As we advocate for wild horses and burros on public land there are many issues that must be addressed. Sometimes what is required are comments to management documents, gaining documentation, keeping the public informed and sometimes even litigation. Right now we are at a junction where a small faction of livestock “profiteers” are using their frustration at facing restrictions to the amount of cows they can turn out on America’s public land (as it suffers from drought and decades of domestic livestock production) to push an agenda aimed at complete control over public land. These livestock producers are heading to DC in what they call a “Grass March” (offensively titled after Ghandi’s salt march) taking a petition to Congress to forward an agenda that oddly… they do not even feature on their own website.
In order to find the agenda we searched articles and interviews and did find their agenda that we published in an “action” alert here: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/09/25/not-over-my-wild-horses-grass-march/ We are in the process of creating a document that contains all of the INDIVIDUAL comments and preparing a cover letter to send on the 15th to Congressional members and the media.
The comments we are receiving are simply wonderful. So many of you have taken the time to say you oppose the agenda of the Grass March. Some of you simply say thing like “The demands of a privileged few do not outweigh the rights of the rest of us,” and some are very thoughtful and respectful letters that include personal histories of being private land ranchers (that pay a whole lot more than public land ranchers do) or are statements of a real concern over historic “bully” practices that have left wild horses and burros in trouble as many public land managers fear to restrict them. All of the comments we have received are an extraordinary example of an educated advocacy in action. We could not feel more honored to be able to present your comments.
What we see emerging is also a number of people that wish to make a physical presence seen in DC as the Grass March arrives so that media will be aware that their is an opposing viewpoint (we all know that many on media even simply fail to use simple tools to locate information and instead go the easy route on a “story”). We are getting requests to assist with information to have “on hand.”
First we suggest knowing “who” the Grass March is, not in theory, but as individuals: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/09/28/who-is-the-grass-march/
We know there are many issues here that wild horse and burro advocates have with how wild horses and burros are managed. But for the purposes of being effective against the platform of the Grass March we suggest KNOWING the following:
1. First know the points of what the Grass March is asking for; a. Empower states to remove abusive federal employees, b. Remove sage grouse from consideration as an endangered species, c. Reinstate all roads closed by U.S. Forest Service, d. Remove excess wild horses from the rangelands, e. Remove the raven from the Migratory Bird Treaty, f. Halt the attempt by federal agents to gain control over Nevada Water, g. Transfer public land to state control.
2. Keep in mind that “Empower states to remove abusive federal employees” is what started the “Grass March.” In 2012 drought restrictions began in BLM’s Battle Mountain district. The first backlash was the NACO legal action by counties and the farm bureau to remove and destroy wild horses across Nevada. The FLASHPOINT for the Grass March came with restrictions (again in Battle Mountain’s district) at an allotment called “Argenta.” If you remember back in the beginning of summer the “Grass March” first went to the state governor to try to get the manager in that district, Doug Furtado, fired. It failed (suggested reading that includes and editorial penned by Katie Fite of Western Watersheds: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/08/15/focus-nevada-battle/) In western states in our country a number of public land ranchers have faced restrictions. However the vast majority of restrictions have been minimal to the point of being almost meaningless to the actual protection of the range. In the one place where the restrictions have some “meaning” the Grass March wants it to stop. When you hear them use the phrase “Government without representation is tyranny,” they are talking about Furtado because he said “No.”
3. All of the other things they are asking for again goes back to the desire to control all resources for personal profit. If the sage grouse are listed or protected livestock will be curtailed. Wild horses eat grass and these ranchers even want the measly amounts we set aside for wild horses. FEDERAL public land that belongs to all Americans should NOT be transferred into state control where these permittees have incredible power to do what they want over the wishes of anything that stands in their way of control.
4. The strongest talking points are about what “public land ranching” actually is and what it does to the range. The Grass March has set the stage. It is time to shine a spotlight… it is time to show the country what public land ranching really is.
a. PEER review on the impacts of livestock grazing and how the government avoids recognizing the impact. This is a “must print” for anyone going to any public rally: http://www.peer.org/news/news-releases/2012/05/14/livestock’s-heavy-hooves-impair-one-third-of-blm-rangelands/
b. Any of the stats in our article “Rangelands Under Fire, Under Fire,” can be used: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/02/14/rangeland-under-fire-under-fire-editorial/ Listed below are a few highlights.
Public-lands ranching currently produces less than 4 percent of the nation’s beef. Yet it monopolizes 252 million acres supposedly managed for “multiple use” by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). (audubon, “Sacred Cows”: http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/incite/incite0603.htm)
The recently released Department of Interior Fiscal Year 2012 Economic Report shows that Grazing on BLM Public Lands Accounts for only 0.41% of the nation’s livestock receipts and only 17,000 jobs nationally. In contrast, recreation accounts for 372,000 jobs and contributes $45 billion to the economy. (One casino in Las Vegas can easily create 17,000 jobs).
c. Keep in mind that an “AUM,” or the amount of grass it takes to feed one cow/calf pair for a month, cost a public land rancher about $1.35. A private commercial beef production operation (that produces about 96% of US beef) pays between $9-$15 a month to feed a cow/calf pair per month.
As wild horse and burro advocates the inclusion of wild horses (and the statement made about slaughter by those among the Grass Marchers) is particularly upsetting. However this is NOT the moment to address BLM failures. The Grass March is generally happy when numbers of wild horses are far too low to be genetically viable and are removed in large numbers to allow them a monopoly on the mealy 11% of public land wild horses legally occupy. This is a time to support the precious few moments went BLM actually “does the right thing.” READ HERE to understand how wild horses became a target of the “Grass March” http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/09/03/editorial-nevada-showdown/
Basic “Battle” Cry?
1. Grass March is a temper tantrum of spoiled children told “no” by BLM. We support Doug Furtado of Battle Mountain for standing up to the “bully tactics” of the Grass March. It is time BLM starts holding other managers to this level of action.
2. The true cost of 4% of US Beef is over $125 million to the tax payer, before a single cow is sold.
3. Public land ranching is the most destructive use of public grazing in the West.
4. BLM and Congress need to stand up to these “Cowboys.” WE want the government to stop catering to the select few and recognize the rest of us… If you care about anything that walks, crawls, swims or grows on public land… it is time we “TAKE BACK PUBLIC LAND,” not hand it over to the states so they can give it to those that “use it like private property.”
We are compiling YOUR comments but there is still time to add yours here: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/09/25/not-over-my-wild-horses-grass-march/
Wild Horse Education is devoted to gaining protection for wild horses and burros from abuse, slaughter and extinction.
Categories: Wild Horse Education