Sunday, July 4, 2010

Calico: Past, Present & Future VII

This is the last in a series of articles that attempts to disclose some of the known issues playing behind the scenes in the Calico Complex and beyond….

Over the last few months, after all these facts, figures, history and legalese, what does all this really mean in relation to the Tri-State Mega Complex?

Well, no one can predict the future. Therefore, ultimately what comes next must be confined to the world of conjecture, speculation, hypothesis, assumption and guesswork. By its very nature, the future is potentially fluid, only molded into existence by the actions of the present.

Yet, too often, the future is equally molded by the actions of the past, especially when the choices of each moment continue to be made from the same narrow paradigm that only lead down the same old road.

However, like a crime scene investigator able to gather evidence to piece together what led up to the crime, often signs of what was to come were already well in place before the crime was finally committed.

While you can’t convict someone because of “signs”, you can certainly be aware of them, recognize the road they are leading down and acknowledge the potential consequences and danger if a change in course is not taken.

Therefore, the following potential future for the Tri-State Mega Complex is not based on something as obscure as consulting a crystal ball. It is based on the roads the Department of the Interior has chosen in the past and the choices they continue to make – despite the current rhetoric and propaganda being churned out by the Public Relation firms and specialists.

It’s been two years since BLM first announced they had run the Wild Horse and Burro Program into the ground and that the situation had become so dire, the lives of tens of thousands of captured mustangs were now on the table for mass disposal. Oh yeah, and that the choices made in the past were in desperate need of change.

Yet, in the trenches of wild horse and burro management during this same two year period, decisions continued to be issued by the DOI that reveal no signs of change, no reversal of course, only evidence of an acceleration of more the same, broken system.

In this case, it is not a stretch to predict a possible future for the horses and burros still being held captive by an unyielding agency showing all the signs of being hell bent on finishing the job. Equally so, there are very few indications that the Tri-State Mega Complex is now being proposed to serve either the good of the animals or those members of the public who support their wild presence.

And so, without further ado, this is where I think it is going and why….

The first part of this series presented an extensive analysis of the history as to how BLM had set the wild horse and burro AML in many of the Calico Complex areas, especially in the Soldier Meadows Allotment. Why?

Because it showed how BLM was able to fudge “the science” by perpetuating promises that were never kept for over three decades, the extensive legal timetable set up to keep the public, and sincere answers, at bay, and how BLM was able to fend off every protest, every error found in their methods, and every question about their data, because they were able to perpetuate decisions with promises of resolution – in the future.

It also illustrated the road BLM followed when they set a “new” plan in motion and how they were able to use this “process” as an excuse to justify decisions rooted in promises for the future to postpone any real evaluations for today, tomorrow, or even for decades.

Finally, it highlighted how one Wild Horse and Burro Specialist at the Winnemucca Field Office had actually been doing her job and monitoring the area, which revealed the “starting” AMLs were way off base and that many areas could support a great deal more wild horses and burros than BLM continued to affirm as “appropriate” – even while livestock authorizations and big game populations kept going up.

It also illustrated how we, the public, would have never known that fact if Western Watersheds Project hadn’t taken BLM to court. BLM made no mention in the Calico Complex EA that current monitoring data revealed utilization levels did NOT support those abysmally low and arbitrary AMLs - but just the opposite – and it became very clear that BLM’s concern was not about reporting the new monitoring data but merely about scrambling to cover it up.

As for the promises themselves? There is no official authority reviewing agency promises, if they are eventually kept and no system set up to demand accountability if they don’t follow through.

So what will it take to cover up the recently emerged monitoring data which challenges those clearly arbitrary AMLs in the Calico Complex if someone gets that information to a federal court? Or perhaps, other data the public doesn’t know about that might also somehow get exposed?

Well, a new plan could reset the bureaucratic clock and again initiate the same “processes” filled with more promises for the future…

The second in this series explored how BLM released radical new information that was rarely, if every publicly documented about the Calico Complex area before, as BLM claimed wild horses were now migrating all over the place for tens of miles - despite decades of “in depth monitoring” used to rubber stamp those old AML decisions; radical new information used to explain the unexplainable with respect to unfounded population reports - but still made legally whole by more promises of “future” study.

The article also covered legal challenges to BLM’s decisions, how addresses given by BLM for public involvement in the Calico Complex suddenly become “defunct”, how public comments “disappeared”, how a BLM employee swore under oath that no comments were received (while the court disagreed), yet the employee received no reprimand, no penalty, no repercussions due to her protected status as a government official, as well as skimming the surface of the judicial farce still being billed as the public appeal process.

Finally, it also highlighted the up coming mega projects for the area while illustrating how the clock was ticking on all those “promises” BLM and USFWS made so long ago.

So what would it take to erase the past and give fresh, new legal authority to parade in front of the courts for indefinite extensions to buy time to implement new management? A new plan?

The third in the series explored neighboring Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge with its own sordid history, promises, undercover footage of nightmarish round ups conducted by BLM’s #1 contractor for wild horse and burro “control services”, questionable adoption and transport contracts, public lock downs on releasing information about what has been going in the Refuge for the last two years, reports of experimental gelding and spaying of mares, questionable populations, reproduction rates and the very serious legal issue of; has Sheldon been transporting and selling federally protected wild horses and burros illegally for all this time?

With still no answers yet, what will it take for USFWS to avoid all the potential legal penalties for doing so if this were found to be the case? A new plan?

The fourth in the series was an in depth analysis of a recent Rangeland Health Analysis released by BLM employees regarding the Massacre Lakes HMA, complete with graphs provided by BLM themselves showing record livestock use during the evaluation period, manipulation and omission of data, and calculated insertions about all the trigger levels BLM’s new Resource Management Plan (RMP) set up as “indicator” signs of wild horse overpopulation to justify further reductions in AMLs.

Since that new RMP also set up and approved the entire elimination of one or multiple wild horse populations in several HMAs, how would BLM be able to do this without letting the public know what they have done and avoid a firestorm of public protest? A new plan?

The fifth in the series covered extensive behind-the-scenes plans being laid out behind the publics back while BLM was authorizing the removal of wild horses in the Calico Complex area by the thousands (they were also running off with Sheldon and Oregon horses around this same time too).

While there are plenty of official’s hands outstretched to the Ruby Pipeline’s deep pockets, tall dollars and wishes for gold plated troughs being submitted to “mitigate” Ruby’s impacts, who was asking for money to help the wild horses and burros?

The only plans mentioned for them were “temporary” water hauling and more fencing to be erected during the “construction phase” to create a barb-wire wonderland that would eventually crisscross every conceivable place that still had a drop of water or a blade of grass, including fencing off each HMA itself to prevent them from “migrating” anywhere else. And of course, lots of sales pitches to privatize those same ranges the remaining wild horses and burros in Ruby's path can still call home.

As for the all-precious, life-giving water in the area? If the agencies get everything they ask for, water will be generally limited to whoever turns on the facet – or not – as the case may be.

So what would it take to implement all these potential changes to the environment without violating BLM’s mandates and public notification process on wild horse and burro management under multiple use laws? A new plan that concedes BLMs jurisdictional authority to USFWS instead may prove useful and there is evidence to suggest this may be the way the DOI is heading….

Of course, BLM could not legally be left out of the loop or the laws they are required to follow but just study what happened when BLM “partnered” with other agency’s in the Desert Managers Group. Suddenly, all of BLM’s mandates on wild horses and burros were sent to the bottom of the consideration-totem-pole. With respect to BLM’s “authority” in relation to everything else, when the smoke cleared from the jurisdictional war that had ensued between all the partners, BLM came out of the fray resembling the old cliché of “beaten like a red-headed stepchild”.

The sixth in the series covered the Oregon section of the Tri-State Mega Complex, which mirrored unexplainable and consistently inconsistent population reports BLM continues to flaunt with no sincere oversight.

It also discusses extreme fertility control plans that included adding geldings to free-roaming populations, which mirror the same fertility control plans already implemented in Sheldon by USFWS, and generally, more of the same ole same ole dusty road we’ve been down way too many times before.

How will BLM continue to justify these crazy population numbers? Well, a new plan might be really useful…

A new plan erases the past, resets the bureaucratic clock, absolves the agencies from accountability, clears the legal obstacles and hurdles that otherwise, they may not be able to jump, and allows them to justify crazy reports on wild horse and burro populations that will now span nearly four million acres, according to BLM’s latest press release.

In case anyone’s noticed, BLM already uses the half a million acre excuse to fend off how the “large expanse” explains why the public can’t find any horses, why THEY can’t answer any population questions and why any pubic testimony isn’t credible if no one can find more than a handful of wild horses across a span of hundreds of thousands of acres. For the officials, the blow off technique is as simple as, “Oh, the horses must have moved - over there” and I know this as fact because I have seen it used at least a dozen times before.

A new plan could be the answer to all their problems. It can create an even wider bureaucratic web to immobilize the public even further, add more complexity to an already overly complex situation, clear the legal quagmire they are fast approaching, allow a bureaucratic “hot potato” game between BLM and USFWS (no, they are in charge, no, they are in charge), further their ability to perpetuate omissions and manipulations of data, prevent the narrowing of reporting in any given management proposal (think broad, general strokes, not site-specific analysis), set up “new” AMLs as “new” starting points, and by the time the bureaucratic clock runs out again with all its usual empty, unfilled promises, the majority of us won’t be around to tell the next generation what BLM was suppose to do way back when and they won’t be old enough to even remember how “self-sustaining” bands of wild horses and burros once roamed free on now sold out public lands.

Mega Complex, indeed….

However, I can see at least one advantage to combining Sheldon and BLM HMA’s into one management unit under the Tri-State Mega Complex umbrella (assuming USFWS even allows a wild horse or burro to continue to remain legally in the Refuge) and that is, at least the Sheldon wild horses and burros will again be granted their rightful federally protected status such as they once had in 1971 at the passage of the Act.

1 comment:

The Stark Raving Viking said...

I posted a link to your blog and the story on my blog and also on

Please let me know how I can help.