Facts Point To BLM’s Disregard For Open-Range Law

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Facts Point To Bureau Of Land Management’s Disregard For Oregon/California Open-Range Law

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The BLM's Pokegama Roundup Of Open-Range Equines Illegal - Shows Poor Wildland Management As Wildfires Incinerate Towns of Phoenix and Talent Oregon

Bill and Ciscos herd Open-Range Law
Author-Naturalist - William E. Simpson II studies wild horses cleaning wildfire fuels off an Oregon forest floor.

California and Oregon's Open-Range Law

Both California and Oregon have open-range grazing areas along the shared Oregon-California border and fence-line in the immediate vicinity of the Pokegama Wild Horse Herd Management Area ('HMA').

This same border and now defective fence-line is supposed to separate the open-range grazing areas and the livestock and equines thereon in Siskiyou County California and Jackson/Klamath Counties in Oregon from privately-owned and managed lands as well as government lands.

The Green Diamond Resource Company has complained that open-range equines (horses), which may include both domestic and wild horses, are trespassing on their private lands. However, fences owned and managed by the Green Diamond Resource Company are also in disrepair and in some areas, missing altogether.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing an extensive roundup of horses in Jackson County and neighboring counties on private land, as a part of the recently announced 'Pokegama Roundup'.

Most of Jackson County Oregon is, by law, open range, where landowners must maintain "adequate fences" (ORS 607.007(1)) to protect their property before they are permitted to "take up" animals running at large on the open range.  See ORS 607.007 (“'Taking up' means the intentional exertion of control over an estray animal, including but not limited to the restriction of movement, holding under herd, feeding, pasturing or sheltering of the animal"). 

BLM Proposes To Infringe The Rights Of Jackson County Citizens

The BLM is proposing to round up the horses even though the private land in question is not protected by "adequate fences," meaning that the BLM proposes to infringe the rights of Jackson County citizens (and others in Siskiyou County California) to run horses on the open range by threatening to seize their private property in violation of law.

The BLM has no authorization under state law to seize horses unless they are "unlawfully being permitted to run at large" upon private property, which is not the case in open range territory.  ORS 607.603(1).

In Siskiyou County California the law states:

Under § 17122,

In any county or part of a county devoted chiefly to grazing and so declared pursuant to this article, a person shall not have the right to take up any estray animal found upon his premises, or upon premises to which he has the right of possession, nor shall he have a lien thereon, unless the premises are entirely enclosed with a good and substantial fence.

Allowing the BLM to disregard the open-range state laws of Oregon and California only serves to set a very bad precedent and harm the public interest.

Condemning The Illicit Roundup

Portland Oregon attorney, James L. Buchal is representing the interests of users of open-range, and has written a Letter to the Jackson County Oregon Board of Commissioners asking them to condemn the illicit roundup at least or until the fences in the areas subject to the proposed roundup are repaired and brought up to the legally required standard set, which is the prerequisite before any roundup or trapping of livestock/horses can be undertaken.

Mr. Buchal has also written Mr. Todd Forbes, District Manager of the Lakeview Oregon BLM Office who is the man in charge of the proposed Pokegama roundup, and has informed Mr. Forbes of the situation, and has demanded that the Pokegama roundup be halted until the fence-lines can be inspected and repaired.

As of this writing, Mr. Forbes was disinclined to consider the law and instead has indicated the roundup will continue as planned. An attempt to contact Mr. Forbes prior to the release of this article was unsuccessful since Mr. Forbes was unreachable and on vacation.

In Mr. Buchal’s Letter addressing the Jackson County Oregon Board of Commissioners, Mr. Buchal closed with this comment, which addresses the devastation of towns like Phoenix and Talent Oregon due to catastrophic wildfires that result from depleted populations of large herbivores like wild horses and deer, which keep wildfires fuels of grass and brush to a minimum (See: www.WHFB.us ).

“It is especially ironic to see the BLM seeking to exercise this authority in the midst of wildfires that are exacerbated by BLM's efforts to round up horses that eat fuel for the fire.” - James L. Buchal – attorney at law