Friday, August 6, 2010


It showed up in my mailbox with no return address. Its title was marked “Confidential”and its contents provided the only explanation necessary.

It was a Draft agreement bought for the humble price of $5 million dollars; the price tag put on the final elimination of the wild horses and burros – or what’s left of them - now residing in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and whom had done so for centuries.

The executioner will be Secretary Salazar, who will mumble something about the Refuge having another “mission” within the Department of the Interior. He will ignore the facts; that the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act charged him with their care on public lands “where presently found”, that the Sheldon wild horses and burros were once protected under the umbrella of the Act until a policy change stripped them of any future protections - and he will ignore the fact that both BLM and US Fish & Wildlife Service have repeatedly stated that “protected” wild horses and burros from BLM managed lands wander in and out of Sheldon.

Salazar will hide behind a sea of bureaucracy, despite being named by Congress as the ultimate authority in the protection and preservation of America’s wild horses and burros.

And finally, he will claim their blood is not on his hands – that’s what the henchman are for.

On May 26, 2010, American Herds posted the fifth in the “Calico: Past, Present & Future” series that outlined how a draft plan between multiple agency’s had been developed and submitted to the owners of the Ruby Pipeline and was to be slid under the table through the deceptive title, “Draft Ruby Pipeline Migratory Bird Conservation Plan”.

Approximately $17 million dollars of conservation and mitigation measures were outlined within its pages – though much, much more was planned - with what appeared to be many open-ended “undisclosed” purchases that didn’t needed to be committed to on paper.

One of these undisclosed “conservation measures” turned out to be $20 million dollars Ruby would hand out to two environmental organizations who had previously been opposing Ruby’s habitat ripping path; Western Watershed Project (WWP) and Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) as outlined here in the July 26, 2010, article, “Groups Trade Gas Pipeline Approval for $20 Million Conservation Fund”.

What else did Ruby’s $20 million dollars buy?

Well,it also bought them a new three member Board for each organization from which a Director from Ruby Pipeline would now be entrenched in order to make decisions on how the funds could be spent.

And it bought them the confidential document that showed up in my mailbox, the “Greater-Hart Sheldon Conservation Fund Agreement” made between ONDA and Ruby, which outlines how the funds can be expended, which include “the removal or improvement in management of feral horses”. (pg. 4)

One has to wonder, how can Ruby and ONDA’s partnership incorporate funding “the removal and management” of feral horses when supposedly, they have nothing to say about how the DOI and Secretary Salazar handle our public resources. That’s U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS) job, right?

Right! And that’s exactly what USFWS is doing right now, putting forth three “alternatives” to the public that we can comment on as they move to the next phase of their Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Sheldon NWR in Planning Update 3.

The choices USFWS have crafted?

> Alternative 1: No Action
This would allow a maximum of 125 horses and 60 burros to inhabit the Refuge throughout the life of the Plan.

> Alternative II: Intensive Management (Preferred Alternative)
Eliminate all horses and burros from the Refuge within 5 years and include the option for sale or auction if other methods of population control are ineffective.

> Alternative III: Low Intensity Management
Eliminate all horses and burros from the Refuge within 15 years and include the option for sale or auction except more gradual annual population reductions.

And who is going to fund these removals and other “management” options such as population control methods on herds they intend on eliminating anyway? Yes, who indeed…

While Ruby’s PR people are sputtering eloquent quotes about their total lack of involvement in the management and removal of America’s horses and burros and BLM is publishing News Releases calling Ruby’s involvement “a myth”, it will be Ruby’s Director – and Ruby’s cash – that quietly sit in a partnership account waiting behind the scenes.

As for ONDA, after the confidential anonymous packet showed up and I could finally scrap my jaw up off the floor, I wrote ONDA’s Executive Director, Brent Fenty to ask him to verify rumors about ONDA making deals with USFWS to remove wild horses and burros from Sheldon.

On July 20, 2010, Mr. Fenty kindly wrote back and stated no deals were being made with USFWS and the rumors were completely false. What a relief, huh?

Can we call him a liar since I didn’t directly ask him if ONDA made a deal with Ruby instead? After all, what if he actually had some integrity and would tell the truth?

While Mr. Fenty shied away from telling the truth about the new Ruby/ONDA partnership deal, he was certainly not shy about expressing ONDA’s position on wild horses and burros inhabiting Sheldon and offered a courtesy copy of the comments ONDA and WWP submitted to USFWS in June 2008 during the last public phase of the planning process. Click Here to view.

Welcome to the fabulous world of partnerships, privatization of public resources and the Obama/Salazar vision of “Change”.

As for the historical wild horses and burros of Sheldon
(and maybe some wandering BLM “managed” horses too)?

Kiss their ruby red blood goodbye...


MorganG said...

OK now I'm really confused, Katie has been helping with the lawsuit in Tuscarora but the group appears to be against wild horses? ONDA does not surprise me altho their own photos on ONDA vs Kimball et al. show the health of the riparian area restored after one year w/o CATTLE. Apparently they have attorneys to write up their position but are unable to read current research that show wild horses to be NATIVE. Perhaps more so than their pronghorns. The thought of working together never crosses these orgs minds? Betrayed again. No surprise

Arlene Gawne said...

Thank you Cindy for tieing these thieves together. Am I surprised? After 8 months of protest and investigation, nothing surprises me about the base greed and supreme impunity that these corporations and some so-called environmental groups exhibit.
But their house of cards will tumble someday too - greed, self-interst, ignorance and power will not protect them from illness, unhappiness, lonliness and a black conscience.
Those who tried and failed to keep wild horse families on their natural range will mutter the last word - "May you and yours die of broken hearts like so many wild ones have done thanks to your actions." Arlene Gawne, Las Vegas and the World

Humane Observer said...

Thank you for being a strong link in this chain, Cindy. The ugliness is getting so apparent... Undisguised greed, undisguised corruption. Perhaps we don't know when the tide will turn and the tables will turn. Perhaps we are closer than we think. I pray so. In any event, we keep revealing the truth, and you do it so well. Thank you.

Kathy Mc, Reno said...

Cindy, thank you for exposing these greedy, self centered, serving, narcistic bastards.

I'm not surprised, but it never ceases to amaze me at the lengths these people take to deepen their pockets at the horses expense. And I'll go ya one more...I'll bet my last dollar that the last 3 judges that ruled on stopping the round ups are also feeding off these disgusting corportations. Our Government is corrupt all the agencies within it, and 75% of the judges sitting on the bench!

Anonymous said...

Cindy, thank you. The plot continues to thicken--into sludge. Be sure to check your mailbox often.

Anonymous said...

Cindy, I just posted the previous comment. I didn't mean for that to be anonymous.

sandra longley said...

Hold on here before you go down this road and destroy the one partnership we have that has supported the horses on the land..WWP...ask your self this question..who has the most to gain if there is a blow up here between us???come on Cindy..think..there is much of this kind of thing going on behind the scenes right now...who does this and verify..right now WWP has a lawsuit on 28 RMPs that encompass HMAs which will do more to restore lands to the horses than anything we could hope to accomplish...please think!

sandra longley said...

There was a recent meeting in Nevada that laura leigh attended, that was full of angry cattlemen over this agreement..please cindy, contact laura.

shari said...

I agree with the comment that BLM is one who wants to destroy wild horses/ western water sheds alliance - lets not trash our alliance with wester water sheds -they have told craig downer they support wild horses, and have worked with us to help, and katie is helping !!! The other group oregon natural desert alliance doesnt seem up on science that horses are native .
Wild horses are native and have been proven to benefit eco-systems ( NATIONAL ACADEMY OF THE SCIENCES) , also all groups caring for public lands should join together and fight DOI/BLM destruction of our public lands , water, wildlife - not cut each others throat. Horses native to north america-

MorganLvr said...

I agree with Sandra Longley. I have seen too much of what WWP and Katie Fite have done to know that they do NOT oppose the horses, and Katie has been invaluable to Laura's law suit, which we are still fighting.

Katie has helped so much in fact that Sue Cattoor sent her a letter threatening to sue her and claiming Katie falsified her report to the court.

I do not believe Katie has betrayed us this late in the game. I know there are wheels within wheels within even more wheels, but I still trust Katie Fite. If I've learned anything from this experience, it is that NOTHING is as it seems.

Let's keep our heads now, of all times! Hang in there.

I know how hard this is on everyone - myself included, especially since I live so far away. I want to BE there! But, I can't, so I'll just keep on chewing my fingernails and waiting for updates from those who ARE there.

Preserve The Herds said...

Where in my article does it say Wester Watersheds Project opposes wild horses and burros? Did you even read the ONDA/Ruby Conservation Agreement? Where was WWP in that deal?

I merely reported the fact that WWP and ONDA made a deal with Ruby.

I did NOT say the deal ONDA made with Ruby is the deal WWP made with Ruby and its a pretty big leap in assumption to lump the two together in "all things".

To then jump to accusing me of attempting to "destroy the one partnership we have that has supported the horses on the land" is an even bigger leap still and is way off base.

I have been working with members of WWP and Katie Fite, both in the pages of American Herds and in various BLM proposals throughout the West, for a long time. Long before most WH&B advocates or organizations were even aware of the work WWP has done and continues to do and certainly longer than many who have recently started waking up to the fact that there are serious problems with BLM, the management of our public resources or the Wild Horse and Burro Program.

To now find myself having to defend the merits of WWP or Katie Fite is a strange place to be, indeed!

Before some of you continue to proceed with your unfounded assumptions and accusations, please consider the following;

1. ONDA and WWP are NOT the same organization. I seriously doubt if WWP knows about, or supports, everything ONDA does or vice versa. They are separate organizations and though they may work together on some issues, they are not one and the same and should not be treated as such.

2. ONDA made the deal with Ruby to fund the removal of horses and burros at Sheldon, not WWP.

3. The letter Brent Fenty sent to me that was submitted by ONDA and WWP in 2008 to Sheldon was drafted over two years ago; a lot has changed since then, such as WWP signing on to the Moratorium against WH&B round ups as well as being supportive in countless other ways. Do not demean those actions by accusing WWP of being ONDA.

4. Katie Fite (and others too!) have shown an amazing willingness to stick their neck out to reveal the truth about BLM and what is going on with public lands, public resources, wildlife, habitat, AND wild horses and burros. After all Katie has done, I am dumbfounded that some would even begin to question Katie's integrity as has been clearly demonstrated by her involvement and actions over a very long time - not just recently in the Tuscarora area - just because ONDA made a deal.

(I am even more dumbfounded about statements asserting that I am equally ignorant of Katie's recent actions and involvement in the Tuscarora area).

5. Katie is ALSO an individual. To make assumptions or accusations that she is identical and the same as all those who comprise WWP is a serious mistake.

6. Brent Fenty sent that letter (my assumption) to possibly invoke the very reaction some of you are now demonstrating.

As such, I suggest you stop wasting your energy dancing to ONDA's tune about questioning WWP and start focusing on the organization that made the deal (and what we can do about it, if anything), which is ONDA - NOT WWP, as WWP has a proven track record of supporting honest and appropriate management of public lands and public resources for the benefit of ALL species; including wild horses and burros.

Anonymous said...

It's not ONDA that is giving the impression that WWP is on the take, and essentially bailed on representing the interests of the many who thought they would defend the habitat provided on BLM lands, proposed to be destroyed by the Pipeline, it is WWP themselves, for allowing the precendent that environmental objections can be removed if one offers enough money. I personally have been told by WWP that they are more concerned with BLM's clear priority to cattle grazing interests over everything else, rather than the wild horse issues. Happy to have Katie Fite involved, but WWP seems to be as much a one-issue organization -- anti cattle grazing -- as ONDA is anti everything that moves in the desert, it seems. The proposed benefits from receiving jointly $15 million dollars i.e. their proposal to purchase lease rights from grazing lessees (and don't think for a minute that if they are offered for sale, their will not be a BIG profit to the cattle lessee), is at present not allowed by law, nor is retiring grazing rights permanently. Personally, I wonder about the wisdom of whatever attorney they had helping them that agreed to this bribe. El Paso is probably still laughing.

Puller said...

Ken Salazar: American Terrorist

I understand his brother, Ted, is an SOB too.