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Last Thursday I had a 30-minute conference call with several members of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s senior staff with regard to the preliminary materials they had received about the initiative known as the Wild Horse Fire Brigade.
The WHFB initiative addresses three exigent issues of significant importance to the DOI, USDA, Bureau of Land Management, and Forestry Service:
1. The current and future disposition of the free-roaming wild horses that have been removed from herd management areas (HMAs) and are currently being warehoused by BLM in corrals. The estimated number of corralled wild horses is approximately 50,000 wild horses;
2. The current and future status of state and national disasters related to the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires that have evolved into annually occurring “megafires” which are deforesting large areas of the United States. These massive super-hot wildfires result in the extensive loss of trees, watersheds, animals, homes, structures, property and human life, and are clearly a threat to the national security of the United States because of their ability to adversely affect critical infrastructures; and
3. The current and ongoing serious population declines in cervid herds (deer, elk and moose) across America, which is attributable to both disease (chronic wasting disease) and excessive depredation by disproportionately large populations of predators, primarily mountain lions and coyotes.
This was the result of a lot of help politically from people who care deeply about our wild horses, forests, watersheds, forest animals, and the future of America. One person of great note is Jackson County (Oregon) Commissioner Colleen Roberts, who helped me to climb up a political and governmental organizational ladder with the Wild Horse Fire Brigade initiative.
And there are several scientists who have helped to educate me on the issues and how the Wild Horse Fire Brigade could make a very important contribution to saving our forests and the related natural resources; including but not limited to: Dr. Paul Hessburg of the USFS; Dr. Mark Zabel of the Prion Research Center; Dr. Kent Webb of Deer Friendly CA; Dr. Craig Downer, ecologist; and Dr. Ross MacPhee, curator of vertebrates for the American Museum of Natural History.
What happens next depends on many variables, the majority of which are far beyond me. I have done what I said I would do; the initiative is now at DOI.
But what happens next is not beyond the American people nor the readers of this report who, as a result of this all-important first look by the DOI, have a genuine opportunity to support an initiative that was certainly interesting enough to attract an initial query from the top echelon at DOI.
Make no mistake: This wasn’t the result of some rant email or letter sent into a blind email drop for “input.” This was a scheduled, on-the-agenda conference call, the real deal.
As many readers know, the BLM reports to the DOI and the staff there. So from my position this was the best meeting I could hope for, since these senior staffers (deputy directors) are the ones who collectively and individually report directly to Secretary Ryan Zinke, and the BLM reports to him.
I believe this is our big chance to save millions of acres of trees, watersheds, animals, homes, lives and jobs, as well as some of wild horses that number fewer than 100,000 in America.
The only remaining question is what will you do?
And if you’re not sure what to do, here is what I suggest:
1. Copy this story and mail it to your legislators as well as emailing it to them.
2. Call your legislators and tell them about Wild Horse Fire Brigade and ask them to look into it.
3. Email the DOI, BLM, USFS and the USDA and send them this story.
4. Tweet this story and share it on Facebook, then share the links for WHFB.
5. Do all of the above at least twice a week or more if you can. Too much is not enough.
6. Study the initiative and the issues it addresses so you are able to discuss it with supporting knowledge; know the facts.
Here are the links to Wild Horse Fire Brigade:
More info here: https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/