Saturday, July 31, 2010

GRASS ROOTS HORSE PRESS RELEASE Leigh v Salazar –July 31,2010

On July 30, 2010 Laura Leigh re-filed Contempt of Court charges against Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Bob Abbey, Director of the BLM and Ron Wenker, Nevada State Director of the BLM in regard to what BLM calls the “Tuscarora wild horse gather.” The BLM continually refers to the three herd management areas of Owyhee, Rock Creek and Little Humboldt under one umbrella name of Tuscarora. The judge, at the time of hearing earlier motions, recognized that Tuscarora was three herds and not one as BLM would like people to believe.


Adding to what seems like a deliberate move to create confusion, every day the gather schedules change. At present the BLM website, touted in BLM press releases as the only place for correct information, has two completely different gather schedules posted. If a person really wants to know the true schedule they have to contact the appropriate field offices.  It would seem to even the casual observer to be a shell game of now you see it, now you don’t.    


The judge denied the original motion to hear the case based on the parameters set forth in a statute known as the Winters standard.  This is the standard by which actions seeking injunctive relief are judged on their merit. On July 28, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals modified its position on the test used to determine the element, “likelihood of success on the merits” when

granting or denying injunctive relief under the Winters decision. The circuit court reaffirmed the use of its sliding scale method, finding it consistent with Winters.


The law change opened the door for the re-filing under the new guidelines.  “We are not going away,” said Laura Leigh, plaintiff in the lawsuit brought about through the support of Grass Roots Horse, a citizen action group.  Support for Laura Leigh’s court action is coming in from people all over the country. “Some people are donating to further the cause with $3.00 donations,” said Maureen VanDerStad, member of Grass Roots Horse. “That tells it all right there. People are so fed up with the mismanagement of the wild horses and burros that they want to be a part of doing something to stop it. The blatant disregard for our First Amendment rights by BLM and the cruel and inhumane treatment of the wild horses, which belong to the American people, has spurred the movement on with a vengeance,” she further states.


Laura Leigh is an artist, author and journalist who is best known for her work in documenting wild horses.  She is the founder and director of Herd Watch, a citizen group that monitors the actions of the BLM and the Wild Horse and Burro Program.  Full reports documenting range conditions in herd management areas and the condition of the horses themselves are conducted by Herd Watch with a meticulous eye for detail.


Yesterday at the Nevada State Legislative meeting, the main focus was on the implications of the Western Watershed Organization’s multi-million dollar settlement with Ruby Corporaton, representing Ruby Pipeline.  The Wild Horse and Burro Program came into the discussion and Laura Leigh was there to set the record straight.  “Sitting in the audience it was really interesting to see the cattlemen bringing up the very same issues of the difficulties of dealing with the BLM that the wild horse advocates have been dealing with for years. If people do not support accountability in government, it is easy to see how that failure to demand accountability and transparency can turn against them,” Laura Leigh said. 


To read the legal filings, donate to the legal fund, or volunteer please visit where there are links to the best sites with more information on the issue.

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