The Report, 2022 Funding Debate and a Request For Hearing

As we begin the budget debates for fiscal year 2022, the 117th Congress has just begun and new Cabinet members are confirmed and take their seats, as advocates we have an opportunity to educate those that will create and enforce law.

We INVITE you to read the following action item and, if you agree with what we are asking for, send it to your representatives. We are asking that a real hearing, not one stacked with those that participated in “Ten Years to AML,” give testimony. 

The letter is a simple click and send.  You can participate CLICK HERE.

UPDATE 2/19/2021

Our outreach representative has been informed that there is a chance that a hearing will be scheduled on both the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program AND a separate hearing on “Extremism on public lands.” We are asking you to help us move the hearing on the wild horse and burro program along.

Committee assignments for the 117th Congress have been made. The House natural Resources Committee members can be found HERE.  If one of these Congressional representatives is from your district, we urge you to write an email or call. You can use the wording below:

On the 50th Anniversary of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has implemented a program that is fiscally irresponsible to the taxpayer and morally bankrupt to the public interest they serve.

In 2020, the BLM presented Congress with a report that contains 32 pages; only 16 of which describe how BLM utilizes their authorities to implement the law. The report presents so little real information that there is not even a table of contents. Much of the information provided is assertion without proof and is easily refuted as not factual, just as the report land management agencies presented to Congress on National Monuments. In fact, the agenda to decimate our last large wild horse herds is directly tied to the same groups that met with Ryan Zinke, Brian Steed, William Perry Pendley over National Monuments (shown in various scheduling meeting notes). All of these individuals have demonstrated serious ethics violations that extend into the Wild Horse and Burro Program with no consequence or correction of the actions they have taken that will have devastating effect on our public resources. 

The key flaws in this program are not population suppression tools, but actual management planning. The program still operates without actual management planning for each herd and without any accountability or true oversight. The report misleads the reader into believing that BLM has active management plans (HMAPs) when they simply have a handful out of the nearly 200 required. They have another handful that have not been amended since the 1980’s and have been replaced simply with removal plans. There is simply no planning to preserve habitat for wild horses and or the herd, as outlined by law. This key flaw is overlooked to keep the program in collapse to serve those that receive large subsidies and reap private profit off of public resources. 

Prior to determining funding levels for a program for the fiscal year of 2022, that will be based on the assertions in that report, we urge you to request a full hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee on the validity of the report the agency has based their requests for funding on.

I urge you to hold the agency accountable, just as Congress held the agency accountable on National Monuments with a hearing and investigation into egregious errors in the report the agency handed to Congress. Wild horses and burros in the US, and the public interest, deserve no less from our lawmakers. The Wild Horse and Burro Program has been the most neglected and maligned, and has been easily corrupted. This injustice must be remedied if the program is going to serve the intention of law and stop being a fiscal black hole for the taxpayer.

The following article explains why we are asking you to take the action.

We presented an article that addresses a bit about how “action  items” work in the 3 branches of government. Each branch has a distinct authority that can effect a distinct change you want to create. As the winter roundup season winds down the legislative “season” of advocacy kicks into gear. You can read the piece HERE.

Wild horses are a multifaceted public lands resource, creating the necessity for a multifaceted approach to advocating for them. 

When dealing with legislators (when you call or write a letter) and asking for them to vote on a bill, like it or not, you have entered the ring of politics. Just like commenting on an EA for a proposed roundup, you need to know the terrain and be specific in the words you choose.

click to download pdf

A good place to start educating your legislators (for the next budget) is the “BLM Report to Congress from 2020.” (If you have not read that report you can see it here.)

In 2018 Congress rejected what BLM had presented and requested a new report. The 2020 report did not get as much “push back” as the 2018 report as those urging Congress to obligate the taxpayer to buy a single substance (PZP) were very effective at getting the public to push simply for that substance. In 2020 Congress gave BLM a bit over 15 million  in additional funds to implement “non-lethal” population growth suppression tools in 2021.

There are many reasons we need Congress to reject the 2020 document and request an actual report on the program. The document is not a report, it is a barebones document that does not even have a table of contents, misleading photographs with no context, and was basically written simply using the public relations material presented at the “invitation only” meeting of pro-slaughter groups in Utah dubbed a “summit of the wild horse.” The document needs to be tossed and a real, data rich report crafted.

However, the 2020 report still stands as the agency baseline for the budget debate today. The debate has already begin for 2022 that will begin to fund the agency in October 2021 (please remember the federal government works on a fiscal year that begins in Oct; fiscal 2022 begins Oct 2021).

Page 1-8 is essentially a press release that repeats the copy/paste of their interpretation of their authority, a copy/paste of the beginning of almost every roundup that repeats assertions of range data and incorporates the “Ten Years to AML” backdoor deal with large corporate interests that was run, without public input or scrutiny, since 2015.

Not until we get to page 9, does BLM begin to present any assertion of a report based on how they prioritize and fund the program:

    1. Removals (2.5 pages)
    2. Population Growth Suppression, including sterilization (3 pages)
    3. Private Care Placement, the new name for adoption/sale (2 pages)
    4. Euthanasia (1 sentence)
    5. Sale Without Limits, slaughter (1 sentence)
    6. Off-Range Corrals, or Long-Term Holding (4 pages)
    7. Resource Monitoring (1/2 page)
    8. Population Survey (1/2 page)
    9. Herd Management Area Plan Development (1/2 page)
    10. Research (1/2 page)
    11. Rangeland Restoration and Rehabilitation (1/2 page)
    12. Oversight (2 sentences)

Then, on page 24, we are presented with a couple of paragraphs in a “Conclusory” statement that continues to present photos without context. If you had the context of every single picture BLM uses in this report you would see the failures run deep in field offices that have used “blame the horse and remove” for 50 years.

When you get “push back” talking to you representatives aides? we suggest you bring up the report. 16 pages. 16 pages is what BLM presented to Congress on the entire workings program wide. 

However, without even reading any of the content you can see why the program has failed. Roundups, and population growth suppression, are the last phase of on-range management, yet, BLM always prioritizes remove and stockpile.  Oversight and management planning for our herds should come first and  provide the most in-depth information to base every other item on this list. Management planning creates the baseline for all other actions and oversight of planning and executed actions makes sure that the agency operates with transparency and inclusivity.

Simply changing the order of current priorities, making Oversight and HMAPs the fist step, the program could begin to move out of the mistakes of the past that have led to an absurd program that is fiscally irresponsible to the taxpayer and morally bankrupt to the public interest and resource (wild horses are a public resource under law, not a permitted use for private profit).

As a result of this report, and those “in the deal,” for 2021 spending Congress simply awarded BLM an additional $15 million to utilize “non-lethal” population growth suppression.

Video we did to help you understand a bit about why the HMAP sitting at the bottom of the current priority list, is absurd. Without a plan, the rest is based on assertion, highly corruptible and bound to fail. (more here) 

There was no hearing on the merits of the report, nothing. We did not have a hearing because the big corporate groups had the public bombarding Congress as they simply asked for more funding for fertility control. All of he funding was based on the assertions in the 2020 report and those assertions solidified as the focus became “population suppression tools.”

The debate for spending in 2022 has already kicked off. That debate leaves off where the last one stood; all of it begins with accepting the assertions and lack of actual data in the 2020 report. 

When the Department of Interior handed Congress a report on two National Monuments in New Mexico, Senator Martin Heinrich grilled BLM on that report.

The report was not about the entire National Monument system, as the report on wild horses and burros is. The report on wild horses is not about a couple of HMAs, it is about the entire program. 

John Ruhs, former NV State Director now serving as the Deputy Director of BLM, says he was not involved with crafting the report on the two monuments when pressed by Senator Heinrich.

However, Ruhs was deeply involved with the “Ten Years to AML” crowd, the off-limits to the public “Utah Summit” and both the 2018 and 2020 reports on the Wild Horse and Burro Program.

When Ruhs was quickly whisked out of the Deputy chair after this hearing, and sent to be the Director of BLM in Idaho, former Chief of Chris Stewart, Brian Steed, took his place. Stewarts office ran the “Ten Years to AML” (later called Path Forward) backdoor corporate deal with Steed as his Chief of Staff.

Wild horses are tied DIRECTLY to the National Monument Agenda. In fact, they appear first on the “wish list” of those pushing the agenda. (you can read the timeline of the context of the above schedule memo in an article we wrote in 2019, HERE.)

Why didn’t anyone in Congress grill BLM over their report on wild horses? The factual errors are just as egregious as those in the report on the 2 National Monuments. The public deserves more from Congress than simply bending to the will of well-funded corporate lobbyists that all benefit from the subsidized programs created by the agency.

We INVITE you to read the following action item and, if you agree with what we are asking for, send it to your representatives. We are asking that a real hearing, not one stacked with those that participated in “Ten Years to AML,” give testimony. 

The letter is a simple click and send.  You can participate CLICK HERE.

OR you can find your Congressional representative HERE. You can write, or call, and ask that they urge The House natural Resources Committee to schedule a hearing on the Wild Horse and Burro program prior to funding determinations being finalized.

If you want to see what a “hand-picked” hearing from the past looks like click HERE. Faulty information about the program, photos that do not represent even the location the witnesses assert it does, are presented. THIS is what Congress bases their impression of the program sits on. 

We need real change. We can not get real change if we base it in fiction. 

Remember, every action we take must be made on a “process by process basis.”

More action items coming soon.

Help us stay in the fight.

Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education