Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials said no to Madeleine Pickens’ (wife of oilman T. Boone Pickens) offer of creating a refuge for 30,000 wild horses because BLM says the plan doesn’t fit current federal rules.

Pickens wanted to establish a sanctuary for horses currently in BLM long-term holding facilities after BLM said it was considering euthanasia for some of the animals. The refuge would be located on a million-acre Nevada site made up of both public and private lands. And she requested a $500/horse/year BLM stipend to fund a nonprofit foundation to oversee the horses’ care.

But BLM says the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act of 1971 only allows stipends for private landowners who care for federally-owned horses. Because public portions of the site lie outside grazing areas designated by the Act, federally-owned horses can’t be located there.

Still, Nevada State BLM Director Ron Wenker hopes to work something out. "We could contract the foundation to care for the wild horses on private land, or we could give her title to the horses making them private property without compensation. We haven't closed the door," he says.