Submitting Comments to the BLM

Recently, the Billings BLM has been giving the public a chance to respond to decisions about the management of the Pryor Mountain mustangs. Although the decisions haven’t been that far apart, each time people on social media seem to be confused on what they can do to help or how to make comments. Which made me think, maybe they’ve never been taught, and rather than focusing on the scope of the decision I should start by making tips about submitting comments to the BLM.

I've been using Naara as my official spokes-foal for the Pryors lately, so here she is.

I’ve been using Naara as my official spokes-foal for the Pryors lately, so here she is.

Step one: Do not sign petitions. Everyone’s busy, I get it, but when making comments quality, not quantity is important. Often petitions are only counted as one comment regardless of the number of signatures.

*Step two: Do research. There’s a misconception that all HMAs are the same, but generalizing like that only hurts the horses. Although the BLM is required to read each comment, I would imagine the ones that they will prioritize responses to are the ones that are specific and thoughtful.

2A) There are no cattle in the Pryor Mountain HMA.

These cows were not supposed to be there. There are no cattle in the Pryor Mountain HMA.

These cows were not supposed to be there. There are no cattle in the Pryor Mountain HMA.

2B) The BLM will be targeting 1-3 year-old horses. Cloud is in no danger of being removed.

Just in case people forgot who he is, here's the one and only Cloud.

Just in case people forgot who he is, here’s the one and only Cloud.

Step three: Be respectful. Another misconception is that all BLM Field Offices are horrible, but while I have had some that I prefer working with over others, I have yet to have a horrible experience with one. If people want respect they have to earn it, so I would recommend thanking the BLM for the opportunity to comment, and acknowledge their attempts toward adaptive management.

Nye and Niabrora play together.

Nye and Niabrora play together.

Step four: Compose succinct comments. While there’s no rule about how long comments need to be, I’d imagine the BLM will prioritize responding to comments that get to the point. The idea behind comments is to get a variety of well-reasoned thoughts about how the horses should be managed. Even if you only have time for one point, that’s great, I would just recommend that at the least you write a paragraph. That way you can not only state that point, but also add facts to back it up.

Encore scratches and itch.

Encore scratches and itch.

Step five: DO NOT SIGN PETIONS. I know I already said this, and all caps probably seems excessive, but if someone thinks the only time they will have is to sign a petition, than I’d almost rather have them not respond at all. It does not take long to write a comment, and I really believe petitions do more harm than good.

Nomad investigates the GoPro.

Nomad investigates the GoPro.

In my experience, the hardest part of writing comments is finding the time to compose them, and even then I have a hard time accepting the validness of that excuse. There’s no rule that all EAs or proposals need to be responded to, and once people get started writing, it does not take much time. I also recognize that it can be discouraging if recommendations are not followed, but it is still important to prioritize what to respond to. I would recommend that people visit the BLM website to see what the Billings Field Office has planned for the Pryor Mountain mustangs, and will try to get my comments up if people want ideas on how to respond. As usual, if people have comments or questions please let me know and I will do my best to help.

*These are only two of the questions asked by people that haven’t done adequate research. Some great resources are the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, and The Cloud Foundation. The BLM website also has all the documents that have been used to manage the horses in the past.

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5 Comments »

  1. Joy Vancos Said:

    Excellent points!

    I would like to reiterate… keeping your comments brief and to the point will likely get more attention than paragraph upon paragraph containing the same points restated in different ways 😉

    • Very true, I’d rather see a brief letter with one well reasoned point than a long letter with only the same few points regurgitated throughout the page.

      • Joy Vancos Said:

        🙂

  2. Great advice Livi! I’m not gonna lie, though, my comments are not going to be brief. I don’t think I’m capable of brief. :-\

    • I’m confident you’re comments will be great. When I say brief I mean quality of ideas rather than word count.


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