September 25, 2010 (The News as We See It) by R.T. Fitch

 GrassRootsHorse Sends BLM into Legal Tailspin

Photojournalist and videographer Laura Leigh, supported by GrassRootsHorse, filed a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) at 0500hrs PT, September 24th 2010.

Horseback Magazine Reporters R.T. Fitch and Laura Leigh at Twin Peaks Stampede ~ Photo by Terry Fitch

The motion names as defendants Ken Salazar, Bob Abbey, Ron Wenker and the BLM as it asks for an immediate cessation of all helicopter roundups and related activities regarding any and all aspects of actions related to wild horse movement, gathering or roundup as well as any actions involving all the horses in both short and long term holding.  The case has been assigned to the Honorable Judge Hicks who, likewise, is considering Ms. Leigh’s contempt complaint regarding the Tuscarora stampede.

This motion is all about accountability, access, transparency and the First Amendment rights granted to all U.S. citizens under the Constitution.

“This is about the horses, each and every horse. Every individual life that leaves the range matters and is important to the American public. This is not about some bulk inventory and it is about time that the government recognizes that fact. We are not going away. The wild horses and burros are living beings mandated to be managed humanely.” said Maureen VanDerStad of Grass Roots Horse, a nonprofit group based in grass roots activism. 

“This is not rocket science”, stated Ms. Leigh,  “All we are asking for is fair and equitable access to witness not only the operations of the BLM’s roundups but the subsequent handling and treatment of the horses now held captive.  It seems that transparency is easy to promise but difficult for the BLM to deliver upon.”

This grass roots battle for humane treatment and proper management of the wild horses and burros has been going on since Velma Johnston first sought to stop the killing and abuse of the wild horses and burros six decades ago.  That effort resulted in the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 (ROAM), which mandated, among many other things, the humane treatment of these symbols of our American heritage and pioneer spirit.

The Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Interior have steadily and secretly chipped away at those mandates and protections over the years resulting in the abominable situation we have now. Anything to do with the wild horse and burro program or the animals themselves, even their location, is shrouded in secrecy and hidden under layers of excessive bureaucracy.

 “This battle has been waged for decades,” stated author and fellow correspondent R.T. Fitch, “The difference today is that we have turned up the volume with technology which enables us to put this travesty directly into the living rooms, dens and bedrooms of the taxpaying American public.  We are watching and so is the world!”

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Court documents including declarations from Laura Leigh, R.T. Fitch, Terry Fitch, Debbie Coffey and Steven Long can be downloaded from the “Box” in the lower right sidebar