Exclusive News from SFTHH Chief Investigative Reporter, Lisa LeBlanc
BLM breaks law by posting closings without filing
UPDATE: BLM filed and posted at midnight 07/12/10, kind of after the fact, eh?
“Editor’s Note: Lisa is the wonderful individual who has been the source, fuel and inspiration for many of the articles that have appeared, here, on Straight from the Horse’s Heart. Over the past several weeks, Lisa has been in contact with me over the most critical and important issue of the BLM restricting access to our own public lands while they stampede, harass and bring undo harm and stress to our wild horses. Lisa has uncovered yet another unlawful flaw in the way the “shoot from the hip” BLM operates and it is now time that YOU, the tax paying public knows the truth. It is also time for Lisa to report in her own words, her most important findings.
In her opinion, the News as We See It~ R.T.”
We all hear catch-phrases – words used so often we no longer question their basis or origins. Like the oft-repeated “…break our dependence on Foreign oil.”Now; WHO owns BP? American oil, pulled from American waters by a firm distinctly NOT American. But I digress.
The catch phrases that have caught my attention most recently – and begged for further review – were ‘Portions of Public land will be temporarily closed…” for whatever reasons; and ‘Drought’. So I did a little exploration. Let’s talk about ‘temporary closure of Public Lands’.
In December of 2009, BLM Director Bob Abbey submitted protocols for ‘temporary closure’ of Public lands.
http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/regulations/Instruction_Memos_and_Bulletins/national_instruction/2010/IM_2010-028.html. It is possible this Protocol was published as the Calico Debacle was already under way.
On the page, he cites “A closure or restriction order should be considered only after other management strategies and alternatives have been explored…”
“All temporary closure and restriction orders must be approved by the State Director before submission to the Washington Office, preferably 3 months in advance of the restriction. Closure and restriction orders established under 43 CFR § 8364.1 or 43 CFR § 6302.19 require publication in the Federal Register.”
It continues, “As resource use and demands for public access have increased, so has the need for the BLM to temporarily close or restrict areas to certain uses in order to protect resources, public health, and safety. However, it is important that closure and restriction orders are established only after other management strategies and alternatives have been explored (emphasis added), and it is determined that a closure or restriction order is necessary. Closures and restrictions need to be established in accordance with applicable authorities, and Department of the Interior and BLM policies and procedures.”
However, the Need for Closure for the Tuscarora Roundup, the attendant Environmental Reasons, and the Rules for Chosen Observers can be read here:
A cautionary about the Federal Register: it is a most irritating-to-navigate, ponderous, cumbersome computer-generated catalog of everything documented Federal; this is the kind of research tool best accompanied by laying in supplies for 12 hours, comfy clothes, coffee, smokes and a really good ergonomic desk chair. It is not a research tool for those easily frustrated or in a hurry.
But I needed to know about ‘Temporary Closures’ and Director Abbey’s protocols. And what I found was this:
There is no ‘Temporary Closure’ notice on the Federal Register for Elko, Owyhee, or anything entitled ‘The Tuscarora roundup’, as of this writing. And there was no “Temporary Closure’ notice filed before, during, or after the Calico debacle. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
There is a TC for the Reno Air Races above Stead. There was a TC for the Black Rock Desert for the Burning Man Festival, however it expired in September of 2009. By any stretch of the Bureau’s imagination, NO Temporary Closure Order was filed as it regarded the Calico Roundup; unless the entire roundup took place on private land. And we are forbidden anywhere private.
If the Calico Roundup wasn’t conducted exclusively on private land – if the Observers were sequestered as a group, held in check by Local & BLM Law Enforcement under even an implied threat of forcible removal and consequence, when no TC was in effect, I have to wonder – how legally binding was it?
And were they afraid, our Observers? I would have been. I would have felt pressured to behave in a manner inconsistent with my First Amendment Rights – to Peaceful Assembly, to Defend a Common Interest. To observe a procedure the WH&B Act of 1971 stipulated I had every right – and responsibility – to witness. To Witness for these Wild Equines.
But I’m no lawyer; the Federal Register lists everything, from Executive Orders to Notices, Rules & Regulations. And I’m having difficulty finding information on how legally binding these terms may be. A TC Notice must have some importance attached to it, otherwise Director Abbey would have sent an Inner-Office Memo rather than a page of protocols citing the need for NEPA & Environmental Assessments & elucidated steps which must be followed in order to Close Public land for even a short length of time.
By the way, the Monday, July 12th Roundup in Oregon? There is no Temporary Closure Notice filed, either three months ago as ‘suggested’ by Director Abbey or yesterday when we were informed through the Cloud Foundation that it would be taking place, apparently bypassing standard protocols followed for Public comments and concerns.
Let’s talk about ‘Drought’, another of the many catch-alls applied by the Bureau as it regards Wild Equines. The ‘reasons of concern’ for the Tuscarora Wild Ones have been published as ‘Severe Drought’ as cited by the NOAA, and ‘damage to forage from wild fires in 2001 and 2006’. Forage damage that is apparently only now putting the Wild Ones in danger, but not their Livestock neighbors.
Then there’s the NOAA. Odd that the Bureau would, under this particular circumstance, put stock in an organization that is routinely ignored by the Federal government unless their findings verify whatever is needed at the time.
The NOAA, who, under the Bush administration, warned the Federal Government & all it’s protective agencies about Katrina, that murderous & cataclysmic Perfect Storm, three full days before she made landfall, destroying the Gulf coast, some of which has yet to recover. Their warnings, treated more like suggestions, were ignored. And thousands of people died. The same NOAA who submitted scientific data to the Secretary of the Interior in January of this year of the devastation that would follow a should a deep water drilling accident occur in the same area. Their warnings, their scientific data, so petty when compared to the Prophets of Oil (yeah; that was a pun), their paperwork shelved for future reference, warnings ignored.
People died; wildlife & the environment are being destroyed every day by a disaster of unprecedented magnitude, from which the area will be suffering for decades to come. Lives & livelihoods, irreplaceable, lost forever. Yes. There was a drought – in October of 2009, perhaps when this Roundup Reason first began study. But, as of this writing, no drought exists, according to NOAA’s own drought indices and others.
And until today, the Elko area has been host to a series of thunderstorms for the past two weeks.
Think about it: the West has witnessed a very precipitous, in some cases, record-breaking, winter since October, 2009. Spring rains in the West, particularly Northern Nevada, ceased only in mid-May. Now the area is being deluged with spring run off – snow melts from the mountains are still filling streams & creeks; some, only a few weeks ago, were over-topping their banks. Underground aquifers are being refilled. Precious groundwater that, while it apparently does nothing to further the existence of Wild Equines in the area, makes for good mining exploration:
The Arturo Mine Project – a 2400 acre expansion North of Elko, requiring new construction and new wells to be dug. And an Environmental Assessment that will not need to take the Wild Equines in the area into consideration – for they may no longer exist when the project gets the Government Nod.
A few final thoughts:
Over the past few years, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a whistle blower protection group, there has been an increase in training for Outdoor Agents – Park & Forest Rangers, principally, on how best to deal with Animal Activists. But, according to PEER, incidents involving these officers – violent encounters, some gun-related, that have escalated in the past few years and involve, not Animal Activists, but Off-Highway Vehicle proponents, and, I suspect, those who cultivate marijuana on Public lands. These incidents have gone largely unreported in the Media, to the detriment of the Rangers.
But this seems to be a cog in a movement whereby Wild Equines Advocates, by being re-labeled and stripped of access, rights and protections as members of the Public, are being manipulated into doing something regrettable by the BLM, and by extension, the Federal Government. By being forced into a corner – summary dismissal in legal proceedings, being presented with a Hand Book that is immediately ignored by the Author, knowing there are rules & regulations WE must follow or risk consequences – all the cumulative inequities we’ve endured – is the equivalent to having your face spit in. And even the most sainted & tolerant human may react in an inelegant fashion and spit back.
Being aware of these things, how can we best proceed? Because the continued health & welfare of the Advocacy & it’s members is paramount, and we can NOT undertake any actions that might be even remotely construed as ‘criminal’. But this? These things – the misinformation, the gorilla tactics, the blatant & profound crushing of Civil & Constitutional liberties – these are the actions of Bureaucratic Bullies who are systematically divesting us – and not just the Advocacy – of the very things we were born to enjoy and expect as a Citizens of the United States, and doing so without Due Process – the protection from government abuse during a legal proceeding – not with the Powers of a Democratic Government but with the Impunity of a Monarchy.
However, if the Bureau is unwilling to follow it’s own protocols, as stipulated by their Director, why should we be compelled to do the same. Because without the Advocacy, there is no one left – no charitable organization, no wildlife group or government member or agency – who will defend & witness for the Wild Ones. The record, since the adoption of the Roundup as a management tool, speaks for itself. No Environmental Assessment, that I could find anywhere, has found in favor of the Wild Ones.
So here we are. Now, where do we go?
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