Preface to part two: WHE has been alerted that the BLM report, that is now 6 months late, is scheduled to drop later this week (as with “all things BLM” that could change). We have 60 days to change it’s direction. That is not a lot of time as corporate cronies set this multimillion dollar obscenity in motion 5 years ago. Action item included.
Wild horses in the US have a massive following that wants them preserved and protected. That interest is not only located on American soil, but spans the globe.
The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRH&B Act) was passed unanimously in Congress, not one vote in objection. One of many bills passed in the 70’s to begin to protect our environment, water, air and wild things. Industry resented regulation. The public felt relief and trusted that real steps would be taken to create real protections.
Specific language, and understanding of distinctions between legal language and common phrasing, is critical at this time. Simple things like how the words “wild horses” are legally defined are crucial. The words “wild horses” only apply to free-roaming horses under BLM and Forest Service jurisdiction. Over the last couple of years our opposition has taken advantage of the confusion in the public, media and Congress by presenting issues not legally “wild horses” (like tribal, state, or even Salt River that has muddled jurisdictional language) to influence decision making that benefits industry. The confusion is not only expected, it is exploited. (one example in an article on drought, HERE)
Over the next few weeks it is critical that you do not allow those forwarding that agenda to confuse your messaging to your legislators. We saw multiple instances of images from tribal, Virginia Range (NV state), etc were used to sway Congress in 2019 when the “Stewart Alliance” (Ten Years to AML) unfolded, more here.
Your voice matters. Use it well.
Part Two, The Basics (broken mechanics)
When the 1971 law passed it carried an intention of protection and preservation. Yet the law was written with a vague interpretation of what that would look like in practice, as were many of the laws of that day.
Example of how that worked out: Congress mandated that BLM manage wild horses “humanely,” but did not define that mandate. They never crafted a policy to define that practice, particularly during capture, they simply said they did it. We had to take them, repeatedly, to court to demonstrate they failed that mandate. In fall of 2015 BLM included an actual policy into documents (Environmental Assessments, EA) governing roundups for the first time since the mandate was given to them; 44 years later and only after relentless litigation.
The paragraph above is important as we begin the discussion that addresses assertions of “management mechanics.” Even when an action is mandatory the BLM has treated it as if it is “discretionary” under law until forced to change by the courts.
As this next round of the fight takes us into Congress releasing an additional $21 million tax payer dollars to BLM, we need Congress to expressly add mandatory language to the release of funding.
THE CORE PROBLEMS ARE IN THE MECHANICS (AND THE MECHANIC IS LYING)
For those of you that want “info fast” (we will explain what the paragraphs below mean, as the article continues below the action item):
An HMAP is a management plan for a herd determining how AML is set and what the percentage of forage and land base is for the protection of our public resource (wild horses). The HMAP informs a Land Use Plan (LUP) that sets intention for the district and all uses within that district (uses are mining, livestock, recreation, etc) so that “multiple use” can occur without destroying public resource. If the public resource (wild horses) exceeds the boundaries in the HMAP one of the alternatives for management can be chosen. Example: if a roundup is the option chosen, an Environmental Assessment tiers to the LUP and the HMAP.
The problem with BLM protocol outlined by the handbook above? We have less than half dozen HMAPs and 270 HMAS. BLM is 265 HMAPs short. The entire baseline for wild horse management is essentially nonexistent. (If BLM complains about the workload to create an HMAP? They are as easy as a roundup EA. WHE have engaged to try to get BLM to address this deficit and wrote a few drafts.)
BLM will use the language of the handbook to justify all actions they propose in their report that Congress is requiring prior to releasing funding. But BLM does not actually follow the handbook. The HMAP is one example, a critical one.
WHE had been alerted that the report from BLM is expected later this week. Do you want to get ahead of it?
Contact your Reps:
No additional funding should be released until BLM creates HMAP’s as outlined in their policy handbook.
No funding shall be used to remove wild horses from any HMA that does not fulfill the requirement of completion of a management plan for the herd as outlined in the BLM handbook (HMAP).
No funding should be used for any sterilization procedure.
BLM must rectify all deficits in data and management planning prior to funding being utilized that creates any action that can have irreparable consequence.
You can find your Reps: http://govtrack.us
WHE EXPLAINS (for those of you that want to be informed as you call your Reps and discuss with aides and others)
BLM is mandated to manage humanely. BLM is NOT mandated to remove. BLM attorneys agree with that statement in court. BLM personnel will assert to media that they are mandated to remove. This creates one of the distinctions between what people believe to be a truth and what is a legally defined fact.
Public relations soundbites, no matter where they come from, do not represent a legal reality. Right now it is critical for you to watch every word said and what you repeat.
When you see an EA for a roundup, that is not a management document. A paragraph or two in a Land Use Plan (LUP) is also not a management document for wild horses, it is an outline for district objectives that include mining, livestock, recreation, wild horses, etc. LUP’s are supposed to last 10-15 years and then be revised to include things like new technology being incorporated into mining. In several areas we have LUPs that are looking at their 40th birthday over the horizon; things like fracking not even imagined when those plans were written. An LUP essentially just states boundary lines and whatever local politics allows on stocking levels for wild horses, it is not a management document.
The “internal policy” that BLM created for management is the “handbook.” BLM will cite the handbook as justification in a roundup EA as a legal support to remove wild horses (as well as archaic LUPs). BLM even presented the handbook to reflect practices they follow to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The NAS found the handbook “woefully inadequate.”
However, the parameters of the handbook are not actually followed. When BLM is questioned in the realm of legal reality, they claim those parameters are “discretion.” In other words, they can follow it or not as they want.
We know this sounds complicated, but it is not. BLM has an inadequate internal policy that they use as a buffer in paperwork, but do not actually follow because they claim it is not legally “mandatory,” They use it as a legal shield and then ignore it.
IMPORTANT EXAMPLE: In states like Nevada, with more wild horses than all others combined, there is one HMAP. In a state with 83 distinct HMAs, BLM is 82 HMAPs short. The public has not had an opportunity to participate in any actual management document for a wild horse herd in Nevada through NEPA, except one.
BLM is asserting to Congress (and Congress has been sold on that idea by corporate “alliances”) that they can essentially skirt the entire NEPA process and create a “one size fits all” planning document for all HMAs. That is the report BLM is handing Congress this week; a broad sales pitch for mass removals and sterilization based on … essentially skirting their entire responsibility at their “discretion.” We need to educate Congress, media and the public and stop this multimillion dollar obscenity.
WHAT IF THEY SIMPLY FOLLOWED THE (INADEQUATE) HANDBOOK?
The handbook calls for every HMA to have a Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP). An HMAP is a simple document that outlines the herd, the reasoning for boundaries and stocking levels (AML), critical habitat and management objectives. It outlines how AML and forage allocations are to be determined in that area and reviewed.
An HMAP is the only actual management document BLM would produce for wild horses and burros. A roundup EA would tier to the HMAP. The public could have input, comment and participate in management discussions through the HMAP. IF BLM failed to manage as outlined in the HMAP, or failed to consider data to support alternatives, the public could litigate.
In practice? BLM says an HMAP, a management plan, is discretionary under law. The only thing keep doing is making roundup EA’s broader and longer to run a roundup machine.
We should be fine tuning existing HMAPs to adjust management and fix the deficits noted by the NAS. However, we do not even have HMAPs to read. BLM says they “manage,” but do not have a management document.
Why was that not the objective off all those big corporate interests claiming to represent wild horses in political poker that created this debacle? Because they are all selling something or looking to protect a financial interest. Seriously, it is that simple and that corrupted. Both ignorance and greed ran that poker game and our wild horses have lost.
Why is the document BLM preparing just an “aggressive fertility control” plan masquerading as a management document? Because it is influenced by corporate salesmen pushing IUDs, new drugs, old drugs, surgery and looking for a cut of the holding facility budget.
An outline of the herd, critical resources in the HMA, objectives for future preservation, determining appropriate options to protect the herd and those resources, long term goals, constitute a management plan. There is a big difference between a management plan and a tool in that plan. Things like temporary fertility control are tools that need to be outlined in management planning, it is not management. A roundup is not management. Sterilization is not management.
Congress is getting ready to create legal language, the language you use will influence that decision. WHE will be in meetings explaining this process in detail, and providing field reports and examples, to key legislators in the coming days. Your letters and calls will be important to demonstrate the will of the public.
Congress is going to release the additional funding, it will happen. BLM is beginning the largest single roundup we have seen in a very long time; 1700 at Eagle. BLM added this at the last minute knowing they will be receiving more money to fly coppers in big roundups this summer. If they were not confident, they would not be using the rest of the roundup budget this fast. The additional funding will be used by BLM to run as many off the range as they can and then begin sterilization (like the plan they just finalized for Twin Peaks). BLM is not managing wild horses, they are running the agenda industry wants.
We need to, at the very least, create framework that can provide an opportunity to address actual management, give opportunity for public input, create a place to begin to fix instances where the system is actually broken.
The place to start is a mandated HMAP for each HMA.
Congress can not allow BLM to continue to shirk their accountability to the public. Not only is the report BLM that will present rooted in deep corruption, through unethical actions by multiple Deputy Directors including William Perry Pendley (now acting chief) and Brian Steed (resigned), it also does not pass scientific muster and is an attempt to skirt public scrutiny through appropriate NEPA engagement.
The beginning of an actual “fix” involves an actual management plan for each herd. We do not need another broad sweep of assertion intended to avoid responsible actions.
Congress must mandate actual management plans as outlined in the handbook ,or BLM will not create them, they will “assert” that they have “discretion” to ignore them.
If Congress adds that as one of the stipulations, prior to releasing the additional funding, we can stop the agenda that will simply run the broken program into the ground. We can begin creating a mandated legal frame for actual management that will fix the flaws in the original law that have been manipulated.
You can explain it by using this analogy: You would not buy a house without having the terms of the mortgage outlined, clearly. Why is American public now going to pay more to an entity without the terms clearly outlined? We are not “buying a house,” we are paying a federal agency to manage wild horses and we have never received an actual management document, terms, for each herd.
Please take the action in this alert.
WHE will be presenting a “part three” to this series that jumps into complicated legal language and the world of acronyms. We will provide a glossary and an additional action item.
In the coming days we will provide you with additional information to use as we address distinct fundamental, critical, issues within the BLM program. Each will have a distinct action. Congress has a lot on their plates right now and are not experts on the BLM. We will make it easy for you, and others, to understand the flaws. The examples are complicated on a site-by-site basis by layers of political actions and decades of omission of actual management. But the core problems are simple once you get the hang of the jargon.
The release of funding in the 2020 budget is going to set the tone for wild horses over the next several years. Please use your voice today, it matters.
Can you help us stay in this fight?
Categories: Wild Horse Education