Wild Horse and Burro Gather Decisions

IM 2010-130
Instruction Memorandum



May 17, 2010


In Reply Refer To:

4700 (260) P



Instruction Memorandum No. 2010-130

Expires: 09/30/2011


To:                   All Field Officials (except Alaska)

From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning

Subject:           Wild Horse and Burro Gather Decisions

Program Areas:  Wild Horse and Burro Program and National Environment Policy Act (NEPA).

Purpose:  This Instruction Memorandum (IM) establishes policy and guidance with respect to wild horse and burro (WH&B) gather decisions. 

Policy/Action:  Unless an emergency situation exists, it is the BLM’s policy to:

  1. Provide the public 30 days to review and comment on the NEPA document, typically an Environmental Assessment (EA) that documents and analyzes the environmental effects of implementing a Gather Plan.  Thirty days shall also be provided for the public review and comment on any draft Determination of NEPA Adequacy (DNA) documenting that a Gather Plan has already been adequately analyzed by existing NEPA documents.
  1. Issue the authorized officer’s decision 31 to 76 days prior to the proposed gather start.

To ensure the above timeframes can be met, a suggested timeline for the tasks that need to be completed prior to conducting a gather is included in Attachment 1 (Checklist for Wild Horse and Burro Gather Planning).   Use of the attached checklist should assist the authorized officer in meeting these objectives.

A.  Public Review and Comment

The authorized officer shall make Gather Plan EAs and DNAs available to interested individuals, groups, and agencies for a 30-day review and comment period, except when an emergency situation exists (see IM 2009-085, Managing Gathers Resulting from Escalating Problems and Emergency Situations).  The NEPA document(s) identified in the DNA (e.g., the EA, and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)) will also be made available to the public for information.   

The authorized officer should consider substantive comments and summarize how they were addressed in the NEPA document or DNA for the Gather Plan.  This summary should be presented in the final NEPA document, the final DNA, or the decision document.  See H-1790-1, National Environmental Policy Handbook (Chapter 6.9) for additional information about how to respond to substantive comments. 

B.  Decision Issuance

  1. Unless an emergency situation exists, gather decisions shall be issued a minimum of 31 days prior to the proposed gather start.  Issuing the decision 76 days prior to the proposed gather start is preferred to provide an opportunity for administrative review of the authorized officer’s decision to be completed. 

      2.  In accordance with 43 CFR 4770.3(c):

  •   The authorized officer will issue gather decisions effective upon a date established in the decision in situations where the removal is required by applicable law, or is necessary to preserve or maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship.
  •    When an emergency situation exists, and timeframes permit, a Gather Plan EA should be prepared and the decision should be made effective upon issuance.
  1. Gather decisions may authorize gathers with or without fertility control, release, or relocation of selected animals, and any other action integral to the successful completion of the planned gather.  Decisions not related to the gather are typically governed by the administrative time frames, provided in 43 CFR 4.21. 

Timeframe: This IM is effective immediately.

Budget Impact:  Issuing WH&B gather decisions from 31 to 76 days in advance of the planned gather start could reduce the cost of responding to any legal challenges. 

Background:  The public has become more concerned about WH&B gathers on public lands in the West.  By requiring a 30-day review and comment period on Gather Plan EAs and DNAs and issuing WH&B gather decisions at least 31 days prior to the planned gather start-date, the Bureau of Land Management can ensure the public has an opportunity to participate in and request administrative review of WH&B gather decisions. 

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  No change to the BLM manuals or handbooks is required.

Coordination:  This IM was coordinated among WO-200 and WO-260 staff, State WH&B Program Leads, and State/District and/or Field Office Managers, and WH&B staff in the field.

Contact: If you have any questions regarding this memorandum, please call Susie Stoke at 775-861-6623.


Signed by:                                                       Authenticated by:

Don Glenn                                                      Robert M. Williams

Acting, Assistant Director                              Division of IRM Governance,WO-560

Renewable Resources and Planning



1 Attachment

      1 -Checklist for Wild Horse and Burro Gather Planning (7 pp)