Protect Mustangs Press Release
SAN FRANCISCO, Ca. (June 2, 2012) — Protect Mustangs, the Bay Area-based preservation group, has been in negotiation with BLM California and is happy to announce that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has agreed to postpone the California helicopter and motorized use public hearing to a later date. Using helicopters at wild horse and burro roundups is controversial. Americans nationwide call helicopter roundups cruel.
“We want to thank BLM California for their act of good faith to promote transparency,” says Anne Novak, executive director for Protect Mustangs. “The American public wants to participate but they need 30 days notice in order to make travel arrangements.”
On May 30th the preservation group discovered BLM California’s press release online. With only 4-5 days until the hearing, they contacted BLM and opened up the dialogue requesting the public hearing be postponed and rescheduled.
The Nevada saga
“Even though 80% of America’s indigenous wild horses live on public land in the State of Nevada, they belong to all Americans–from San Francisco to New York City,” explains Novak. “They are icons of freedom and must not be terrorized by helicopters.”
Previously on May 27th, Protect Mustangs requested for Nevada BLM to kindly reschedule their public hearing, for helicopter and motorized vehicle use for roundups and management, because their public notice was too short (5 business days) and basically no one knew about it.
Unlike the California BLM who took proper action to protect public process, the Nevada BLM refused to reschedule the public hearing on helicopters so the public would have adequate notice (30 days) to attend.
On May 29th, in Carson City, Nevada, only 4 people commented in a close to empty hearing room because interested members of the public were not informed. The hearing notice was published online, 5 business days before, in a small town local paper in Mesquite, Nevada – 487 miles away.
“BLM Nevada shows the American people they want to avoid engaging public input,” says Kerry Becklund, outreach director for Protect Mustangs. “Hiding public hearings from the public demonstrates a lack of transparency.”
Reno News 4 reported on Wild horse advocates say BLM jeopardized public process.
Invasion of privacy suppresses free speech
In an unsuccessful gesture to placate public outrage, BLM Nevada announced, during the hearing, they would extend the written comment period until June 12th with new comment guidelines.
Protect Mustangs and members of the public oppose BLM’s disclaimer that the agency will not safeguard the personal identifying information PII) BLM requires in order to comment. Clearly this invasion of privacy suppresses free speech. The group is asking for the PII to be minimal and for the BLM to withhold the PII if requested by the commenter.
“One of the gems of America is that the people can participate through public comment and public hearings,” says Novak. “We don’t want people to feel their rights to privacy will be violated if they speak out.”
The group continues negotiations with BLM Nevada, to reschedule the controversial Nevada helicopter hearing so members of the public may attend and give oral comment.
Members of the public are encouraged to fax the BLM head office in Washington DC to request the Nevada helicopter hearing be rescheduled with a 30 day notice given to the public. The fax number is: 202-208-5242. They may also email their request to Deputy Director Mike Pool at Mike_Pool@blm.gov.
Meanwhile, the group asks the public to send in their comments about using helicopters and other motorized vehicles at roundups and for other wild horse and burro management. They welcome the public to send them a copy of their comments to Contact@ProtectMustangs.org so Protect Mustangs can watchdog the process.
Protect Mustangs is a Bay Area-based preservation group whose mission is to educate the public about the American wild horse, protect and research wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.