Issue: BLM Chief's gaffe at the National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board
Situation Report Summary:
The rescheduling of wild horse gathers in Nevada is not uncommon. Nevada is the most mountainous state of the lower 48 states and has literally hundreds of microclimates and other conditions that affect when and where BLM will gather horses. Furthermore, the suspension of the Calico Complex gather affected BLM's entire schedule, therefore it was expected that other gathers would be moved up to prevent the last of the gathers being pushed back into foaling season. As a result, the roundups of the Surprise and Buckhorn herds along the northern California-Nevada border were moved up by several months.
This schedule change was not a surprise to Nevada "field" advocates who, in fact, anticipated horses coming into BLM's Litchfield (CA) and Palomino Valley (NV) facilities during the week of December 7th. What was a surprise, and perhaps it shouldn't be, was the apparent lack of knowledge by WHB Program Chief Don Glenn as to what his crews were actually doing. What resulted was yet another public gaffe in a litany of miscues and bungling by the massive Federal agency.
The failure of Glenn to know what was happening literally a few miles away from the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting in Sparks, NV, underscored the disconnect between the top echelon at BLM and the people actually carrying out BLM's "mission." For Glenn to not know what he was talking about involving an issue so sensitive, that was taking place at a location so nearby, and while speaking before a national Advisory Board meeting, underscores one of the primary reasons that BLM is making itself irrelevant.
BLM is so large and so layered that the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. who make policies affecting wild horses and wild horse ranges seem to seldom have access to, or avail themselves of, unedited facts and hard data. Those of us who are routinely out on the wild horse ranges often scratch our heads in bewilderment when we read some of the statements, claims and proposals coming out of Washington, D.C. For those of us old enough to remember it, what we see conjures up the old Saturday Night Live spoof telephone company commercial that included the jingle, "We don't know... We don't know... We don't know what we're doing."
Some advocates have expressed concerns that BLM's activities are somehow clandestine and/or covert. Not to worry. BLM in its present form is far too disorganized to be either clandestine or covert. Terms that more closely fit are "inept" and "incompetent." Until the people setting policy actually communicate with and show some deference to the people who actually understand what's going on out on our public lands, the situation is not likely to improve.
The Obama administration, that is ultimately responsible for the US Department of Interior and it's Bureau of Land Management, promised change to the American people. So far all we've seen is a change from bad to worse.
Post script (Added 12/11/09)
Some advocates have charged that Mr. Glenn "openly lied" to those in attendance at the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Given BLM's occasional use of creative mathematics and creative science in presenting statistical data, we can understand how such a perception could be formed. However we have no direct evidence that Mr. Glenn actually lied. Given the close proximity of the gathers, the fact that gathers are typically known about by local advocates, and that the folks in D.C. are generally regarded as "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight," the bungling bureaucrat theory most closely fits.
This experience also explains why some advocates invest their time out on the range observing what's really going on rather than sit in meetings and listen to this stuff.