Celebrities, Congresspersons & Citizens to Int. Secy. Jewell: Step In to Save America's Wild Horses & Burros

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WASHINGTON (JUNE 20, 2013) -- Americans from all backgrounds came together on Thursday to keep the pressure on Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to reform the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) wild horse program.

An open letter to Jewell, signed by over 30,000 Americans, 30 members of Congress, 18 of nation's leading wild horse advocacy organizations and 15 celebrities, was delivered to the Interior Department on Thursday morning. 

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and its founding organization, Return to Freedom, led the effort along with Congressman Raul Grijalva.

The letter, known as the "Step In, Sally" initiative, called on Secretary Jewell to act to make much needed changes to the BLM's program in the wake of a scathing independent report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), which called the program "expensive and unproductive."

“I’ve been asking for changes for years, and NAS has confirmed that we can save taxpayer money and horses’ lives at the same time by improving this program,” Grijalva said. “We have the information we need. Now it’s time to do something with it.”

"We know the BLM program is scientifically unsound, fiscally reckless and extremely inhumane," said Suzanne Roy, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign director. "The NAS was clear: business as usual must change." 

"The 'Step In, Sally' letter is a clarion call for Secretary Jewell from Americans who are counting on her to put this program on a more humane, cost effective and sustainable footing."  said Neda DeMayo, President of Return to Freedom. "Her leadership is urgently needed to secure the future for America's treasured mustangs and burros." 

A poll released by AWHPC last month found that 72 percent of Americans favor protecting wild horses as “living symbols of the history and pioneer spirit of the West" while 66 percent think the BLM’s approach to wild horse management is an inefficient use of tax dollars (only 8% thought it was an efficient use).

In an interview the Denver Post in May, new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that she was waiting for the NAS report to determine the future of the BLM's program.

The report was released on June 5, 2013. Secretary Jewell hasn't made any public comments about the program since. 

Return to Freedom is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America’s wild horses through sanctuary, education and conservation, while enriching the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world. Return to Freedom provides a safe haven to over 300 wild horses and burros at its sanctuary in Santa Barbara, California and in Nevada where the group is planning to create a larger wild horse preserve.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, founded in 2004 by Return to Freedom, is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come.

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