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To the Editor:

I speak as an alumnus of Casper College 34 years ago. It seems that the Board of Trustees has lost the vision of what a community college truly is. This college is for the community – and for all of the state of Wyoming, for that matter.

They apparently view themselves as a part of government more than as community leaders. This is made apparent in the grossly overinflated costs projected in $5 million facility upgrades and $5 million for the arena at the ranch campus. Within the college itself, there are courses taught in construction, electrical and welding. The students could perform a major portion of the upgrades with instructors overseeing the work, in addition to regular inspections to ensure compliance with building codes.

It appears that we have community support and County Commissioners’ support, and I’m sure the faculty at the college is up to the challenge. The only thing that remains is to get the Board of Trustees on board with this.

We are missing a wonderful opportunity for Casper College to utilize the community in the community college system. I hope the Board of Trustees recognizes this resource before they sell off this wonderful education opportunity and buying more land on a hill somewhere.

Sincerely,

Mike Cheser

Kaycee

An open letter to Wyoming seniors and their loved ones:

It has come to my attention that certain groups or entities have been using my name to try and get donations from seniors. Some of these solicitations imply that folks won’t get their Social Security benefits unless they pay $10 and sign a petition addressed to me.

These letters are misleading and aim to prey on those who are vulnerable and worried. No one has to pay anyone in order to share their views with me, and these professional petition organizers are not as effective as they may claim.

I am working to make sure Social Security benefits remain available for the future to the hard-working Americans who have paid into the system and earned them. Signing a petition or sending money to an unknown agency will not affect your Social Security benefits. Reforming Social Security to make sure it remains solvent will.

I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone to remain wary of letters and calls from people you don’t know asking for money. I encourage everyone to contact my office directly if they have thoughts on legislation, or want to know my views on an issue.

My office number is 202-224-3424, or you can message me through enzi.senate.gov. You can also call any of my state offices, or make your views known to me by posting on my Facebook (@Mikeenzi) page, messaging me on Twitter (@SenatorEnzi), or even good old-fashioned mail at Senator Mike Enzi, United States Senate, Russell 379A, Washington, D.C. 20510.  It won’t cost you anything except a stamp.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Michael Enzi, R-Wyo.

To the Editor:

I’m writing in response to your article in the Sept. 17 paper titled “Invasive Species: Weed and Pest Works to Control Cheatgrass Invasion.” We ranch in northwestern Colorado. We have a very serious cheatgrass problem but we are winning the battle.

We took the approach of working closely with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to make sure we could graze cattle at the precise time cheatgrass is at its peak, which is when it is green and before it turns brown. This is proving very effective. If we do intensive grazing and then remove our cattle, the native grasses in our area come in after the cheatgrass is grazed off and are not then grazed by cattle. This enables the native grass to properly reseed.

Secondly, another effective tool is to work with the BLM on areas that are sheep allotments, but do not currently allow cattle to graze after the sheep have left the allotment. Historically, sheep come in and graze before the cheatgrass is mature enough to graze.  The sheep leave the country for higher ground and the cheatgrass flourishes. 

If the BLM would agree on these allotments to allow cattle to come in later and graze the cheatgrass, it will accomplish three things. First, the BLM will make more money, by having two incomes off of the range. Second, the native grasses will return. Finally, if there is a cattle ranch next to a sheep ranch, this allows cheatgrass to be controlled and prevents seeds from blowing over to the cattle ranches.

Best regards,

Howard Cooper

Meeker, Colo.

Editor’s Note: This Feb. 22 letter is a response to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, released following letters on federal grazing allotments from PLC and a coalition of lawyers. The following letter was originally printed in “The Westerner” blog at thewesterner.blogspot.com.

Dear Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association,

It has just been brought to my attention that your organizations, the Public Lands Council (PLC), Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), filed a joint objection to my involvement with the Range Allotment Owners Association (RAO).

From my years and observation, I’d have to agree with your collective claim, “Public Lands Council is the only organization in Washington, D.C. who solely represents the 22,000 ranchers who operate on public lands.”

Please understand, though, that as a Range Allotment Owner, PLC doesn’t represent me. And because I couldn’t find an entity that does protect property right on range allotments, I helped co-found RAO.

RAO is only concerned about the property rights of range allotment owners. PLC represents ranchers on public lands. These two needs are wholly different.

I like to exercise in preventative maintenance by resolving situations before they get out of hand and end up in court. RAO is an essential form of preventative maintenance.

Due to the vast difference between RAO and PLC, it is my assessment that the PLC should be relieved they don’t have to add another department beyond their long-standing representation of the public on public lands.

Now you know why I enthusiastically co-founded the Range Allotment Owners Association. Thank you in advance for supporting my endeavor to protect my property rights on my range allotments.

Sincerely,

Charles W. Sylvester

Ranch Owner and retired general manager of the National Western Stock Show

LaSalle, Colo.

Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze in response to a letter Sen. Barrasso and 19 other Senators sent to BLM last November.

May 11, 2016

Dear Sen. John Barrasso:

Thank you for your letter, dated Nov. 4, 2015, in which you asked a number of questions about the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program. The BLM shares your concerns about growing populations, herd and rangeland health, program costs and the effectiveness of past management strategies. To address these concerns, BLM is taking a number of steps, including sponsoring a significant research program focused on fertility control; transitioning horses from off-range corrals to more cost-effective pastures; working to increase adoptions with new programs and partnerships; and requesting legislative authority to allow for the immediate transfer of horses to other agencies that have a need for work animals. Despite these many initiatives, additional tools and resources are needed to bring this program onto a sustainable path. We sincerely appreciate your interest and look forward to further dialogue on these issues.

To provide proper context for the scale of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, it is helpful to note the total number of horses that are currently on the public lands, as well as the number of horses that have been moved to off-range pastures and corrals, which are usually leased from private parties. We currently estimate that there are 67,000 horses and burros on public lands in the West, which is more than twice the number of horses on the range than is recommended under BLM land use plans. It is also two-and-a-half times the number of horses and burros that were estimated to be in existence when the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed in 1971. In addition to the animals that are currently on the public lands, the agency is paying to support nearly 50,000 horses that have been moved to off-range pastures and corrals over the past few decades.

The total lifetime cost of caring for an unadopted animal that is removes from the range is substantial. Cost for lifetime care in a corral approaches $50,000 per horse. With nearly 50,000 horses and burros already in off-range corrals and pastures, this means that without new opportunities for placing these animals with responsible owners, the BLM will spend more than a billion dollars to care for and feed these animals over the remainder of their lives. Given this vast financial commitment, the BLM is now severely limited in how many animals it can afford to remove from the range. The BLM is removing approximately 3,500 animals each year – about the same number of animals that leave the system annually through adoption, sale and natural mortality.

In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences confirmed there are no highly effective, easily delivered and affordable fertility-control methods for wild horses and burros. To address this issue, the BLM teamed-up with top universities and the U.S. Geological Survey to initiate a five-year, $11 million research program to develop better management tools; longer lasting fertility-control vaccines; and effective, safe methods for spaying and neutering wild horses. These efforts are underway. The BLM is also working to reduce the cost of caring for the animals that are cared for in open pastures, which are more cost effective than corrals.

Increasing the number of animals adopted by qualified adopters is also an important part of our strategy. We are working to boost the number of horses in training programs through partnerships with non-government organizations and prisons. Trained horses are more likely to be adopted when made available to the public. We are also exploring the possibility of providing financial assistance to interested, responsible parties to adopt some of the older horses that have already been removed from the range. Younger horses – in this case, those younger than seven years old – tend to be much more attractive to adopters. Because of the high cost of sustaining each horse in government care, we are evaluating the possibility of providing some financial support to defray the costs of care and training for individuals who give a safe home to older horses that currently have low odds of being adopted.

Further, the 2017 President’s budget includes a request for legislative authority to allow for the transfer of wild horses and burros to federal, state and local agencies that have a legitimate need for work animals. The U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Military and other agencies who are interested in using wild horses or burros in their work are unable to receive direct transfer of horses from the BLM. The U.S. Border Patrol, for instance, uses hundreds of wild horses for their patrol efforts, but each of those animals must be adopted by individual members of the Patrol in their personal capacity. We want to enable trusted agencies to be able to use and celebrate these remarkable animals for important public purposes.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide detailed information on this program. I have enclosed responses to the first four questions. Answers to the remaining questions will be transmitted in the very near future.

The BLM is committed to working with the Congress and stakeholders to develop a sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues to address the difficult wild horse and burro management challenges that BLM is facing. If you need additional information, please contact me at 202-208-3801, or your staff may contact Patrick Wilkinson, BLM Legislative Affairs Division Chief, at 202-912-7421. A similar response is being sent to the co-signers of your letter.

Sincerely,

Neil Kornze

Director, BLM