Editorial: BLM finally exploring wild horse solutions other than warehousing

Wild horses in corrals in Carson City (R-J photo by John Locher)

It appears someone at the Bureau of Land Management has come to the belated conclusion that keeping nearly 50,000 “wild” horses and burros in short-term corrals and long-term pastures, which results in the taxpayers feeding them at a cost of $50,000 apiece for their average 25-year life span, is not the best solution to the problem.

Earlier this month the BLM announced it will initiate 21 research projects with a goal of being able to properly maintain a sustainable population of wild horses and burros on the open range, which would be a relief to the horses, the rangeland, water resources, ranchers and other wildlife.

Because they have virtually no natural predators, wild horse herds can double in size in four years. But since Congress refuses to fund the slaughter of unadoptable horses and burros, which was the designated remedy for excess animals under the original Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, more than 60 percent of the BLM’s $70 million annual budget for managing wild horses and burros is consumed by warehousing the animals, one of the largest corral complexes is in Palomino Valley near Reno.

Back in 1971 there were about 25,000 wild horses and burros on the range, but since then the number of animals on public lands has more than doubled to 58,150 — 9,000 of those were born in the past year alone.

Of course, the BLM is pursuing this research endeavor in the manner it knows best — spending our money. It plans to spend $11 million over 5 years.

The BLM says it will spend that money on university and U.S. Geological Survey scientists, primarily to develop longer lasting fertility-control vaccines, as well as efficient methods for spaying and neutering wild horses.

“Given the cost of caring for horses off the range and the difficulty of finding qualified adopters, it is clear that this challenge must be solved by addressing population growth on the range,” Mike Tupper, BLM Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Planning, was quoted as saying in the BLM announcement, showing a knack for the obvious. “The BLM is committed to developing new tools that allow us to manage this program sustainably and for the benefit of the animals and the land.”

The specifics of the research projects include:

— A one-year project that will aim to develop a minimally invasive surgical sterilization method for wild horse mares that requires no incisions.
— Two projects that aim during a two-year period to develop different surgical approaches for tubal ligation in mares.
— A six-month project that will determine whether an existing accepted surgical sterilization procedure commonly used for domestic mares can be safely conducted on wild horses.
— A two-year project will focus on further study of Gonocon, an approved and labeled contraceptive vaccine for equids.
— A two-year study to develop a new, permanent contraceptive vaccine for wild horse mares.
— A four-year project that will attempt to develop a new delivery vehicle for porcine zona pellucida (PZP) — a temporary contraceptive currently used in some wild horse herds – that would increase the duration of the vaccine’s effectiveness.
— A three-year project for the development of an injectable agent that would inactivate hormones and decrease female and male gonad viability.

Nowhere is there even a suggestion of one of the most practical means of mitigating the overpopulation of the herds — humane euthanasia of sick and injured animals with their carcasses sold commercially to defray the cost to taxpayers. But that would take an act of Congress, which is even slower to act than the BLM.

Meanwhile, in another rare display of logical decision making this summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled that wild horses are not eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act, because they are not a distinct and native population. The decision came in response to a petition from two wild horse advocacy groups, who claimed the wild horse is threatened with extinction, even though the real problem is overabundance.

We welcome any effort by the federal land bureaucracies to save tax money and protect the open range.

A version of this editorial appears this past week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record.

Kill the messenger

According to Politico, the Justice Department is going to investigate those disturbing videos in which a Planned Parenthood official haggles over the price of fetal body parts. No, not Planned Parenthood, silly, the videographers:

JUSTICE TO PROBE CENTER FOR MEDICAL PROGRESS — While congressional committees investigate Planned Parenthood’s practices, the Justice Department agreed to look into whether the group that released the sting videos obtained the footage legally. In response to a request by House Democrats, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday afternoon that Justice would “review all of the information and determine what the appropriate steps moving forward would be.” Planned Parenthood has staunchly defended its practices and claims that the Center for Medical Progress illegally obtained its footage, then excessively edited it to misrepresent what the organization does.

Center Executive Director David Daleiden isn’t phased. “They will attack me and my organization all day long, but that does not change the facts about what our investigation has uncovered and what the American people now know — that Planned Parenthood is engaged in an enterprise-wide operation that traffics and sells baby body parts,” he said in a statement.

According to Fox News, the second video released by Center for Medical Progress shows a  Planned Parenthood official agreeing to to sell “intact tissue” for $100 each, while sipping wine and saying she wants a Lamborghini. There may be more videos to come.

According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, there is no federal hidden camera law. Wiretap laws cover the interception of phone calls and other wire transmission. So, what is Lynch investigating? Whistleblowing?

In most cases, one may record one’s own conversation, secretly or otherwise. I drove a lawyer to distraction by recording my deposition in a civil case. I laid the device on the table but no one noticed till the end. My lawyer told the other lawyer it was perfectly legal in Nevada. It was a good thing I recorded it because I used it to catch errors in the transcript.

Planned Parenthood gets $500 million a year in federal funding through various programs.

Harry Reid defended Planned Parenthood and called the videos “politically motivated.”

Screen grab from video of Planned Parenthood official negotiating the sale of fetal body parts.


Editorial: Time to free community colleges to stand on their own

Study after study have determined the state’s community colleges, especially those in rural Nevada, are getting short shrift under the current Nevada System of Higher Education governance structure.

A year ago a legislative Committee to Conduct an Interim Study Concerning Community Colleges rejected recommendations that the state’s four community colleges — College of Southern Nevada, Great Basin College, Western Nevada College and Truckee Meadow Community College — be placed under a separate system from the universities.

This was despite a study by the Lincy Institute at UNLV that said “the underachievement and underutilization of many of the state’s higher education institutions and their exclusive dependency on state general funds, which for the smaller campuses necessitate an unsustainable level of state subsidization, suggests that a restructuring of higher education administration and governance that empowers localities and builds on the state’s economic efforts is long overdue.”

Great Basin College

This year, Chancellor Dan Klaich reportedly quashed a study by National Center for Higher Education Management Systems that was highly critical of the current system’s supervision and funding of the community colleges, saying the system “faces a major challenge of addressing policy issues across all missions from the universities to the community colleges.”

Since the recession the budgets of the community colleges have experienced drastic cuts. This year the Legislature passed $5 million in so-called bridge funding to patch over some of the funding shortfalls.

In an op-ed in a couple of Nevada newspapers four former community college presidents called for a separate governance structure for the state’s community colleges.

They said a new funding formula shortchanges students at community colleges. “Great Basin College and Western Nevada College must soon absorb budget cuts in excess of 30 percent,” they write. “The temporary ‘bridge’ funding provided by the legislature in June will only ease the inevitable budget devastation by allowing time for faculty and staff to polish their resumes and seek employment elsewhere, while presidents agonize over which services and communities to abandon, which programs to dismantle, and which employees to fire.”

The missive is signed by Dr. Tony Calabro, former president of Western Nevada College; Dr. John Gwaltney, former president of Truckee Meadows Community College; Dr. Ron Remington, former president of both College of Southern Nevada and Great Basin College; and Dr. Carol Lucey, former president of Western Nevada College.

“Time and again, independent consultants have recommended changes for Nevada community college governance. Time and again, those recommendations have been ignored,” the former presidents note. “Time and again, independent consultants have warned against the meager funding allotted to community colleges. Time and again, those admonitions have been ignored. An addiction to the status quo doesn’t allow for change, innovation, and improvement. Why does the state preserve a governance model that, in effect, inhibits the contributions of its community colleges and, most importantly, penalizes more than half of Nevada’s college students?”

That’s right more than half of Nevada’s college students attend community college, where the professors teach more and are paid less than professors at the universities, often for the very same credited course.

Community college is the only recourse for many students who cannot afford the costly universities or must work full- or part-time or cannot afford to uproot themselves from their rural communities and move to the city.

Closing the community college doors to those students closes the doors to opportunity for better lives and greater contributions to the economy of Nevada.

The Lincy study concluded, “In sum, any dispassionate and objective analysis of the relevant data … indicates that Nevada’s current higher education administration and governance is a poor fit for the state’s residents, businesses, localities, and economic development priorities.”

It is past time to cut the community colleges from the herd and let them take care of themselves instead of playing the role of runts to the universities.

A version of this editorial appears this past week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record.

Get your head right, right now

In a speech about the gay marriage decision by the Supreme Court, Obama said:

Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs.  All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact; recognize different viewpoints; revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.

But today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shifts in hearts and minds is possible.  And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them.

That’s right, this is land of many viewpoints and this has to change now. There is a word for this kind of thinking.

Tom Nichols explains it in a post on Federalist.com titled “The New Totalitarians Are Here: Totalitarians want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining — even if it takes bludgeoning every last citizen who disagrees.”

It is no longer enough to win, as in the gay marriage ruling, everyone must embrace the precept in their hearts and minds — reject thoughtcrime.

“Totalitarians are a different breed. …” Nichols writes. “They want obedience, of course. But even more, they want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining. And the only way to achieve that is to create a new society of people who share those beliefs, even if it means bludgeoning every last citizen into enlightenment.”

Dare to speak a contrary word about the liberal agenda and you will be bludgeoned unmercifully.

Learn to love Big Brother or else.

Newspaper column: The wishes of one man drown out the voices of an entire state

Basin and Range National Monument (R-J photo)

What do you call a country in which one person has the power to dictate to local elected officials how land within their jurisdiction may be used or not used?


This past week with the proverbial stroke of his oft-bragged-about pen President Obama singlehandedly created a 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument in the Coal and Garden valleys in Lincoln and Nye counties, even though most local officials oppose it.

Congressman Cresent Hardy, whose district includes the new monument, complained about the arbitrary decision made as a sop to lame duck Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

“We need to be sure local communities don’t have their concerns ignored by politicians eager to leave a legacy or pull favors for their friends by setting aside huge tracts of land,” Hardy said in a statement. “Nevada’s rural county economies are particularly sensitive, and any decisions that affect ranching, recreation or other types of land use activities should have as much local input as possible … but at the moment, they do not. Legacy building in the twilight of one’s career shouldn’t be the driver of our nation’s public land management.”

Congressman Mark Amodei, who represents northern rural Nevada, said in an interview, “One of the paybacks for Senator Reid being one of the administration’s backstops for six of their eight years is the monument thing. … Why the hell can’t you go through the public process?”

Sources confirmed Reid’s role to the Washington Post: “It is only due to Harry Reid that this is getting done.” When told it was controversial in Nevada, Obama replied, “I don’t care. I want this done.”

Amodei expressed a suspicion that the ulterior motive for the monument was not so much to protect petroglyphs and barren desert, but to block access to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository should Congress vote to revive it. Reid has been a vehement opponent of Yucca Mountain.

“I suspect that what it’s attempting to protect is any potential rail to Yucca Mountain,” Amodei said. “That’s just my speculation, but the irony of that is, if the Congress of the United States decides over the strenuous objection of Nevada’s governor and congressional delegation to crank that back up, it is a fact they can put as many rights-of-way across the monument area as they want.”

Obama’s proclamation specifically states “no new rights-of-way for electric transmission or transportation shall be authorized within the monument.”

But Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution reads: “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States …” That surely could include a railroad from the Caliente Railroad Depot to Yucca Mountain, which the Department of Energy has already mapped out. Or perhaps they could route the nuke waste through Las Vegas, Harry?

Like Hardy, Amodei blanched at the lack of input from those who live in the area. “A lot of these issues is not one where you are taking meat off of somebody’s plate or money out of somebody else’s pocket. If people in Utah or Nevada want a little bit of transparency and engagement in federal land use decisions … now there’s a recurring theme. What the heck’s the harm in it?” he asked.

Amodei sarcastically remarked,“I guess I missed the Nevada delegation meeting to discuss the second largest conservation withdrawal in the history of the state. At least when Senator (Richard) Bryan was looking for a legacy, they processed it through something resembling regular order.”

In December, Congress, after years of lobbying by local officials, created the 22,000-acre Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument in Clark County.

“President Obama often says ‘we are stronger as a nation when we work together.’ Apparently that rule does not apply to public lands issues when it involves his political allies,” said Southern Nevada Rep. Joe Heck. “The Basin and Range Monument designation goes well beyond the intention of the Antiquities Act which limits parcels reserved by the President to the ‘smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’ It is beyond belief that an area larger than the state of Rhode Island is the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of this land.”

And you thought you lived in a democracy.

Obama still in denial over the presence of radical Islam

Notice the sign on the door of the recruiting office? (Reuters photo via WSJ)

Notice the sign on the door of the recruiting office? (Reuters photo via WSJ)

Obama issued a statement Thursday afternoon about the shooting deaths of four Marines in Tennessee.

He said he had been briefed about the shootings and said, “We don’t know yet all the details. We know that what appears to be a lone gunman carried out these attacks. We’ve identified a name. And at this point, a full investigation is taking place. The FBI will be in the lead, working closely with local law enforcement.”

The name of the “lone gunman” was Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old who spent about seven months in Jordan this past year. But Obama would not say the name nor broach any hint that the motive was Muslim extremism.

The shootings took place at a military recruiting center and a Naval Reserve Center, where all the Marines were unarmed, just as in Fort Hood six years ago. There have been eight attacks on military facilities in those six years.

The Wall Street Journal noted that officials are now trying to determine if Abdulazeez linked up with militants during the trip. Though the FBI tracks suspected supporters of the terror, sources told WSJ that this guy was not on their radar.

Also on Thursday, Obama extended “warmest wishes to Muslims in the United States and around the world celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr. As Muslims mark the end of the month, they are reminded that Ramadan …”

In a speech in February Obama downplayed the threat of radical Muslims and claimed with a straight face: “Here in America, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding. Generations of Muslim immigrants came here and went to work as farmers and merchants and factory workers, helped to lay railroads and build up America.”

What is woven into the fabric of our founding is the Marines battling the Barbary pirates on the shores of Tripoli.

As Charles Krauthammer points out, Obama always downplays the threat of radical Islam. It is like a phobia with him.


Newspaper columnists lecture the dumb hicks about what is good for them

We’re just too stupid to know what is good for us, according to a couple of liberal columnists for liberal urban newspapers at either end of the state, and all us rubes and hicks should just shut up and let Harry and Barry do what is good for us.

Writing in the Reno newspaper, longtime Reid sycophant Jon Ralston pilloried Rep. Cresent Hardy for daring to question President Obama’s single-handed designation of the 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument in his district as a payback to Harry Reid.

He reminded Hardy that much of his district is in urban and presumably urbane Clark County with this gibe: “Hardy may find that his position plays well in Bundyville, but many of his supporters do not live in anachronistic times.”

Ralston penned this vapid and tortured tweak of the ignorant opponents of Obama’s executive fiat:

Of course, the logic here is easily shredded. If the rural governments were consulted and objected, that would have had an impact? Really? Some of them favor Yucca Mountain. Does that mean policy should accommodate them?

What they really mean is that there should have been the illusion of a rural listening tour before jamming this through. It would taste so much less like political castor oil with that spoonful of sugar.

No need to waste time listening to those who have no idea what is good for them.

In the Las Vegas newspaper lefty columnist Steve Sebelius tried to ridicule Lincoln County Commissioner Kevin Phillips telling reporters that the monument designation was wrong. “It’s disgusting. It’s loathsome. It’s illegal. It’s unfair,” he said. “We feel like we’re not citizens.”

In his own hat tip to anachronistic times, Sebelius offered this too cute comparison: “But to hear some tell it, Reid put on a bandanna and robbed an old-timey stagecoach with his trusty Winchester Model 1873.”

Inexplicably, Sebelius, in a complete contortion of logic and democratic principles, wrote: “But Reid dismissed the critics, saying there was ‘not a chance in hell’ that Congress would have approved the designation through the legislative process.”

Sebelius ended his sermon from atop his high horse by writing:

Plus, it’s not as if the excitable Commissioner Phillips has a point. What Obama did is not illegal. It’s just as legal, and just as legitimate, as withdrawing the land through congressionally approved legislation.

And bottom line: Preserving the land from development was the right thing to do. History will bear that out, long after the wails of the disaffected have ceased to echo through the desert canyons of Nevada’s newest monument.

And anyone thinks otherwise is, well, too stupid to know what is good for them.

As for the action not being illegal, consider that the Constitution enumerates the powers vested in Congress and the president.

In the 1906 Antiquities Act, the Congress gave away this power to the president to designate monuments because the Congress was moving too slow for Teddy Roosevelt’s druthers, but Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution still reads: “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States …”

Could the Congress give away all its other enumerated powers and go home? That would solve the problem of there not being “a chance in hell” of Congress taking some action Harry or Barry wants. We don’t need no stinking Constitution.