“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” ~
This article is written for the wild horse advocate to put a bit of perspective on an important TRO granted in an Oregon grazing case. We hope you take the time to read and take the action at the bottom of the page.
Our wild places have a rich history that includes the writing of Walt Whitman, Edward Abbey and Lewis and Clark. Our American West has a history of human expansion and conflict that includes mining booms and busts, sheep and cattle wars, and the disenfranchisement and abuse of indigenous peoples.
The history of public lands management is something every wild horse advocate should become familiar with. Laws and regulations to protect our public lands always seem to come in a “too little, too late” to create any real protection from personal profit seekers off public resources. The profit seekers grabbed control of local politics, sent representatives into national politics and created a massive lobby force for mining, livestock, etc. This powerful political base has weakened every law passed to protect our wild places and is still actively pushing for more. (A fast trip through the timeline of the Bureau of Land Management, BLM, is worth the browse HERE).
This week a federal judge granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in a case brought by a coalition of environmental organization (Western Watersheds, WildEarth Guardians and Center for Biological Diversity). “Judge Simon, who regularly issues the longer rulings out of the District of Oregon, noted Zinke’s analysis of the Hammonds’ grazing rights appeal took all of one paragraph. And in its answer to the lawsuit, Simon found that the government didn’t bother to dispute the facts alleged and did not show the environmental groups are unlikely to succeed in the case.” (read more by clicking text)
The case cited the “last order” by Ryan Zinke, before he left his post as Secretary of Interior under multiple investigations for ethics violations.
Today, through social media, the hashtags “Throwback Thursday” and “Flashback Friday” have become very popular. We all recognize the importance of looking back at events. However, there is a real danger if we write what we experienced yesterday because the reality presents a challenge to the rectifying the choices we make today.
A psychological phenomenon known as “normalization” has become a common phrase used in news articles today. Essentially normalization is a coping mechanism employed under stress by the human brain. “Desensitization” is a phrase many use to describe how people adjust to things like working in a slaughterhouse or extreme violence, like long term abuse or war. (many scholarly articles are out there that show how this process can lead to things like Post Traumatic Stress Disorders or Stockholm Syndrome. A good layman editorial appears in Psychology Today on simple normalization and the dangers.)
Zinkes role in the case (spoken of above) should not be dismissed because we have become “normalized” to the lack of ethics demonstrated by his reign of the Department of Interior (DOI).
Instead we should engage in a few #FlashbackFriday moments and become outraged, speak out and demand a bit of justice. That justice does not simply revolve around one grazing decision and one group of people, it involves justice for everything harmed; human, the land and wild things under the unethical DOI.
In 2016, for the third time, Rep Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) tried to get a hearing to the floor of the House on “Extremism on Public Lands.” Using the words “domestic terrorism” were not politically correct under the leadership of Rob Bishop (R-UT) and all of his minions (like Jason Chaffetz and Tom McClintock, all R-UT).
As minority leader Grijalva could not get that hearing to the floor and, instead, held an informal panel discussion. Grijalva was not the Chair of the Committee, he is now. Why has he not brought this to the floor? (you can contact Grijalva and ask that they bring the hearing to the floor on Extremism on Public Lands HERE).
As a wild horse advocate you should understand that all of this is directly related to wild horses. This is directly related to the current push to gut the Wild Horses and Burros Act; same people, same methods.
Many organizations that represent the “public lands extremism” movement have different names, but they are all populated by same people and all have deep relationship with each other. Public Lands Council, Cattlemen’s Ass’n, Society for Range Management are the names used to present as a “reasonable business interest.” Protect the Harvest, American Land Council, Bunkerville, etc are the names that the public associates with the violent aspects of the movement.
Two sets of videos are presented in this article and we urge you to CLICK HERE and watch at least the highlighted segments.
What we have done since then is “normalize” the past events and minimize the effect. That is not progress. It is a coping mechanism that allows the “bully” to get what it wants in a “gentler” fashion. The first to normalize these events are federal managers and employees getting the memos to carry out these orders. They must try to normalize the past in order to keep a job in the present. It makes the work of any person working for justice on the range ten times harder. The environmental interest, that broke no law or ethical boundary, must be relabelled as the “bad guy,” even if you have to rewrite the past. The situation gets worse; human and range.
Ryan Zinke has deep ties with many in this movement. His schedule prioritized these interests. His actions prioritized the requests from these individuals. (Another article we urge you to click on HERE that shows a timeline of the current situation for wild horses and National Monuments, two issues important to Zinke’s buddy system.)
The current administration has had no Director of the BLM since it’s inception (a position vetted by Congress). Instead the BLM has played a game of Deputy Director with acting authority of the Director. Deputies are chosen by Zinke. The two deputies we have had, John Ruhs and Brian Steed) also have deep ties with this movement and Ruhs even helped make mandatory legal penalties disappear for some of it’s members when he was the Nevada State Director. (more HERE).
The “Stewart Alliance” is made up of individuals in the movement that big corporate “advocate” orgs jumped into bed with. They did not walk in there with a hard line, they walked in to join in, to the power grab (see the partners in the alliance). The document has been titled “A Path Forward.”
In 2013 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) created a report on the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program. The document was called “A Way Forward.” (the report in brief HERE)
The Stewart Alliance document is named in a great marketing campaign to allude to a connection with the NAS review. Yet in truth, addresses nothing outlined by the NAS at the core: a failure of science based management at the range level (at one point the full NAS review stated they could not tell what was data and what was made up by a manager to justify a decision). The Stewart document is a push for power over management decisions that forwards only profit driven aspects of the wild horse program; remove to give grass o the permittee, improve the range for the permittee, sell the fertility control products (PZP and sterilization) of the alliance members, increase funding and change title transfer for holding (relabelled as “eco-sanctuary.” It’s just a holding facility; if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it’s a duck.) This document solves nothing. The alliance has simply found another way to minimize the importance of data before justification and run the old profit line on the back of herds that will be decimated under this “plan.”
The “advocate orgs” that joined this movement went in forwarding their agenda items; money for their products. They did not go in with a data set of their own or any experience on range when the members of this movement “flair.” They did not got in and begin with fixing the decades old flaws for the wild, they went in with a sales pitch and sold the wild ones to get it.
In the fore mentioned “Deputy Director game” one of the individuals that sat in the chair is Brian Steed. Brian Steed was Chief of Staff for Chris Stewart (R-UT) until last year. His fingerprints are all over the creation of alliance agreement, that he has incorporated into, and now brings to Congress in the “BLM Report to Congress on the Wild Horse and Burro Program.”
The BLM Report will be the key component to the current Appropriations debate. BLM has been extremely remiss in transparency under this administration. Records have been removed from public searches, Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIA) denied or held up, inclusion on mailing lists and notifications to any stakeholder not in the “friends and family club” has become a thing of the past; transparency in todays land management is a farce. When will the BLM Report become public? we can not tell you.
Unraveling the injustices and lack of ethics, on the part of all of the participants, is going to require your understanding and participation.
The TRO this week? it is related to the big picture that creates the reality your wild horse live every single day.
Request that as an American whose interest he is to protect as the Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, you want him to create a full hearing on “Extremism in Public Lands.” The intimidation tactics that have forwarded todays political agenda on public lands must be exposed and justice must be served. (contact Grijalva HERE)
Next make calls to all of your Representatives in both the House and the Senate.
Tell them that you want to BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program held in status quo: the budget levels of last year and no new authorities granted requested under the BLM Report to Congress presented by Brian Steed.
Too many conflicts of interest exist between Brian Steed, and multiple members of Interior Staff, in the document presented by Chris Stewart and incorporated into the BLM “ask.”
An investigation must be done into those conflicts of interest and ethical violations prior to any and all changes to the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program.
You can find your representatives HERE.
To find the “long form” of the call to your Reps you can click our Urgent Action tab or click HERE.
We began this article with a quote from Winston Churchill and will end with one:
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. ~ Winston Churchill
As wild hose advocates this battle can be frustrating. But if we are simply after freedom, mercy and hope for our wild horses? it becomes our duty to seek justice. It’s that simple. Please take action today.
Help us stay in the fight.
Categories: Wild Horse Education