Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BLM has Mismanaged Coyote Canyon Wild Horses into Extinction

A letter written to the BLM Romona Delorme:

"June 9, 2009

Dear Ms. Delorme,

Please submit the enclosed comments into the official record and to the Wild Horse Advisory Committee for immediate action.

For re submission, I have enclosed my 2004 comments regarding the Coyote Canyon wild horse removal and pertinent documents.

Five years is far too long for BLM and the Advisory Committee to ignore this culturally historic distinct population segment of free roaming horses mis managed into extinction in the wild.

USFS and DOI have set higher priorities for other public land uses despite the negative impacts those decisions are making on all herds.

The Coyote Canyon Herd is a microcosm of the wild equid problem and solution.

Numerous mandated cultural historic and wildlife preservation laws and processes were circumvented in the facilitation/application of management plans that removed the Coyote Canyon free roaming wild horses (and Clark Mt Mojave burros). These plans are fatally flawed. The federally mandated herd area was grossly underestimated and misrepresented. The FREE ROAMING WHBA clearly mandated and intended permanent herd areas to be designated as areas of permanent critical habitat to sustain viable herds.

Real estate law is abundantly clear that pre existing contracts/ covenants/appurtenances attach to the land. The Free Roaming wild horse and burro mandates cannot be abrogated by transferring title to the land or through conflicting management plans. Our free roaming herds are held by the government in trust for the American people in perpetuity. They represent natural LOCAL cultural pioneering history.

The public has suffered a loss that, by law, can and must be restored to them.

Since Tom Pogacnik wrote the following note to Senator Morrow, more information has surfaced. Long time BLM and retired employees, and others, have stated that they personally knew that the Coyote Canyon herd ranged far and wide outside of the designated herd area on BLM in the early 70's. BLM currently controls multiple sections of land over which this herd historically ranged. A portion of which is a vacant allotment.

8-8-05, California Wild Horse and Burro Program Manager Tom Pogacnik wrote “When BLM began revisiting the Coyote Canyon horse situation, I also worked with the Solicitor's Office who said BLM erred in relinquishing control of the Coyote Canyon animals to State Parks. The Desert Protection Act pretty much gave control of the land and all resources to National Park Service."

OVER VIEW of Wild Horses in Coyote Canyon

Colonial Spanish horses were first introduced in the coastal regions of San Diego County by settlement of missions and ranches. Further inland, Cahuillan pictographs of mounted Spaniards at the north end of Coyote Canyon (La Puerta) indicate the early expedition of Pedro Feges in 1772 or Anza in 1774.

This band of Native Americans made their home in Coyote Canyon and surrounding mountains along the NE Corner of San Diego and bordering Riverside counties. Long before western settlement, a tributary of Coyote Canyon was named Horse Canyon after the residing herd. During the infamous 1851 Garra revolt and raid on Warner Ranch, the Cahuillas added more cattle and horses to their Coyote Canyon herd. According to author Lester Reed, at the turn of the century native wrangler Carlos Moreno referred to the canyon horses as “The Ranch Ramuda”. Bands of the herd ranged east and west as far as Beauty Mountain and into the surrounding mountain valleys. Indian ranching continued in the Canyon until the late 1970’s when California State Parks expanded the Anza Borrego Desert State Park . The Federal designated Coyote Canyon herd area was “zeroed out”. The herd removed by the park in 2003.

With the assistance of California Senator Bill Morrow and BLM, Coyote Canyon Caballos d’Anza rescued four of the wild stallions with the BLM promise that the herd could be re introduced pending habitat restoration. BLM Wild Horse and Burro Manager Tom Pogacnik proposed an agency and private partnership with us. In January 2009 rare wild Spanish Foundation mares were acquired to re establish, maintain and preserve a unique gene pool. Wildlife grants are available for financial assistance.

As the only Heritage Herd of Spanish Horses in San Diego County, and the last wild herd in Southern California, the Coyote Canyon horses represent a vanishing element of our local pioneering landscape. In 1971 Congress unanimously declared that “wild free roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West that enrich the lives of the American People” They were to be managed on their historic and native ranges. By operation of law they are wild life. (Supreme Court seminal case, Kleppe v. New Mexico)

The Coyote Canyon herd’s vital legacy of cultural, educational, aesthetic, and inspirational benefits should be maintained as our heritage/ inheritance for future generations as supported by other Heritage Acts. With the 1966 passage of the Nation Historic Preservation Act Congress declared that the spirit and direction of the Nation are founded upon, and reflected in, its historic heritage. “Knowing and Understanding our Past, Inspiration For Future Generations, and providing a sense of roots and identity define motives for historic preservation.” This includes Identification, documentation, acquisition, protection, management, rehabilitation, restoration, stabilization, maintenance and reconstruction, or any combination of the foregoing activities. Enforcement of this Act is Sec 106, was not utilized in the Coyote Canyon herd removal nor was the State Historic Preservation Office consulted.

The Coyote Canyon Herd was sequestered for more than two centuries from other wild horse herds. As a result they evolved into a distinct population segment of free roaming horses. This evolution meets the criteria of both state and federal statutes of endangered and threatened species. “Endangered” when its survival and reproduction in the wild are in immediate jeopardy from one or more causes, including loss of habitat, change in habitat, over exploitation, predation, competition, disease, or other factors; or “Rare” when either : Although not presently threatened with extinction, the species is existing in such small numbers throughout all or a significant portion of its range that it may become endangered if its environment worsens; or the species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range and may be considered “threatened” as that term is used in the Federal Endangered Species Act.(ESA) The currant condition mandates emergency designation of native critical habitat or ACECs. The Coyote Canyon herd is now EXTINCT IN THE WILD.

The often used “feral argument” is moot.. BLM settled the native/feral argument stating "The issue of a wild horse as an invasive species is moot since the 1971 WHBA gave wild free-roaming horses "special" status based on their heritage of assisting man settle the "west”

Coyote Canyon Caballos d’Anza was organized to restore the herd to a redesignated herd area on BLM lands in the vacant allotment area of Beauty Mt. This issue was overlooked in the 1971 inventory of historic ranges resulting in a defective land management plan. This fatally flawed plan can be corrected through the NEPA process (National Environmental Protection Act) or ESA distinct population segment listing. A emergency exists to revise the Coyote Canyon herd area. This is necessary and imperative to the land planning process for the lands within the newly passed California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act.

The 1945 California Riding and Hiking Trail, California’s first legislated trail, lies within the allotment area and provides the public opportunity to experience this unique part of California history. Restoration of the Coyote Canyon horses and the Trail would maintain both historic icons NOW, and into the future.

On behalf of Coyote Canyon Caballos d' Anza I respectfully request that Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board and BLM should act on this now in good faith and make a supportive recommendations to DOI based on the above facts.

On behalf of our wild horses, thank you."

Kathleen Hayden

PO Box 236

Santa Ysabel, Ca 92070


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