Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A small victory, but still a victory...

I may put too much of my personal life "out there".  I don't  mean on the web, but in general, day to day things.  Because friends and co-workers know I  spent several years as a Sea World regular, whenever something happens there, they come to me for my opinion and details.  Whenever something happens at a zoo, people come to me as well.  Not only that, but after something  happens at a zoo I can't  even visit one without some random people seeing my camera and wanting to ask me if I'd  heard about blah blah blah and what do I  think about it.  Forget that I'm  trying  to focus on taking  pictures, they just start talking to me.  I don't  think  I've  ever approached another photographer at the zoo and asked them about blah blah blah.  Well, now that I've  been going  out photographing the Salt River wild horses I have, once again, become very popular.  Everyone wants to know what I  think and if what this group says is true or what that group says is true.  Monday I  tried to tell my family that the topic of the horses was off-limits and I  didn't  want to talk about it.  That lasted all of 10 minutes.  <sigh>.  So, I  have become the unofficial cheerleader or spokesperson or whatever for the wild horses at work and home.  Nothing I  can do about it so I  may as well embrace it and hope I  don't  scare people off with my passion.  If I  do, it's  your own fault for asking me about them.  Hahahaha.

So, the national forest people followed the letter of the law and posted their public notice of intent to remove them in a newspaper, albeit a very small and specialized one they probably hoped nobody would see.  Boy were they wrong.   Someone noticed it and alerted the proper people.  Initially it was just a small group of activsts, but that number has balooned to more than 60,000 and from all over the world.  Yesterday there was a rally at one of the locations the horses hang out and there were even some horses there at the time, including a 2 day old foal.  Most of the news stations were out there to broadcast the rally and Mike Watkiss, who is a well-known  journalist in Arizona did several broadcasts from there.  People have been sharing the plight of these horses all over social  media  and supoort for them has exploded.  The best part is that the Arizona government is involved.  Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake are supportive of the horses remaining where they are and Governor Doug Ducey promising Arizona will do what it can to protect these horses.  We are even trying to get celebrities behind us.

But at the moment, we have a reprieve.  The public notice said the round-ups would start Friday and only an act of Congress could save them.  Well, it looks like we are a step closer to that act of Congress.  I speculate that the forest people chose now to start the round-up  because Congress is not in session.  Now it doesn't  matter because they agreed to wait until Congress is back in session in September.  It's  a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.  It's  very relieving to know that we have state senators and representatives behind us.

Here is the story from the Arizona Republic's website.  Note that the forestry spokesperson claims they haven't  received any of the letters from the politicians yet, but I  doubt that for some reason.  She says they will read the letters and they had better!


Congressional delegation: Delay Salt River horses roundups

As members of Arizona's congressional delegation sought to delay or halt the removal of 100 free-roaming horses in the Tonto National Forest, a state lawmaker said Wednesday she had been promised no removals would take place until at least September.
"We are assured that no action will be taken to round up or remove the Salt River horses before the U.S. Congress comes back into session in early September," state Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, said late Wednesday. Townsend said she was given the assurance after meetings with U.S. Forest Service officials.
I hope I get the chance to see this precious baby go through its color transformation as he grows up.  He's  brown now but will one day be solid "white" (grey)
Barbara Sullivan
There are dozens of wild horses which live along the Salt and Verde Rivers more
Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake sent a letter to Tonto National Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth and Arizona Department of Agriculture Director Mark Killian earlier Wednesday calling for a postponement of the roundups, which had been legally posted to begin Friday.
“A growing number of our constituents have expressed deep reservations about the Forest Service’s intent to gather these horses and transfer them to the Arizona Department of Agriculture,” the senators said in the letter.
The Tonto National Forest said there are no plans to begin removals on Friday and no contractor has been selected to do the work.
Republican Reps. David Schweikert and Matt Salmon and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also requesting a halt in plans to remove the horses.
“Wild horses are an integral part of the history of America’s West, and the latest move by the U.S. Forest Service to impound the herd that roams near Mesa, Arizona, shows a disappointing lack of understanding of the priorities and needs of the local community,” Salmon said in a statement.
Spokeswoman Carrie Templin said the Forest Service has not yet received the letters and will “try to address any concerns” after the service has reviewed the letters.
Simone Netherlands, president of Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, said her team filed a request for an injunction Wednesday afternoon in federal court in a bid to legally halt the round-ups. The matter is expected to be assigned to a judge Thursday morning.
An injunction would force a legal debate on the merits of the Forest Service's proposed action. The voluntary halt touted by Townsend will allow time to seek a political compromise.
"Now that we know that there is some breathing room -- hopefully we can come to good solution in this matter,'' Townsend said.

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