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Protection of the Wild Horses in Placitas, New Mexico


WHOA has been working since 2002 with the residents of Placitas and the NM State legislature, through NM State Senator Komadina, to protect the Placitas Wild Horses as well as the rest of the wild horses in New Mexico. 

The Placitas Wild Horses range from Placitas and the adjacent BLM, through the San Felipe Pueblo to the Santo Domingo Pueblo, and have been found on both sides of I-25 and roam east into the Sandia Mountains.  This herd, as with any wild herd, is made up of many small bands who roam mostly in their own territories, but still come and go, especially individuals who get kicked out of their bands and then go to form other bands for the purpose of maintaining genetic viability.

This page contains several links to .pdf files.  If you do not have a program to open .pdf files, you can download Adobe Reader here.

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Current Issues: BLM Rio Puerco Resource Management Plan Revision

The BLM Rio Puerco Resource Management Plan (RMP) Revision process, which was started In March 2008, will include the Placitas-area BLM, which accounts for less than 1% of the total land included in the plan, but will have a vital impact on the Placitas-area Wild Horses.  There are many competing interests for the Placitas-area BLM, many of which may be proposing plans that could have a critical impact on the viability of the wild horses, as well as the quality of life for the adjacent Placitas community.

WHOA, The Placitas Coalition, and The Wildlife Corridors of New Mexico (Pathways) held a public meeting in Placitas to inform the community of the upcoming BLM RMP and allow them to provide public comment on the RMP.  WHOA also briefed the community of WHOA's plans for a Wild Horse Park,  Pathways' activities on behalf of Wildlife Corridors, and to alert the community to two alternative and opposing proposals to that of a Wild Horse Park: The NE Corridor and the West-Wide Energy Corridor.  (See the presentation from the Placitas Public Meeting on the BLM RMP - pdf) 

 WHOA will be submitting a Wild Horse Park / Wildlife Corridor proposal for the BLM Rio Puerco RMP.  Below is a brief discussion of the WHOA's work on the Wild Horse / Wildlife Corridor, followed by a discussion on the other two major proposals for the BLM RMP, both with their own distinct sources of support:

Wild Horse (State or National) Park and Wildlife Corridor

The Wild Horse Observers Association bulk mailed a community-wide survey to Placitas and Algodones residents in early 2008, asking for their preferences for the Placitas-area BLM:
bullet98% of the over 600 respondents indicated that they preferred a Wild Horse / Wildlife Park. 
bulletThe BLM has already indicated that they will accept this survey as part of their RMP process.
WHOA has developed a New Mexico Wild Horse Tourism Plan, and an integral part of that plan includes a Wild Horse Park on the Placitas-area BLM. 
bulletThese horses have been here for centuries and they are part of our historical and cultural heritage.
bulletTourism is the second largest industry in the US and NM, of which 81% is Heritage Tourism.
bulletTourism is a 2.5 Billion dollar industry in NM and is the largest private sector employer.
bulletThe Wild Horses could provide much needed rural economic development for New Mexico.
bulletNM Wild Horse State Park brochure and Wild Horse Tourism Maps  (pdf) - example of what a brochure and tourism maps might look like once the Park is created.
WHOA has been working with State Senator Komadina  toward the successful creation of this Placitas-area Wild Horse Park.  Governor Richardson and the State Legislature have shown they understand Rural Economic Development and have passed several pieces of substantive legislation (most passed unanimously ) which protect the Wild Horses and support Wild Horse Tourism::
bulletThe most recent legislation could enable the State of NM to acquire the 5000 acre Placitas-area BLM for a mere $25K; the cost of a fiscal analysis.  The NM Parks Department has already agreed to complete the analysis by the end of August 2008. 
bulletIn addition to a NM Wild Horse State Park, there are other options which could preserve the Placitas-area BLM for the Wild Horses.
   Governor Richardson and WHOA members
WHOA has continued to work diligently to protect the Placitas-area Wild Horses and ensure they maintain a legally wild status:
bullet SB655 (2007) declares our State's wild horses, such as our Placitas Wild Horses, legally wild. 
bullet SJM08 (2007) and SM02 (2006) asks the BLM to preserve and protect Wild Horses where they exist in New Mexico.
bulletThe Albuquerque Open Space has an Ordinance which already defines mammals, such as those in the Placitas-area which cross the Placitas-area Open Space, as wildlife and provides them protection.
bulletWHOA obtained by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, a letter from San Felipe to the BLM (pdf) stating that the  Placitas-area Wild Horses are "considered to be Traditional Cultural Properties protected by the State Historical Preservation Officer".
bulletState Senator Komadina has sent a letter to NM Attorney General Gary King, asking him to clarify to the BLM the Wild Horses' legal status in New Mexico.
  State Senator Steve Komadina
What Can You Do?  (see BLM RMP Handout  - pdf) WHOA will be submitting a Wild Horse Park / Wildlife Corridor proposal for the BLM Rio Puerco RMP.  The general public can support these efforts by writing and calling their representatives and asking them to write the BLM in support of a Wild Horse Park / Wildlife Corridor on the Placitas-area BLM (Public Comment is being accepted until May 31, 2008):
bulletTom Udall (currently US Representative-District 3 and candidate for US Senate)
bullet (505) 994-0499; 3200 Civic Denter Circle, NE, Rio Rancho, NM 87144
bulletHeather Wilson (currently US Representative-District 1 and candidate for US Senate)
bullet(505) 346-6781; 20 First Plaza NW, Suite 603, Albuquerque, NM 87102
bulletSteve Pearce (currently US Representative-District 2 and candidate for US Senate)
bullet(505) 838-7516; 111 School of Mines Rd, Socorro, NM 87801
bulletMartin Heinrich (one of several Democratic candidates for US Representative-District 1)
bullet(505) 244-0022; 2118 Central Ave, SE, #71, Albuquerque, NM 87106
bulletDarren White (one of several Republican candidates for US Representative-District 1)
bullet(505) 345-2496; 7208 Jefferson St. NE, Suite B, Albuquerque, NM 87109
bulletOrlando Lucero (Sandoval County Commissioner, including Placitas/Bernalillo area)
bullet(505) 867-2226; P.O. Box 40, Bernalillo NM 87004 (Sndvl. Cnty Admin office)
bulletSue Wilson Beffort (State Senator, District 19)
bullet(505) 292-7116; 67 Raindance Rd, Sandia Park, NM 87047
bulletJason Burnette (candidate for State Senate, District 19)
bullet(505) 385-5548; PO Box 86, Tijeras, NM 87104
bulletKathy McCoy (State Representative, District 22)
bullet(505) 281-9540; Box 1488, Cedar Crest, NM 87008
bulletJanice Saxton (candidate for State Representative, District 22)
bullet(505) 867-1139; 123 Juniper Rd, Placitas, NM 87043

You can also complete and submit a BLM Comment Form regarding the BLM Rio Puerco RMP and state your support for a Wild Horse Park / Wildlife Corridor on the Placitas-area BLM.


Competing RMP Proposals

NE Corridor Highway (aka Loop Road)

The Sandoval County Planning and Zoning department has included a proposed Northeast Corridor (aka Loop Road) in their Sandoval County Development 2007 Report (see p.15).  The 2007 Report was being held under close wraps, until WHOA was able to obtain a copy after much difficulty from the P&Z department.  Since the time that WHOA disclosed the plan to the public, the P&Z has published the 2007 Report on the internet.

Previous Loop Road proposals have been met with strong opposition from the Placitas community and have been discounted by studies done by the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments (MRGCOG) and by the NM State Highway Department; nevertheless it continues to be proposed by Sandoval County.

What will a Loop Road do to Placitas and the Wild Horse herd?:
bulletIt will cut-off the ability of the horses to roam across their current range, whether the Loop Rd is through the BLM or adjacent to it..
bulletIt will undoubtedly provide the access needed to bring further development to Placitas-area BLM, thus eliminating the BLM from the wild horse's range and strain Placitas' water resources. 
bulletSemi-trucks and other through traffic will utilize a NE Corridor to bypass Albuquerque and the Big-I interchange.
bulletThe transport of Hazardous Materials could be routed through a NE Corridor, in order to avoid the more populous route through the Big-I.
bulletBring greater gridlock to the nexus of Bernalillo, Rio Rancho, NM550, and a NE Corridor.
bulletThe "conceptual" map, as provided by Sandoval County, appears to route the Loop Rd through private land and residential neighborhoods.  Eminent Domain takings may result if the County proceeds with the Loop Rd project.

    Bottom line: The NE Corridor/Loop Road is incompatible with the continuing viability of the Placitas-area Wild Horses.

West-Wide Energy Corridor

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides for federal agencies to designate energy corridors on federal lands in 11 western state for a variety of energy related purposes. and to expedite applications to construct or modify oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines and electricity transmission and distribution facilities.  (see the West-side Energy Corridor Programmatic EIS Information Center)

A draft of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) has been published and the Placitas-area BLM has been designated as part of the proposed corridors in New Mexico (see draft map).  While an Energy Corridor could conceivable be compatible with the continuing viability of the Placitas-area Wild Horses, and possibly even a Wild Horse Park, it would adversely impact the quiet, pristine, rural environment that both the Wild Horses and residents of Placitas love and cherish.  In addition, to actually implement the Energy Corridors and connect the various designated federal lands, private property and possibly Placitas residential neighborhoods would need to be taken by Eminent Domain.


WHOA Newsletters to the Placitas and Algodones communities:
bulletMarch 2008 Newsletter
bulletOctober 2007 Newsletter
bulletJune 2007 Newsletter
bulletAugust 2006 Newsletter



bulletFencing (2005-present): WHOA and the residents of Placitas, as well as residents of other nearby areas, have installed 4.5 miles of fence and have maintained miles of other fence in the last 3  years.  These fences are provided for the safety of both the wild horses and of motorists, as the fences have been effective in keeping the wild horses off of I-25 and its access road, as well as the neighborhood roads.  Also,  
bulletWHOA also advertised that they would be the caretakers of the Placitas Wild horses and asked folks to contact WHOA in case the horses were a bother.
bulletWHOA built a fence for a Placitas residence to keep the horses away from his garden so that the horses could remain in the area peacefully (2006-2007).  
bulletPetitions (2003): Gathered over 800 signatures in support of the Placitas Wild Horses.
bulletAffidavits (2003): WHOA has 14 affidavits as well as another public document proving the Placitas Wild Horses should be protected as wild horses, not Livestock, under the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act.
bulletTracked Placitas Wild Horses (2002): Discovered fate of most of the horses rounded up in the summer of 2003. One team member adopted a mare and another foal which then bonded. Many of the other horses were lost and went to Texas and Mexico for slaughter for meat.


bulletState Definition of a Wild Horse (2007):  Governor Richardson has signed legislation, SB655 (2007), carried by State Senator Komadina which gives New Mexico a legal definition of a wild horse in New Mexico.  This legislation though brief, provides protection for the State's and Placitas' wild horses, as regulated wild animals of the State of New Mexico.
bulletFOIA: WHOA has also sent many Freedom of information requests to the Livestock Board, BLM and informally to the Forest Service to get the facts for the horses and the public.
bulletLivestock Board intervention (2003): Saved 8 wild horses from the Gila National Forest from becoming meat.

What Can You Do Now

Write the BLM, Livestock Board, all your representatives, and NM Attorney General Patricia Madrid.  Ask them to leave the Placitas Wild Horses alone and to stop considering them or any other horse as estray or Livestock, as case law does allow.


Tell them this country was built on the backs of horses and to let them live free of Spring round-ups (where mothers and foals are often a casualty as they were this Spring in the El Rito Round-ups) and wild horses should be considered ahead of commercial cattle in our Congressionally mandated Wild Horse Territories.

Tell them to support the Anti-Horse for meat Bill (H.R. 857) Sponsored by Representatives John Sweeney (R-NY) and John Spratt, Jr. (D-SC).  65,000 horses went for meat last year according to US Department of Agriculture, under the new transportation law.

Tell them to stop importation of millions and millions of tons of beef from South America, depressing our beef industry so that they are after our wild horses due to grazing competition. We only have 218 Wild Horses officially allowed and designated as wild in our entire state across ten Wild horse territories including one BLM sanctuary.  On all but one of the ten, horses are out numbered by cattle by at least 100-to-1.

Tell them to respect SMJ(96) and let our NM wild horses remain free even if they have to be moved to the Congressionally mandated Wild Horse Territories in order not to interfere with development.


Sign the Anti-Horse for Meat petition on web. (Over 7,000 signatures so far!!):  http://www.petitiononline.com/trotaway/petition.html

Junior Optimist Club of Placitas -

Takes Action in Support of Their Wild Horses

The children of the Junior Optimist Club of Placitas, New Mexico got together with pencil, crayon, and paper to send letters of support for the Wild Horses of Placitas.  See all their wonderful drawings. 

The Children of Santo Domingo Elementary School -

Take Action in Support of The Placitas Wild Horses

The children of the Santo Domingo Elementary School got together with pencil, crayon, and paper to send letters of support for the Wild Horses of Placitas.  See all their wonderful drawings. 

See WHOA's other website regarding the Placitas Wild Horses



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Last modified: 04/25/08