Opinion: Wild Horses, Deception and the Despicable Feds

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

This past week proved to be a very dark day in Dodge

It's all Spades for the BLM

It’s all Spades for the BLM

Almost a half a decade ago myself, my wife Terry and a team of competent, animal law attorneys huddled in conference calls and discussed multiple ways and means in an effort to halt the BLM from attempting to zero out the Adobe Town wild horse herd of Wyoming. Money was spent, research was done, plaintiffs were identified and one wild horse advocate and photographer was given hope that the herd which she loved might be saved, and then the potential promise was yanked out from under her, just as it was done this past week when history repeated itself much to the chagrin and pain felt by photographer Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

I have always felt guilty about the impotence experienced when attempting to save the Adobe Town herd; of being handcuffed and helpless in failing to be of any assistance. And I have talked openly about letting Carol down, I was hoping that it would be different, this time, but sadly it was not.

We struggle to keep our heads held high as we plod forward in the fight to keep our wild ones free. Often times it is difficult to do while the enemy breaks the law, rewrites history and caters to those who truly abuse and destroy our fragile public lands. But move forward we must.

Some falter at times like this, when it appears that we and the horses have lost and truly, there are many equine families that are about to loose it all over this latest court debacle…but that does not mean that we raise our arms in despair, give in to the moment and admit defeat and doom, far from it. It’s events like this that energize me, give me strength, conviction and focus because in the best form of the English language it is quite fair to say that what just happened sincerely and totally “Pisses Me OFF!

The BLM fails to realize that each time they twist the law and flagrantly flip off the very public which feeds them that they unwittingly pound another nail into their own wretched coffin. The corrupt managers and supervisors of the BLM might feel that they are above the law and are not required to answer for their crimes against this nation and nature but with each dastardly deed they draw themselves deeper into the dark web of deception from which they have lost their ability to escape. And as they sink further and deeper into the abyss there is a quiet army that is working in the background severing their ties, tearing down their means of escape and shoveling in the dirt atop the grave of the deceivers…the day of reckoning is drawing near with deliberate determination.

The BLM has not won, instead they have lost even more of their sparse credibility and have soiled themselves further with their collusion and lies while we grow wiser, tighter and even more resolved to put an end to the abomination known as the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro extermination department.

On the surface it appears that the horses have lost and in individual herds and families there will be great suffering. But the Horse Nation, as a whole, stands resolute in being the canary in the cave that draws the focus of what is wrong out into the open so that those who are pure in heart have a definitive and obvious target onto which they can focus…we know where the problem lies and we might even know how to stop it.

Another herd passes from the land, but not it’s spirit; we will not let the heart of the horses and burros be wrested from our precious, public lands. That will never happen. Embrace the pain, learn from the action and plan for the future, as it is ours.

We will never quit.

Keep the faith.

Ex-BLM Officials Indicted in Elaborate Fraud Scheme

From Illegally Rounding up Wild Horses in Wyoming to obvious corruption within their ranks the BLM just can’t shake the image being a “Criminal Agency”

"I LOVE Horses and Burros, and I am here to help!!!"

“I LOVE Horses and Burros, and I am here to help!!!”

as published in the Billings Gazette

Two former high-level federal Bureau of Land Management officials who worked in Virginia, including a deputy state director from Montana, have denied criminal charges accusing them of defrauding the government in an employment scheme.

A federal indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Great Falls accuses Larry Ray Denny, 66, of Box Elder, and John Grimson Lyon, 60, of Clifton, Va., of devising a scheme in which Denny continued to receive his $112,224 annual salary and benefits as a BLM deputy state director even though he left and never returned to his job.

Rather, Denny relocated to Montana where he contracted with the Chippewa Cree Tribe for drilling and consulting work.

Prosecutors also allege Denny claimed sick leave and regular pay while gone from his BLM job but that bank records showed he visited various golf courses and traveled to Las Vegas, Arizona and around Montana.

Denny, who was deputy state director for natural resources for the BLM’s Eastern States Office in Springfield, Va., pleaded not guilty to four counts during a Sept. 4 arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong in Great Falls.

Denny’s attorney, Penny Strong of Billings, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Lyon, who was the BLM state director for the Eastern States in Springfield, Va., pleaded not guilty to three counts during an Aug. 19 arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Holter. The indictment was filed in July and unsealed with Lyon’s appearance.

Lyon is represented by Evangelo Arvanetes, an assistant federal defender in Great Falls. Arvanetes could not be reached for comment. Holter ordered Lyon to pay $300 a month for attorney fees.

Laura Weiss, a spokeswoman and prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, could not be reached for comment.

The BLM fraud case is the latest in a series of indictments that have come from investigations by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General into fraud and corruption on Rocky Boy’s Reservation.

The investigations already have led to convictions of former state Rep. Tony Belcourt and several contractors who provided kickbacks on federal contracts.

The indictment charges Denny and Lyon with wire fraud, false claims and theft of government property. Denny also faces a count of federal false statements regarding outside income.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Weldon said in the indictment that under the scheme, Denny left his BLM post “with the knowledge and approval” of Lyon, his supervisor, to relocate to Montana to pursue other business interests as a consultant with the Chippewa Cree Tribe and “for all intents and purposes” abandoned his federal job “without relinquishing payment” as an employee.

Lyon is accused of perpetuating Denny’s fraudulent wage claims by approving and submitting false information to the BLM.

The scheme began in about June or July 2012, the indictment said, when Denny told Lyon he needed to return to Montana to “overcome health-related issues.” Denny left BLM’s Springfield office in July 2012 and never returned.

But from July 2012 until March 23, 2013, Denny was paid for 550 hours of regular work, 461 hours of sick leave, 389 hours of annual leave and 72 hours for federal holidays, the indictment said. During that time, bank account activity showed Denny went to golf courses and traveled to Las Vegas, Arizona and in and around Montana.

In a 2012 job appraisal, Lyon rated Denny’s performance as “exceptional,” which led to Denny getting a $3,262 cash award in November 2012, the indictment said.

When BLM employees asked about Denny’s status for business reasons, Lyon refused to provide any information, claiming federal laws about releasing health information prohibited him from disclosing such information, the indictment said.

Meanwhile, in January 2012, the Chippewa Cree Tribe, located on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation in north central Montana, contracted with Denny Technical Services for drilling-related services, including exploration, energy use projects, research on mineral lease agreements, development of drilling programs and communication with relevant agencies.

Denny negotiated the contract with the tribe, while his daughter, Misty Ann Denny, also known as Misty Brooks, executed the agreement, the indictment said.

For a year beginning in March 2012, Denny received about $67,243 from the tribe in addition to his BLM salary and benefits, the indictment said. Of the amount from the tribe, Denny received about $49,000 during 2012 and did not report it on a federal confidential financial disclosure report, the indictment said.

The indictment also includes forfeiture allegations seeking a money judgment of $112,302 and other property that may be traced to the alleged crimes.

If convicted, Denny and Lyon face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud charge.

Both men were released pending trial. The case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Great Falls.

Click (HERE) to comment directly at the Billings Gazette

Greedy welfare ranchers dictating public land use…Wyoming wild horse roundups to begin

CarolWalkerWyoming_331

PLAINTIFF Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation writes:  BLM is being “very vague even about when they will allow public observation, saying it depends upon weather, if it is on private land or not, and told us they will inform us the night before public observation is available – basically making it as hard to get there and be there as possible.”

WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO ATTEND THE ROUNDUPS.

Appellate Court Denies Emergency Motion and Allows Unprecedented Wyoming Wild Horse Roundups On Public Lands At the Request of Private Landowners

Denver, CO (September 10, 2014) – Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit denied an emergency motion to block the Bureau of Land Management”s (BLM) wild horse roundup in the Wyoming Checkerboard. The motion was filed by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom and wild horse photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl.

The one-sentence decision by the Tenth Circuit does not address any of BLM’s admitted violations of the Wild Horse Act and clears the way for the roundup of more than 800 wild horses from public and private lands in the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas. The helicopter capture operation is scheduled to begin this week after being twice delayed by the lawsuit filed by the wild horse preservation groups and advocates on August 1, 2014.

Read the rest here.

Oldies But Goodies on Wild Horse & Burro Radio

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WE’LL BE BACK ON AIR NEXT WEDNESDAY NIGHT,

UNTIL THEN, PLEASE ENJOY ONE OF OUR ARCHIVED SHOWS LISTED BELOW.

 This radio show is co-hosted by Debbie Coffey, Vice-President & Director of Wild Horse Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

_______________________________________________________________________________

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com, or call 320-281-0585

LISTEN TO ARCHIVED RADIO SHOWS: Continue reading

BLM Stoops To Low Bargain Basement Fees for Public Lands

I thought it was bad enough when the BLM was charging $2 an acre for oil and gas leases, but now I see (from the Elko Daily news article below) that the BLM is leasing public lands for bargain basement fees of $1.50 an acre.  And for NONCOMPETITIVE geothermal leases, it’s only $1 an acre for 10 years!  What will the BLM do next?  Just tell these bidders to set out their lawn chairs and take whatever public lands they want?  (Oh wait, they just about do that now, since the bidders tell the BLM what parcels they want them to nominate.)

And it seems like only yesterday that the BLM Elko District was crying about the DROUGHT.

Let’s take a look at this equation:

We’re running out of water because there’s a severe drought + BLM leases public lands for pennies to “uses” that use LOTS of water + blame everything on the wild horses & burros and get rid of them = BLM “management” of public lands is ______ (you fill in the blank, but please don’t use swear words on the blog).

Anyhow, if you look at the BLM’s PUBLIC LAND STATISTICS for 2013, you’ll get a look at the bigger picture.

Besides the fact that the title of the article below refers to public lands as “BLM Land,” the links in the article don’t work, but you can go HERE to look at the Elko District oil & gas leases and HERE to look at the geothermal leases.

SOURCE:  elkodaily.com

BLM to Auction BLM Land in Elko for Oil Exploration

RENO — More than 64,000 acres of public land in the Elko District are up for bid in a competitive oil and gas lease sale 9 a.m. today at the Bureau of Land Management state office, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno.

The BLM will include 44 parcels for lease. Registration and assignment of bidding numbers begin at 8 a.m.

The BLM offers quarterly oil and gas sales. The last Elko District sale on March 12, 2013, generated more than $1.2 million with the sale of 31 parcels covering more than 38,000 acres.

A second oil and gas sale will take place after, for 29 parcels in the Winnemucca and Carson City districts.

Parcels are nominated by industry representatives in advance of a sale.  The BLM reviews each parcel for any resource conflicts, which can result in stipulations placed on the parcel, deferral or partial deferral.

A complete summary of the parcels to be offered, GIS shapefiles and other documents related to the oil and gas sales are available online at http://on.doi.gov/1oXmCgT.

Oil and gas leases are for 10-year periods with annual rentals of $1.50 per acre for the first five years and $2 per acre after that until production begins.

Once a lease is producing, a royalty of 12.5 percent is charged.  Half of the bid and rental receipts go to the state.

Geothermal Lease

The BLM will have a competitive geothermal lease sale Wednesday at the BLM state office.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the sale begins at 9.  The sale includes two parcels in Nevada totaling more than 3,400 acres.  One parcel is located on the Winnemucca District, the second is located in the Carson City District.

There will also be five parcels located in Oregon.

Geothermal leases are for a 10-year period.  Annual rental for a competitive lease is $2 per acre for the first year, and $3 per acre until year 10.

Annual rental for a noncompetitive lease is $1 per acre for up to 10 years.

Additional environmental analysis would need to be conducted to receive permits to drill or build a facility to develop the energy from the geothermal source.

A complete summary of the parcels to be offered, GIS shapefiles and other documents related to the geothermal lease sale are available at http://on.doi.gov/1qCHSsY.

Wild West Welfare

 

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat  ~  photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

SOURCE:  Counterpunch
Buying Out A Swindle

Wild West Welfare

by WILLIAM WILLERS

“The western cattle industry has been riding the backs of taxpayers for nearly seventy years”

–T.H. Watkins, 2002

Few have profited more or longer off of American taxpayers than livestock operators who graze the public lands of the American West.  Tens of thousands of square miles there have, for more than three quarters of a century, been managed essentially as grazing estates for a small minority of “permittees” – individuals or corporations holding federal grazing permits.

The scheme dates back to the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM, known at the time as the Grazing Service) placed millions of acres into “grazing allotments”.  Over ensuing generations politics influenced regulations, so that permittees pay a trivial fraction of market demand.  Laws typically mandate that allotments be grazed, so that if someone were to acquire a permit with the idea of protecting the land by removing domestic livestock, the permit would have to be transferred to an interest that would continue grazing.

The standard unit of measure is an “animal unit per month (AUM) – a cow plus calf or 5 sheep.  To graze livestock on private land today in Montana costs $21 per AUM, but permittees pay $1.35, an imbalance typical for the public lands throughout the West.  The difference, money due taxpayers, marks a unique welfare system carefully kept away from public awareness.  This is not a petty issue. The BLM alone has 155 million acres in grazing allotments, and the U.S. Forest Service grazes another 95 million acres of national forest land.  Together, it amounts to 8% of the contiguous United States, an area that, if seen as a square, would be 625 miles on a side – equal in extent to Montana, Wyoming and both Dakotas combined.

It is a bitter irony that the corporate world and its congressional agents, intent on killing governmental regulations so that their imaginary “free market” can go forth unhindered, protect public land welfare ranchers at taxpayer expense.  If a free market is truly central to conservative philosophy, should not conservative legislators be working to guarantee that We The People get paid what the free market demands for use of our public lands, instead of a pittance?

Permits are simply 10-year leases subject to termination, and permittees lease nothing but grazing rights.  Permits do not convey any property rights, and permittees are not due any compensation should permits be terminated or reduced.  But for generations permits have been renewed automatically without question so that permittees, such as Cliven Bundy of recent fame, have come to think of public land they graze as a kind of personal property.  So ingrained is the assumption that the welfare will be permanent that ranches have been sold as if public lands under permit were a fixed part of the ranch itself, and it is not uncommon for US citizens to be run off of their own public land by permittees, sometimes at gunpoint.

The situation has become even more senseless in the last 25 years or so, in that permittees are being paid lavish sums to “sell” their grazing permits (which, understand, they never owned in the first place) where grazing is especially damaging, where there are efforts to protect wilderness values, or, amazingly, if a permittee simply wants to retire. Permits funded by taxpayers and meant only as a privilege subject to termination, can now be “bought out”, which amounts to a double jackpot for permittees.

A startling example of the practice was an 850,000-acre buyout in 2004, in Utah-Arizona, with grazing allotments in both BLM and national forest lands, for which the seller received a whopping $4.5 million.  The buyers, the Grand Canyon Trust and the Conservation Fund, are major promoters of the buyout philosophy that, ironically, is being called “free-market environmentalism”, a startling misnomer in that it rewards a blatant welfare system.

An email earlier this year to one of the trusts involved in that exchange was answered with “Permits were assumed as part of the acquisition of the ranch – meaning, the Trust did not buy-out the permits, but continues to operate under those permits.”  Whoa!  “The Ranch” the seller actually owned was only 1000 acres, and one is supposed to believe that 1000 acres of desert is what $4.5 million was paid for … and, oh, by the way, permits for 850,000 acres (1300 square miles) were incidental, so, technically, it was not a buyout?  Please!  The purchase was obviously for access to the permits.  But even though the allotments are now under the control of those conservation organizations, the land must nevertheless be managed for grazing, as the law demands.  The only difference, presumably, is that the new permittees will treat the land differently.

If the goal of this “technically not a buyout” buyout was to manage grazing on public land allotments in a more environmentally appropriate way … which naturally suggests it was not being managed well by the original permittee (who is now $4.5 million richer) …  why, logical citizen-owners of public land might ask, were the BLM and Forest Service not enforcing a gentler treatment of the public’s land with the previous permittee?

More recently, an April 22, 2014 Wall Street Journal article described an Arizona rancher who had been “having difficulties with hikers and other land users on the allotment” [i.e., citizen owners of the land], receiving several hundred thousand dollars in 2003 from the Conservation Fund in exchange for his permit to graze 44,000 acres of public land.  This the Journal reported as a positive outcome: “No violence, no protesters, no armed federal agents – just a check and a contract.” In other words, if U.S. citizens don’t want trouble from permittees they have been supporting financially for generations, they need to understand that these welfare ranchers, many extremely wealthy, expect to be paid yet more.  To add to the insanity of it all, many permittees who have benefited for so long from governmental/taxpayer largesse, nevertheless despise “Big Government.”

The BLM, and the U.S. Forest Service are under no legal obligation to renew permits and could simply terminate them, but, as explained to me in less than great depth, “They just don’t.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

 

William Willers is emeritus professor of biology, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh now living in Middleton, WI. He is founder of Superior Wilderness Action Network (SWAN) and editor of Learning to Listen to the Land and Unmanaged Landscapes, both from Island Press.

 

Yep, it’s Feel Good Sunday

Thank you to each and every one of you who care, and then get involved and do everything you can to help.  Together, we WILL make a difference.  We hope you’re all recharging your energy, maybe sipping a wrangler iced tea, and enjoying your Sunday.

We thought you’d like to see this video taken at the Equine Advocates sanctuary, of Sophia, a rescued PMU mare, outside & enjoying a beautiful spring day.