Abbey, Farley, Lamm, and White Spots… Op-Ed Rebuttal August 02, 2010
Posted by Texas Mustang Project on August 2, 2010
We’ve recently been given a chance to hear from Bob Abbey in the Reno-Gazette Journal as to what he feels is the ultimate goal of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. We’ve also been given the opportunity to hear from one of the American Wild Mustang’s Champions and Storytellers, Terri Farley on the direction she feels the program should travel. Naturally, we all have our own opinions about this particular issue. It’s a veritable furnace of heated debates for some, but for others it is a place of collaboration and paths forward towards better management options for the American Wild Mustang and the American Wild Burro. Tonight, we have the honor of hearing from another of our American Wild Mustang Champions and Caretakers, Mr. Willis Lamm. So without further delay, please read on…
The following is a guest editorial rebuttal to Bob Abbey: “BLM’s goal is to enable healthy horses and burros to thrive on public lands,” that appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal on August 01, 2010. (The RGJ didn’t run it as it had just run a “pro horse” piece by Terri Farley and their editorial policy doesn’t allow multiple guest op-eds on the same side of the same subject in the same week. Therefore I’ve provided it to TMP for publication. (I strongly suggest that you read Bob Abbey’s piece and Terri’s piece if you have not already to give you the full picture.)
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BLM Director Bob Abbey made a compelling case for his agency’s management philosophy in his guest editorial of August 01, 2010. We do need healthy public lands suitably managed for the variety of public uses that Congress intended. These lands should be inhabited where appropriate by healthy, robust horse herds.
Unfortunately the legacy of the Bureau of Land Management is that the agency’s performance falls far short of its philosophy. BLM’s performance is not dissimilar to other agencies under the Department of Interior, such as the Minerals Management Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
BLM would like to portray the horse advocacy camp as a bunch of city dwelling idealists who want to see the west overrun with horses. In reality, the horse advocacy camp is comprised of a coalition of experienced horse people, livestock owners, range ecologists, people who serve on advisory boards and resource advisory councils, and many who actually live on the wild horse range. What most horse advocates primarily criticize are methodologies employed by BLM that don’t work, are prohibitively expensive and are unsustainable.
A few examples taken from a whole litany of complaints are these:
1. BLM does not use current science and data. Some of the documents used in their assessment processes are so old as to be irrelevant. Advocates and ranchers alike don’t trust BLM’s range data because it isn’t trustworthy. Congress shares the blame here since BLM has been assigned a task without being given the resources needed to know what it is doing.
2. BLM doesn’t have to kill truckloads of horses when it rounds up excess horses. Until recently Nevada has had a history of conducting relatively safe and sane gathers. Advocates are concerned that the current people in charge lack the knowledge and experience to safely gather horses in environments as complex as Nevada’s. By law BLM is required to PROTECT wild free-roaming horses and it is time that they get that obligation figured out.
3. BLM formerly had a robust adoption program for excess horses. These horses went on to contribute to the agricultural economies where the horses were placed, an adopter funded stimulus of over $4 billion nationwide over the lifetimes of the animals adopted. Then BLM’s emphasis changed from placement to removals. That change reduced the benefits to our local agricultural economies and produced staggering long term holding costs for excess horses.
4. While clearly free-roaming horse populations need to be kept in balance with range resources, the agency’s fixation on removals, its most costly option, comes at the expense of resource development, serious fertility control efforts, equine based range ecology (where appropriate) and managing horses as an integral component of range ecosystems where mandated by law.
Mr. Abbey may feel the need to paint lipstick on his pig, but the pig is not very pretty and is out of control to the point that everyone stands to lose. Mr. Abbey needs to spend less time touting an agency philosophy that the BLM simply cannot carry out, and invest his time fixing those fundamental problems that cause his agency to come under constant criticism.
Well put Willis! Reminds me of a saying my Grandmother used to use when we tried to pull the wool over her eyes as kids…
“You know that little white spot on the top of chicken sh#t? Well, that little white spot is chicken sh#t too!”
Thanks a million for sharing with us! T.