Candidates accused of overgrazing BLM land

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If Mineral County rancher and gubernatorial candidate David Holmgren doesn't take several hundred cattle off the public range, federal officials say they'll be forced to impound them.

Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Jo Simpson said Holmgren and his wife, Jackie, have more than three times the number of cattle on public range than are allowed under their grazing permits.

Simpson said a helicopter count Thursday showed they are grazing 500 cattle on the Rawhide Ranch. She said their permit allows up to 900 cattle during the winter but only 150 during the summer.

"There's a reason for that to be 150 in the summer months, and that's because that's all the land will sustain," she said.

Jackie Holmgren, however, said they paid BLM the full permit fee for all their cattle. BLM returned $5,000 of the total, but they haven't cashed the check.

BLM has asked them to voluntarily remove the cattle but, if they don't, the proceedings to have them impounded will begin, Simpson said.

"We hope they will voluntarily come into compliance," Simpson said. "Impoundment is our very last resort. We have not issued a notice of intent to impound yet."

The Holmgrens issued a statement saying they were organizing a peaceful protest at the ranch. They also charged that BLM was planning to take their cattle Friday.

"It's time to take a stand in defense of life, liberty and property," said Jackie Holmgren, who is running for the Nevada Assembly.

The Holmgrens raise long horn cattle which they say are leaner and produce higher quality beef from less feed than other breeds.

Simpson said BLM did impound about 150 cattle on the Shoshone and Crane Springs grazing allotments south of Elko. The livestock belong to the Te-Moak Band western Shoshone tribal members in that area.

BLM state director Bob Abbey said the agency has tried to work with the tribal livestock association for several years but that they refused to stop violating the rules.

"Despite cancellation of their grazing permit, issuance of trespass notices, a court decision, numerous meetings and telephone calls and other attempts at negotiation over the past years, these individuals have continued to ignore BLM's grazing permit process," Abbey said. "BLM's only recourse at this point is to impound their livestock."

The Holmgrens and the Nevada Committee for Full Statehood charged that the BLM used the threat to impound their cattle as a diversion "to clear the way for the confiscation of the Te-Moak cattle."

Simpson said less than 1 percent of Nevada's 700 livestock permitees break the rules designed to protect the land for all users.

"We manage that land on behalf of the American people," she said. "It is our obligation to the American people to have those lands in good health. That can't happen if there are three times as many cattle out there as are authorized to be there."


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