The Red Desert Lawsuit Sale!

Quick housekeeping: Lauryn & I are going to White Mountain this weekend to celebrate my slow descent towards senility and osteoporosis, so hopefully I will come back with some inspiration and new blog fodder. I know I have been distracted and done a very poor job updating the blog through July. I am deeply sorry and will try my best to find the time to make it up to everyone this August.

And now… to the pitch!

Feeling Bolder 8x10 CPR low

Feeling Bolder?

So I have this problem.  I am currently tapped out.

Of money, that is.

Okay not really.  I still have enough money in my bank account to buy hay tomorrow (the boys have exacting standards) and Runza on my birthday, but I’m past what I can feasibly donate to The Lawsuit.  And by “The Lawsuit” I mean the litigation to try to stop the Adobe Town, Divide Basin, and Salt Wells roundups that are supposed to start later this month.  You can donate here, but you may wish to finish reading my post before you hop on over there.

So as I said, I’ve donated what I can to The Cloud Foundation to help fund the lawsuit to stop the roundup and ultimate destruction of the Adobe Town, Divide Basin, and Salt Wells herds.  But it is one of those things where it still doesn’t feel like quite enough, you know?

Like a hazy dream laced with coffee beans and unicorns dancing on rainbows, the answer to my dilemma dawned on me while staring at the clock at work, half buried in paperwork and moving way too slow. I’m out of money, but that doesn’t mean I’m out of capital.  Not entirely, at least.

 

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A Call to Arms (More or Less)

Great Divide Basin cpr

Starting today, the above photo will be in a gallery for the month of August as part of the Cloud Foundation Art Exhibit & Fundraiser.  It is not my most popular photo, but I’m really proud of it and glad that it made it into the gallery.  It’s my kind of photo, you see – plain bay mares in the Great Divide Basin casually strolling towards water on a serene Sunday morning.

 

Yet all I can think about is that while that print is hanging around on a wall, those mares may finds themselves galloping across that range in terror, chased down with a helicopter, taken away from their home, and separated from their family band forever.

third group 12

Adobe Town Roundup, November 2013

 

A couple weeks ago the BLM released their roundup schedule for the rest of the year.  There was no small amount of hullabaloo over three specific herds – Adobe Town, Salt Wells, and Divide Basin.  For while the rest of the schedule was fairly tame (for BLM standards) and primarily consisted of smaller removals of horses that were outside the boundaries of the established herd management area, the planned removal numbers for the Red Desert herds were downright shocking.  The numbers on the chart read that the BLM was going to zero out Divide Basin and Salt Wells, and take over 1/3 of the remaining Adobe Town horses.

 

The plan looks a little something like this:

WY BLM Adobe Town HMA  w/ Salt Wells 8/20/14 8/24/14  177 177 Horses  WY State Office
WY BLM Salt Wells HMA w/ Adobe Town 8/24/14  8/28/14  228 228 Horses  WY State Office
WY BLM Divide Basin HMA 8/28/14 9/10/14  541 541 Horses  WY State Office

 

 

 

Reading these numbers, it felt a little like the world was crashing down, like I was stuck on a calving glacier just waiting for my feet to fall out from under me so I could hit the icy punch of the water while the ice crashed down on my head.

 

And yet, how much worse is it for the horses?  They don’t even see it coming.  The horses are busy living their lives as best they know how.  They will be busy storing up fat for winter and then suddenly BAM!  Running for their lives, permanently separated from their families, spending the rest of their lives in government holding.  If they are lucky the horses removed won’t be euthanized or slaughtered by an organization that was ordered to protect them, but who now is looking for easy escapes for a problem that they themselves created.  It’s sick.

 

If you are me, the only way to combat that sickness is to dive into the numbers and type out a few feelings.  Let’s break all of this information down in a comprehensive way.  This roundup is a little more confusing than others, after all, which is exactly why it must be stopped and stopped quickly.

Divide Basin Bachelor

Divide Basin Bachelor

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Please Comment on the BLM Plan to Eradicate Wyoming Herds Today!!

I wish I could step out of life for a while.

Yesterday I stepped out my door at 5 a.m. and didn’t step foot back in until 8 p.m. A full-time job, a two hour round-trip to said job, four horses who all need a lot of time and attention to their training, every other weekend taking care of my Gramma in another state, the occasional attempt to keep this photography thing going, cleaning up after the massive rainfalls in Colorado, responding to NEPA documents put out by the BLM … I am freaking burnt out. And the funny thing is, I don’t really have it that bad. How much busier are my dear readers with spouses and children on top of all the stuff I just rambled off?

So I get it. Life is busy.

That makes it hard to find time to be a wild horse advocate. Sitting down at the end of the day to peruse a document hundreds of pages long and filled with government speak is not something anyone wants to do. But it is one of the most important things that you can do right now.

Let’s break down the process chronologically: The BLM releases a scoping notice. The public has a month to comment. The BLM releases an Environmental Assessment (EA). The public has a month to comment. The BLM disregards the public’s comments and proceeds with their plans to decimate (or in the case below, eliminate) a wild horse herd.

At this point, a wild horse advocacy group may or may not sue the BLM. This is the part where all those comments the BLM ignored become important. A person may not be a plaintiff if they have not commented and participated in the normal process. Even if you are not directly part of a lawsuit, the number of comments recorded and filed by the BLM will be noticed and taken into consideration by a judge.

White Mountain bachelors

White Mountain bachelors

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An Open Letter to the BLM Regarding their Consent Decree with the RSGA

To Whom It May Concern… Oh yeah, Nobody In the BLM Concerns Themselves With the WY Wild Horses
Dear Bureau of Land Management,

I am writing this letter to issue my congratulations. You fought really hard against the Rock Springs Grazing Association when they brought the most recent in a never-ending string of lawsuits demanding the removal of the thousands of wild horses who live in the regions where the RSGA lease public & private lands. Wait? What’s that? Oh, sorry I guess I must have confused you with a government agency that has a pair.

What I should say is congratulations on giving the RSGA everything they wanted. But then, you would do that, wouldn’t you BLM? Once upon a time the BLM supported wild horses against the RSGA. You didn’t like the wild horses back then either, of course, but that pesky Wild Horse & Burro Act forced you to pretend that you did. Good thing we can ignore that today! It is so much easier to allocate millions of tax dollars to remove all these animals under your protection than to uphold the law, isn’t it?

Now I can pay even more in taxes! Thank you, BLM! I really do have too much spare change sitting around in my bank account, and the government can clearly use it much better than I could. I’ve been meaning to go on a diet, anyway. Taking away more of my hard-earned money that I could use for food and rent will really help me lose a few pounds. I get to pay for the roundup, the storage and feeding of these horses while they ruminate in feedlots for the rest of their natural lives, and the administration costs for the livestock ranchers to keep leasing the public land in this area. It’s my lucky day! You absolutely correct that the RSGA could not possibly afford to pay for the program costs themselves. After all, they graze their animals for 6.75% of the cost that my family members pay to graze livestock on private land. That’s rough. I just don’t know how they would survive without my tax dollars supporting their lifestyle.

You should also be very proud of yourselves for agreeing to remove horses that are not located in the checkerboard pattern of these horse herds. Why bother removing most of the horses in the Great Divide Basin when you take them all off in one go? Why should all those northern horses in Great Divide Basin living solely on public rangeland be allowed to stay where they are while their brothers and sisters to the South are annihilated?

I also think it is really cute that you are letting the RSGA get away with accusing wild horses of being the primary cause of rangeland degradation. Those 250-600 horses that roam around White Mountain & Little Colorado do way more damage than the thousands of cattle, elk and deer who migrate en masse, and the gazillions of pronghorn that also utilize the resources of the area. They’re right. It’s the horses fault. How wise of you to recognize that and not waste any of our time by researching or using science to come to such a conclusion.

At this point, you may thinking that what I am saying is not fair. You are not removing all the horses, after all! You are right. I am so sorry to mislead. Some White Mountain horses do get to stay, and all they have to do for this marvelous privilege is genital mutilation. Some of the mares may even survive the spaying process. Nice work on the negotiations on that one. It would be a true travesty if Sweetwater County’s economy had to lose the money that herd brings through tourism. I’m sure the fact that the “wild” herd you plan to keep there will no longer display any wild horse behaviors (save a healthy fear of humans) won’t hurt that tourism one bit. After all, tourists are idiots, right? They won’t know the difference between wild horses and a bunch of geldings chilling out in castrated bliss.

Now, I think that even a government official should be able to tell that everything I’ve written so far has been laced with heavy-handed sarcasm. Actually, is that too much to expect? We are talking about government employees, after all.

One last thing, though, and I promise this paragraph will be both sincere and serious. This is not over yet. You still have to go through the NEPA process. I can’t tell you how excited I am for that to be released. I do hope you are prepared for what will come after the decision record drops because wild horse advocates like me are going to bring it. We will not let you and your good buddies in the RSGA get away with this.

Thanks for Nothing Assholes,
Rachel A. Reeves

Removed 2011

Removed 2011

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Status Unknown but Most Likely Removed

Status Unknown but Most Likely Removed

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Removed

 

Edit: If the above post makes no sense to you (Hi Briton!) then please read this link for context of what the BLM is agreeing to do: http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/news-events-and-media/press-releases/328-federal-court-sanctions-gov-t-plans-to-eliminate-wild-free-roaming-horses-from-wyoming-checkerboard