ROAM Act legislation passes the U.S. House
Recent developments in the U.S. House of Representatives is cause for alarm in the west as the House passed H.R. 1018, the ROAM Act. The ROAM Act (Restore our Mustangs) is legislation, that if passed by the Senate, would restore the area occupied by wild horses and burros to 1971 levels. Sponsors of this bill claim it would restore an ‘ecological balance’ to the west involving over 52 million acres of land.
This flies in the face of logic and fact, according to Chase Adams, CEO of the American Horse League, Inc.
“We all must remember that ‘wild’ horses and burros are not native to this country or to the Public Lands,” says Adams. “They are a feral species in the United States and their responsible management is incumbent upon us as a nation.” He continued, “This legislation would tie the hands of the Government officials charged with that management and severely hinder efforts to use the public lands to the fullest of their ability.”
The House of Representatives passed this legislation by a vote of 239 to 185, showing that there is a critical need for the Senate to be educated as to the consequences of this type of action. Fiscally, it’s beyond irresponsible, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will cost the American taxpayers at least $700 million to implement. At a time when our nation is in a fiscal crisis, with the highest jobless rate since the “dirty thirties,” more money being thrown at wild horse/mustang “management” seems to be another example of a “Pork” project legislation.
The fact is, and history records it clearly, that horses and burros are not a native species and were brought from the European continent along with other livestock, such as cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs. Every mustang and burro is a descendent of those early imports and are actually an invasive species on the public lands, competing with the native species of wildlife for available feed and water. Wild horse populations can double every four years as well.
The ROAM Act would eliminate large parcels of land from the allotments now grazed and maintained by cattle and sheep ranchers. Many ranchers in the western states depend on their allotments, which predate the BLM and National Forest Service claims on the land, and would no longer be able to carry on the business of the production of meat and fiber that benefits the nation. Besides the loss of those commodities, whole communities would be devastated due to lack of commerce when the agricultural population disappeared from the landscape.
The American Horse League is calling on the Senate to restore the publics’ trust and reject the ROAM Act. The U.S. Cattlemens Association, along with other national organizations, have recently joined with the AHL to bring the facts forward and present a strong, united front to the U.S. Senate.
Recent area horse sales have been involved in fundraisers and over $2,800 has been raised to help in this fight. The western taxpayers and voters need to get involved as well, by contacting their U.S. Senators to express their opinion on this legislation. They can also help to fund the legal fight by contacting the American Horse League, Inc. at 605-347-1730, or http://americanhorseleague.com. Contacting a U.S. Senator is as simple as dialing the phone, and those contacts for the five state region are as follows:
Nebraska – Mike Johanns, at 202-224-4224 and Ben Nelson at 202-224-6551; North Dakota – Kent Conrad at 202-224-2043 and Byron Dorgan at 202-224-2551; Montana – Max Baucus at 202-224-2651 and John Tester at 202-224-2644; South Dakota – Tim Johnson at 202-224-5842 and John Thune at 202-224-2321; and Wyoming – John Barrasso at 202-224-6441 and Mike Enzi at 202-224-3424. All U.S. Senators phone and internet contact information can be found on http://www.senate.gov as well.
With a united stand against such legislation, the U.S. Senate really must pay attention to the taxpayers, so taking the time to contact them is of critical importance in this matter. With the current economic situation, everyone must get involved if they want to see legislative action work to the benefit of the majority, not the minority, in the west.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News