Often we see accusations that the Wild horse Advocates are a bunch of “tree hugging hippies that want the horses to run free and over-run the range.” I have read these accusations over and over until I want to scream.
Reserve design IS a management strategy that has been around for a long time. The principles have been utilized by many groups including those in the US. Here is a quick reference link to a USGS “Design for Grasslands” and bird populations. Another link to an NCCP document for Southern Orange County and another link: Grizzly bears and aquatic systems in Montana.
Yet we have never seen these principles used by a branch of government tasked with managing wild horses and burros as “integral” to the American landscape as outlined by Congress.
When we bring up these scientific concepts to a branch of government we hear responses like: “We are not the bureau of wild horses. We are the Bureau of Land management.”Or they will act as if these principles will only apply to some “Complex” system or “Reserve” in the east.
None of the responses are the truth. Each response is created to further the current agenda. The current agenda continues to find ways to zero out our herds.
Even after the West Douglas decision where BLM was found to overstep their authority, they found ways to break the spirit of law without breaking the letter. The Tobin herd was brought down to between 20-45 animals. I asked Alan Shepard of the BLM if that was genetically sustainable. He answered “Probably not.”
So why does this “assault” continue?
There is a long history in the west. Many of us interpret the wild horse as a symbol of freedom and resilience. Yet there are those that see the horse as a pest or simply a resource. In that lies the divide. Yet the divide become meaningless when you look at the law.
When you bring this up to the BLM they will answer that they are mandated by Congress to gather horses. The truth is that they are not.They are mandated to “manage.” They make the choice to use the “gather and process” as the first line strategy. It has lead to the current crisis.
The time to put the breaks on this current protocol is long overdue. Instead in 2010 our Secretary of the Department of Interior plans to hit the gas pedal. Does that sound like a rational decision from the head of the DOI?
With the dialogue about a new “Tri-state Mega Complex” confirmed in Nevada, isn’t it time to begin to look at alternatives? Alternatives that may very well need no new legislation to implement?
Reserve Design in a nutshell.
Much of the documentation on Reserve Design is dry, yet the priciple is very basic.
You begin with a “Core zone” managed for ecological balance based on species diversity and resource. This zone is created for “minimal management.” The theory is that these places create a balanced ecological system that creates many benefits to man.
Then outside the “Core” is a “Buffer zone.” The buffer is managed for multiple use. The buffer allows for grazing and industry that does NOT interfere with the core. The buffer also creates opportunity for community involvement in other areas that benefit the community, not just a few through subsidized industry. Eco-tourism opportunities, social programs etc. that directly benefit the surrounding area.
Each original HA (Herd Area) outlined in 1971 could currently fall into this category including areas that the BLM has zeroed out. Current law states that these areas can be re-evaluated and horses and burros returned. Many of these areas are economically depressed and could use the jobs such a program would generate. As opposed to say a Uranium mine that ultimately benefits imported workers and a select few, this type of program would benefit regular Americans. The potential for infusing not only income, but community pride and unity, exists in the dynamic of Reserve Design.
When BLM is approached with this theory they simply state it wont work or “we don’t have the land.”
I will state again that this CAN work in each original HA. But in order for that to happen perhaps we need a new organization to implement a dialogue?
Perhaps the BLM/DOI has too many conflicts of interest to effectively manage wild horses and burros?
Or will we actually see new faces invited into the planning process?
Will we ever see anyone within the DOI to have the brass to stop the current protocol?
Why are we continuing to do something we know doesn’t work?