Cross-posted from PPJ Gazette. © Debbie Coffey, all rights reserved.
After the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rounds up our wild horses off of our public lands, they corral them in short term and long term holding facilities. In many instances, the horses are forever removed from public access.
In what seems to be BLM’s attempt to avoid bad publicity for denying public access and lacking transparency, the BLM may throw the public a few crumbs and offer a rare and very limited “dog and pony show” tour of one of the facilities.
Now, instead of letting us (members of the public) who are paying for this fiasco and for their salaries) walk along the paths, as they did in the past, they want to round us up and hold us within the confines of a wagon.
Here’s the deal:
For instance, the BLM recently announced a tour of the Indian Lakes Road Short Term Holding Facility in Fallon, Nevada. I sent Dean Bolstad, the Wild Horse & Burro Program Deputy Division Chief, an e-mail asking 4 questions about this tour:
- What is the cost of the wagon for the public tour of Indian Lakes Road facility per day?
- How much is the cost of the porta potties?
- Is Troy Adams paying for these or is the BLM paying for these?
- Most importantly, why can’t the public walk around the facilities, as we did on all of the original tours of Indian Lakes Road?
Dean had to pass my questions along to someone else because he was busy in Washington D.C., so I received the following answers from another high ranking BLM official. My responses to the BLM official’s answers are in italics.
“The original contract never addressed hosting public/facility tours at this facility.” Who asked anything about a contract? We already hashed out the contract issue. Dean Bolstad told us the facility was never meant to be open to the public, yet we found the contract amendment that had added tours, along with a memo from Mr. Bolstad urging the end of public tours because they hurt the BLM’s image and reputation. In case any of you missed that article, read it here.
“Preparation of the facility grounds on tour day added additional labor expenses, Restroom rental, additional liability Insurance, additional maintenance and materials (ie, gravel and water truck operation for dust abatement) all added additional expenses to the contractor which were not anticipated during the solicitation period. The contractors (Troy/Nicole Adams) provided a proposal to the contracting officer for reimbursement of their added expenses for hosting facility tours.”
Do Troy and Nicole Adams, who get over $3 1/2 million each year for the contract, really need to “nickel and dime” American taxpayers?
If I had this BLM contract for over $3 1/2 million a year, I’d be throwing in a big barbeque for the public tour, too. If you haven’t seen the article about Troy Adams’ contract, read it here.
“A modification to the original contract was performed by the contracting officer and a new line item was added for facility tours.” Again, who asked? And, you left out the part about Mr. Bolstad urging the end of public tours because it was bad for the BLM’s image and reputation.
“The contractor is reimbursed $1,950/ tour for compensation of their additional expenses. There is no cost for the wagon as it is owned by the contractors.” So, is the $1,950 for the cost of Sani Huts? I hope we at least get 2-ply toilet paper with this deal.
“Originally, when hosting facility tours, the public was allowed to walk around the facility accompanied by BLM personnel. However, due to the great area the facility encompasses, sandy soil making footing very difficult” NOBODY, (bad knees and all), on any of the tours, ever had problems walking around the facility. Also, since the BLM official stated that part of the expenses for Troy Adams was for water truck operation for dust abatement on the past tours, does this mean Troy was paid for something he didn’t do, if there was “sandy soil” making footing very difficult? And doesn’t this statement also say something about the BLM’s choice to house the wild horses at this location, since there might be a lot of sand getting in the feed?
And, here’s my favorite part:
“and the unknown potential health issues with the variety of public attending the tours. The decision to was made to place the public in a vehicle in order to have a more controlled way to keep the public together and reduce the risk of potential health concerns”
Is the person who wrote this statement smoking crack?:
“the public attendees may have with difficulty walking for extended periods, exposure to extreme temperatures, etc.”
What about the risk of blood clots from having to sit in the wagons after a long drive to Fallon? Since the BLM acknowledges “extreme” temperatures, shouldn’t they provide shelter for the horses? Newborn foals had to lay in the open, exposed to snowstorms. And there only seemed to be shelter on the sides of the sick pens.
The only thing that is “extreme” is the BLM limiting public access to holding facilities. And the reason the BLM is forcing you, the public, to ride in a wagon on this tour (instead of walking, like we were able to do in the past) is that they really, really don’t want you to look too closely or take any photographs that might hurt their image or reputation.