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Re: Horses vs. the Federal Government - What Else!

Steph, I ask your permission to run this emergency message to equestrians
in Marin County.   I believe our struggle  has implications for the
future in all federal lands.  

To  concerned equestrians in West Marin:   As you all know, the battle to
preserve the three boarding stables on public (federal) land in West
Marin has been joined.  Two stables, community assets for decades, are
scheduled to be closed, and those horses shifted to a third stable (which
currently has a waiting list of 100).  At the SRO meeting in Novato, CA,
Tues. May 19, over 200 angry and articulate horsemen let the feds (who
manage Pt. Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreational
Area) know, in direct language, that we are frustrated to the max that
they have been making decisions about horses with NO input from us
equestrians, although we have  repeatedly offered our help and
cooperation.   They know that WE know that their claims of equine
pathogenic impact are unsubstantiated by any studies or research.  They
know that their position, that operation of the stables won't pan out
economically,  has been made  without outreach to the financial aid
available from horsemen.  They know that we feel that the plans to
combine all these horses into one huge stable facility (built with what
funding?) at the end of an already overburdened narrow 2-lane road with
pitifully inadequate parking  is a set-up for final closure and eviction
of the horses from this area.   We minced no words.
    Brian O'Neill, general manager of federal parklands in the San
Francisco Bay Area,  and Don Neubacher, superintendent of Pt. Reyes Nat.
Seashore, were the main targets at this meeting, which lasted three
hours.  Brian promised us more meetings on their proposals.  We are in
agreement on this course, but  we want more.  We  want Secretary Bruce
Babbitt to declare a moratorium, effective immediately, on changes on the
use of property in West Marin federal parkland UNTIL the public has an
opportunity to actively participate   in updating the 1980 General
Management Plan (which, BTW, called for the PRESERVATION of these three
stables with extra accommodations for increased public use!).   
    To this end, we are circulating a petition requesting this
moratorium.  Please email me, or call me (415) 454-2923 for copies to
sign.  The Marin Horse Council, Inc., is collecting petitions  and
heading up this battle.
   The local weekly paper, the "Point Reyes Light" (past winner of a
Pulitzer Prize) is "on" to the problem and is sympathetic to us.  (Local
readers, please be forewarned that the story in this week's issue got
inadvertently chopped by production gremlins and will be continued and
reprinted next week).  
    At  this same meeting, the Marin County,  water district, and state
park representatives were PRAISED for their responsiveness and close, 
productive cooperation  with the equestrian community, with many examples
cited.  They were sitting there with smiles on their faces!   What a
contrast with the federal people.
   Someone  spoke up about the erosion of trust in government, using the
closures  as a prime example.  Today, horses in Yosemite.  Today, in
Marin County, the stables.  Tomorrow, the  horse trails?    Does anyone
see a hidden agenda to evict horses from all federal lands?   Have
ridecampers in other places heard of applications of the national Clean
Water Act to their local equestrian facilities, the way we are getting it
here?   If you-all don't have a Regional Water Quality Control Board
already formed, be on the lookout, because horses are a favorite target
for "non-point pollution" control  people.  Don't get me wrong!  Horsemen
should always be open to  learning about  efficient, 
environment-friendly, and cost-effective  horsekeeping.  What we *don't*
want are unjustified regulations that are needless over-kill, expensive,
and with  mandatory implementation to boot.
    Many thanks for reading through this.  I believe that communication
is essential for preparedness.  Ask yourselves:  (1) Where are we going
to keep our horses, and (2) Where are we going to ride our horses?  
Thanks, Connie Berto, AERC Trails Chair.

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