I have been a very busy donkey! The Wild Burro Protection League has needed my help to consult them on how we can best save my wild cousins from losing their freedom and even their lives. We have examined the insane behavior of the "wildlife" experts who are allowing so many species to be destroyed. It boggled my mind and after a great deal of digging and connecting the dots it dawned on me why our "wildlife" experts have taken such a deadly turn away from protecting our people's lands (link).
Back in the 90's the mandate of the park was changed from protecting our spectacular public parks inhabitants and environment to finding funding opportunities with our public lands. This was called the entrepreneurial budget strategy (link). At first, there was a no compete clause, but soon this was removed so that the parks could sell the souvenirs that were already being sold by local businesses. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department surveyed the local businesses to see what they were selling and undercut their prices. No longer was conservation the reason for the wildlife department's existence although it is clearly stated that it is supposed to be.
[Preparation of the business plan was a formidable obstacle for many parks. Traditionally, park managers worried about maintaining their facilities, insuring visitor safety, and providing basic customer services. More recently, more emphasis on cultural and natural resource conservation was added to a manager's duties. The business plans suddenly added a wide range of brand new issues and problems, such as finances, total quality management, product review, marketing, customer targeting, and analyses of the competition. As Wayne Haley, the manager at South Llano River State Park, put it, "It's like rocket science to a cowboy."
Park managers had to learn and understand these concepts in a new environment of competition with their fellow parks. Moreover, they had to get ready to almost immediately implement their plans and ideas. To their credit, park staff not only expanded their business and financial skills but began to think more like entrepreneurs. Challenged to invest in programs that would either make money or save money and provide services that would increase visitors and revenues, park staffers were prepared to take risks and reap the benefits of their efforts.]
They now exist to find ways to make a profit for the parks and superintendents. It is obvious that this is a conflict of interest. Indeed, it is the reason that conservation backed by science is no longer studied or sought particularly if the predicted outcome of studies will stand in the way of profit.
So, what does a wise donkey do with this information? Even my big brain is exploding. How do we solve this? Oversight by the public and outside scientific review panels would be a good place to start. Emphasis has been placed on cultural and natural resource conservation but who evaluates the success of these programs? Who has oversight to provide guidance for the wildlife, environment, bio-diversity, and cultural preservation? Without question, this oversight MUST be independent of our governmental agencies, AND their recommendations MUST have teeth. Presently, this requirement of the EBS is a sham. Without oversight, none can argue whether the wildlife is doing better or worse. Without scientific studies, or public oversight, the environment can be destroyed and we the people will be none the wiser. This, I believe is the key.
In the 2013 upcoming legislative session we have an opportunity to make these requirements a reality. We must force the parks to accept outside, independent studies of current conditions in all of OUR parks lands. These studies MUST be multi-disciplinary. In other words, there would need to be complete field studies of the bio-diversity, the land quality, species interactions with other species both plant and animal, as well as water and air quality. All of this data should be shared and transparent. If it is true that the mandate is to conserve and protect the environment, its inhabitants and the cultural resources, then these studies should be welcome with open arms by all of the parks. My suspicion is that they will fight this tooth and nail. Clearly, as in the case of Big Bend Ranch State Park, removal of all of the wildlife to benefit a single species will be pilloried by such a study. Indeed, the burros they are eradicating from the park are, by all interpretations of local history, significant to the cultural preservation of the area, and they are federally protected (link) for this very reason. It is obvious to me that these are "words only" to the agency meant to nullify an unsuspecting population. However, these are my wild cousins, and I am aware. Very aware!
So, we want to help our friends in Alpine, Ft. Davis, Marathon, Marfa, Terlingua, and Ft. Stockton to embrace their historic burro culture. As I traveled with my friends to these towns we discovered a deep love for my cousins. Many came up and spoke with love and whimsy of the days when donkeys took their parents to school, or delivered milk to the mines. The landmarks named after burros are many, and the people do remember. So many love us there, yet they have been unable to stop this agency that is out of control and killing the wildlife in their backyards. Everything from elk to bobcat are being destroyed leaving the lands imbalanced and the people devastated at the loss. (link)
step is to enact and carry out the very
necessary comprehensive studies. (link)
In Bishop California there is an event held every year called the Bishop Mule Days (link), which offers friendly but serious competition between the best of the mules (and donkeys) in the United States. This too, brings in millions of dollars to the local economy. Once again, drawing people to the local event will also bring them in range of these beautiful parks which they would more than likely visit while in town. The towns people benefit, and so do the parks. This is a win-win-win for all. The burro culture is strong in these communities, and should not be ignored.
|Donkey trekking (link) is a popular sport in Europe. It gets families outdoors and together to enjoy nature, and exercise in a positive manner that puts them in touch with nature. If the kids get tired of walking they are put on the backs of the trusty donkeys who accompany them.|
It is foolish for TPWD to take the stance that only the rich are able to provide funding through their misguided efforts to turn our public lands into a big game preserve. As a result, the true value of cooperation with the locals is being ignored. If TPWD were to embrace the burro culture people will come from around the world to enjoy these beloved animals. Embrace the public, embrace science and holistic range management (link), embrace history and embrace the burro culture! The locals will thank you, the burros will thank you, and this globally recognized precious bio-sphere will be saved from desertification (link).