Letter: Horse roundup letter was insulting, uninformed
I find Mr. Karcich’s Sept. 14 letter to the editor on the gathering of wild horses to be disingenuous, uninformed and insulting.
First, he presents us with a white paper study, but what is a white paper? In the 1880s, a white paper’s original purpose was to provide a briefing to decision makers and was presented along with the blue paper, a document that included all of the data without comment. Since the 1990s, according to Purdue University, it’s become a marketing tool used by commercial and nonprofits alike to direct the reader to a specific decision by carefully crafting the message.
Mr. Karchich refers to an untitled, anonymously written white paper sponsored by the Wild Horse Freedom Federation. Excuse me if I am skeptical whether I am getting a complete picture or if I am left with the interpretation of someone who has a specific bias when deciding what information to include or omit.
He then is outraged that the BLM pays $60 per month to people to board these unadoptable horses on their private land. This isn’t a grazing lease; this is a horse boarding lease. The going rate for boarding domestic horses in pastures with other horses ranges between $150 and $400 per month. For that bargain price, the BLM horses are ensured a free range with adequate water and forage and supplemental feed when needed, topography that provides shelter in bad weather, monitoring of health weekly, and the operator is expected to open those pastures to the public and provide an educational program.
The insulting part is where he refers to “welfare ranchers.” I would like to point out that ranchers are taxpayers that contribute their share to federal government and public lands. While most of the uses of public lands are free to the general public, certain places and uses must pay an additional fee. Grazing is one of these.
The cost is determined by a formula, including the price of private grazing leases. So the rancher pays federal taxes like an additional fee for the lease and property tax to the county for the grazing lease. Any improvements, such as fences and water sources, made by the rancher become the property of the BLM.
Bottom line, horses are needing to be removed because the numbers have reached a level detrimental to “herd immunity” and rangeland. Colorado and ranchers understand the need to manage rangeland by managing animal numbers.
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Rather than protest at a rally to raise awareness of an alleged problem, Steamboat Springs High School students should file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.