Horse News

BLM Wild Horse & Burro Advisory “Bored” To Meet

Original Story by Debbie Coffey as seen in the PPJ Gazette

Special Interest Group Disregards Public Opinion

Banner from America’s Wild Horse Advocates (AWHA) with Melissa Ohlsson, Vice President of AWHA as artist

After reading the Federal Register notice (Sept. 6, 2011) announcing the next Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting in Arlington, VA, Oct. 13-14, 2011, it seems that the “Public Comment Procedures” as written here may be in violation of your First Amendment right to free speech.

The notice states that “Speakers must submit a written copy of their statement to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section above, or bring a written copy to the meeting.” 

Why “must” you do this?  It’s a public meeting and you don’t have to submit anything to have the right to speak at a public meeting.  You can just tell them your name and tell them you want to speak.  Period.  The meeting will probably be recorded and the BLM could use the recording for transcription purposes, and any requested written comments should be voluntary.  That is not what is stated in the Federal Register.  Also, requiring that speakers submit a written copy of their statements could discourage some people (who don’t like to write) from speaking.  

You also don’t have to “address the specific wild horse and burro related topics on the agenda.”  This is a violation of your First Amendment right to free speech.  You can talk about anything you want to talk about.  If you want to get up and read “Little Bo Peep” for 3 minutes (or whatever time limit they set), you have the First Amendment right to do that.  If the BLM only wants you to talk about topics on the agenda, and then controls the agenda, they could then possibly control the content of public comments, which might then be against your right to free speech.

The notice also states “The BLM considers comments that are either supported by quantitative information or studies or those that include citations to and analysis of applicable laws and regulations to be most useful and likely to influence BLM’s decisions on the management and protection of wild horses and burros.” 

Why do we have to include “quantitative information or studies” with a comment or opinion for it to be most likely to influence” the BLM?

The public has been sending reams of “quantitative information” in public comments to EAs for the roundups, and to Congress, and it obviously hasn’t influenced the BLM at all.  Nothing has changed.  There is no “new” normal.  Your opinion should be considered valid, and considered seriously, without having to site a regulation.  You may have more knowledge about a particular subject, or pay more attention to details, and/or ask more questions than many BLM employees. 

Many BLM Wild Horse and Burro “Specialists” were Range Specialists prior to “specializing” in wild horses.  Do you think there’s a big difference between knowing about weeds and knowing about wild horses?  What type of training program does the BLM have for Wild Horse & Burro Specialists?  Could the BLM please provide us with some “quantitative information” regarding this at the upcoming Advisory Board meeting?    

What training do the WH & B specialists undergo?  What qualifications do they need to have in order to become Wild Horse & Burro “Specialists?”  Did they ride in a rodeo?  Did they ride a horse on a cattle drive?  Or did they just see a photo of a horse in a book?  It seems like bestowing the title of “Wild Horse & Burro Specialist” on some BLM employee in a field office is akin to you just declaring yourself “Queen for a Day.”

“The BLM will not necessarily consider comments received after the close of business on October 13, 2011.”  

BLM Bored Member during March 2011 Advisory Bored meeting ~ photographer unkown

The BLM apparently hasn’t considered, or has just ignored, thousands of comments received over a period of many years.  The BLM only seems to respond to lawsuits or public relations nightmares (when the public becomes aware of what seems to be their mismanagement, lack of transparency, and the mistreatment of our wild horses that they’re supposedly “protecting”).

And someone, apparently, needs to set a moral compass for this agency that has denied any wrongdoing and condoned the conduct of Sun J helicopter pilot Josh Hellyer, who apparently made contact with a wild horse using the skids of the helicopter, or at the very least, flew dangerously close to the exhausted horse.  After Reno Judge McKibben viewed Laura Leigh’s video of this, he granted a Temporary Restraining Orderfor the use of the helicopter at the remainder of the Triple B roundup.

Our tax dollars might be paying for the rental of the Advisory Board meeting room at the Hyatt Regency, and possibly for the hotel rooms for visiting WH & B Advisory Board members and visiting BLM employees.  If Dean Bolstad is attending on Thursday or Friday, it’s a work day, and his time is on your dime.  Taxpayers pay BLM employees’ salaries, including Edwin L. Roberson, Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning, whose name is on this Federal Register notice.  Our tax dollars pay for the Wild Horse & Burro Program.  You’re the taxpayer.  You’re the boss.  The BLM is accountable to you.  Not vice versa.

It also seems as if the BLM chose a time and place where they would get the least public attendance at the WH & B Advisory Board meeting.

BLM employees seem to read the blogs and websites of horse advocates, so it was likely that they were aware that a couple of weeks prior to the now scheduled Advisory Board meeting, major horse advocacy groups were hosting the International Equine Conference in Alexandria, VA (Sept. 26-28, 2011), including experts from Equine Welfare Alliance and Animal Law Coalition.  This Conference was announced July 11, 2011, and the WH & B Advisory Board meeting notice was dated August 29, 2011.  It would likely be too expensive for people from horse advocacy groups to attend both this Conference and the WH & B Advisory Board meeting, which seems to show both a lack of foresight and consideration in BLM’s planning.

If the WH & B Advisory Board really wants knowledgeable input to influence BLM decisions, these are the people they should be listening to.  Will any of the WH & B Advisory Board members be attending the International Equine Conference?  Will BLM’s Dean Bolstad and/or BLM Dir. Bob Abbey be attending all of the sessions?  To my knowledge, Bob Abbey hasn’t ever attended one roundup or equine-related function. 

This Advisory Board meeting has been set on a Thursday and a Friday, which are work days, guaranteeing the BLM that even fewer members of the public might be able to attend.

Why is the WH & B Advisory Board meeting inVirginia?  Most of the members of the public who are affected by the loss of wild horses in the areas where they live, and who have attended the roundups, are in the western states.  And wouldn’t it be less expensive if this meeting were held in Reno?

WH & B Advisory Board members are appointed to their position by the President.  Yet, it seems that only one Advisory Board member, Tim O. Harvey, has ever attended a “gather” (for one week at the Twin Peaksroundups).  You’d think the other Advisory Board members would actually want input from people who have observed the gathers, in many locations, and by different contractors.  In detail.  It seems the BLM wants to limit the details on public record as well as any input to be considered in making their future decisions. 

Maybe BLM’s Ed Roberson should think about setting up some meeting parameters for the Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board members, like staying awake during the meetings. 

27 replies »

  1. Cannot blame that Moron for being bored,the only thing he gets up in the morning for,is to kill or maim living creatures.Probably this day he did not meet his quota of murder.Scum.


  2. It is extremely irritating for this volunteer advocate that meetings on use of helicopters are in remote towns, late at night. Now this on the other side of the country. Perhaps a live link will be set up and we can call in our questipns or statements. This is how we got here – BLM carrying out their meetings and planning unimpeded by public horse loving participants.


  3. The US Fish and Game Commission appears to be the cat hating counter part to the BLM horse haters and guess what they are attending a conference in Hawaii for of all people the WIldlife Society admitted horse and cat haters. The purpose of the meeting to develop a startegy to undermine the crazy cat ladies TNR approach and their view is based on YES science or so they claim. Cats like horses are killing off all the wildlife and they need to be eliminated. Only difference is that they don’t want to eat the cats just kill them because they or so they claim carry are sorts of zoonotic diseases. That is Wildlife Society’s message. Very odd these people can attend the kill happy conferences but not the conferences of the other side. What a waste of taxpayers money. I will comment but I have yet to receive a reply from BLM or OBama but did from the Prime Minister of Australia and they stopped the shipping of live cattle because of public outcry. The whole comment thing is a big joke. No difference if its the EPA or BLM. Just an attempt to pacify us the radical simple minded masses.


  4. BLM is accountable to us. We should never forget this. Our Government is accountable to us. These Non-elected, long term employees have jobs that are coveted by many. So far BLM/WH&BP have maintained a status quo that works against public opinion and into corporate pocket books which also benefits the coming and going of those who work both sides; government and corporate. Conflict of interest. In the past 2 years what we have learned about these agencies has come full circle. If you understand your opponent then you can plan an appropriate defense and offense. Wild Horse lovers are working it!


  5. Great article and excellent points on so many aspects of this issue. But WH&B Adv Board members are appointed by a joint decision of the Sec of Int and Sec of Agriculture. Not sure the President oversees those appointments.


  6. I also doubt the President is involved,he is to busy collecting money from his
    constituents to assist with his re-election in 2012.His least interest is other living creatures they CANNOT VOTE or Give him MONEY.


  7. Them that rules makes the rules!!! Okay, it’s bad grammar, but I’m sure you get the point!

    Public comment restrictions and time limits have been and continue to be one of the most contentious issues that have ever facing the American public, and there have been some very interesting court decisions. I’m sure specifics are being discussed offline, and, IMO, that’s where they belong. Citing precedents and revealing strategies in a public forum only provides information to the opposition.

    Again, George Bernard Shaw sure got it right:
    “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

    BTW, I first saw this quote on the website of a federal foundation established by Congress!


  8. The notice also states “The BLM considers comments that are either supported by quantitative information or studies or those that include citations to and analysis of applicable laws and regulations to be most useful and likely to influence BLM’s decisions on the management and protection of wild horses and burros.”

    LOL. That’s is an unbelievable request from an agency that does NO studies, no scientific quantitative research on wild horses or accurate census’ of the wild horses and that removes 80-90% of all horses in each round up with no scientific data supporting it. To make a 3-minute comment they hold concerned Americans who care about horses and want to participate in our Democracy to higher standards than they hold themselves??? Get real, BLM.


    • Funny isn’t it, that they want us to do the studies and pay for everything yet they won’t let us save our horses upon request or pressure or demands.


  9. Hey, BLM when your round ups are substantiated by quantitative studies and information with citations and analysis of applicable LAW and regulations, then we might think about complying with your made up meeting requirements.


  10. Kathleen, thank you – I stand corrected. The WH & B Advisory Board members are appointed by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture.


  11. Other than the sterilization in the field plan, have any EAs, WH&B Advisory board meetings EVER resulted in ANY change of removal, AUM/AML policy changes?

    I don’t have a problem with the place of the next board meeting; there are wonderful advocates in the East and these animals belong to EVERYONE in the US. The timing and “pre-Freedom of Speech” shenanigans are a different matter altogether….smells like “control and stacked deck” to me.

    But why are we surprised? Congressional reps returning to their constituents are refusing to meet with them in their offices or townhall meetings. You ought to read what Rep Eric Cantor did to some folks in his district (he or his office called the sheriff).


    • A couple days ago we officially won the right to film government workers etc while they are working in public places… then yesterday a rep had the police stop the filming of his answer to a question in a meeting… Wow, what did that mean? I hope they can get this guy retroactive. The arrogance displayed by people these days has become elitist and narrow towards the people who pay their salaries and elect them… as you know. It really sucks.


      • Global crapitalism and special interest have made our government reps hunker and bunker, all within the scary limits of acceptable behavior and laws…..if you (elected or appointed reps) don’t talk to them (constituents), you don’t have to explain, go on record or be uncomfortable. Afterall, the lobbyists foot the bill for election/perks (private sector employment [DC revolving door])….the people just vote and wildlife or natural resources NEVER contribute to their campaigns….only the special interests (the big bucks).

        And this Cantor story was about a handful of concerned older constituents just wearing t-shirts, wanting to make an appointment…they never got one, but they did with the sheriff. No, they were not protesting…just wanted an appointment.

        Now, I don’t know about you….but that little tidbit of non-publicized Cantor unprofessional behavior (remember this creep is the House majority leader) scares the cr*p out of me as an intelligent, informed, concerned voter of the US.


      • My goodness, Denise, I had not heard that… It sounds like NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE… the All American Tee shirt is now too lowly for appointment making! yeeks Disturbing and beyond arrogant… delusional.


      • I need to qualify the t-shirt thing….these were a very small group (4-6 folks) of older constituents that wore the same t-shirt with logo (can’t remember the issue or cause) that was not confrontational. What WAS confrontational was that they wouldn’t go away without an appointment and resented the political double shuffle/speak and Cantor/staff DID NOT LIKE the persistence (sound familiar?). This is a rural portion of his district that is heavy ag (of which he is an idiot and relies on Rep Goodlatte/Farm Bureau [meat lovers/equine haters extraordinaire] for any ag policy ;)>!

        But they called the sheriff, none the less.


      • It is what I saw in my head; all the same Tshirt. But still IRRATIONAL to call the cops. They were his people and they were to be respected. I must be old (gulp) old fashioned? yeegs


  12. Paul Revere rode on a HORSE to Lexington and Concord to raise the alarm–to set this country on the path of Revolution against tyranny and taxation without representation. What happened to WE THE PEOPLE?


    • It appears they are too busy using their computer toys, looking for work or salivating over meat on the hoof .

      Honestly, my point is that we have 2 problems: (1) people are just trying to get the next paycheck; and, (2) those that DON’T need the NEXT paycheck because they are awash in cash are just rolling the destruction of resources and the “little people” ….to get more cash.


  13. My bet is that a LOT of advocates on the East coast will show up at this meeting. My apologies to the East Coast advocates for my comment about having the meeting in Reno…I’m just waiting to see if the BLM schedules the next meeting in Zimbabwe, or some far flung place with no airport, requiring the public to ride in on burros (that will no longer be in existence).


  14. It was publized that Eric Cantor was charging his constituents $15 bucks to attend one of his town hall meetings. Now people are being asked to pay for the right to speak to him. Good points on the BLM employees – unfortunately
    its not WHAT YOU KNOW, but the usual WHO YOU KNOW. Itd quite obvious
    they are making decisions without the needed knowledge. What a scam!!
    Quite frankly they should be scheduling meetings all over the country because
    we are concerned about them. This would give us all a chance to give some
    input. Sure they want to know what you are going to ask so they can give you
    more rhetoric and bs…The gravy train is being exposed for all to was a
    good gig while it lasted…Obama is well aware of the situation with the horses and the burros. Big disappointment with his nonexistance actions..


  15. Hmmm. They said in Phoenix that the location of the meetings was determined by cost, and that the most cost effective locations for board meetings were Phoenix, Arizona and Reno, Nevada. In any event, I don’t see how I can afford to attend this. Hopefully all the East Coast friends can.

    Let’s look at this as an opportunity. The BLM does not want people to have their three minutes of speech. They want us to provide quantative evidence. That’s fine. Instead of spending the time trip planning and flying on a plan, let’s send a few thousand novels in their direction and circulate each and every one of them on the internet so the public can see them. Will the board members read what is written? Probably not. But it would certainly call them out at their own game.


  16. “The BLM considers comments that are either supported by quantitative information or studies or those that include citations to and analysis of applicable laws and regulations to be most useful and likely to influence BLM’s decisions on the management and protection of wild horses and burros.”

    Wild Horse Annie (Velma Johnson) and Pearl Twyne, who had retired from a position with the Department of Agriculture, were the only two women on the
    Pryor Mountain Advisory Committee Board. They had attended a garden party that was given the evening before one of the meetings. At the party one of the men, who was also on the Board, showed up with some plastic bags which displayed the Department of Interior insignia and the motto “You mustn’t be a litterbug”. He passed them around and joked that his new townhouse needed landscaping and would appreciate everyone bringing a bag of manure to the next meeting. Velma and Pearl took him at his word. They filled two bags with manure and took them into the meeting.


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