Within the realm of advocating for wild horses and burros protocol, politics and old prejudice play a huge role. The actions by politicians and federal officials are directly responsible for the realities faced on the range. These actions effect everything. Creation of policy, enforcement (or lack of enforcement) of policy and law, and the individual interactions of federal employees directly impact the issues of human safety.
Sometimes these actions can come together in an almost “perfect storm” where an increase of imminent danger arises to those simply attempting to do their jobs. Advocates for environmental concerns, animal welfare concerns, and federal employees on the ground in the state of Nevada, now face one of those times.
Tensions in 2014 surrounding the “Bundy Debacle,” were evident to a large segment of the American people but was not the only “pressure cooker” under a buildup of political steam.
Last year we had the “Grass March,” and the agenda aimed directly at any enforcement of restrictions to the livestock industry. The agenda of the Grass March included removal and destruction of wild horses and the removal of any federal employee that dared to restrict livestock grazing. This “agenda” led to a federal investigation by the Natural Resources Committee into alleged incidents of “bully tactics” by federal employees against the ranching industry. (The “bully tactics” by the ranching industry was not the subject of that investigation).
In addition Senator Heller of NV was instrumental in removing the designation of “willful” from a trespass citation that went to rancher Kevin Borba. Borba ran livestock in trespass for eight months in the Fish Creek allotment near Eureka NV. Months and months went by as process designed to give livestock producers multiple opportunity to avoid penalty went by. Eventually a citation of “willful trespass” was issued with a fine of $33,000. Senator Heller intervened on behalf of the livestock producer. The result was that BLM removed the word “willful” and the fine reduced to $6,000.
In 2015 the political pressure has created a situation where the realities of the range have been dragged back in time a decade.
Director Kornze (BLM) sent John Ruhs to sit at the State Director helm in NV.
Under John Ruhs we have seen multiple instances where laws appear to be bent, or even broken, to diminish fall out from livestock producers. At Argenta we have watched as livestock closures upheld by court decisions were eroded and even trespass minimized. At Fish Creek we have seen extraordinary lack of action to support lawful action in management of wild horses.
All of these actions have emboldened those not held to the standards the rest of the public is held to, into further disregard for acting within the law. We saw this clearly at Fish Creek in the last two weeks.
Last week a “tour” was given by Eureka County of the Fish Creek HMA. The actions by John Ruhs, acting State Director, can only be described as “outrageous.” Standing side by side with a man supposedly under investigation for violation of federal law ( just two of the subjects under investigation: illegal water haul and removing a wild horse from public land without authorization), Eureka county that is a Plaintiff against the government at Fish Creek, Protect the Harvest and rancher media, “our” state director took a “tour” of Fish Creek. During this “tour” certain members of the public were more than “unwelcome.” Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education was not only “uninvited,” her presence created an almost “lynch mob” mentality where the state director even lied about Leigh’s relationship to the BLM (claiming her photographs were BLM property and she would be “dealt with”) in front of the media that accompanied Leigh (Leigh carried two passengers; one from a wildlife protection group and a member of the press working on a story for National Geographic).
The actions of John Ruhs have clearly escalated the sense of imbalance on the range. Instead of being present on the range to represent all interests under any pretense of “multiple use,” Ruhs made it clear his intention is not to be a “regulatory agency” representative, but a “peacemaker” for one interest only, livestock. (We edited the attached article associated with this action in Spring of 2015. We had multiple discussions about these ongoing issues and it appears that misinformation is at the core. We are addressing the issues and moving forward. This action is EXPRED)
A detailed letter of the events leading to the “tour,” and what transpired at the “tour,” has been created by Laura Leigh. That letter is being sent to Director Kornze, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the Natural Resources Committee. click to read letter ImminentDanger
“I am more than tired of our wild horses and the environment paying the price for a lack of backbone in the BLM,” said Laura Leigh. “Acting out of fear simply creates more fear. BLM has simply succeeded in expanding and increasing the dangers faced on the range. If you are allowed to repeatedly violate the rules at what point do you ever think they apply to you? This needs to stop now before someone gets seriously injured or dies.”
(NOTE: If you add your name to this list you will be considered in support of this request. Comments will be compiled as a addendum if required during investigation)
Categories: Wild Horse Education