Ne­vada in­dus­trial park de­vel­oper says 3,000 wild horses should stay

Manteca Bulletin - - Local -

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The head of the largest in­dus­trial park in the world em­pha­sized eco­nomic over emo­tional ar­gu­ments Mon­day in urg­ing Ne­vada Gov. Brian San­doval to re­verse plans to trans­fer state own­er­ship of nearly 3,000 free-roam­ing horses to pri­vate own­ers who crit­ics say would sell them for slaugh­ter.

“They don’t un­der­stand we have an as­set in Ne­vada that the rest of the world doesn’t have,” said Lance Gil­man who man­ages the Ta­hoe Reno In­dus­trial Cen­ter 10 miles (16 kilo­me­ters) east of the Sparks area along U.S. In­ter­state 80 that serves as home to Tesla Mo­tor Co.’s gi­ant bat­tery fac­tory, Switch, Google and oth­ers.

The 167-square-mile (432 square kilo­me­ter) park is also home to about 2,000 of the horses likely headed to slaugh­ter if San­doval doesn’t in­ter­cede, Gil­man said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence with lead­ers of the Amer­i­can Wild Horse Cam­paign who an­nounced plans Mon­day to file a fed­eral law­suit in Reno later this week aimed at block­ing the effort.

Gil­man wrote the group a $10,000 check to help in their effort but he said they may be “miss­ing the mark” by ne­glect­ing the eco­nomic ben­e­fit of the an­i­mals

“I’m a pure cap­i­tal­ist. For 40 years I’ve been mar­ket­ing land,” he said. “You’ve got to make the money heard.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who pro­motes the horses on his web site, is just one of the business ti­tans who’ve fallen in love with the mus­tangs, Gil­man said.

Switch, which has one of the nation’s largest data stor­age cen­ters at the park, “is en­chanted with the wild horses” and Wal­Mart, which has a huge ware­house and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter there, has painted a mus­tang mu­ral on its wa­ter tower, he said.

“I’ve had the in­cred­i­ble bless­ing of meet­ing with some of the (world’s) finest blue chip com­pa­nies,” Gil­man said. “Some­times I have a hard time get­ting their at­ten­tion be­cause of their in­fat­u­a­tion with these horses. They want to jump out of the car while I’m rolling to get pic­tures.”

San­doval was in a meet­ing Mon­day and not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment, his spokes­woman Mari St. Martin said in an email to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Suzanne Roy, the cam­paign’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, said the state’s plan is a “fla­grantly il­le­gal scheme to give the horses away.”

“There’s noth­ing in state law that al­lows them to just give away these pub­lic re­sources,” she said Mon­day.

Last month, the Ne­vada Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture pub­lished a re­quest for pro­pos­als for peo­ple will­ing to take own­er­ship of the Vir­ginia Range herd that roams about a 500-square mile (1,295 sq. kilo­me­ter) are south and east of Reno.

The move comes on the heels of the state’s abrupt can­cel­la­tion in Oc­to­ber of an agree­ment with the Amer­i­can Wild Horse Cam­paign to jointly man­age the herd through 2020 in a hu­mane man­ner with an em­pha­sis on fer­til­ity con­trol. That pro­gram was ad­min­is­tered un­der cur­rent state law that dic­tates state own­er­ship of stray or feral horses not en­ti­tled to U.S. pro­tec­tions on neigh­bor­ing fed­eral land.

Ne­vada Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture Direc­tor Jim Bar­bee said Mon­day the plan is in­tended to re­place state own­er­ship of the herd “with a rep­utable an­i­mal ad­vo­cate or­ga­ni­za­tion that has the ex­pe­ri­ence, knowl­edge, tools, re­sources and fi­nan­cial abil­ity to man­age to horses ac­cord­ing to their needs.”

He said his depart­ment in­tends to con­tinue to con­sult with the state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice to en­sure any trans­fer com­plies with Ne­vada law.

“Un­der the di­rec­tion from the Ne­vada Board of Agri­cul­ture, it is within our au­thor­ity to place (in­clud­ing sale or adop­tion) and con­trol feral live­stock,” he said in an email.

Op­po­nents say no pri­vate en­tity can ob­tain li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance nec­es­sary to cover so many an­i­mals over such a large area of open range.

Gil­man urged San­doval to ap­point a me­di­a­tor to try to bring a res­o­lu­tion to the dis­pute that he says strikes at the core of Ne­vada’s decades-long effort to di­ver­sity an econ­omy tra­di­tional based on casino gam­bling. He de­scribed San­doval as a “cham­pion of di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion” who “called our Tesla deal the deal of the cen­tury.”

“And it’s worked be­yond our wildest ex­pec­ta­tions. It’s called ‘The mir­a­cle in the desert,’” Gil­man said. “The horses played an in­te­gral part of that suc­cess.”

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