershed assessments, support NEPA compliance and plan amendments, develop site-specific objectives designed to meet established goals, develop and recommend actions designed to meet objectives, and monitor and evaluate implemented decisions. All of which will assist the Agency in its decision making regarding appropriate restoration activities. All stakeholders, including academic researchers, educators, Native Americans, interest groups members, and interested citizens will have input and be a part of the process.
Congress could help by adequately funding this project to facilitate the Coalition’s involvement in restoring public lands in eastern Nevada. Secondly, Congress could adequately fund the Coalition’s partnership activities to facilitate involvement by Coalition members and the public.
Nevada Bighorns Unlimited has joined the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition to help the BLM restore healthy ecosystems in the Great Basin. Doing so will improve wildlife habitat, watershed stability, riparian areas, species diversity and composition, and Native American values.
Legislative Efforts
Over the past several years, NBU has become more involved in legislative activities in order to further support the future of Nevada’s wildlife. NBU was instrumental in organizing a sportsmen conservationist group, known as The Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife, which provides a unified voice for sportsmen in the legislature.
The Coalition represents all types of sportsmen, including big game, waterfowl, upland game, fishing, trapping, houndsmen, rod & gun clubs and general conservationists.
During legislative sessions, the Coalition allows rapid dissemination of information to each Coalition member group pertaining to relevant wildlife issues. Each group maintains its complete autonomy, but can join in with other groups on a statewide basis to provide real political clout. Through NBU’s efforts, a number of important victories have been won in the Legislature.
With continued support by groups like NBU and effective habitat management, the trend in Nevada today is a return to the grasslands of our past. This trend will assist in the State’s augmentation efforts of big game animals across the State significantly.
EDUCATION PROJECTS
NBU faces the challenge of education head on determined to win. Popular sentiment over the last several decades has not supported the hunter. From prime-time media to our children’s teachers, the true picture of hunters and their impact on the environment has been distorted.
NBU fully believes that without educating our youth with the facts and merits of hunting, sportsmanship, wildlife management and conservation, the results of our other endeavors will be of little or no benefit to the future of wildlife in our State.
To this end, there are several programs funded and supported by NBU that merit mention.
Jim Lathrop Memorial Scholarship Fund
This scholarship fund was created by NBU in honor of NBU’s founder, the late Jim Lathrop. The fund represents a cooperative effort involving NBU, the Nevada Division of Wildlife and the University of Nevada. It was set up for post graduate study in the fields of biology and wildlife management and has been extended to include funding of summer internships for selected individuals majoring in wildlife management and has been extended to include funding of summer internships for selected individuals majoring in wildlife management. The objective of these studies will be further understanding and development of big game populations and habitat enhancement within our state.
Wild Outdoor World Magazine
Nevada Bighorns Unlimited has formed a partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Nevada Division of Wildlife to publish a wildlife magazine targeting 4th graders throughout Nevada. The magazine is published in full color five times annually and is distributed in elementary schools throughout the state. (A copy is attached for review.)
We are limited by budget constraints in reaching all fourth graders statewide, even though teachers and students enthusiastically request increased circulation.
RESEARCH
NBU-generated dollars have assisted in the funding of several important research programs conducted by several distinguished institutions such as the University of California at Davis, The Caine Veterinary, Teaching and Research Center in Idaho, and Washington State University.
The most recent research project is being conducted by Washington State University under the direction of Dr. William Foreyt. The most important element of this research program has been the establishment of evidence outlining the devastating consequences upon wild sheep herds caused by interaction between Bighorn Sheep and domestic sheep.
It is believed the main reason for Bighorn Sheep extinction throughout their original habitat is due to pneumonia contracted from a bacteria transmitted from domestic sheep herds.
NBU is a firm believer in the multiple use of public lands. They recognize the rights of domestic sheep operators to graze on these lands.
It is NBU’s goal in funding this research to find the causes and cures for these transmitted diseases so that domestic and wild sheep can coexist.
Funding provided by Nevada Bighorns Unlimited to Dr. Foreyt and Dr. Ron Silflow has greatly assisted in their efforts to develop a laboratory test to determine the potency of the bacteria responsible for causing pneumonia in wild sheep.
This test serves as the tool for discriminating between potentially dangerous and relatively harmless isolates of the bacteria. The test can now be applied to practical issues of Bighorn Sheep management and health maintenance. These developments pioneered in the study of bacterial organisms in Bighorn and domestic species can be immediately applied to other wildlife species such as Deer, Elk and Dali sheep.
The information gained from NBU funded research is already having an impact on policy-making decisions regarding the shared land use of Bighorn and domestic sheep.
The research promises to contribute valuable information to facilitate management decisions regarding the transplantation of Bighorn Sheep populations. NBU expects management applications facilitated by this research tool will have a positive impact on the maintenance of healthy, flourishing wild sheep populations in future years, and assist in understanding and management of wildlife everywhere.
NBU’s commitment to promote and enhance increasing populations of indigenous wildlife in Nevada will continue to be extended to those dedicated to increasing the knowledge and understanding of our wildlife.
PROJECT FUNDING NEEDS
Nevada Bighorns Unlimited receives funding requests for a wide variety of wildlife, habitat, education, and research projects from a wide variety of schools, universities, state and federal agencies. We are continually involved in programs such as:
— Big game, fishery, and game bird reintroductions
— Green stripping (protection) of existing habitat form wildlife
— Noxious weed control
— Habitat Restoration
— Wild Horse Management (see attachment)
— Water Development in Desert Habitats
— Education
— Research
Many badly needed projects cannot be implemented primarily due to funding short falls. NBU would like to fund a full-time water development crew, big game transport units, aerial wildlife survey equipment, and GPS telemetry tracking systems for the Nevada Division of Wildlife, reseeding, green stripping, and water development projects for the Bureau of Land Management, as well as Sage Grouse research programs with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Additional and a continual source of funding would greatly assist in our goals – the enhancement of wildlife resources throughout the state.

Bureau of Land Management Update March 2000
SUBJECT: Wild Horse and Burro Management
The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, as amended, provides for the protection and management of wild horses and burros (WH&B) to assure a thriving, natural ecological balance and multiple- use relationship on the range. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for implementing this Act by assuring healthy, viable WH&B populations within herd management areas (HMAs) at appropriate management levels (AML), and through appropriate placement of excess animals.
ISSUE SUMMARY
“Restoration of Threatened Watersheds” is a vital initiative within the Presidents FY 2001 budget for the BLM and includes a comprehensive strategy for achieving AML on all HMAs. This strategy is necessary to counter one of the major threats to watershed health and dependent resources that excess WH&B populations pose to the land’s carrying capacity. Currently WH&B populations are 85 percent over the BLM’s estimated AL. Attaining AML on HMAs is the most critical need of the WH&B program. With current funding, the BLM is unable to remove sufficient animals to make progress toward AML or even to maintain a static population.
BACKGROUND
Wild horse and burro populations are exceeding AML on 159 of 192 HMAs. Populations are increasing at approximately 18 to 20 percent per year. For all HMAs the BLM estimates the overall established FAIL at 27,379 animals. At the end of FY 2000, the BLM projects the population will be 50,631 animals, or 23,252 animals over AML. WH&B populations are exceeding the capability of the land to support them. If the BLM does not reduce populations. irreparable damage will occur to riparian zones and watersheds, water quality, threatened and endangered species such Is the Lahontan cutthroat trout and Desert tortoise, and special status species such as Sage grouse. In addition, degradation of native vegetation communities will accelerate the establishment and spread of invasive weeds. If the BLM does not manage WH&B herds within AML, the agency could face numerous lawsuits from a variety of interest groups. resulting in court management of natural resources.
The FY 2001 budget proposal of $29,447,000, which includes a $9 million increase to base funding and 172 FTE (+5 FTE), will allow the BLM to implement a strategy to bring all HMAs to AML in four years. The strategy will require the BLM to remove 12,855 animals from HMAs (an increase of 6,855 animals) in the first year, dropping to 4,500 animals by the sixth year and remaining at that level. The strategy will allow the BLM to improve its marketing of animals and events; will allow the agency to implement techniques to enhance the adoption prospects of older animals; and \\ ill enable the agency to provide long-term care and holding (pasturing) for the oldest, least adoptable animals. With consistent funding through FY 2005, the BLM can achieve AML on all HMAs. In FY 2006 and beyond, the BLM will need to gather and adopt only 4,500 animals annually, which is below the current and anticipated long-term adoption demand. The savings from reduced gathers, holding and adoption costs will greatly offset the increased cost of long-term care and holding. As the number of animals in long-term caring and holding declines through natural attrition and adoptions, the BLM will realize lower costs for maintaining “a thriving. natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on the range”.
CONTACT
Lee Delaney, BLM Group Manager for Wild Horse and Burro Management (202) 452-7744
Bud Cribley, BLM Senior Wild Horse and Burro Specialist (202) 452-5073

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