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Opposition voiced to Pickens plan

November 7, 2010

Elko County Commissioners have voted 3-1 to oppose the wild horse sanctuary planned by Madeleine Pickens.

Pickens, the wife of Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, has bought the 14,000-acre Spruce Ranch in Nevada, with grazing rights on a further 540,000 acres of public land.

She hopes to ultimately turn the ranch into a sanctuary for the 34,000 wild horses held in captivity, which have been gathered in federal musters run under the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse and burro programme.

The bureau has so far looked favourably upon plans by Pickens to run a pilot programme with 1000 captive wild horses.

Her plans involve the use of long-term birth control methods to keep horse numbers in check on the property.

Pickens has been promoting her vision because of her concern over the number of wild horses in captivity, and fronted up before Elko Commissioners on Wednesday to explain her plans.

The Elko Daily Free Press reports that the meeting lasted two and a half hours, involving a presentation by Pickens and public comment from among the 70 or so who attended.

Pickens said the sanctuary would create tourism opportunities and generate business for the county.

Elko residents at the meeting voiced concerns over water rights, cattle ranching and grazing rights.

The final decision on whether the Pickens proposal proceeds rests with the Bureau of Land Management, which will be made aware of the commissioners' view.



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