LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A family ranch that’s been operating in Nevada since 1883 filed a lawsuit Tuesday to force the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to round up wild horses that are damaging rangeland where it has permits to graze cattle.
Tom Colvin Jr., who raises cattle in central Nevada on sprawling rangelands about 30 miles east of Tonopah, has had enough with delays since the BLM itself agreed in 2022 that a roundup was necessary on the Stone Cabin Complex. Now he’s going after the BLM in U.S. District Court.
Colvin & Son, LLC, and Stone Cabin Ranch, LLC, are the plaintiffs in the 30-page lawsuit. Defendants are U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning, Nevada BLM Director Jon Raby, Battle Mountain District Manager Doug Furtado and Tonopah Office Field Manager Perry B. Wickham.
It’s a simple argument. BLM sees the need to remove 689 wild horses from the range … so do it already. The law that directs the BLM to control herd sizes doesn’t allow for excuses the agency gave for not starting the roundup immediately.
The Reno law firm representing Colvin & Son has zeroed in on statements the BLM made in giving reasons for not starting immediately after it started the process in October of 2022. According to the lawsuit, the agency initially said it needed to have a place to put the horses once they were gathered, and the agency needed funding for the operation.
Corrals might be full, and the BLM budget might be tight, but the law is the law, according to the lawsuit.
Those “off-site conditions,” as described in the lawsuit, don’t matter under the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burro Act of 1971. The law says the job will be done immediately, and that’s what Colvin & Son want. Now.
The Stone Cabin Ranch operates on lands along U.S. 6, which cuts across the middle of the state.
The BLM’s own data from March 1, 2022, indicated the Stone Cabin herd management area had 650 head of wild horses — 237% above the high end of the “Appropriate Management Level” (AML). The adjacent Saulsbury herd management area (part of the Stone Cabin Complex) had 337 wild horses — 703% above high AML.
The lawsuit indicates Colvin & Son agreed to reduced grazing — “taking up to 56% suspension of animal unit months” — on the Stone Cabin, Hunts Canyon and Willow Creek allotments. The entire area covers about 880,000 acres.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare the delays related to “off-site conditions” a violation of the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burro Act, and a court order for the BLM to proceed with the roundup. It also seeks attorney fees, court costs and “any further relief as the Court deems just, proper, and equitable.”