Northern Nevada ranchers who say a BLM manager is unfairly restricting grazing finished a five-day journey by horse and wagon from Elko to the Capitol Friday, presenting petitions bearing more than 1,000 signatures to Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Organizer Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber said BLM Battle Mountain District Manager Douglas Furtado is ignoring the pleas of area ranchers and even his own staff to open the range to cattle.
“He’s a despot,” said Gerber.
“Mr. Furtado without notice and without hearings reduces and impedes agriculture, mining, recreation and hunting,” the petition states.
The petition calls on BLM to remove Furtado from his post.
Gerber said radical reductions in grazing are endangering animals with increased risk of wildfire, including the sage grouse, because the fuel load is increasing on BLM lands.
He said grass in some of those areas is now 18-24 inches high and, unless cattle are allowed in to eat it, the fire danger will become even more severe.
“The cattle should have been out there 75 days ago,” he said.
“We have been here since the 1870s,” said rancher Hank Filipini. “We pay our taxes. We pay our grazing fees.”
Gerber said there are six families including the Filipinis who have been there for decades but who have been dramatically impacted by Furtado’s actions.
Sandoval accepted the petitions in person promising to present them to both the head of the Bureau of Land Management and the federal Interior Department.
He said he will ensure their complaints are heard.
“We’ve got to work together to get you some satisfaction,” he told a crowd of more than 30 in his office.