By Madeleine Pickens

I am often left to wonder if people do any fact checking at all before they begin their wild tales. Certainly Mr. Sacrison did none of that before he submitted his article “Taxpayers forced all-in for Eco-Sanctuary.” He begins by saying that all risk is passed on to the taxpayer. “It is a certainty the taxpayer will bear all costs in these fascistic crony capitalist schemes, whether they be wind farms, solar panels or feral horses.” So I guess, as the eco-sanctuary project gets attacked from all sides and after five years of planning, I have no risk for the over $15 million investment I have made in the project to date?

Mr. Sacrison tells the readers that the government is going to pay a direct payment of $253,000 to Saving Americas Mustangs, but he fails to make reference to the fact that the government is already paying that much and even more to private ranchers who are required to make no investments in their respective projects and provide no return to the American taxpayer. And he must have no idea how a 501(C) 3 operates or he would know that nonprofits rely on donations from individuals and corporations.

He has one thing right, though, only partially. SAM will build classrooms and overnight accommodations so that the American people, for the first time, can come and view a magnificent resource that they have owned for many generations, dating back long before mining and ranching got their foothold on the public lands. Mr. Sacrison rambles on about what he perceives to be the negative economic effect of establishing a wild horse eco-sanctuary over maintaining a cattle grazing operation. His failure to recognize the economic inputs from new jobs, tourists traveling to and from the eco-sanctuary and staying in local lodging, eating in local restaurants, the boon to the State of Nevada from a new tourist destination is a remarkable omission or just plain stupidity.

His contention that the land will somehow suffer is also a gross miscalculation. The Spruce ranch had been over-utilized by cattle for many years. It has set idle now for two years and is in the best condition it has been in for decades. The amount of horses that will be allowed on the eco-sanctuary will be determined by the BLM, not some arbitrary number that I or someone with no experience on the ground in this area can pull out of the air. I have already made significant improvements to the Spruce and Warm Creek ranches, as many visitors this past year have witnessed, and will continue to do so. In the course of that work, I have hired dozens of workers and spent a significant amount of money within Elko County and local communities. If Mr. Sacrison was a serious person and his intent was to inform, he would have fact-checked that and soon discovered the obvious truth. You don’t have to read far to know what Mr. Sacrison’s agenda is; his first reference to “feral” horses tells you just about all you need to know, but if you read on, his claims continue to fall apart.

There is no way that the eco-sanctuary proposal could, as he suggests, cause “ranchers and other taxpayer’s conditions to deteriorate.” Exactly the opposite is true. The eco-sanctuary will generate more income and more jobs at no increased costs to the taxpayer. Mr. Sacrison has done no favors to the readers of the Elko Free Press nor anyone interested in the SAM eco-sanctuary proposal with his tawdry, unsubstantiated and highly opinionated article. If there are other interested parties in Elko or other parts of this area and beyond who are interested in the SAM eco-sanctuary project and would like to write or discuss the project from an informed point of view, I invite them to contact me and we will be glad to take you on a tour of the property.

Madeleine Pickens is founder of Saving America’s Mustangs, which is developing the Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Preserve south of Wells.

Read the Original comments from September 25, 2015 by Ralph A. Sacrison in the Elko Daily Free Press