This is a continuation of a series on the Virginia Range horses and the Nevada Department of Agriculture. To understand the context of this report, please start at Part One.
TOURISM AND NEVADA'S|
Did you know?
The tourism sector (touring, gaming and hospitality) is Nevada's largest economic sector.
Approximately 40 percent of the citizens of Nevada earn their incomes directly or indirectly from the tourism industry.
The experts say that regaining lost tourism is "Job 1" for Nevada's economic recovery.
So why would any rational governor risk harming Nevada's largest enterprise over a bunch of horses?
Did you know?
Many of the wild horse advocates are involved in promoting Nevada tourism. The Wild Horse edition of Nevada Magazine was the magazine's best seller of all time. The Wild Horse Preservation League undertook the popular "Wild Horse Adventure of Nevada" ecotourism project. Wild horse items are top sellers in the State Legislature's gift shop. Advocates Lacy J. Dalton and Willis Lamm volunteered for several months hosting the radio show, "The Last Wild Place," that was listened to all over the world and promoted Nevada ecotourism.
(Dalton and Lamm didn't repeat the show this year as there was no point in putting forth that kind of effort if the Sandoval Administration was going to undo their work.)
The issue is horses. Nevadans love horses. They voted overwhelmingly for the wild horse design to be placed on our state's quarter.
Americans love horses.
The Nevada Department of Agriculture apparently doesn't love horses.
Economic statistics indicate that disaffection with the way the state treats its horses can and does correlate to losses in tourism revenues.
In 2011 a public reaction to negative horse bills in the legislature combined with actions being taken by the Nevada Department of Agriculture and a politician being quoted in the media saying, "This is a Nevada issue. We don't care what other people think," resulted in a public backlash. Gaming revenues fell by 152 million dollars the following month.
Link: Horse Wars and their Chilling Effect on Tourism
A recent media announcement by the Nevada Department of Agriculture that it planned to capture horses from the historic Virginia Range herd and dump them at the local livestock sale sent a wave of concern across the country. Local advocates have been receiving phone calls and emails from as far away as Switzerland with people who are growing outraged.
Exacerbating the problem is the resistance at Governor Sandoval's office to let concerned callers speak to anyone in authority. Callers are routinely forwarded to voicemail for Ed Foster at the Nevada Department of Agriculture. By his own admission, Ed Foster doesn't know anything about horses. He inspects crops and other plants. (Need an answer to a horse question? Ask a plant guy. The State of Nevada should change its name to the State of Confusion.)
A recurrent theme advocates are hearing from frustrated out-of-state citizens is that if the Governor's office can't be bothered to give them five minutes' time, why should they bother to spend their vacation money in Nevada?
Our advice to anyone feeling such frustration is to call back and ask that very question to the clerk who is blowing you off.
We need to fix this horse situation and we need to do it before Nevada experiences a repeat of 2011. If the Governor does prompt a showdown with the American public, we'll next be asking those Nevadans in Las Vegas - Clark County who lost their jobs to call in and ask hard questions, although they will probably just be forwarded to someone's voice mail who couldn't help them anyway.
Political cartoons often reveal public sentiments. This one came from back east.
And what's with the Department of Agriculture's apparent obsession over horses? They seem to be spending a great deal of time and taxpayer's money sending state employees out skulking around looking for horses when the State Legislature put in place a system where non-profit cooperators handled such tasks ad no cost to the taxpayers.
So why are we posting these complaints on the Internet?"
The answer is simple, Governor. Nobody is taking the calls. Clearly nobody is listening. Perhaps someone in the office can read.
Let's not lose more Nevada jobs over the incompetent handling of a bunch of horses.