At Wild Horse Education monitoring our western rangeland, and the policies involved in protecting vital resources all of our “wild things” rely on to survive, is a crucial component to effective advocacy.
We often work in concert with other individuals and organizations. One such individual is Katie Fite, now working with WildLands Defense.
“Endless hours on the road and dusty rangeland you run into very few ‘regulars’ in your work,” said Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education, “Katie is the only other ‘civilian’ I have repeatedly known to be real ‘boots on the ground’ in this arena. I have great respect for her work and look forward to continuing to assist each other in our goals. A healthy rangeland is needed to support everything that lives and breathes in the west. America needs to wake up soon as ‘healthy rangeland’ may become nothing more than a myth.”
BLM Monitoring of Contentious Grazing Settlement Cloaked in Secrecy
Today monitoring of the “Argenta” allotments that have been the subject of a heated dispute between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), environmentalists and public land ranchers took place. This dispute was the focal point of last years “Grass March,” where ranchers took a cross-country horseback trek to Washington DC to deliver their demands.
Only members of a select group identified in the settlement agreement were allowed to participate. This action may likely be a violation of first amendment principles.
Katie Fite, WildLands Defense (WLD), made repeated attempts to be permitted to observe official monitoring after logging a formal protest to the settlement. Her requests were denied.
“The goal of the ranchers is to create BLM policy, not follow it,” said Fite “All of this is creating an atmosphere of lawlessness.”
WildLands Defense issued an official statement:
“The National Riparian Team setting up an elite, closed group to bar the public from being present and viewing how the ranchers may influence the monitoring and from seeing just how it is being conducted and what the conditions are on the day measured is an outrage.
WildLands Defense believes the national Riparian Team and BLM are exercising elitism and violating our first amendment rights.”
Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education (WHE) fought, and won, on First Amendment issues pertaining to wild horse roundups conducted by the BLM. Issues involving denial of access, and discriminatory access, were engaged in federal court for nearly 5 years. Leigh monitors western public rangelands.
“The First Amendment, and equal access to participate in public process, is vital to the core principles of our nation,” said Leigh, “The ranching industry does not own public land. Perhaps BLM should be sent a memo, or a copy of the Constitution?”
Individual members of both organizations have a long history of engagement and interest in public land grazing issues. The exclusion of participants in monitoring of Argenta is being challenged.
Previous articles about the “Grass March” can be found at this link http://wildhorseeducation.org/?s=grass+march
Categories: Wild Horse Education