2020 is drawing to a close. The last 4 years have seen a rampant destruction of our wild places, and a particularly vitriolic campaign against our wild horses, run full steam. Not only has the agenda involved the decimation of public resources, it has involved many efforts to gut public process to maintain control of the agenda in hands pushing the industrialization of public lands. Every week there are heaps of plans to respond to since January of 2017.
The end of 2020 is seeing a rapid acceleration of the pace.
Accelerating herd and habitat destruction, roundups, conflicting messages on the budget and more.
Budget: Appropriations 2021.
The “budget debate” is part of a series of spending bills that are called “Appropriations” bills. When passed in pieces they are called a “minibus,” when passed as a collective the bill is called an “omnibus.” Each bill must go through the House (subcommittee, committee, full floor), repeat that process in the Senate and, if the bills do not match, they go into a resolution committee before going to the President for signature. (If you want to learn more about the process go HERE)
By the time this piece publishes, we could have another continuing resolution through Dec 18. Things are happening that fast.
Each step of the way it is easy to confuse the public, depending on the agenda of the writer, into thinking that a single point represents a victory or defeat of a desired measure. To understand the rhetoric, you need to understand the writer.
Mixed Messages, Words Matter
Those that jumped onto the “Ten Years to AML” (later called Path Forward) in 2015 to move forward a specific agenda, are calling the Senate package a victory. They word it this way: an additional $15 million has been given to BLM to fund non-lethal management. Another group is wording this way: $11 million for humane management. These two messages are in conflict, but it is hard to tell. (We have gotten more than a dozen emails expressing that confusion.)
Currently BLM has been given an additional $15 million to basically do anything they want (remove, spay, geld, paint them purple), anything except kill wild horses. The other group wants $11 million set aside to buy/implement a specific substance, PZP (PZP is a substance, not a method. Many think PZP means just darting, it does not). The first is in the package to date, the second is not.
Yes, it gets more confusing because each one of them uses the word “management.” Neither of these statements actually reflects the process of “management.” Each “ask” funds implementation of tools used in management, yet neither represents the word “management.” (This is one of the reasons you really need to read the actual “click and send” letters you get. Many times people simply sign on to anything that says “save mustangs” in their enthusiasm, but can contradict themselves. Put your name only on things you read and agree with.)
We know it is easy to get confused being bombarded daily in mailings and social media. Remember, BLM has used the word “management” for decades yet fails to actually create management plans. You know how to tell the difference. Use that same scrutiny when you get public relations pieces, no matter the source.
There are good tools and bad tools. However, until we have actual planning documents that outline, analyze, and integrate any options into equations of herd and habitat preservation strategies, we do not have actual management.
It really is not that complicated. You would not buy material and tools for a contractor that had not provided you with a blueprint for a house, would you?
The Budget Today
If a Budget is not passed by October we go into what is referenced as a “continuing resolution.” These resolutions fund the government for a short period of time while the debate continues. The current resolution expires December 11. (please remember: the government operates on a fiscal year that begins in October. Example: October 2020 is the beginning of the fiscal year 2021 for federal agencies.)
A shutdown of services can occur if a resolution can not be reached. Congress is trying to both cram through a full Omnibus for 2021 and working on another temporary resolution.
At this time it looks like there will be a “week long extension,” pushing the deadline out to December 18. The make or break points on this bill revolve around big line items like coronavirus packages.
You can still take our action item. We will update you as this debate moves forward.
Fast update on roundup stats
Confusion: 271 captured, 5 deaths, 1 mare with tracking collar returned to the range. Roundup ongoing. Our legal action against the “spay plan” is active and we are awaiting the next step.
Selenite burros: 218 captured, 3 deaths. Roundup concluded.
Caliente: On the first day, 39 captured, 1 death. Roundup ongoing.
Eagle: begins Jan 4 and runs through Feb 28.
Silver King: Feb 14-28
Our beloved wild horses in the Pancake Complex are the subject of a new document that will slam down the population of one of our last, truly, large herds.
We have gotten our extensive comments written, and submitted, on the EA. We are ready to take this fight into the courts if the BLM does not rectify the serious deficits in their process.
The public has gotten confused on the “comment period.” The comment period on any part of the NEPA process is to point out issues with the document. Then BLM is supposed to answer those concerns and rectify any error. If the agency does not rectify issues the decision can be appealed (legal action).
Comments are not a voting process, although they can demonstrate a public interest. If 1 person, or 50,000, say the same thing the comment itself is seen as “one comment that points out a deficit.” The number of people that respond does not increase or decrease the validity of the comment or the ability to litigate if the deficit is not rectified.
A bill in Congress is different than a comment on an EA. A bill can be influenced by numbers, the validity of a comment on a NEPA document can not.
Our teams are busy in field, at the table and in legal battles. We will update soon.
Stay Safe. Stay Strong. Together we continue the fight.
Help us stay in the fight.