Judge Hicks Strikes Victory for First Amendment

For Immediate Release:

Judge Hicks Strikes Victory for First Amendment

Court sees Each Roundup as SeparateAllows Pubic to Observe Roundup

Reno, NV (July 15, 2010)—First Amendment rights are upheld for wild horse advocate and journalist, Laura Leigh Field Manager of Herd Watch, a Cloud Foundation program. Federal Judge Hicks strikes victory today despite his order to proceed with the Owyhee roundup. The other pending roundups in the complex such as Rock Creek and Little Humbolt have been acknowledged as separate events.

“This ruling was made by a judge that is obviously willing to listen,” said Laura Leigh. “And he ruled with an absolute recognition of the reason our forefathers made the First amendment first. A free press is vital to the system of government accountability in a Democratic society. I am on my way to Owyhee…. We are not done with making a stand for these amazing beings that are such a vital symbol of American Freedom.”

When the BLM shut off the gather areas from public viewing they violated this concept, at least this is what federal Judge Larry Hicks conveyed in his Order.

Judge Hicks struck down the BLM’s blanket closure of public lands in the Gather area. He agreed with Laura Leigh that this “closure” amounted to a prior restraint on her First Amendment rights because she would not be able to observe and report on the health of the horses and the BLM’s management of the gather.

The Cloud Foundation hopes that this ruling will allow observation of all roundups of the public’s horses.

Now, any member of the public may have access,” explains Gordon Cowan the attorney for Leigh.

# # #

Links of interest:

‘Herd-Watch: Public Eyes for Public Horses’ http://bit.ly/9Wvh58

Court Order Granting Injunction http://bit.ly/doc10LeighvSalazar

Restraining order sought – AP article http://bit.ly/TROsought

Grass Roots Horse http://www.grassrootshorse.com/

Roundup Schedule- updated July 12, 2010  http://bit.ly/roundupschedule

The Mustang Conspiracy: Sex, Drugs, Corruption, and BP – investigative report http://www.abovetopsecret.com/mustangconspiracy/

Wild Horse and Burro Act http://bit.ly/a7hOeS

Tuscarora/Owyhee Complex Roundup Information from BLM http://bit.ly/Tuscarora

Media Contacts:

Anne Novak
Anne@TheCloudFoundation.org
Tel: 415-531-8454

Makendra Silverman
Makendra@TheCloudFoundation.org
Tel: 719-351-8187

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39 Responses to “Judge Hicks Strikes Victory for First Amendment”

  1. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    THANK YOU LAURA! NONE OF THIS HAS BEEN EASY ON YOU. PUT ON SOME “THREE DOG NIGHT”–“ON THE ROAD TO SHAMBALA”.

  2. Carla Bowers Says:

    Hey, Wild Horse Advocates –

    As Ginger & Makendra know, I’m a avid WH&B advocate in CA & I’m volunteering to put together a national/statewide database of WH advocates/supporters for better communications with one another, organization & to offer more take-action suggestions. The first goal is to connect advocates together by state to build statewide teams.

    Please email your first & last name, organization affiliation (if any), email address & city/state to:

    wildhorseaction@yahoo.com

    I’ll be back in touch with you after receiving your info. Feel free to pass this offer on to other advocates you know.

    For the wild ones, Carla B

  3. Linda Says:

    Laura, I’m so thankful we have you and people like you who are willing and eager to put themselves on the line for our wild ones.

    Be safe in your travels.

  4. Judge Allows Media to Witness Bloody Death Stampede « Straight from the Horse's Heart Says:

    […] Judge Hicks Strikes Victory for First Amendment (thecloudfoundation.wordpress.com) […]

  5. Linda Says:

    And thanks to everyone who participated in and supported this case and other legal actions. Also thanks to Judge Hicks. It’s good to see a judge who is willing to recognize and rule to protect our human rights.

    Now we need a judge to protect the wild ones welfare and uphold the INTENT of the 1971 Act.

  6. jan eaker Says:

    a victory for 1st ammendment rights, not a victory necessarily for the horses. I wait for Laura’s reports.

    • Karen L. Says:

      jan, I think the ruling will affect the horses. We all suspect that we have been kept out so that their methods cannot be observed and reported. This may force them to change what they do and how they do it.

      • jan eaker Says:

        Yeah it affected the horses, all right! allowed Cattoors and BLM to run out yesterday and drive 54 more into the pens w/ no one to watch.

      • Karen L. Says:

        Yeah, I’m sure they did that as fast as they could after the injunction was lifted, before any observers were able to assemble(?) It’s something new for them to be told that the “public” has any rights at all, though, where the horses/lands are concerned. Notice I said “will” affect and “may” force–qualifying words–I know we will have to (as you said) wait for reports.

  7. One Woman, Wild Horses and the Evil that is the BLM « Straight from the Horse's Heart Says:

    […] Judge Hicks Strikes Victory for First Amendment (thecloudfoundation.wordpress.com) […]

  8. Susan Says:

    Thanks to Laura Leigh for her courage and determination. She represents the position of the majority of Americans polled who want to protect these magnificent animals under the intent of the 1971 law. Travel safely, and be our eyes and ears.

    We’ve learned a lot this past year, some of it good, some not. The American people and media have been shut out of observing their horses since December. Since then, the death toll skyrocketed.

    If we can hang our hat on anything, it’s that public observers save horses’ lives.

    Will somebody fire Salazar and Abbey, please? Lying to a Federal judge, sneaking behind the court’s back. Grounds for dismissal?

  9. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    FOR ALL THAT BELIEVE IN PRAYER–SEND ONE OUT FOR LAURA AND THE HORSES.

  10. Janet Ferguson Says:

    This pdf was posted 7/14/10 on the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro webpage. Touted as “New” Wild Horse and Burro Handbook.”

    http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/Information_Resources_Management/policy/blm_handbook.Par.11148.File.dat/H-4700-1.pdf

  11. Janet Ferguson Says:

    Here’s one of the more presumably powerful wild horse and burro extrusion-engines in the State of Nevada:

    http://www.ndow.org/wild/concerns/horses/index.shtm

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      . . . from the above website:

      http://www.ndow.org/wild/concerns/horses/pdf/mayer_reply_affidavit.pdf

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      and from the same website:

      http://www.ndow.org/wild/concerns/horses/pdf/nwhbab_111708.pdf

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        . . . from the above document (even though I do not agree with the overall message of this document, this is seen by the producer of the document, and is the last paragraph therein:

        “Our wildlife resources in the state of Nevada result in nearly one billion dollars spent within the state; much of which contributes to the economies of rural Nevada. Considering the cumulative impacts to wildlife from other conditions like wildfire and development, the inability of the federal agencies to adequately manage wild horses and burros is exacerbating impacts to wildlife and rangeland habitats. ”

        They recommend apparently “zeroing out” or ceasing to maintain areas where viability (adequate numbers) do no longer exist.

        they also feel the BLM has NOT BEEN ADEQUATELY FUNDED! Oh Boy!

  12. Janet Ferguson Says:

    Here’s a doozy from 2004, included on the same webpage as all the above:

    http://www.ndow.org/wild/concerns/horses/pdf/ford_letter.pdf

  13. Janet Ferguson Says:

    Text of letter: (from 2004)

    STATE OF NEVADA
    BOARD OF WILDLIFE COMMISSIONERS
    1100 Valley Road, Reno, Nevada 89512 • Telephone (775) 688-1500
    Fax (775) 688-1207 • TDD (775) 688-1583
    TOMMY A. FORD
    Chairman _

    CLINT BENTLEY
    BIl.L BRADLEY
    DAVID McNINCH
    JOHN T. MORAN jR.
    ERIC j. OISEN
    BRADLEY D. QUlllCI
    MIKE RIORDAN

    Kathleen Clarke Director
    Bureau of Land Management
    United States Department of Interior
    1849 C Street

    The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners continues to be concerned over the
    ongoing struggle to attain management control of wild horse populations in Nevada. The
    Commission recognizes and concurs with the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM)
    portrayal of much of the Great Basin being “on the brink of ecological collapse” (BLM, The
    Great Basin: Healing the Land, April 2000). Wildlife habitats are significantly degraded and
    threatened by’severe drought and wildfire. The associated invasion of exotic weeds and
    cheatgrass has added to the stresses and competition for remaining habitats available to
    wildlife and is exacerbated by wild horse use and dominati0n of important habitat
    components such as water and associated riparian areas.

    While the State has supported planned management objectives and actions that would
    reduce the numbers of horses and burros on Nevada public lands to near Appropriate
    Management Levels (AML) by 2005, accomplishments to date and the outlook for future
    budget levels do not bode well for meeting these objectives. Although some progress has
    been made with the re-programming of BLM funds to the wild horse program, efforts have
    fallen short in Nevada on meeting minimum horse removals to meet planned objectives.
    Although AML is expected to be established for nearly all existing Herd Management Areas (HMA) by the end of next year, it is the continued overpopulation of horses within
    approximately 55% of the HMAs and the significant increases in funds and resources
    required to reduce and maintain horse numbers at a level consistent with achievement of a “thriving natural ecological balance” that continues to be of major concern.

    The overpopulation of wild horses in Nevada has caused a decrease in the amount of
    habitat available for wildlife and domestic livestock. The continuing overpopulation of wild
    horses jeopardizes the long-term viability of wildlife populations and ranching in Nevada.
    The impacts transcend those associated with the maintenance of healthy ecological
    conditions and diverse and stable wildlife resources within the state and include impacts on many social and economic values in Nevada.

    We appreciate the efforts of Bob Abbey and his staff and the regular updates he has provided on the Wild Horse and Burro program, however, a series of questions remain unanswered. The following are some of these questions:

    1. Why has Nevada BLM consistently over the years received only 15% of the Wild
    Horse and Burro program funds when Nevada has over 50% of the Nations wild
    horse population? How are these funding decisions developed? What has been the
    distribution of funding of this program and the rationale for this distribution?

    2. Why has Nevada, with over 50% of the Nations wild horses, received only 19% of
    the $7,650,000 funding approved by Congress for re-programming to the Wild Horse
    and Burro program? Where were the other funds distributed and what was the
    rationale?

    3. What public land programs were affected by the re-programming of funds and what
    planned actions within these programs were not accomplished?

    4. In light ofless than desirable habitat conditions existing in much of Nevada and the
    limited resources available to BLM for management of horses, why do we continue to
    see Nevada BLM’s Las Vegas Field Office developing land use plans that expand
    existing HMAs and attempt to establish AML for horses within the Mohave Desert
    ecosystem where forage conditions are classified by BLM as ephemeral? Site
    specific evaluations have also determined no available forage or natural waters are
    available to support a viable herd in this area. Proposed implementation of both these
    actions also include water hauling and development of underground water sources for
    expansion of horse use areas. With regard to the resources available for management
    of wild horses in a “thriving natural ecological balance” in Nevada and the habitat
    conditions, these actions seem unconscionable.

    5. What is the plan and/or expectation for resources availability to remove nearly 7000
    horses a year from Nevada over the next two years that would be required to attain
    planned objectives?

    6. What is the program strategy for the future to manage the Wild Horse and Burro
    Program consistent with the mandate to protect the natural ecological balance of all
    wildlife species that inhabit Nevada?

    It is with sincere intentions that the Commission invites you to attend a Nevada Board of
    Wildlife Commissioner’s meeting in the near future to discuss these concerns. The
    Commission has planned meetings scheduled in Ely, Nevada for September 10 and 11, 2004 and in Reno November 5 and 6, 2004 and would certainly accommodate your schedule on these dates.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share with you concerns and perceptions of this
    Commission. We look forward to hearing from you.
    , Chairman
    d of Wildlife Commissioners
    cc: Governor Kenny Guinn
    Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners
    Terry Crawforth, Director, Nevada Division of Wildlife

    (end of letter)

    I WONDER IF MR. FORD EVER GOT HIS ANSWERS OR IS HE STILL WAITING (6 years later?)

  14. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    DO THEY WONDER WHO IS GRABBING UP THEIR WATER RIGHTS?

  15. Janet Ferguson Says:

    My guess is perhaps they wonder if there is cold beer left in the ‘fridge when they get home from work.

  16. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    JANET, I THINK YOU HAVE HIT ON SOMETHING. IF THEY CAN’T GET ANY BEER, THEY MIGHT START TO ASK THE SAME QUESTIONS THAT WE ARE ASKING.

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      After I retreated from my caffeine (30% rainforest produced) induced web-posting frenzy, I came to the same conclusion as you did, Louie — though making “strange bedfellows” — at least the wild horse and burro supporters and the NV Dept of Wildlife would be united against a common enemy.

      ??

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      ooooooooooo Here’s a good one. I am looking for the minutes to the meeting mentioned in the Ford letter, above (Sept. 9&10 2004) and ran across this:

      http://www.grandviewoutdoors.com/predator-hunting/articlecontent/7/2010/960/lawsuit,-complaints-filed-against-nevada-wildlife-board

      It is about a lawsuit alleging misappropriation of $400,000 to control predators when the funds were supposed to be used for wildlife habitat improvement, or somesuch.

      Pot calls kettle black! (i.e. NWC (pot); BLM (kettle)

      This may be heading full circle now, who knows.

  17. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    JANET, YOU ARE NOT ONLY A STAUNCH ADVOCATE, BUT A WISE CONSUMER, AS WELL. SUSTAINABLE RAINFOREST AND FAIR TRADE?

  18. Janet Ferguson Says:

    . . . .er. . . “shade grown. . ” I think is the term. . . .
    Thanks, Louie.

  19. Janet Ferguson Says:

    These are the only minutes posted online for the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioner function. It has been around a lot longer as far as I can tell.

    P.S. Reid is pulling ahead according to today’s news — listed right below the 150 more horses rounded up news flash on the Google search.

  20. Linda Says:

    This article was in the Farmington Daily Times this morning. Questions about a former BLM employee working and lobbying for the industry he was involved with during his tenure with the agency and the speed of his transition. Another “cozy relationship” with “big energy”. I bet the NM O&G producers are going to move heaven and earth to keep this guy on board.

    http://www.daily-times.com/ci_15537610

  21. Janet Ferguson Says:

    http://travelnevada.com/tourist-attractions/wildlife/horses.aspx

    This link is the State of Nevada Tourism arm page specially for wild horses and burros. (Not BLM)

  22. Suzanne Moore Says:

    Well, guys, I hate to be the first to break this, but you’ll be finding out very soon anyway. The local sheriff would not allow Laura and her companions to go to the trap site because Laura’s name was not on the BLM’s list of approved attendees.

    R.T. has it all here http://rtfitch.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/deadly-nevada-wild-horse-roundup-continues-while-advocates-denied-access/

    And I just saw a Tweet from TCF with the same news….

  23. LOUIE COCROFT Says:

    SO THEY SPIT IN THE JUDGE’S EYE?

  24. BLM Launches Phase II of Contested Wild Horse Attack in Nevada « Straight from the Horse's Heart Says:

    […] Judge Hicks Strikes Victory for First Amendment (thecloudfoundation.wordpress.com) […]

  25. Suzanne Moore Says:

    That’s pretty much what they did, Louie. Laura has filed a motion for contempt of court.

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