|September 27, 2014|
Feds Renege on Promise to Pay for Feral Horses
Stiff Farmers, Ranchers for Millions of Dollars over 20 Years on
Despite an interim agreement reached 20 years ago during the Clinton era with ranchers who have property near the Granite Mountain Open Allotment (GMOA), adjoining Jeffrey City, Wyo., and continued petitions to the Secretary of the Interior, the U.S. government is refusing to pay millions in promised compensation for feral horses grazing on private property,
Letters written to former Secretary Ken Salazar (D), and current Secretary Sally Jewell seeking payment for the costs incurred during the last two decades, including one petition sent earlier this month, have gone unanswered.
“Before you leave D.C., I’d appreciated our working together to address some unfinished business; and that is the 1993 Interim agreement between the DOI (BLM) and Wyoming Granite Mountain Open No. 1636 Allotment Owners (AO – and also known as Stockholders and Permit Holders). Through earlier communications with you and your department, and subsequently BLM Director Bob Abbey, I know you are familiar with this matter, and are likely to be in agreement it deserves closure,” wrote rancher Chuck Sylvester, who owns property in Wyoming, as well as in Colorado, in a letter to then Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, a native of Colorado, on Feb. 20, 2013.
His successor, Sally Jewell, has been equally ineffective on resolving the matter of the debt payment, which continues to grow daily. At no time in the 18 months since my letter to Secretary Salazar, has there been an acknowledgment of my letter or compensation for feral horse board and room,” Sylvester wrote on Sept. 18, 2014 to secretary Jewell.
Dividing up the total number of feral horses the Granite Mountain Open Allotment shareholders are subjected to, Sylvester estimates that he boards and rooms 79 horses.
“Taking 79 head X’s $1.50 =’s $118.50 per day X’s 365 days =’s $43,225.25 per year X’s 20 years =’s $865,050.00,” says Sylvester, Less $25,596.00 I would have paid on BLM fees =’s $839,454.00. 5% interest on the unpaid balance of $543, 204.00 =’s $4,080.82. $839,454.00 + $4,080.82 =’s $843,534.82” that the U.S. government owes just Mr. Sylvester.
The total figure appears to be 23 times that amount for the total of 1,835 feral horses in the Granite Mountain area, or approximately $20 million.
The federal government, in the meantime, continues to show through other policy moves that it favors horses more than people, and seeks to protect feral horses, more than it does to honor its agreement with American citizens.
Secretary Salazar in 2009 announced plans to reform the federal wild horse and burro program. But, the promised changes were not enacted, and cost-effective, humane solutions – such as birth control or euthanasia– were glossed over.
"We have a huge problem -- out-of-control populations of wild horses and burros on our public lands," Salazar told reporters back then. "The problem has been growing and simmering over time, and it's time for us to do something about it that protects the horses."
At least Salazar is consistent in one regard, the Secretary has failed to respond to the petition from the coalition of 50 different groups of Obama voters.
The leftists, are, what is more, outraged that the Interior Department had sold "truckload after truckload" of federally protected wild horses to a known buyer/livestock hauler who purchases horses and ships them to slaughter in Mexico. Reduction of the herd of feral horses has been federal policy for many presidential administrations.
According to the Bureau of Land Management, the range can support about 26,600 wild horses and burros. But the free-roaming herds total about 37,000. There are another 32,000 in holding facilities, according to the government.
Note: these are not “wild” horses, indigenous to the American west. They are horses that were domesticated and which escaped into the wild, and are genetically proven to be of many different kinds of horses, none of which are native to the U.S.
The intense pressure from the liberal horse loving groups – and from normal ranchers and farmers – was rumored to be the cause of Secretary Salazar’s resignation in 2013.
But his successor, Sally Jewell, hasn’t fared much better. She commissioned a study on feral horses upon assuming office, after being grilled during her confirmation hearings by the Senate.
At her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, four senators, two Democrats and two Republicans, loudly questioned Interior’s handling of the feral horse program, saying the government has consistently failed to live up to its own management goals.
At that March 7, 2013 hearing, Jewell said she was "not familiar with the specifics" of the BLM's feral horse budget and she wanted to develop "effective and ecologically sustainable policies" for managing the beasts.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) had threatened to hold up Jewell’s confirmation.
Before her nomination and confirmation, Jewell was president and CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc., a retailer of camping supplies, and was active in Democratic politics, who was born overseas and educated as an engineer in the U.S. However, the lack of a solution to the feral horse problem plagues her now, and there are several petitions online to “impeach” Jewell. Since Jewell is foreign-born, she is the only cabinet member who is not in the official line of succession for the presidency, as she is ineligible to hold that office, per the Constitution of the U.S. Many have complained that Barack Obama himself suffers from the same disqualifying characteristic, but he reminds audiences that his book publicist is the one who started the rumor he was born in Kenya to an American mother.
Humor over horses and agricultural country from a leading contender for the 2016 open White House seat? This raises the question: How seriously will a President Rodham-Clinton take the deal with ranchers first drafted under her husband’s administration in 1993?
|Charles W. Sylvester, Jr.
P.O. Box 155 LaSalle, Colorado 80645 U.S.A.
(970) 284-6874 Farm_Cowboy@msn.com - www.LandAndWaterUSA.com
Secretary Sally Jewell
September 18, 2014
Dear Secretary Jewell,
Regards: Compensation for board and room for feral horses.
In the letter below to Secretary Ken Salazar (February 20, 2013) please note that I was very conservative regards my numbers compilation of the bill I was compelled to submit for compensation from the Bureau of Land Management under the Department of Interior.
At no time in the 18 months since my letter to Secretary Salazar, has there been no acknowledgment of my letter or compensation for feral horse board and room.
The bill I am submitting today, is more in line with what the DOI pays for off Federal land feral horse board and room. This compensation should be no different for Grazing Allotment Owners who own Property on Federal Land in the way of Equitable Title to the Forage, Improvements, Water Easements and Beneficial use of Water. Allotment Owners are hit with a financial loss (in income and property value) with each AUM (Animal Unit Month) BLM takes below Allotment Owner’s highest Historic number.
An average of what BLM pays Off Federal Land Feral horse board and room providers, is $1.50 per feral horse per day.
Please know that had I charged the same $2.00 per day per horse as Off Federal Land Feral horse Board and Room providers do, DOI would owe me in excess of $1 million dollars.
Please submit payment immediately.
Granite Mountain Open Allotment Owner Charles W. Sylvester
$839,454.00 + $4,080.82 =’s $843,534.82 Total due Charles W. Sylvester by Department of Interior
Secretary Ken Salazar
February 20, 2013
I am sure you are looking forward to returning to your native state of Colorado, and spending well deserved time with your family.
Speaking of family, your brother John is doing a great job as our Commissioner of Agriculture, and therefore gaining healthy respect in the Ag community.
Before you leave D.C., I’d appreciated our working together to address some unfinished business; and that is the 1993 Interim agreement between the DOI (BLM) and Wyoming Granite Mountain Open No. 1636 Allotment Owners (AO – and also known as Stockholders and Permittees). Through earlier communications with you and your department, and subsequently BLM Director Bob Abbey, I know you are familiar with this matter, and are likely to be in agreement it deserves closure.
The1993 agreement was based on BLM’s commitment to do water development fencing etc. maintenance, in exchange for Stockholders agreeing to a temporary voluntary giving up 45% of their AUM’s.
Though the Stockholders honored their part of the agreement, they noticed within a few years that the BLM would not honor their part and instead increased their feral horse herds. So began the Stockholder’s request the agreement be terminated; which the BLM finally did February 22, 2012 via a letter from BLM agent Richard Vandervoet.
Due to a government action – i.e. the 1993 Interim Agreement, each Granite Mountain Open Allotment Owner has accrued financial losses. Under historic statues, State and U.S. Constitutions, these government generated losses are wholly recognized as “compensable” to Allotment Owners.
The historic recap “In the Shadow of Wounded Knee” (National Geographic August 2012) serves as sad reminder that government is quick to lie, and excruciatingly slow to correct itself and assume full accountability; even after clear showings of its wrongful, inaccurate actions.
“Shadow of Wounded Knee” explains how – in 1868 the Native American Indians were deceived by government employees, simply because they didn’t know how to read our English. In 1868 men came out and brought papers. We could not read them, and they did not tell us truly what was in them...When I reached Washington the Great Father (President of the United States) explained to me...that the interpreters had deceived me. All I want is right and justice. They (federal government) made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they kept but one--They promised to take our land...and they took it." Chief Red Cloud of the Ogallala 1822-1909
I offer this parallel, for not unlike government’s approach to the Indians, the Lander BLM agent came to the Stockholders, explained an agreement was necessary for conservation and range rest, and strongly suggested that unless we signed the agreement, we wouldn’t get any “improvements” cooperation from BLM. And we, the stockholders, could read, and believed him. We believed the agreement was as stated, “interim – i.e. temporary,” and that BLM would honor their commitment to improvements, so we agreed to voluntarily give up 45% AUM’s., leaving 55% of AUM’s based on 1993 numbers…NOT the highest historic levels.
A side note: BLM reported 19 years (or 2012) later, that their tracking revealed Stockholders running only 53% AUM’s.
Feral horse numbers have never been maintained at levels less than 250 over the past 20 years.
For the record: Considering the “Highest Historic Level” on the Granite Mountain Open Allotment, Allotment owners have run considerably less over the past 30 or so years; and since 1993, likely a quarter (maybe an eighth) less than that.
Therefore, please consider the following my submission of financial loss, with expectation of full and immediate just compensation by government.
Here’s a backgrounder on how I figured my financial loss:
Using assigned number of 2,108 AUM’s, subtract the 45% cut, equals 948 AUM’s. Feral horse AUM’s have been figured at approximately 79 head over 12 months at an annual basis. To house feral horses, government pays private property owners in the range of $1.50 to $1.75 per head per day. Forgiving the Federal Government $0.50 to $0.75 I’ll use $1.00 per head per day - or $30.00 per month. Take $30.00 times 12 months times 20 year’s time 79 head of feral horses equals $568,800 total, less $25,596 the BLM fees I would have paid, leaves a balance of $543,204. Bill summary follows on the last page.
We pray DOI justly compensates expeditiously. Should DOI desire to litigate instead, we will subpoena BLM employees to verify the numbers, with the add on request that certain BLM employees be given immunity and protection; because they’re sure to tell the truth.
Ken, I hope you enjoy your remaining days in D.C. and that your transitioning goes smooth and happy. After you’re settled back in Colorado, we’ll put business aside (because it’ll have been settled justly), and renew our friendship over coffee or Crown to your liking.
Charles W. Sylvester
Granite Mountain Open Allotment Owner Charles W. Sylvester
A Federal Government Agency known as the Department of Interior, through its department Bureau of Land Management, owes $543,204.00 payable to Charles W. Sylvester.