Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting on September 11, 2013 – Roxie June Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture Presentation

27 Sep

Note to my readers:

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 There are many words here that are not spelled correctly. When trying to read this captured text, and the word is unintelligible, trying saying the word out loud phonetically. I hesitated to change any text or make corrections as I did not want to be accused of modifying it to suit any particular persons benefit or detriment. Please consider this not as an essay, but more as notes and a guide for further conversations.

–  When you see this: >>   it means theres a change of speaker. Sometimes the live-stream captioning added the names of the speakers and sometimes it did not.

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Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting on September 11, 2013

Roxie June Planner, Department of Agriculture, Navajo Nation

Roxie June, Planner, Department of Agriculture, Navajo Nation

Roxie June Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture Presentation September 11, 2013

>> Roxie June: Okay. (Speaking Navajo) my name is Roxie June and I’m a principle planner with the Navajo nation Department of Agriculture. I was asked to come here and present on behalf of Navajo nation. We are working — I am going to be tell you about the feral horse roundups that we’re conducting on the Navajo nation and we’re working in partnership with the Department of Natural resource — I’m sorry, the Department of Resource enforcement and the Bureau of Natural resources BIA and Navajo nation chapters. I’m going to be going through all of these subjects here. I’m going let you know a little bit about our department, how much the Navajo nation has invested, what sort of support we have within the nation, the listing of the chapters that support our efforts, the number of horses we’ve captured, and what the feral horse roundup process is and some pictures regarding the land conditions.

First of all, we’re with the Navajo nation Department of Agriculture and if you go to our Web site, you will see some information regarding some of the public hearings we’ve been having since last year. The feral livestock is a huge problem on the Navajo nation. And one of the issues we’re addressing right now is just solely the feral horse population and we are also working with department resource enforcement. They’re the legal enforcement of animals on the Navajo reservation and that’s the Web site if you want to go and find out more about the Department of Resource enforcement.

And we are under the executive branch of the Navajo nation. We’re under the division of natural resources. There’s several programs or departments under division of natural resources and if you look at VRE which is resource enforcement, they have 22 personnel, 16 are certified law enforcement officers, MDA has 29 total people el and we have three programs — grazing management, tribal ranch program and veterinary program. 

And these are some of the taf staff and equipment that are invested by all of these organizations in the livestock roundup. So we have staff that are actually out there in the field. Administrative support that handle all the paper paperwork in the office, vehicles on the ground, livestock trailers, flatbeds, ATVs. As you can see there’s a lot of capital equipment that is being used and this is equipment that’s used every single day. So our horse trailers are travel back and forth under the central processing unit out.field. They’re getting beat up. We’re changing tires constantly, we’re welding and repairing livestock trailers. The panels get beat up. All these equipment are being used in the field. Just this year Navajo nation has invested 4,000 — $600,000 due to the continuing drought conditions. And part of that investment is ronding up feral horses.

On July 18th, 2013, the Navajo nation council unanimously approved a resolution in the amount of 1 — approximately $1.4 million for feral livestock roundup and one of their conditions is just concentrate on horses only. And then a week later, president Shelly does sign that legislation putting it into law. And then on the 31st, the funds were made available to each of the departments and we have a little under two months to get all that spent. And the funds are only available for this fiscal year which ends in September, however, we have requested to carry it over to next year and there is a current state of emergency regarding the drought conditions so those are how the amounts are divvied out of that total amount. Budget is for personnel, travel, air — those are all the items that we’re using the budget for.

And some of the general information is 25 temporary staff have been hired, they’re being paid $8.44 an hour, the youngest 19. You know, because the wage is so low, most of the gentlemen are in their early 20s. 59% of the funds have been expended. Part of the funds are for direct payments to the chapters. Chapters invest their personnel and capital assets as well and we’re looking at reimbursing the chapters at $30 per horse captured in their chapter and 25 is what is allowed or — 250,000 is what’s allowed budgeted for all the chapters across the Navajo nation. Our department is providing for the temporary staff mileage, meals, lodging, safety equipment, communication equipment. We’re paying for hey, feed, water and we’re also paying for herd health for the rider’s horses. Field staff and NDA we have three program staff, six extension agents.

In addition to the temporary staff. BIA has one or more of the represents at each of the roundups, eastern usually has three or more per site. Resource enforcement has at least two rangers per site in order to ensure compliance with the laws and also for enforcement reasons. Shims the community people do get upset so we to make sure we have law enforcement there. Navajo chapters also have volunteer and paid staff for all these roundups and the Department of Resource enforcement provides hay, feed and water to the horse that’s are captured.

Just an estimate of August and September, 370 driving hours to transport laborers and captured horses. We’ve driven over maybe $7,000 to transport the laborers, horses and equipment. We’ve gone at least 66 transporting trips. And we are limited with the number of available trucks trailers, if we go to chapters working team have more trips. Though were were given money to buy bigger trucks and bigger trailers, takes time to go through the bidding process of the Navajo nation. So all the capital equipment are still waiting to be received. We’ve bid them out. We processed through our financial system and a lot of the equipment is specialized so we have to wait for the vendor selects to send in order to manufacturers and then when it becomes available, they’ll send it to us so that’s where wore at on the capital equipment. Until we receive that equipment, we’re doing multiple trips. The support when he is from the Navajo nation president. The council our division supports and also Navajo nation chapters, far, 65 chapters have approved resolutions requesting for roundups which is 73% of the entire Navajo nation chapters. Roundup resolutions continue to be submitted and we are working with the chapters letting them know what the process is, how they can submit a request. Again, the resolution was unanimously passed by the Navajo nation council. And the reason was to address extreme drought conditions on the Navajo nation. The president’s in full support.

Thus far, only one chapter has voteed to oppose the rondeup and that was Oho in eastern agency. One chapter did rescind roundup resolution recently I believe it was last week or the week before. Right now 36 chapters are on the waiting list for community roundup. I didn’t include the August and September rondeup schedule. However, if you look at August and September, almost every single day of that month we have at least two to three roundups per day. And the reason we’re doing that — the reason we’re limited to that is because of our personnel. The rangers are tired, everybody is tired. This is almost like a 24-hour operation where we’re trying to get this done by the end of the fiscal year. We’re trying to get it done before the monsoon season you about we didn’t get make that. But we are continuing to work as hard as we can — but..

This funding is expended, we won’t have temporary personnel. So we’re going to go back to regular personnel which is 4-5 individuals. Same with the rangers. However, we will still have the capital equipment that we are purchasing. We’ll have a lot of equipment but we’ll be challenged with the labor. Here’s a listing of the chapters that have submitted their resolutions and a lot of the resolutions are multi-year continuing resolutionses, they’re not just for specific day and time. We also have our district grazing community members that want to be 5 days per roundup. But due to the enormous requests limited staff, limited equipment, we’re trying to keep it to 2 to 3 days for each roundup.

Here’s a report made by Department of Resource enforcement a couple days ago. They had captured 899 feral horses, each is processed by the rangers and they mark and they record every single horse they have an 8 by 10 sheet that says they’re branded, not branded. They have what brand is on there, the color of the horse, any markings. They keep meticulous records. And those that are branded are kept for 2-3 days for the owner to show up and claim the horse. When this do show up and claim the horse, they have to make sure that whoever brings in the grazing permit that that’s the individual named on the permit, that the brand matches what’s on the horse, the markings, et cetera, to ensure horse does belong to that individual and then they’ll release the horse. However, if they find through their investigation that this individual actually has more horses than is permitted, then they will keep the horse and sell the horse. We try it get them out immediately, if not the same day, the unbranded horses we try to remove immediately because it just costs too much to water them, to feed them, to hold them. And so we try to remove the horses as soon as possible. Again, meticulous records are kept by the Department of Resource enforcement on each and every horse that is captured in the field.

The process is you get community support at the Navajo nation chapters. We’re not — we are not just traveling the reservation capturing any and everything. We go only if the chapter supports it. Only if the chapter membership votes and says yes, this is what we want. And then we’ll meet with them, we’ll plan with them, we’ll help them along the way. We’ll show up at a scheduled date and time and along with their personnel, our personnel, then we capture the horses ans then we remove the horses. So we don’t go out there and just capture any and everything. When we don’t have a roundup schedules, we’ll do right of way pickups where our equipment and our personnel will drive all the right-of-ways.

A. Not all the right-of-ways but we’ll designate certain areas but we’ll travel the right-of-ways and pick up anything and everybody. Donkeys, horses, sheep, et cetera. Then we’ll pick them up and again only in the fenced right-of-ways, we don’t go outside the fences and chase animals in there.

This is the process for how to request a chapter roundup. We do presentations almost on a daily basis letting the chapters know this is the process and all roundups are done according to Navajo nation law. What happens during the roundup, first they meet with a debriefing group. They do the roundup according to the chapter plan. The horses are captured, placed in a holding pen. Once they’re in a holding pen, they’re considered Navajo nation property. The department loads up the horses and transports it to a central processing facilities and they document all the horses and then they’re and then they’re sold to a buyer and the buyer takes the horses. That’s what happens during the roundup. It’s all done according to Navajo nation law.

The reason this is done is because of land condition. Feral horses, livestock overpopulation, continuous drought condition. Arid land base climate change. All of this is documented by the Bureau of Natural resources, BIA. They’ve done range inventory utilization studies, if you go to our Web site, you’ll see some of the BIA information there. The U.S. Geological Society has also been doing some studies on the Navajo nation. EPA, the Department of Public safety has information people that have het livestock on the highway. It’s just a vicious cycle. At some point we’ve got remove some of the elements.

Here’s some of the pictures, here’s some of the horses. Some of the horses especially before the monsoon were in very bad condition. Skinny, a lot of flea or insects on them. Some of them have hooves that are very long. They have bites and scars I guess from fights within the herds. And on the right is the Department of Resource enforcement holding facility.

Here’s one of the buyer trucks. And on the other side is where Department of Resource enforcement is — the way they process the horses, they separate them out. The horses that are too little, those — the buyer has certain standards and he can’t purchase horses, the smaller horses so they’ll have to release those back on the Navajo nation until they get a little bit bigger, this is a picture of Nashtidi (sp) appreciate area. If you in the area there’s pedestaling where you see a plant which is the root and on the bottom is a lot of sand. So this was taken last year. And the information on the slight from the U.S. Geological Society drought conditions 1994, climate change is influencing drought impacts in the southwest, long-term trends of decreasing temperatures and snowfall. 

Observation from the elders these trends have an impact on the plant and animal population. These are some of the pictures that they took. Though it looks pretty nice in 2011 or in 2010 and then 2011. Those are some of the spring vegetation surveys that they took.. These are some more information from the USGS. Although we’re currently in the monsoon season and we’re getting a lot of rain, because of the past 4 forage depletions, a lot of the that you see out there actually not noxious weeds and once the rain stops and if the drought conditions continue, you’re going to go back to the same forage depletion type areas and this is conditions livestock and feral conditions are in. It’s not healthy for either one of them.

Tracked it from I believe the within 1950s to recently. So you can see this is actually growing every year. This is a picture from the mini farm area. I believe it’s called wind evaly and those homes there are constantly under attack by the dunes. It’s to the point where they have to get the chapter to bring their — to bring their tractor over and start pushing the dunes back, start filling up their windows and building up against their homes. In the black Mesa roof rock area, people have gone to town in the morning and in the afternoon they come — or in the evening, late evening at night, they come back some people have gotten into an accident because the sand actually moved onto the road just from that morning and they didn’t know about it. So they ran into the sand dunes and crashed.

And the president has also made statements where he’s flown over the res everybody Asian and he can see the sand from the sky. You go over the res reservation, you can see where all the sand movement is when there’s high winds like in April, the storms are just — the sand storms are terrible to the point where you have to pull over to the side of the road because you can’t see. You can’t drive. And it’s just in the Chinley area, very, very bad. There’s a lot of places thousand out the reservation when those high winds come up, you can’t see there’s just too much sand in the air.

This is some of the erosion now that monsoon is here with the drought conditions, dry earth, rains come and flood the earth. This is a couple weeks ago, I think it’s a tractor. In fact, some of our Randups were cancelled because the roads were washed out and they weren’t accessible for vehicles and livestock trailers. So right now with the monsoon season that’s what we’re experiencing as well. This was just taken yesterday in the upper fruit land area. And in the Chinley area, I understand they’re having massive floods right now and they have set up a rescue center at the chapter house. I know this is a bad report, but you know, we’re hopeful for the future. So —

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Roxie, thank you for your presentation, what kind of population do you think there are?

>> Roxie: Due to limited funds we haven’t done the survey. We did get money for aerial surveys, that’s one of the things that we’ll be working on. However, our estimates are we es mat of 200 per chapter, you get the 10,800 permit and there’s — we’re looking at 50 to 25,000 horses. Some of the chapters especially on the borders, they do make concerns statements to us saying that people from off reservation because we have open grazing, we’ve heard from some of the chapters that el people will come, load the organizations and they’ll just you know, deposit them on the reservation. We don’t know, estimate from 50 to 75,000.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Any questions for Roxie from the board?

>> Roxie June: If you look at everyday life, for instance I got funding for school garden so I budgeted for you know, seeds and irrigation, whatever. Once I met with the schools, one of the first things they asked was — even though all the schools are fenced 0 off, they say somehow the horses, the animals get in. So to do the school garden, the very first thing I have to do is dig fencing. And that’s how the feral horse population is affecting our schools, our everyday life, that is part of it.

>> JUNE SEWING: The Hopi reservation, what is their situation, is it similar?

>> Roxie: The Hopi reservation has very strict grazing control. They have (Jim) assume they have better funding for resource enforcement because they’re very good at enforcing grazing on their land. So their land is actually in very excellent condition and I know I’ve heard I’ve heard from pueblos that say when the wind comes all that wind is coming from Navajo. If you look at Hopi, they’re very good strict with their resource enforcement, they take good care of their land. They have people on the ground an allelicy enforce it with people.

If you’re on the Hopi reservation and there’s a big wind, you’ll see all the stabbed and storms from our reservation going on to their reservation and that’s one of the things that USGS is saying as well is that all this sand from the reservation, our reservation is likely impacting the snow caps in Colorado when the know is carried to the peaks, the comfort snow is carried to the peaks the sun bounces off them and melts the snow earlier. So, if we don’t get help, you know — just because we’re on the ref 7I, we have all this land, all these communities, all states arounds and it’s affecting this them as well..

>> JAMES DALE STEPHENSON: I appreciate you come here and talking. I worked for 17 years for Yakima station in the State of Washington and was in charge of the horse situation there. This is happening throughout the country on Indian reservations. But there are too many surplus horses, really destroying the land and really affecting people’s lives. So thank you very much.

>> Roxie June: In some of the remote areas of the reservation where people don’t have running water, the horses are actually competing with the people for the water. When people come to the windmill, the horses drank up all the water. And even though people aren’t supposed to use windmills for their homes, they do. Because that’s the nearest and closest and least expensive way for them to get water, they use it for daily household work or needs for agriculture. So at some of these windmills, the horses come if you go right when the sun is starting to come up, you’ll see 20, 30, 50 horses athe windmill drinking the water.

By the time people come for water, there’s no water so they have to wait for the water to be pumped back up and last year when we were doing the roundup, there was an area in the Chinley area where there was a natural feed area and the horses were fighting each other just to get a little tiny stream and they were killing some of the females, they were killing the foals. The bigger more powerful horses. The horses are fighting each other out there when there’s not enough water for them.

This year we’ve had calls from chapters where the earth dams had dried up and left conditions sandy muddy clay so the horses were getting — they were so weak from lack of forage, lack of water that they were getting stuck in the clay. And so you could just see the carcass and the bones and stuff from the animals that had gotten stuck at the earth dam area. So the BIA actually came in and they provided financing materials for the chapter so they fenced off some of the earthen dams to avoid that — fenced acre in the Easton area they had animals dying and they wanted us to remove the carcass. It was actually the owner’s responsibility so the owner had to get a tractor, dig it up and bury the carcasses, so that’s part of why we do these roundups as well because it’s better for us to remove live animals than to deal with dead carcasses.

On the ref serve Asian it’s so isolated that we have to we have to pick up the animals and take them to place that accepts carcasses and that can cost anywhere from — I don’t know, 70 or 80 to over $100 per carcass. So that adds more cost. And so — and this is from or vet program, you know, if they have an animal that comes in in bad condition, they try to treat it. If they don’t live, then we do haul them away. But, if there’s mass carcasses out on the reservation, interests no way for us to handle them. It will cause a lot of problems in terms of human and other safety issues. So to deal with carcasses, we’re trying to avoid that. We’re trying to remove them while they’re still alive.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: John Falen has one more question for you.

>> I know we’re short of time here so we’ve got to move right along, but what percentage of this number of horses, 50 or 75,000 have you been able to round up and ship and was your goal of that number of horses? To round up and actually get shipped?

>> Roxie: If we have an estimate of 50-75 and in one month we’ve only rounded up a thousand, that’s just very, very low percentage. And with the monsoon season, it’s very difficult to capture the horses. Those horses are very smart and you know, our riders out there have said that the horse know how to get down low on the ground and hide. They used the actual canyon landscape. To actually in Easton area it’s very open. There’s not a lot of trees. It’s very, very difficult to catch those horses. And again with the monsoon season, they don’t gather at the wind mills any more. Now there’s natural springs, waters, there’s places they can get water. So it’s a lot harder now to capture them.

>> John: Gather on horseback, huh?

>> Roxive: Yes, we are gathering them on horseback and they use ATVs but I’m not sure to what extent. I know with had two ATVs and some of them did get damaged so I believe most of the gathering is done by horseback.

>> John: You do have an out let for all the horses?

>> Roxie: What we do for the horses captured is there are livestock trader permits that are secured secured through the Bureau of Natural resources. They have a permit process. You have to be bonded. I’m not sure what the other criteria are so I’m not sure how many livestock trader permits are out there. But people would have the livestock trader permits are the buyers we deal with. And the reason we do that, the reason we don’t just have a sale and just say well whoever can — you know wants to buy a horse, you’re welcome to take it is we found, you know, in the very beginning several years ago — and we’ve been doing horse roundups for a long team now so it’s not just something that’s year or last year.

We’ve been doing it for some time because of the continuing drought conditions, we found if we sold them to an individual, what they would do is they would take it to the border town, to the flea market. They would buy it for maybe $30, take it to the flee market, sell it for 2 or $300. Navajo person or person living on the he are serve Asian would buy that horse and bring it back to the rereservation. So when we’re doing roundup, we were finding the same horse two or three times.

So you know, as we experienced these type of things, we had to become more strict and say okay, we need to remove these horses so they don’t come back. So by dealing only with the buyer with a trader’s permit, that’s how we’re able to make sure those horses don’t come back. And there’s an individual that has a valid grazing permit and we’ve captured their horse more than two times, we let him know, we’ve captured it this time and this time. We’re not giving it back to you. So —

>>Boyd Spratling b thank you very much for traveling to Washington to give us this information maybe with we’re out west we can get an update.

>> Roxie: You guys are always welcome to come visit us or join us on one of the roundups. You’re welcome to come see the hand and see what we’re doing with it.

>> TIM HARVEY: I just wanted to point out for people who proposed self-limitation as an option, this is a perfect example of why self-limitation is simply not an option.

>> I agree.

>> TIM HARVEY: It’s just not an option.

>> Roxie: We cannot afford to hold those horses not evenly for one or two days. We have so many challenges, economic, social. We should be out there helping people farm. We should be helping them do conservation, that’s what we should be doing but we’re not. This is mostly what we’re doing is trying to capture — it’s not just horses but we’re dealing with dogs. We’re dealing with it’s just a lot of problems to deal with. It would be nice to get some help.

>> Get this word to Congressmen and people in Congress.

>> Roxie: We sent a letter out and the backlash we’ve gotten is Navajos are killing horses. All these tribes consider horses sacred and this is what the Navajos are doing. So instead of offering any help, instead of trying to find out what the problem is, it’s just a backlash of you’re murdering horses. And that’s not what we’re trying to do.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Thank you very mu.


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