If you are looking for an action item on the budget bill to shoot tens of thousands of wild horses click HERE. This piece is for people that want to begin to understand the how and why we have arrived at this juncture and to prepare to face the next leg of advocacy for wild horses and the land they stand on.
This article is for those seeking deeper understanding of the place we, as advocates, now stand. This did not happen overnight.
We have been writing about how to express your voice appropriately in process for a long time, years in fact. We have fought years of legal battles to maintain your “right of access” and were successful in litigation supported in legal briefs by fifteen news organizations nationwide. But if you do not understand what we fought so hard for, it has no value.
Often these articles are ignored in favor of repeating cycles of the past. Sometimes we even get “threats of litigation” from other orgs in response to what we publish like this article from February 2017, “What are YOU? Advocate, Activist or Slacktivist?” That article was simply a conversation to address massive confusion generated by a multitude of conflicting sign on letters and petitions that were circulating in social media, why threaten?
When we hear “but it was said in public,” meaning it was said “online in a chat,” as justification for an action, it is extremely disturbing. Social media has created an alternative reality that influences actions in the real world that often has very little to do with the physical reality. That is a fact. That fact has had devastating consequence.
One of those consequences is the ever eroding “voice in process.” When the actual “reality of voice” is replaced by an “impression of voice” the actual reality can be eliminated without much notice. That has been happening at an alarming rate.
While Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was holding private meetings with industry in April of 2017, he shut down the Resource Advisory Councils (RACs) and Advisory Boards. This action limited the publics ability to engage process, almost entirely. Official federal record that could not be challenged was built in an extremely selective process. That process had already begun in the House and Senate (Republican controlled for years) by only allowing hearings on issues they approved with those providing testimony also subject to the majority chairman(s).
“The deck was stacked long before the cards were played in the backdoor poker game.”
Wild horse advocates saw that demonstrated clearly in the closed door meeting of the privately funded “Summit” in Utah. Those at the table all had clear association with the proslaughter/pro privitazation of public resource movement.
This agenda profits industry. Any hunter, angler, recreationalist, conservationist that does not comprehend that the “wild horse agenda” is part of what threatens their interest is really missing the big picture. The big picture is “public voice, public land” and that is what is at stake.
We are at the eleventh hour. Giving over the actual land to states and counties has slowed, that agenda was too obvious. However giving over control over management can be done in the “backdoor poker game.” Wild horses have historically worn the mantle of the “first card thrown away” in the game. It is very easy to get every interest that feels any threat to agree, “yeah, get rid of that and maybe there will be some left for me.”
Some hunting groups are starting to comprehend. “He told us he’d do the same thing, before his promotion,” John Sullivan (chairman of the Montana chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers) told NPR. “He’s reversed that; we feel like he’s not listening to us.”
Of course he’s not listening to you John. Remember all those front group propaganda pushes you supported that went something like “environmentalists are trying to take your gun away” things? They came from front groups for big agriculture, not people that represent your interest. They came from people that fund the “state’s rights” (sagebrush rebellion) agenda. But ya bought it hook, line and sinker, eh?
National Parks, who was at those meetings? industry.
Killing wolf cubs in their dens? No hunter I have ever known would call that “hunting.” Every hunter I know actually finds that prospect sickening. Who does it benefit? Industry.
When you assist in weakening one voice that has a legal right at the table, you weaken your own.
It is absolutely understood by every single credible interest at the public land table that the federal wild horse program has no basis in real science. But hey, if the horse doesn’t eat the grass left, after the “holy cow” comes through like locusts, maybe I will bag that bull elk this year? So join the wave of “remove the advocate, remove the horse.” You just took yourself down a notch in the big picture and generated publicity and support for the very people set on getting everyone away from the table except who they really represent, industry.
The push against wild horses is twofold; resume killing them (slaughter) and give over federal authority (management).
Case after case was filed by counties and states to resume slaughtering wild horses. The most recent one, thrown out of court last month, was filed by Karen Budd-Falen (Trump nominee to head BLM). Instead of dealing with another pesky legal challenge, just put it in the budget.
Fertility control programs (that would prove we don’t need to shoot horses or sell them to slaughter OR continue the multi-million dollar roundup machine) were shut down. They were not shut down by those advocates attacked in the front group campaigns, they were shut down with help from the front groups.
Creating a brand new subsidy program for the livestock industry one herd at a time is in play. Instead of turning over the land we will actually pay them, in a private contract, to trap wild horses. How do you think oversight will work when more than half of livestock permits are renewed (legally) without an assessment because of another back door deal in last years Appropriations debacle under title XXX in a defense spending bill rider (to get around a court order). Google “Judge Winmill Idaho grazing decision.” This creates a very dangerous precedent set to be played out under sage grouse.
Under the cover of sage grouse we have “management” plans being created by industry. Just because an interest may have squeezed one or two people in the room, the agenda wont be swayed. Resentment of federal authority runs that table, “public land managed for public good,” no longer includes the public.
What does being a wild horse/public land advocate look like in the near future? The dust is starting to settle and it does not look good.
In addition to the planning process under sage grouse and the ongoing appropriation debate (that still has a few amendments, votes, and then the “sneak that rider in” phase) we have bills aimed at eliminating any federal law enforcement authority on public land and turning those powers over to local law. We have bills aimed at media (the gate keepers to the First Amendment). We have normalization of language that turns those that never broke a law (like real public land advocates) into potential criminals.
Please remember there is a big midterm election next year. Get involved. Don’t just sign a petition. Learn who your reps really are. Value your vote. Stop simply spreading propaganda and look at facts and how they fit in the big picture, not just what “one” gets out of it. Don’t help exclude a voice because tomorrow it may be your own. No matter how bad the end of 2017 gets, the repair work can begin next year.
Categories: Wild Horse Education