What does our American West look like to the rest of the world? A Danish TV crew travelled with us to a roundup.
The year 2019 was intense; the culmination of the last three where dirty backdoor deals and the pay-to-play system went into overdrive. Massive betrayals to both advocate and wild horses by huge corporate interests went public and we are on the verge of the largest roundups of wild horses ever seen in US history, sterilization (surgical and chemical) and the decimation of our last truly wild, wild horses. Transparency became a joke as moves to gut Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process steamrolled ahead and government agencies have not answered a meaningful FOIA on wild horses in over 3 years delaying, redacting and ignoring. Extractive industries given pretty much a free pass and our public lands suffer. Grazing schemes rammed through that give power, land and more tax money to increase the rate our public lands are pounded to dust by cloven hoof. The cruelty of the cyanide bomb (M-44), killing bears as they hibernate, outright war on wolves, devastating roundups of wild horses prioritized to suit industry as management/data/welfare is ignored.
2019 laid a path of devastation and set the frame for acceleration.
In the world of “wild horses” there were key events, moments of defeat and success, and most importantly, key revelations of critical information needed as this “DeRanged War” rages on.
Where was WHE? 2019 fast review of some highlights. This a collection that is intended to give you an overview of the year, to help prepare you for the coming year, and does not represent the entire body of our work in 2019. Roundups are not included in this list, we will do a separate piece on roundups (roundups in review HERE). We tried to pick just two articles to represent each month:
WHE joined a massive coalition fighting back against changes to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). We were able to slow down the official changes, with your help. But that has not stopped land management agencies from creating internal memos to impede the public and press from gaining meaningful information. Only through litigation, the threat of litigation, has any meaningful insight into the massive corruption occurring rapidly been gained.
We wrote a series “Information is Power” that delves into what FOIA is, a legal action we took and why, and the very real dangers faced as land management has been overrun by the “Extremism” movement. (You can revisit it HERE)
We also published a free digital magazine to take you into “One HMA” to see an example of the assertion of “management” and see the reality; roundups of very healthy wild horses for livestock and mining, how we had to litigate as even a pretense of humane management was ignored, and to let you see the faces of our beautiful wild horses caught in this resource war. (You can revisit it HERE)
With your help we were able to defeat the “Ten Years to AML” (now called “Path Forward”) agenda that was the driving force behind BLM’s Report to Congress. That agenda was set for mass removals of 10-20K each year, spaying, funneling money into a shill lobby group from the holding facility budget. (Later in the year this corporate monster raised it’s head again and reached it’s goal as WHE was shoved out of the room by a second corporate wave looking for contracts, more on that later). (You can revisit that win HERE)
WHE laid a foundation for probes into Interior. A few of them have moved forward, most are still sitting on the shelf in Congress. In 2019 massive moves were made through campaign contributions, defamation and deception to impede any effort to address corruption in the Department of Interior. We are still pushing these forward. (You can revisit a short article HERE)
Our investigative team exposed former Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, running the agenda of an extremist industry front group concerning National Monuments and Wild Horses. Zinke owned stock in a gun company run by the lobbyist for the front group and was running their agenda full steam. (You can revisit the expose HERE)
BLM creates a new way to dispose of wild horses in holding, create a new subsidy on the taxpayer dime. Without public input, only the promise from those in the “Path Forward” debacle that they would not interfere, BLM created a $1,000 incentive for adopters without increasing oversight. BLM amped up the sales program, without oversight. BLM has increased the number of horses going to their buddy crews and is still impeding adoptions/sales to those they simply “do not like.” BLM repeatedly issues title without inspection if you are on the “right” list. (revisit HERE)
With your help WHE played our part in the launch of another ethics probe into former Secretary of the Interior, Zinke. These singular probes, over 17 just against Zinke, are a mountain of evidence of the deep, dark, corruption in public lands management. We are still working hard to move these forward. (revisit HERE)
The “Path Forward” plan goes public after 3 years of those claiming to advocate for wild horses denying it’s existence. The public was shaken, even though this alliance is mentioned by name in the report and request to Congress in 2018. Once again WHE went into high gear against the massive corporate money interests at this table of political poker. (revisit here)
In May we were in the Appropriations battle, trying to educate public, media and Congress. Yet we also carried litigation against a Gold Mine and fought rapidly expanding oil and gas sale leasing. (revisit here)
For the third time, BLM used taxpayer funding to forward the agenda of the front group prioritized by Ryan Zinke, spaying wild horses. Our litigation on First Amendment issues and humane handling laid a string foundation to beat back an agenda that carried no legal authority, just backdoor deal making. (BLM has since abandoned this particular project but it will rear up again soon.) (revisit HERE)
WHE participated in an invitation only workshop to address oil and gas corridors (invitations going only to those that submitted prior comments). WHE was the only wild horse org included. It’s a good thing we were there, wild horses and burros were not even on the map! (revisit HERE)
WHE filed an Ethics complaint against (now former) BLM Deputy Director Brian Steed. Steed went from his job as Chief of Staff for Chris Stewart (R-UT) where he helped craft the “Path Forward” corporate agenda set to destroy wild horses to the man operating the entire agency without any Senate scrutiny. (Steed has since resigned.) (revisit HERE)
With your help WHE was able to support a legal effort to defeat a very dangerous precedent in water law for hard rock mining. (revisit HERE)
This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism and Corruption, by Christopher Ketcham, went on sale. Wild horses are featured in the book as part of the whole of public lans management. If you have been in advocacy for any length of time you know that is a milestone in and of itself. The book has met with critical acclaim and is a brutally honest account of the destruction, callous and cruel practices surrounding pretense of “management for ecological balance.” A small segment of our work is included in the book. (revisit HERE.)
Our founder was honored by the Portrait Society for the second time. Her portrait was hung beneath the Honorable Howard J. McKibben, the judge whose ruling on “inappropriate conduct” at Triple B fueled the fight against abuse and led to the creation of the first policy for humane handlng for wild horses. (revisit HERE)
In July the Senate held a hearing on wild horses that WHE referenced as a criminal enterprise. Only members of the “Path Forward, Stewart Alliance” were allowed to testify and no rebuttal was offered. Those claiming to represent advocacy paraded their lack of knowledge and corrupt deals for all to see. (revisit HERE)
As our roundup team (CAWP team) filed a complaint against abusive practices. As we attended roundups we witnessed a deterioration of any adherence to the most basic premises of humane handling. We also documented a serious deficit in knowledge of the language of the policy in agency employees. We will update you soon on these complaints. (revisit HERE)
The BLM Report to Congress was due in August as part of the debate on funding for the 2020 budget. We went into overdrive preparing to address the report and increased outreach to the public and Congress. The BLM report has still not been released, scrutinized and the delay has intentionally impeded open public process to ram the corruption through. (revisit HERE)
A perfect illustration of misled media is the Washington Post story that appeared in Sept. An in field conversation with the reporter revealed that big money press releases had driven the story (Path Forward participants), another org claimed to have won our court cases against abuse, she thought the Virginia Range was federal land and the story was actually going to focus on the roundup we were witnessing yet the underlying information had absolutely nothing factual about the place she stood. We were able to have a small impact on her perspective and Fish Creek (the place of her county tour, but not this roundup) would not be mentioned. To her credit she read the info we sent and saw she had been deceived. Unfortunately she still published a piece severely slanted. (revisit here)
The Senate approved $35 million for the “Path Forward” after the House approved $6 million. The differences in the bills sent the budget into consolidation committtee. (revisit HERE)
The House held the first hearing to address “Extremism on Public Lands.” The term extremism is used because in 2015 the House and Senate exchanged the use of the words “domestic terrorism” when dealing with the threats to government employees and the public. If you go back to the informal hearing in 2016 (here) you will see the same front group prioritized by both Ryan Zinke and Brian Steed (in their official capacities) mentioned as “extremism.” The same group helped fund the takeover of the Mahluer refuge as they spayed wild horses. (revisit HERE)
You helped get the Mining Reform Act through the House. It now sits in the Senate where most bills went to die in 2019. A lot of work yet to do. (revisit HERE)
WHE filed an Ethics Complaint with the Office of the Inspector General against William Perry Pendley, acting Chief of BLM. Pendley blatantly moves forward an agenda aimed at destroying wild horses that forwards the desires of those on his 17 page recusal list. Pendley was active legal representation of cases against wild horses. (revisit HERE)
In 2019 an avalanche of proposed actions (EAs, EISs) have made the inbox of any advocate for a public resource: mining, livestock projects, pinyon destruction, wild horse removals and sterilization. Every time you go to get your mail a dozen envelopes await.
One envelope included a ten year plan for the Twin Peaks herd managed by BLM California. The plan is nearly identical to the devastation of the (now gone) Sheldon mustangs by Fish and Wildlife. The agenda was set back in 2009 by BLM. We have been dragged back a decade; not just on protections for clean air, water, etc., but also in wild horses. Ken Salazar created the “Salazar plan.” Even though formally rejected, implementing that agenda has been a goal of BLM since it was introduced. This is the heart of “Ten Years to AML.” Remember, Salazar also has to resign. He resigned after the discovery that nearly 1800 wild horses went to a family friend of his and sold for big bucks to slaughter. (learn more here)
As December closes out the year, the budget debate concluded with an additional $21 million to fund the corrupt corporate agenda.
With YOUR help we were able to add a condition to the language that will release that funding, the BLM must release the report and 60 days have been set aside for scrutiny.
This battle will be the defining one for years to come. This is truly a “last stand” battlefield that will determine if America will contain any wild horse herds that are wild and not mangled tokens of a past we no longer value.
Are you ready? We are.
The fight is not over. The fight is alive. It lives in you, us and the beating heart of our wild horses.
Thank you! ~ the volunteers of Wild Horse Education
All donors to our year end fundraising effort will have their donations matched (up to $2,000. You will also receive a link to our two ebooks when they publish on New Years Day. (more info)
Categories: Wild Horse Education