Wild Horse Education

What Can I Say? (Volunteer Letters on the BLM Plan)

Preface: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a report/plan to Congress on May 8th through backdoor channels. The plan was sent to the same entities in the backdoor room that created the plan. To this day, BLM has not released this plan through a mailing list of all stakeholders. The plan was announced the same way it was created; just to those in the club.

The plan fulfills the requirement Congress placed on an additional $21 million for the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year (October); BLM release a plan for the funding. Congress stated that there would be a 60 review period of the document prior to the release of funding. This “plan” is not comprehensive and will run the system directly to collapse.

The 2021 fiscal year debate is in full swing with requests for further funding for the “plan.”

WHE have written multiple articles and created an easy click and send letter you can access HERE. 

Congress is busy with all of the issues facing our nation. To ensure wild horses and burros are not overlooked, and this planning document simply being approved because Congress has not given it the attention it deserves, we highly recommend writing a personal letter. Better yet, pick up the phone and call. (find your reps and their info HERE)

WHE members have been very busy writing, calling, explaining and doing it again and again. Using our letter as a template, to craft their own letters, is a step we urge all of you to take.

WHE has sent a comprehensive document and attachments to members of Congress. However, we are being told that we are the only organization pushing management planning (HMAPs) that cover things like forage allocations and herd sizes! We are being told that “everyone else” just feels that an expansion of fertility control, along with removals, is “ok.” Does that represent you? If not, we need your help. 

A simple article that explains “what and why” about the plan and a simple action you should consider taking HERE. 

Below we have included letters crafted by WHE volunteers as additional material to help you craft your own. We present a long one from Else Gardner Walsh, and a shorter one from Pam Chandler. 

Please, reach out in whatever format you chose, but speak now. 

Find your legislators here. 

Easy click and send letter that goes directly to your reps, here. 

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Sheldon managed by the USFWS. These herds were brutalized as an experiment ground for spaying, vasectomies and massive roundups. The herds do not exist anymore.

“After I stood out there acting like I was grazing, and singing, they approached, so curious. They then started eating and were so calm and accepting of me.” Elyse Gardner Walsh, WHE volunteer, “That is not a zoom. She actually came up and smelled my arm. These horses break my heart.” 

In 2010 Elyse went to the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge with our founder Laura Leigh. Leigh was trying desperately to bring attention to what was happening at Sheldon. She felt that it was a blueprint being laid out for all of our herds as USFWS did not have the restrictions BLM had they were free to use any and every method they wanted to satisfy the “stakeholders” they chose. After one experiment, spaying mares through the rectum, about 30% died before being released back to the range with no follow-up whatsoever. The ones removed were not tracked by the agency and there was no oversight; over 90% of the last of the Sheldons went to slaughter. Is this the direction for all of our herds now?

Elyse utilized our open letter as a template and crafted her own; we know it is a long letter. WHE sent our larger, 167-page comprehensive letter, this week as well. You can use the letter below to craft your own. Or you can make a simple call as outlined here. 

I, Elyse Gardner Walsh, on behalf of myself and as a volunteer field observer for Wild Horse Education, a 501(c)(3) over 100,000 members, submit this letter to express my views regarding the insufficiency of the Bureau of Land Management “Report to Congress: An Analysis of Achieving a Sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program,” submitted to Congress on May 8, 2020.  As a retired court reporter, wild horse owner, CHA (Certified Horsemanship Association) certified riding instructor, professional photographer, documenter of wild horses and burros, I offer my recommendations, conclusions, and observations.
If BLM’s Report is adopted, Congress will release an additional $21 million to BLM under the 2020 Appropriations bill.  This must not be permitted as it will perpetuate the failing system currently in place, no real change will occur, and the BLM will have once again deferred to special interests and duped Congress with its misleading picture of our public lands.  
Congress has demanded a management plan from BLM.  Planning massive sweeping removals is not management; it’s still the tail wagging the dog. 
I am asking my California Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamela Harris, and Representative Jared Huffman, to find BLM’s Report/plan unacceptable and work with all means available to you to ensure the plan outlined in the report is rejected. I address these comments to them, and then to Congress as a whole.
I ask that Congress require the BLM to follow the law and create the Herd Management Area Plans BLM misleadingly alludes to on page 21 of their report (explanation below). 
I request that Congress only agree to release $6 million (out of the $21 million), earmarked as follows: 
• $4 million for the creation of nonexistent, long overdue Herd Management Area Plans for each Herd Management Area, as required by H-4700-1  WILD HORSES AND BURROS MANAGEMENT HANDBOOK (Public), the federally mandated protocols for legal implementation of the Wild Horse and Burro Program (hereafter referred to as “Handbook”). 
• $2 million for emergency roundups, e.g., removal or relocation of horses with insufficient water or forage available on range, fire threat, etc. 
Any changes in programmatic funding for 2021/22 should be predicated on BLM’s creation of an actual management report based on HMAPs for all HMAs as the law prescribes.
REMOVAL IS NOT MANAGEMENT.   
Creation of Herd Management Area Plans is required under law. 
The Herd Management Area Plan (“HMAP”) is the foundation and map for all other management decisions. In their report, BLM attempts to mislead Congress by using the euphemism “updating” (rather than “creating”) HMAPs because BLM’s dereliction is revealed by stating the truth:  Only 7 out of the 177 Herd Management Areas (“HMAs”) have existing HMAPs, yet the law states (pursuant to H-4700-1  WILD HORSES AND BURROS MANAGEMENT HANDBOOK (Public):
2.4.1 Habitat and Population Management 
“Habitat or population management and monitoring objectives regarding the management of a specific HMA or complex of HMAs are normally identified in a Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) rather than a LUP.”
This continual dodging by BLM of the Handbook and HMAPs has created the present framework of prioritizing private industry (permitted use) and disenfranchising of wild horses off the land set aside for them as a resource protected by an Act of Congress (1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act).  Specifically, the Handbook states at p.7 under 2.1.1 Comparability Consideration: 
“Under 43 CFR 4700.0-6(b), WH&B shall be considered comparably with other resource values in the formulation of LUPs. This means WH&B are to be considered in the same manner as other resource values (e.g., cultural, historic, scenic, rangelands, timber, and minerals). WH&B are a resource value, as opposed to a land use (e.g., livestock grazing or timber harvest).” 
HMAPs are required, not optional, in the mandated management of wild horses. The Code of Federal Regulations reiterates the requirement of the creation of Herd Management Area Plans.  
“CFR § 4710.3-1 Herd management areas.
Herd management areas shall be established for the maintenance of wild horse and burro herds. In delineating each herd management area, the authorized officer shall consider the appropriate management level for the herd, the habitat requirements of the animals, the relationships with other uses of the public and adjacent private lands, and the constraints contained in § 4710.4. The authorized officer shall prepare a herd management area plan, which may cover one or more herd management areas.” (Emphasis added)
An appalling 96% of the HMAs are being “managed” without the “map” of HMAPs (170 out of 177 have no Herd Area Management Plan). With no HMAP in place the BLM can change allegiances; BLM personnel and/or administration changes come, and wild horses are often disenfranchised, evicted, as BLM is squeezed by prevailing winds of political pressure to cough up land. “States’ rights” proponents, extractive industry, and livestock grazing creep along, overtaking acre upon acre, to the detriment of our public lands as well as our wild horses. 
The HMAP streamlines NEPA, informs Land Use Plans, outlines mitigation measures, identifies critical habitat. It keeps the focus on the horses for that HMA, that portion of public land earmarked for wild horses. BLM must not be allowed to continue to skirt this critical step.
The 2020 BLM Report is a self-serving last-minute document that seeks to justify massive removals –between 18,000-20,000 horses yearly – without the HMAP framework the law requires.  Moreover, I believe the report lies by omission by assigning blame to wild horses for range degradation and failing to address the disproportionate amount of livestock grazing on the 25 million acres of public land remaining as HMAs, almost all of which is shared by livestock grazing. 
Wild horse HMAs are down 50 percent from the 53 million acres that were HMAs in 1971; the 25 million acres is all they have left. Contrary to Handbook 2.1.1. Comparability Consideration (above), livestock grazers are a permitted user which vastly outnumber the wild horses, a resource, even on those 25M acres. And out of the 240 million acres BLM manages, 160 million acres are managed for livestock grazing, prioritizing the permitted users on virtually every acre of grazing land. Again, the wild horses must have HMAPs to protect their small remaining position as a resource of our public lands.  
ADOPTIONS:  I call your attention to the misleading nature of BLM’s Report-talk of more adoption incentive programs. I assert such talk is a smokescreen, almost laughable in its flimsy rhetoric, to nurse Congress along into approving BLM’s massive roundups and continue to evade the effort required to create HMAPs and real management tools.  Adoption incentive programs and selling wild horses as “work animals” cannot possibly mitigate the mass removals in BLM’s Plan.  What “work” would that be?  Bucking stock for rodeos?  Horse tripping? God forbid. Such talk has been virtually meaningless before, and this BLM Plan/Report presents no substantive evidence of any change.
Finally,  remember the love the American people have for our wild horses, how your Congressional pre-decessors declared them, “…living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people,” and consider how massive roundups at this time would further demoralize our grieving nation. 
SUMMARY
Removals are not management. I earnestly request that Congress:
• force BLM to create HMAPs prior to any additional increases or releases in funding.
• not release funds for BLM to continue mass removals, the foreseeable result of which will undoubtedly be reopening the argument to slaughter and/or kill wild horses, with BLM and certain members of Congress claiming the number of horses in captivity to be unsustainable. 
• prohibit BLM from large removals (15% of the existing population or greater) or any action (sex-skewing, gelding, spaying mares, GonaCon) in any HMA that does not have an HMAP.
• continue to ban sales to slaughter
• continue adoption protections, limits, and compliance checks.
• prohibit surgical sterilization. 
• not be swayed by BLM’s talk of more “adoption incentive programs” in mitigating the massive removal numbers; these have been meaningless.
• only release $6 million (of the $21million BLM is seeking), earmarking it as follows:
         – $4 million allocated for HMAP creation; and, 
         – $2 million be held available to ensure that in emergency situations BLM would have the funds to remove wild horses and burros in dire circumstances as BLM rectifies the deficits in HMAP creation.
BLM is not mandated to remove; they are mandated to manage. 
Congress must create incentive for BLM to begin to address the framework of management and complete HMAPs; otherwise, BLM will continue to ignore true management and do what it has always done.
The United States is in the midst of  a national health crisis and great upheaval. The BLM Report unveils no new strategy and does not meet Congress’s request for a plan. BLM should not be given any additional funding except what it needs to fix the lack of actual HMAPs (management documents) and not be rewarded with critical funding to keep running a severely broken system. 
Observation:  BLM’s report is undated, unsigned, and bears no names. In my legal career this is highly unusual, generally unacceptable. Should not the Acting Director sign it or contributing persons be named?
My final urgent appeal to Congress:
A lot of press has misdirected attention to “The Path Forward,” spearheaded by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and signed onto by Cattlemen’s Association, HSUS, ASPCA, and a couple of wild horse groups, including Return to Freedom.  It’s the wicked stepmother in a new sophisticated dress, fundamentally the same old “round up and remove” paradigm but on a massive scale. I suspect that at least a few of the signatories to “the Path Forward” plan will be first in line as contracts to field dart, sterilize wild horses, and create holding facilities are handed out.
Roundups are always BLM’s first line and framework; the HMAP is last or ignored.  This BLM 2020 Report/Plan, which embodies “The Path Forward,” continues the same old  false paradigm: Both must be rejected.  
Sincerely, 
Elyse Gardner Walsh
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The Sheldon herds are gone. Please do not stay silent. Speak now for the herds we have left.

From WHE volunteer Pam Chandler:

Dear Senator:

“We are not walking down a shallow slope of slow destruction, we are standing at the edge of a cliff.” Laura Leigh Founder of Wild Horse Education, in 2015.

~Do you have a plan in place for the management of running your Congressional offices? Do you have or will you have a plan in place for the management of a reelection campaign? MANAGEMENT MATTERS!

~Prior to the release of ANY additional taxpayer funding to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) I am requesting that you direct/mandate the BLM to begin to preserve wild horse herds and their habitats through the creation of the required *HMAPs. Roundups are NOT management!

~Management includes a process of planning to reach goals and objectives yet Congress has allowed the BLM to skirt this responsibility to the public and our wild horses. BLM has 170 out of 177 herd management areas WITHOUT the required *Herd Area Management Plan. The BLM Handbook states, in section 2.5.2, that a Herd Management Area Plan be created that outlines objectives for herd AND habitat preservation. The HMAP, the intention of which is to streamline NEPA, inform Land Use Plans, outline potential mitigation measures, and identify critical wild horse habitat is being ignored.

~In the BLM’s failure to do this they are thumbing their nose at Congress, taxpayers and complicating ongoing NEPA. The appalling deficit, of there being only 7 HMAPs out of 177 Herd Management Areas, has lead to overcrowding of industry on the land set aside for inclusion of wild horses, a continual corruption of the intention of the law and the use of wild horses as a scapegoat for a broken BLM system. Wild horses can be managed humanely on the range with balanced and fair management.

~Approving the release of the BLM requested 21 million, without mandating management (creating all required HMAPs), will only accelerate the defective BLM Wild Horse and Burro program to collapse, increase the risk of calls for selling wild horses without limits (slaughter) and fleece the taxpayer.

~Please help to ensure the Report to Congress and funding requested by the BLM in their Report: “An Analysis of Achieving a Sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program,” is NOT approved until all HMAPs are completed and implemented with equity. Can your constituents count on you to take this action in fairness to America’s wild horses?

Sincerely,

Pam Chandler

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Write a long letter, or a short one. Take the easy click and send. 

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Remembering the Sheldon wild horses…. speak today for the herds we have left.

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Categories: Wild Horse Education