As a member of the Beaty Butte Working Group (BBWG), it is terrific to hear of the initial success of the rancher-generated training facility for the Beaty Butte wild horses in concert with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). I first learned about the concept of the ranchers developing a training facility and program during the meetings of the BBWG. It was, in my mind, a terrific idea. Being a photographer of wild horses and considered a moderate wild horse advocate, I immediately sought some wayto see if I could be involved with the project. Perhaps my photographic skills could help to document its development. Now that it has “happened”, I hope I might be able to photograph the facility and program as a story that will help others not directly involved with the project to understand what is happening and to learn about the ranching culture, the wild horses and the public land generally.
When I was invited to join the BBWG, I knew the primary issues were focused on the sage grouse and the overpopulation of the Beaty Butte public lands by the wild horses. Honestly, I did not understand the depth of the issues surrounding the ranching lifestyle, culture and the uses of public lands Through both our formal BBWG meetings and the informal discussions at breaks, lunches, dinners and on the several field trips we took to physically see the public lands in the area, I began to understand the importance of such a program as the wild horse training facility and program. Initially, it can help reduce the overpopulation of the wild horses by training them in cooperation with BLM to be adoptable by the public, help stabilize the habitat of the public lands for the sage grouse and, potentially, help improve the economics of the local communities like Lakeview, Adel, Paisley, and Plush. To me, I see it as a way to tell the story of the ranching culture with their support and involvement with the public lands. From governmental and envirommental aspects, it has the potential to bring people together with very different perceptions on the issues of the public lands. Truly, it has the potential to become a working model for those that deal with the public lands. I hope the BBWG will see the program as a mechanism for us to continue to work together and help tell the story of the public lands through the support of the training facility and those people that made it happen. – Robert Petit
Having been invited to attend the Beaty Butte Workgroup meetings as a “wild horse advocate”, I came away from the meetings with a greater appreciation and understanding for the ranching community that is responsible for the care and management of their land- otherwise “Stewards of the Land” in the Lakeview/Adel area and more. I now consider myself an advocate of much more than just the wild horses in Oregon.
I would always tell Bob [Petit] that I felt I wasn’t contributing much to the meetings and by the time we got home he had convinced me that we WERE an important part of the outcome. … I wasn’t sure we had anything to do with the decision to gather the horses. I hope by now the range is starting to heal although I feel it will take years..and some of it will not be the same.
… I would come home, sit with my husband and just try to explain the things we all talked about. Talk about get emotional! That would be me. It brought me to tears thinking of the families losing rights to their land for the cattle because of the over populated wild horse range. It changed me for life. I feel I learned so much from each and every one of you ranchers…and some of the other organizations that were present.
NOW! As far as the Beaty Butte horses gaining popularity. In 2013 a cowboy named Tom Hagwood won the Mustang Million on a Beaty Butte horse he called “Merv.” I’ll drop a link to the video of he and Merv winning at the bottom of this email. Also…were you aware that a handful of Beaty Butte horses went to Germany for what was called “American Mustang Makeover Germany” ?? I have a movie here about several women that competed with those horses that I would love to send you to watch. Bob visited Friday and watched it here. It brings us to near tears to know that our Oregon (Beaty Butte) mustangs have been trained and have performed all over the world! The BB horses have a good name. I am constantly having people ask me if I have their horses photo while they are on the range. Many times I’ve stopped and explained how vast it is over there and how spooky the horses were/are. I did get a few shots at the gather but they were very far away. Beautiful horses!
“ONDA has a long-term commitment to the ecological health of the entire Hart-Sheldon region, including the Beatys Butte area. We have worked extensively with groups of stakeholders to address the many different land management issues facing this region and look forward to continued progress on protecting wildlife habitat and wilderness values in this remarkable part of Oregon.”
– Dan Morse,Conservation Director, Oregon Natural Desert Association