Spin Doctors Hired for the Destruction of America’s Wild Horse and Burro Herds

THE CLOUD FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE

BLM uses MMS’s PR and Public Affairs agency to facilitate Salazar’s agenda at June 14th public workshop in Denver—Protest on June 15th

Denver, CO (June 14, 2010)—The Cloud Foundation has learned that the San Francisco based public relations and public affairs firm, Kearns and West, with ties to big energy and offices across the country, has been hired to push the Salazar Plan for Wild Horses and Burros through Congress in Fall 2010—despite public outrage. Kearns and West has expertise in crisis management as well as accomplishing policy and regulatory goals. Their clients range from Mineral Management Services (MMS) and PG&E to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Department of Interior (DOI) has enlisted the firm using the Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (ECR) as the go between.

Senior mediator of Kearns and West, J. Michael Harty will facilitate an unprecedented public workshop in Denver, Colorado at the Magnolia Hotel, 818 17th Street, on June 14th followed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Public Advisory Board Meeting on June 15th. Both days will be live-streamed and viewing available on www.thecloudfoundation.org. The public and members of Congress are encouraged to watch.

The public will protest on June 15th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with a press conference at noon.

BLM’s recently announced and highly polished but unsubstantial, “Strategy Plan” as well as their association with PR firm Kearns and West, appears designed to manipulate the public and marginalize the opposition to the Salazar Plan for wild horses and burros. The plan calls for the purchase of Eastern and Midwestern “preserves” populated by sterilized wild horses, captured from their Western ranges.

“This is ALL about manipulating public opinion. And ramming ONE thing – Salazar’s Plan – through,” states author R.T. Fitch.

The Kearns and West Salazar Plan Executive Summary states, “The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (‘Institute’) is assisting BLM in assessing stakeholder interests and developing an effective stakeholder engagement plan for the Strategy.” Disturbingly, BLM often does not include the public as a stakeholder in their planning documents regarding the management of wild horses and burros.

“Who is the biggest stakeholder in the discussion of the public’s land and its wild horses if not the public?” asks Terri Farley, author of the Phantom Stallion series, adding “A public agency must represent the public and utilize taxpayer dollars responsibly—not spend excessively on another private contractor.”

According to their website, Kearns and West offers their clients (in this case the BLM) “A compelling credible, resonant case. True, high-impact support for your position.” Advocates support a new direction that abandons the endless, expensive cycle of roundup, removal, and warehousing. BLM must adopt a far less expensive path that is kinder to the land and the wild horses legally living there, one that contains truly transparent solutions, not a slick, taxpayer-funded PR campaign.

“By hiring a high powered PR and Public Affairs firm, it seems that BLM is aiming to extinguish the opposition rather than solve the controversy over their management of our wild herds,” explains Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation. “The public by the thousands has shared their opposition to the Salazar Plan. I hope we can sit down at this public forum and seriously talk about a moratorium on roundups while we work to reinstate protections that are consistent with the intent of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act.”

According to The Holmes Report, “Kearns & West recognizes the important value of collaborating both with our clients and their stakeholders. For more than 20 years, the firm has employed its unique brand of stakeholder-centric strategic communications and collaboration processes to design innovative, but pragmatic programs, achieving superior results for clients in the federal, state and local government, private and nonprofit sectors. Kearns & West works with tough issues and big ideas.”

Besides specializing in “accomplishing policy and regulatory goals” Kearns and West also represents PG&E—a primary customer in the Ruby Pipeline natural gas project threatening public lands and five public herds with environmental devastation from Wyoming to Oregon. Kearns and West also represents Duke Energy, the Association of Western Governors and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, among others.

While Secretary Salazar vowed to restore the Interior Department’s “respect for scientific integrity” he has failed to consider science, reason, or even the law when it comes to managing our wild herds. Kearns and West has been known to gather scientific experts and build a movement of common interest “stakeholders” to crush public outcry and true environmentalism. Wild horse advocates feel the Kearns and West prepared Salazar report for Congress will be biased in favor of big energy ties with DOI at the expense of federally protected wild horses who somehow are in the way of “The New Energy Frontier”.

“We hope Monday’s workshop will be a productive one rather than a demonstration of BLM’s inability to change,” concludes Kathrens.

# # #

Makendra Silverman
Makendra@TheCloudFoundation.org
Tel: 719-351-8187

Anne Novak
Anne@TheCloudFoundation.org
Tel: 415-531-8454

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