Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update on the Pickins Plan (Madeleines')

Dear Friends,

Recently, I was invited to a meeting with the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, to discuss my Foundation's plan to create a sanctuary for thousands of our wild horses in Nevada or another western State. The Secretary was very gracious with his time, and I felt that the meeting was very productive. The Secretary indicated that he recognized that there is a serious problem with the excess wild horses that now stand in holding pens all across America and the additional thousands of wild horses being gathered this year. This is the first time in many years that a Secretary of the Interior has reached out to the private sector and acknowledged that there is a problem, and I commend Secretary Salazar for his initiative in trying to reconcile the many different proposals to resolve this issue.

I explained to the Secretary that it was wrong to continue to gather these wild horses, particularly in light of the fact that we have not addressed the issue of where to put them and also advised him that long term holding was not a good option. I emphasized the fact that these wild horses should remain in their natural environment and be presented to the American people in the setting where they have lived for hundreds if not thousands of years.

It is sad and regrettable that the approach we have taken to house over 22,000 older wild horses has been strictly limited to a long term holding arrangement that does little to protect or preserve the horses and offers little, if any, incentive to improve the lands where they are located. I explained in detail the distinction between having a non-profit foundation build and operate a sanctuary where any monies received from the federal government for care of wild horses would be mandated to be returned to the sanctuary for improvements or operational expenses in perpetuity. Simply paying ranchers or other contractors to warehouse wild horses until they die is an unacceptable method of addressing the issue of excess horses.

I also explained to the Secretary that embracing a plan like the one my Foundation put forth will result in saving of millions of dollars to the taxpaying public. Leveraging private dollars and relying on private contractors to build a state of the art wild horse facility will prove to be the prudent approach from a financial perspective.

I have said many times that we owe the wild horses much more than we have given and I conveyed that thought to Secretary Salazar. I told him that we have a moral obligation to America's wild horses to protect and preserve them for future generations in a manner consistent with the law.

The Secretary offered to let me serve on a small committee that he is forming to address the issue of excess wild horses and to look at a full range of solutions to this problem. I have accepted his offer and look forward to representing our wild horses and all of you as we look for a solution that is good for the wild horses and for the American people.

I urge all of you to continue with your calls and letters to the Secretary of the Interior, Members of Congress, and the Obama Administration. I believe we have laid the groundwork to succeed in this effort and through your support, perhaps we will one day soon see thousands of wild horses roaming in their natural habitat, protected from abuse and inhumane treatment for the rest of their natural lives.

Thank you and best wishes,

Madeleine Pickens

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