One of our holiday traditions at Wild Horse Education is “the letter” written by our founder, Laura Leigh, “to Mom.” These letters began in 2010 with a video message. while fighting for access to roundups and holding, not just for herself, but for all of us. As a journalist she had been offered “red carpet access” to document a roundup in northern Nevada but had to go alone, leaving representatives from advocacy behind. She chose to fight for all, not for one. She had also filed the first case in history against inhumane conduct at roundups. She won. She filed again, and she won again, yet she had another active case. She was told not to discuss the cases, that it was not appropriate, but she could talk about what she was feeling. So she discussed what this journey “felt like” in that first video “way back when.”
WHE has come a long way since those first days (mini resume published, needs update) but the tradition of a “letter home” has been a part of our “end of year wrap” ever since.
The last year has been so troubling. Our wild horses and public lands are caught in such a vicious and corrupt onslaught. I have seen so much destroyed this year; land, herds and the progress to protect them all have received massive blows. But there are people, crazy like me, out here working really hard to protect public resources and to make sure public voices remain a part of this twisted conversation.
Wild horses are so minimized. You would think that an issue that can gain so much attention would be given at least the same attention as other issues out here, it doesn’t. I participated in a national conference on migratory routes and oil and gas. Do you know there were antelope, mule deer, sage grouse, etc, all marked on the map. Federal land managers did not even have herd boundaries on this map! At least I was able to get them to add wild horses and burros to the baseline.
I have also learned more on the litigation front. (I know, I never thought these would be things I ever needed to learn!) In the course of our legal case against the mine I found out that the mine was willing to do things like drill a well and maintain solar panels for wildlife and wild horses to mitigate the damage they were doing to an important corridor. Federal land management agencies were doing everything they could to stop it! It makes your head spin. I found out why. It is because the livestock permittee wants the horses gone and the impacts from the mine will give BLM the excuse they need to make the permittee, that runs in trespass (that is illegal use of public lands), happy.
This is in the same district where BLM fired an employee for reporting trespass, so I guess none of this should surprise me. I guess my upbringing, all that law and order and church stuff you made us do, led me to believe our country was better than this. I’m sill trying hard to believe that there is “good” and “an honest conversation” somewhere. It has been really hard to “keep the faith” this year.
The deepest cuts always come from those that claim to be “in the fight” but are really in it for their own interests. The big corporate paper pushers have created a real cluster tragedy as their years of betrayals finally went public. This cabal of greed has set the stage for absolute horror: the largest roundups in history devastating our herds, cruel experiments and manipulations and even more wild horses slipping to slaughter is at stake. I really hope people are awake enough, care enough, and get involved.
I have met a lot of interesting people this year. I sat and helped a Presidential candidate craft policy language, did presentations for groups and have met several doing films and news pieces including a crew from Denmark (I got them hooked on those peanut butter filled pretzels I love to eat on the road).
The Portrait Society honored our work again this year. I do not think they intended it to be such a poignant experience. However, the hung my portrait beneath that of the Judge McKibben. McKibben was the judge that, in essence, gave me my voice back. He awarded that ruling at Triple B (9 years ago) after I witnessed all that abuse, was told I could never win the case. We won. That day McKibben changed the way we can litigate for wild horses and changed the way I think of myself. The portrait was hung as the Triple B roundup ended this year and I was able to use the policy that was eventually created to make a small difference in the moment to stop another foal from being run to collapse. Not a huge change, but it was something real to hang onto as so much is being destroyed. Tangible and a sign the impossible is still possible.
We have been taking a run at the corruption again. We are filing complaints left and right these days. Three BLM Deputy Directors were all recipients of at least one. John Ruhs and Brian Steed have both moved into new positions. William Perry Pendley needs to join the list of “former acting Directors.” I know they will just slide another into that chair that should never hold that office (if the law actually mattered), but we have to fight.
It still boggles my mind that there are journalists in the US that don’t scrutinize federal land managers, particularly when it comes to wild horses. With all the mess of politics you would thing they would “get it.” But so many people have gotten so lazy and just like to stereotype. It is so sad that there are people that look down at me because I will admit I was homeless. I made the best of my situation and tried to make my life count for something. Isn’t that what you taught me was right? Then I think of guys like Ron Wenker, the NV State director whose name was on my first lawsuit. After winning awards from such (cough) esteemed orgs like Public Lands Foundation he is still in prison for what he did to his niece. I guess that is a tangible to hang onto as we continue to fight small minds and corrupt hearts?
I could sit here and write to you for hours. So much has happened this year. All my years of work at Fish Creek were destroyed and the petty nonsense of ugly people fed on each other. Heck, I even got threatened with arrest for doing nothing wrong, again. It still hurts too much to really talk about it yet. But you have known me all my life and you know I will tell that full story in all it’s disgusting colors.
Good news. My bog doofy dog survived his injury and the surgeries! Next week he should get the all clear and my best friend an I will be road buddies again.
I do miss you and think of you every single day.
I love you.
Our holiday traditions for 2019 have begun.
Coming soon: Year in Review video, WHE Magazine (2019), staff pics and list of accomplishments.
Danish Broadcasting (2019)
Categories: Wild Horse Education