Tuesday, 23 July 2024

News

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Booking photo of Laura Michelle Gallegos, age 38, of Redding, Calif. Photo courtesy of the Glenn County Sheriff's Office.





GLENN COUNTY, Calif. – A Redding woman turned herself in to Glenn County officials on Tuesday following an investigation that resulted in her being charged with numerous counts relating to a sexual relationship she had with a teenager and exchanges of sexually explicit text messages with another juvenile male.


Laura Michelle Gallegos, 38, was booked into the Glenn County Jail in Willows on a warrant charging two counts of exhibiting lewd material to a minor, three counts of contacting a minor to commit lewd acts, two counts of arranging meetings with a minor to commit lewd acts, one count of oral copulation, and two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor with a three year, or more, age difference. Bail was set at $110,000.


She is alleged to have become sexually involved with a 17-year-old male and to have taken part in “sexting” with a 15-year-old male, according to a report from Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones.


Jones' agency received a call from an Orland-area mother on April 11, with the woman reporting that she believed her 15-year-old son was receiving explicit text messages from an adult female and wished to speak with a deputy.


Deputy Jon Owens was dispatched to speak with the 34-year-old mother, who related her son was on the Orland High School wrestling team and they had just returned home from a tournament in Reno.


While at the tournament, the mother had the opportunity to view her son’s cell phone with a saved contact listed as “GF” with a phone number. Jone said that, by chance, a friend – a mother of another wrestler seated next to the reporting mother – had received a text message from the same number.


The number belonged to the mother of one of the wrestlers, Laura Gallegos. Jones said the 15-year-old's mother stated she knew Gallegos as a teacher’s aide at Shasta High School in Redding.


When she questioned her son he said he met Gallegos while at a wrestling event, and admitted they had been “sexting” each other, Jones reported.


At that time, a second possible victim, a 17-year-old from Orland who also was a member of the wrestling team, also was identified. A preliminary report was taken and the case was turned over to Detective Greg Felton of the Sheriff’s Major Crimes unit.


Authorities obtained search warrants for the cell phones alleged to be involved and conducted interviews, with Felton making trips to Redding, Jones said. At Shasta High School Felton was informed by the administration that Laura Gallegos had resigned from her position as a teacher’s aide. Copies of emails were obtained and retained as evidence.


The 17-year-old male of Orland High School admitted meeting Gallegos for the first time in Red Bluff at lunch time on or around March 11, and missing the last two periods of school. Sexual acts were completed inside a vehicle, Jones said.


School records at Orland showed the victim with two unexcused absences for the periods after lunch on that date, Jone said The victim also related the suspect had performed a sex act on him while seated in the stands at the wrestling finals in Bakersfield. He also admitted to an additional meeting for sex in Corning.

 

The Tehama County District Attorney’s Office was contacted and it was agreed Glenn County would assume jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in Tehama County, Jones said.


Upon completion of the investigation, the case was submitted to the Glenn County District Attorney’s Office and a complaint was issued, with Glenn County Superior Court Judge Peter Twede signing the arrest warrant.


After being booked into the jail on Tuesday Gallegos immediately posted bond and is to appear in the Orland branch of the Glenn County Superior Court on Sept. 21.


Jones commended what he called Det. Felton's “exemplary investigative work” on a complicated case that required much diligence and attention to detail.


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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Cal Fire reported that it has moved an additional 20 fire engines into Mendocino, Shasta and Siskiyou counties in preparation for a possible increase in fires due to dry lightning.


The National Weather Service had issued a red flag warning through Tuesday evening for the upper portions of California due to significant lightning potential without much rainfall. The combination of the dry lightning and gusty winds will lead to a heightened fire danger.


A red flag warning also had been in effect for the Eastern Sierras through Tuesday due to gusty winds and low humidity.


Weather forecasters late Tuesday continued to issue new advisories regarding those potentially problematic weather conditions. A low pressure system from Southern Oregon is expected to move into Northern California on Wednesday.


While temperatures have been unseasonably cooler over the past few weeks, the number of wildfires Cal Fire has responded to has remained steady, the agency reported. Most of these fires have been contained to 10 acres or less, mainly due to the mild weather and the aggressive initial attack by firefighters.


Cal Fire urged Californians to be extremely cautious, especially during red flag warnings.


Officials urge area residents to do any mowing or weed eating before 10 a.m. – and never during extremely dry conditions; never use lawn mowers in dry vegetation; ensure that campfires are properly extinguished; and never pull your vehicle over in tall dry grass.


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GLENN COUNTY, Calif. – Another large seizure of marijuana was taken out of the Mendocino National Forest by officials in Glenn County.


A recent two-day operation, the Glenn County Sheriff’s Marijuana Eradication Team, United States Forest Service and the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), assisted by California State Fish and Game and the California Highway Patrol, eliminated five marijuana growing areas on public lands within the Mendocino National Forest, according to a report from Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones.


A total of 34,332 plants and 500 pounds of processed marijuana were taken, with a potential street value of approximately $69 million, Jones said.


He said 8,422 plants were removed from the Kill Dry Creek area and 3,150 from southeast of Ice Springs. The Hardin Ridge area yielded two different grow sites with 8,272 and 4,587 plants, respectively. Another 9,901 plants and 500 pounds of processed marijuana were removed from the area of Mill Creek.


All five growing areas were consistent with organized drug trafficking organizations, Jones said. Camps and equipment were found at or near all the grow sites.


The Marijuana Eradication Team orchestrated raid teams hitting several of the large grows simultaneously. Jones aid no arrests were made and no weapons were sized. Clean up of the grows will be undertaken by the US Forest Service.


Deer season for archers opens this Saturday, Aug. 21, Jones said. Hunters coming into the Mendocino this week to scout potential hunting areas and those arriving to hunt this weekend should be ever mindful of marijuana grows and drug traffickers.


Glenn County alone is experiencing a record year for plants, according to Jones, who said there is the possibility of encountering marijuana grows while hunting is high. Hunters are cautioned to be aware of this.


Jones said marijuana growers are very protective of their plants and, in most cases, are armed. If black plastic water pipe or remote camps sites are happened upon, take no action and remove yourself from the area by the same route you entered. If possible, record the location by GPS and at your earliest opportunity, notify law enforcement.


He suggested that it also is a good idea to tell someone where you will be hunting and what time you are expected to return.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf.


 

 

LAKEPORT, Calif. – After being closed down for cleaning and an investigation on Wednesday, the Lakeport Safeway's produce section reopened early in the evening.


Customers arriving at the store on 11th Street Wednesday reported encountered a closed off produce section with store staff unable to elaborate on the reasons.


“It's back up and running,” Susan Houghton, Safeway's director of public affairs, said at around 5 p.m. Wednesday.


The issue that prompted the closure was a man who reported having tampered with the food the night before, Houghton said.


“We had a customer who indicated that he might have intentionally tried to sabotage the food in the produce area,” she said. “Any time that situation occurs, whether it's real or not, we have to take it very seriously.”


Typically in such a situation, the store will remove all of the food in the area – much of it is thrown away – and the area is thoroughly cleaned, Houghton explained.


Houghton said local police received the initial report and it was relayed to Safeway. However, Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke said his agency didn't receive the report.


“We had nothing to do with it and I have no knowledge of the incident,” he said.


Burke said he spoke with a Safeway manager who said she couldn't discuss the matter with him without permission of the corporate office.


That leads to the possibility the report was made to the sheriff's office. However, the sheriff's office couldn't be reached for comment after the close of business Wednesday, when Lake County News confirmed Lakeport Police hadn't handled the call.


Houghton said Safeway is trying to get to the bottom of the issue. She said they're working with security to review the video to see if it indicates that the man – whose name was not available Wednesday – actually did something.


“So far we haven't been able to find any evidence of tampering but we're taking a lot of precautions,” she said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – The union representing local transit workers has set an Aug. 26 deadline for settling contract negotiations with the organization that holds the Lake Transit Authority contract, otherwise a strike could ensue.


On Aug. 12, Teamsters Local 624, based on Santa Rosa, and representatives from Washington-based Paratransit Services met for another round of negotiations, which both sides said had yielded some new offers.


Christie Scheffer, Paratransit Services' chief operating officer, said she had asked for the additional session to make sure everyone was on the same page. She termed the negotiations positive, productive and respectful.


The nonprofit transit organization made a best and final offer that included a 1-percent wage increase, with the ability to reopen wage negotiations at the end of the first and second years of the contracts, she said.


Scheffer said it was an offer they considered extremely fair, especially in light of cuts to transit funding across the state, including Lake County.


“We got a lot closer although we did not reach an agreement,” said union representative Ralph Miranda.


Then, in a Sunday afternoon vote of a Teamsters committee, Miranda said they overwhelmingly rejected Paratransit Services' offer.


He's since notified the company and asked for another bargaining session.


The union has set the Aug. 26 deadline for coming to an agreement or else it will pursue strike action, he said.


Teamsters Local 624 represents 35 employees, of which about 20 are full-time, Miranda said. They include drivers, dispatchers and mechanics.


Miranda said negotiations have been going on for about three months. More recently, a federal mediator has been assisting in the talks.


The issues with the latest offer centered on health and welfare issues, said Miranda.


In the former contract – which Miranda said Paratransit inherited from its predecessor, Laidlaw – the company and full-time employees split the costs of health insurance, which penciled out to about $150 per employee. That amount covers not just the employee but their entire family, although the plan has no dental or vision components.


In the latest negotiations, Miranda said Paratransit wanted employees to pick up the entire health care cost, which Miranda said was a big reason for rejecting the offer.


He said they were willing to consider keeping the current medical plan if they could reopen negotiations each year on any proposed changes.


While the union appreciated a wage increase offer, he said it only amounted to about 10 cents per hour, which doesn't cover the 20 cents per hour of impact expected from picking up additional health care costs.


A third area of concern was Paratransit's desire to freeze longevity pay, which Miranda said is a step increase after five years of service, with a cap at 10 years.


Even though the negotiations haven't reached impasse, union employees already have been notifying riders to make arrangements if a strike ensues, Miranda said. Those notifications began about two weeks ago.


Short of meeting the union's demands, a strike is inevitable, Miranda said.


Scheffer called it “a very challenging time for everyone.”


There is a concern that a strike could actually take place, Scheffer said. “There's always a concern when you reach this point in negotiations, when there's still unresolved economic items on the table.”


Paratransit Services' contract rate was reduced 3.1 percent due to a dropping consumer price index. While many transit agencies would ask employees to take wage reductions, Scheffer said they didn't do that.


As a result of the previous contract that was agreed to between Laidlaw and the Teamsters, Scheffer said employees' wages increased 32.49 percent over three years, while the CPI was only 3 percent during that time.


Employees also received very good health increases over that time, said Scheffer.


Miranda said Teamsters Local 624 also has contracts with transit companies in Santa Rosa and Mendocino County. Compared to those areas, Lake County's wages are much lower, with a driver in Lake County starting as low as $9 per hour compared to $15 per hour in Mendocino and $15 in Santa Rosa for paratransit drivers.


County transit workers didn't have a union before the Teamsters began representing them in 2007, said Miranda.


Mark Wall, general manager of Lake Transit, said Paratransit has done an excellent job in its time working in the county. He said he believes employees are much happier working under the group than they were before.


The contract negotiations are set against a backdrop of transit authority budget challenges and aging equipment. Wall said half of the transit authority's vehicles are beyond their life expectancy, and ridership – as well as fair revenue – is down.


Wall said he had been notified there was a possibility of a strike.


“We're all hopeful that this all gets worked out, because we don't want to see services disrupted,” he said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A number of crashes around the county on Sunday and early Monday caused highway closures and affected utilities when vehicles hit poles.


A crash on Point Lakeview at Anderson Road, between Kelseyville and Lower Lake, shortly before 1:30 p.m. Sunday involved a vehicle going into a power pole, according to the California Highway Patrol.


The incident resulted in a two- to three-hour closure of the roadway while power and utility companies were called to make repairs and the county roads department was notified, the CHP reported. Subjects involved in the crash were treated and released with minor injuries.


Shortly before 4:30 p.m. several vehicles were reportedly involved in a crash on Highway 20 at Stokes near Robinson Rancheria, according to reports from the scene.


One of the vehicles reportedly was overturned, and traffic control was implemented, the CHP reported.


While reports from the scene indicated many “walking wounded,” minor injuries resulted. The names of those involved wasn't immediately available.


Highway 20 was completely reopened at 5:42 p.m., the CHP reported.


The CHP also responded to a crash with major injuries at 26800 Reiff Road at Morgan Valley Road in Lower Lake at 8:40 p.m.


A male subject was injured and bleeding, but no further details were available.


Just before 1:30 a.m. Monday, another collision between a vehicle and a pole was reported on Mira Vista outside of Clearlake. A tree became tangled in the pole and guide wire, but only vehicle damage was reported, according to the CHP.


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MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – Two local women were injured in a head-on collision Tuesday morning.


The crash, which took place shortly after 10 a.m. on Highway 29 north of Butts Canyon Road, sent both 43-year-old Suzanne Wallahan of Middletown and Brittany Franklin, 18, of Clearlake to the hospital, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.


Franklin was driving a 2008 Chevrolet northbound on Highway 29 when, for an unknown reason, she allowed her vehicle to drift to the right and began to leave the roadway, Tanguay said.


He explained that Franklin then turned her car back to the left and entered the southbound lane of traffic directly in front of the 2004 Nissan truck Wallahan was driving.


The two vehicles collided head-on and the Nissan truck went down a dirt embankment to the west of the roadway, while the Chevrolet came to rest blocking both traffic lanes, Tanguay said.


He said both drivers were transported by air ambulance to U.C. Davis Medical Center for injuries sustained in this collision.


The roadway was completely blocked, and then open for one-way traffic control for just over an hour, Tanguay reported.


Alcohol and drugs are not considered factors in the collision, which CHP Officer Brian Engle is investigating.


Another major injury crash occurred on Highway 20 near Clearlake Oaks shortly after 6 p.m., according to the CHP.


The head-on collision reportedly involved two vehicles and blocked a portion of the highway, based on initial reports from the scene.


Additional details weren't immediately available Tuesday evening.


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LAKEPORT, Calif. – A longtime local business is expanding and moving into a new location this week.


Lake Parts, which for decades has been at home at 120 N. Main St., is moving on down the road to 1015 S. Main, the location of Napa Auto Parts.


Lake Parts owner Deanne Padel said that, as of Tuesday, her store will be open for business in the new location.


She said the two locations are merging, but will retain the Lake Parts name.


“It's very exciting,” she said.


The move will give her the chance to expand product lines in a 6,000-square-foot space, as opposed to the 4,400-square-foot area at 120 N. Main, where the business has been for 30 years, she said. Unlike the old location, the Napa store at the corner of Main Street and Lakeport Boulevard also has its own parking lot.


She said they'll offer more performance race car items and will sell go cart parts, both drawing on the local racing community.


Padel said she's going to try to utilize all of the current employees – the five at her former store and the six at the new location.


The Napa store was offered to Padel in a deal that she said began earlier this year, when Genuine Parts Co. – which owns the Napa auto parts group – approached her.


An inventory of both stores was under way on Monday in preparation for the ownership to be turned over to Padel, which Charlie Nelson of Genuine Parts Co.'s corporate office in Sacramento said became effective at midnight.


Nelson, who was in Lakeport on Monday to take part in the inventory, said the deal evolved since late in May.


“There was a change of ownership on the store here in Lakeport from the original owner,” he said.


That original owner was RJ Hoskins, said Nelson. Hoskins reportedly had owned Napa stores around Lake County and in Willits and Ukiah before selling the stores earlier this year.


Nelson said Genuine Auto Parts purchased the store – which he estimated has been in the market since the 1950s – at the end of May and began talking with Padel about a “merger-type situation.”


He said Padel will be the Lakeport Napa affiliate.


Padel began working for Lake Parts under its former owner, Dick Sylar, in 1989. In 2004, she purchased the business.


Growing up with brothers who were into racing, working with cars “was just kind of in my blood,” said Padel, who was born and raised in Lake County.


Lake Parts has been locally owned and operated since its beginnings in 1945, Padel said.


Today, she and her son, Chris Mansell, work together in the business, and she said they strive to support the local economy.


The parts business has been slow for a time, said Padel, but the new business arrangement comes at a time when business is starting to pick back up.


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THE GEYSERS, Calif. – A 3.3-magnitude earthquake was recorded near The Geysers geothermal steamfield on Sunday morning.


The quake, which occurred at 11:51 a.m., was located three miles east northeast of The Geysers and 15 miles southwest of Clearlake at a depth of seven-tenths of a mile, according to the US Geological Survey.


Four shake reports were made from three zip codes – Middletown and Lower Lake, and San Francisco, 122 miles away, according to survey data.


Over an hour-and-a-half-long period, a number of very shallow – or “poorly constrained” – temblors followed that larger quake, ranging in size from 1.1 to 2.4 and happening both near The Geysers and Cobb, US Geological Survey records showed.


A 3.2-magnitude earthquake occurred just southwest of The Geysers last Friday morning, as Lake County News has reported.


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LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation officials said Tuesday that people who received vaccinations at some of their care centers around the region may need to get new shots.


The foundation reported that it discovered that the some vaccines may not have been stored at the correct temperature, which means they may not be effective in protecting those who received the shots.


As a precaution, they're urging revaccination for those who received vaccines between January and June this year at Sutter facilities at 5150 Hill Road in Lakeport, near the main Sutter Lakeside Hospital campus.


Other affected care centers included 5300 Snyder Lane Family Practice, Farmer’s Lane Pediatrics, Landmark Family Practice Suite 202, Landmark Obstetrics Suite 165, Landmark Pediatrics Suite 120, Rohnert Park Pediatrics, Sebastopol Family Practice 652 Petaluma and Summerfield Family Practice in Sonoma County; Novato Primary Care in Marin County and 595 Buckingham Way, 1375 Sutter and Cesar Chavez Primary Care in San Francisco.


Those who received vaccines at different care centers are not affected.


For those needing to be revaccinated, there will be no charge for the visit or vaccine. Call the foundation's our toll-free number to schedule an appointment or speak with a nurse at 1-877-657-8987, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.


The foundation said there are no short- or long-term harmful effects from the original vaccine, or from being vaccinated again so soon after the initial immunization.


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CLEARLAKE, Calif. – Clearlake Councilman Roy Simons is inviting the community to a town hall this Friday, Aug. 20.


The gathering will begin at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at Clearlake City Hall, 14050 Olympic Drive.


Simons said he wanted to host the meeting to give community members an opportunity to come and have an open forum to express their various concerns.


“I've been trying to do this for a long time,” said the 84-year-old first term councilman.


He said he's previously met with resistance from city hall when proposing a town hall.


“This time I decided I'm just going to do it on my own,” he said. “They can all go to heck.”


City Clerk Melissa Swanson helped him set up the meeting, which Simons said he appreciated.


Simons said he wanted to get a feeling for what community members' frustrations may or may not be.


Attendees can bring up “anything at all,” he said, with no agenda or discussion items set.


The plan is for him not to enter the discussion himself, but leave it open. He will, however, try to answer what questions he can.


His remaining time on the council is short – he's decided not to seek reelection this fall.


“I don't want no more of this. It's just too tough a deal,” he said.


He is, however, interested in facilitating community discussion.


“These kinds of meetings periodically are good,” he said. “They get the blood stirred up.”


Simons previously held a town hall meeting on repaving Lakeshore Drive in 2009, which had a good turnout.


However, Simons – who said he's felt the deck has been stacked against him during his time on the council – said nothing came of the meeting's goal, which was to effect change in the town's center.


Simons said he expects the meeting to last a few hours.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf.

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A mare taken in during the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse roundup in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area near Susanville, Calif., on Friday, August 13, 2010. Just before the picture was taken the mare received her vaccinations and deworming, and was waiting to be turned into pens at the Litchfield Corrals not far from the roundup area. The BLM said the horses in the herd usually are bay or brown. While this mare's markings are unusual, the agency said there are quite a few pintos in the group that exhibit similar subtle, irregular spotting that is low on the body. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.
 

 

 

 

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT BLM HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS IN CALIFORNIA.

 


NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Federal officials have begun a six-week operation to gather horses from one of the state's biggest mustang herds, a roundup that's expected to be California's largest this year and the second largest in the nation.


The roundup of wild horses and burros from the 798,000-acre Twin Peaks herd management area – located 25 northeast of Susanville along the California/Nevada state line – began Aug. 11, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Eric Curtis.


“Our goal is to round up as many of the horses as we can and leave about 450 of them on the range,” said Curtis.


A roundup in the area hasn't taken place since 2006, Curtis said.


The operation started the same day the federal Ninth Circuit Court denied an injunction to stop it, the BLM reported.


That injunction was filed July 15 by In Defense of Animals along with ecologist Chad Hanson, wild horse sanctuary founder Barbara Clarke, DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary and wild horse enthusiast Linda Hay.


In Defense of Animals and its fellow plaintiffs in the July federal court filing cited the deaths of 12 mustangs in a Nevada roundup in July among its criticisms of the BLM roundup operations, saying that the “mass and illegal removal” of the federally protected mustangs “serve the livestock industry and other commercial interests that exploit our public lands.”


After conducting ground and aerial assessments of the herd management area, the BLM concluded it could move forward with the roundup, originally scheduled to begin Aug. 9.


District Manager Nancy Haug said BLM crews found that the more than 2,000 wild horses and more than 200 wild burros due to be rounded up appeared in good condition and showed no visible signs of dehydration.


However, Haug stated, “The current population of wild horses and burros remains far above the number the range can handle, and this roundup is necessary to keep both horses and range in that healthy state.”


She said the BLM was taking special precautions for the heat during August and early September. Helicopter gathers aren't conducted during the foaling season, which Haug said happens between March 1 and June 30, in order to ensure foals are strong enough to be moved with their mothers.


On the roundup's first day, 119 wild horses were gathered before noon by the BLM's contractor, Utah-based Cattoor Livestock Roundups, and transported to temporary holding facilities, the BLM reported. The animals were reported to be in good condition and health, with high body condition scale ratings.


The following day, Aug. 12, another 164 horses were gathered, including 61 studs, 72 mares and 31 foals, the BLM reported.


One older mare was euthanized that day due to a pre-existing injury, and one small foal fully recovered from difficulties the night before and was reunited with its mother, officials reported.


By Friday, 370 horses had been gathered and 253 had been shipped to the Litchfield Corrals east of Susanville, the BLM reported. Reports weren't available for Saturday or Sunday.


In addition to Litchfield, horses also will be transported to the Palomino Valley Center, which is located in Nevada not far from the herd management area, Curtis said. The goal is to minimize the time the animals spend in trucks.


The Twin Peaks herd traces its ancestry to a variety of sources, according to the BLM. While some of the original horses in the area came from Spanish stock, many of the horses are descended from US Army Cavalry horses prior to and during World War I, as well as draft and light breed ranching stock.


Curtis said some of the herds in the region exhibit heavier draft horse characteristics and therefore tend to be larger than the usual mustang.


“They are just beautiful,” she said, adding, “They're quite healthy.”


The herds don't show signs of dumped domestic horses. Although domestic horses are turning up in some herd areas in the nation because their owners can't afford to keep them, the animals don't have an easy time of it, said Curtis.


“The wild herds don't take kindly to those horses,” which Curtis said “often get pretty beat up” and don't know how to forage or survive on the range.


She said the Twin Peaks horses are mostly brown and bay in color, they're good-sized – 14 to 16 hands and 900 to 1,100 pounds – and are good for endurance.


The BLM said the animals live in a high desert environment, with limited grass resources on a rugged landscape.


The Twin Peaks horses are expected to be popular at adoption events the BLM is planning to hold around the state, Curtis said.


The adoption events also come to the North Coast; the last one in Lakeport took place June 5, as Lake County News has reported.


Those who adopt the horses are required to provide information to BLM of where and how the horses are being kept, said Curtis.


“We have folks who follow up with them over the course of a year,” she said.


The measures are intended to prevent neglect and stop the horses from being picked up for slaughter, she said.


It's only after the horses have been kept satisfactorily for a year that ownership is handed over, said Curtis.


If the horses aren't being properly cared for by their new owners, Curtis said the BLM takes them back.


If the horses aren't adopted after a certain period of time, most will be taken to the Midwest to longterm pastures, Curtis said.


Others will go to programs in Colorado and Nevada where prison inmates train the horses, Curtis said.


The BLM sends some of the horses there, and still others go into the “extreme mustang makeover program,” where she said teams of trainers compete to gentle the animals.


One such competition was just held in Colorado six weeks ago. More about that competition can be found at http://extrememustangmakeover.com/.

 

The Twin Peaks Herd Management Area is one of 22 in California, according to the BLM. Of the public land the federal agency administers in California, the wild horse and burro population covers 7.1 million acres plus an additional 2.3 millions acres of private land.

 

 

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After an early morning capture of a small band, wranglers position a trailer to carry horses to the Litchfield Corrals near Susanville, Calif., on Friday, August 13, 2010, the third day of the Bureau of Land Management's mustang and burro roundup in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area in Northern California. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.
 

 

 


Mustangs being scapegoated, supporters say


In a January opinion piece on wild horses published in the Los Angeles Times, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wrote, “We need a comprehensive and balanced approach built on new partnerships, new thinking and new courage to tackle an issue that, unfortunately, has no easy solution.”


He suggested fertility control, eco-tourism related to signature herds and public-private partnerships to establish new sanctuaries in the Midwest and East.


Advocates for the horses say that the current methods and policies used by the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management aren't working and aren't humane, and instead of roundups they support on-the-range management of the wild horses and burros as a means to maintain healthy herds and healthy range lands.


In Defense of Animals and other plaintiffs in the federal injunction filed last month alleged that the planned roundup at Twin Peaks violated the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the National Environmental Policy Act in a “manner that is both arbitrary and capricious,” and accused the BLM of “crafting a solution and then searching for a problem.”


While wild horses are blamed for range damage by livestock grazing, the plaintiffs said that mustangs comprise only a small fraction of grazing animals on public lands, and are outnumbered by other livestock 50 to one. Meanwhile, the BLM has reportedly increased cattle grazing allotments in areas where the horses are being rounded up.


Of the 245 million acres managed by the BLM, cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres, and wild horses are on 26.6 million acres shared with cattle, wild horse proponents reported.


The groups also alleged that the Obama administration has accelerated wild horse and burro removal, with 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities – which they called “zoo-like” – and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.


Environmental attorney Rachel Fazio, who was involved with the July injunction, said the Department of Interior “has a policy of removing mass numbers of wild horses from the range without supporting its conclusion that such drastic measures are ecologically necessary.”


In addition, she alleged that the agency won't provide to the public the data to support the removals – which she said violates the legal requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act – and that it disregards the damage done by livestock.


The groups said the BLM authorizes up to four times more cattle than wild horses, and nearly seven times more sheep than burros in the Twin Peaks area, and that the agency has the legal authority to limit livestock grazing in order to make more forage available for wild horses and burros.


The BLM says it's done just that. The agency said it's worked with ranchers who run cattle on BLM-managed land to reduce livestock numbers by 50 percent compared to 30 years ago in response to available resources.


Daily updates on the Twin Peaks roundup can be found at www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/eaglelake/wild_horse_and_burro/twinpeaksgather/gatreports.html.


See a video about the roundup here: www.blm.gov/ca/media/video/twinpeaksgather-2010/index.html.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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