Monday, March 5, 2012

Bureau tarts up the same tired horse program - Pickens


March 6, 2012

Wild horse advocate Madeleine Pickens has accused the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of tarting up its same tired program for mustangs and offering it up as something new.
Pickens, the wife of Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, was responding to news a week ago that a private ranch in southeastern Wyoming may soon become the first wild-horse eco-sanctuary in the United States to be run in a deal with the Bureau of Land Management. The foundation Pickens founded, Saving America's Mustangs, has been pushing for more than two years to establish an eco-sanctuary for wild horses in northern Nevada.
Pickens said the foundation wanted to express its appreciation for the bureau's selection of the 4000-acre ranch in Wyoming to house some wild horses, but said the proposal raised more questions than it answered.
"It continues along the outdated and inhumane path the BLM has pursued for years; continuing to give wild horses to private ranch operations that profit from them without assurances of a real public benefit," Pickens said.
She noted that the bureau had suggested it could carry out the necessary National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance work in three to six months.
"I have been waiting for over two years and have been told all along that the NEPA compliance work on the proposal that I submitted for an eco-sanctuary in northern Nevada would take as long as two years, if they ever start on it.
"I can only presume that there is a special, unique 'fast track' for a rancher where NEPA is concerned.
"When I met with representatives of the Elko County Commission to discuss my proposal for a ranch in northern Nevada, I was told by the ranchers that taking only a thousand head wouldn't really save the government and taxpayers that much money and, therefore, wasn't worth much.
"Why then is a rancher taking 250 head cause for celebration, or is this just more double-talk?
"And, why is it a 'milestone' to continue the same tired, flawed model by which horses are gathered in the wild and turned over to ranchers who are paid a stipend by the BLM, instead of coming up with a humane plan which has a return to the public?
"The bottom line is this: the BLM tarts up the same tired program and marches it out as if they are offering the public and the wild horses a new experience and direction - when the reality is that it is just more of the same.
"I wait futilely for years while the BLM fiddles, instead of deciding to participate in a truly revolutionary project that would be ground-breaking and change the paradigm; different from business as usual, and they continue to putter on."
Pickens said her foundation did not want to criticize every small rancher who stepped forward with a plan to take some horses.
"Unfortunately, the BLM has, since its inception, run the Wild Horse and Burro Program for and at the direction of the ranchers.
"We think the American public is entitled to better, is entitled to see that those with the right intentions and solid proposals are included in the process."

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