More water for mustangs in Colorado

22 06 2012

June 20, 2012

Contact: Christopher B. Joyner, Public Affairs Specialist, (970) 210-2126

BLM conducts emergency water operations; closes public lands for drought stricken wild horses

MEEKER, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management recently began delivering water to wild horses in several areas in western Colorado in response to extreme drought conditions. Today BLM also issued an emergency closure for areas in the vicinity of Texas Mountain south of Rangely to further protect wild horses where the situation is particularly severe.

BLM is closely monitoring the wild horse herds it manages in Colorado and has begun supplementing natural water sources in three of the four wild horse herd management areas in the state, including the Piceance-East Douglas southwest of Meeker, the Sand Wash near Maybell, and the Spring Creek outside of Dolores. These are areas BLM manages specifically to maintain healthy wild horse herds in balance with other uses of the land. BLM is also closely monitoring the water situation in the Little Books Cliffs Wild Horse Range outside of DeBeque, which currently is not requiring supplemental water.

BLM issued the closure prohibiting public access south of Rangley in the West Douglas Herd Area, which is an area not planned for continued management of wild horses because it is not as suitable an area. BLM recently discovered a group of approximately 40 to 50 wild horses completely lacking any natural source of water. In addition to providing a large, temporary water tank and three water troughs, BLM is closing this area to reduce disturbance while the horses adjust to a new water source. The affected closed area is on or near Texas Mountain east of BLM Road 1214 and east of BLM Road 1063. Livestock are not currently in this specific area or using this water source.

BLM is closely monitoring the situation in the closure area and in the remainder of the West Douglas area, which holds an estimated 135 additional wild horses.

“BLM is committed to maintaining healthy wild horses in the White River Field Office and in Colorado,” said Kent Walter, White River Field Office manager. “We will continue to monitor the situation here and elsewhere, and may need to take additional steps to ensure the wild horses are cared for humanely.”

According to Walter, hauling water to such a remote location is not likely a sustainable, long-term solution.


This is what I call “the trickle” in Spring Creek *Basin* (why do people always leave out the “basin” part?). Right above the S in Spring in my signature (and yes, I know, but Spring Creek Basin Wild was a long URL) is a pipe out of which water flows from an old well. It’s not much, it’s salty, it smells like sulphur. But the horses drink here when the drinking gets scarce. By the end of next week, we plan to install a pipeline and a drinking trough. The new line will run downhill to the new trough, which will sit where the pool of water currently is accumulating, right in front of the big tamarisk. Water will be controlled by a float instead of trickling on down into oblivion.

In addition to BLM’s green light (Tres Rios Field Office, Dolores), Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners partnership and (BLM) Director’s Challenge funding, the project involves Forest Service labor from the Dolores Public Lands Office. Thank you to all involved! (And many thanks to the Forest Service’s HP, who brought handsome Jammer for me to ride while we GPS’d water seeps in the Spring Creek (arroyo) and another main arroyo this week in the basin – and more next week!)



4 responses

22 06 2012
Linda Ha

Several advocates were out there this past week (some have lived there 50 yrs. and one is a vet) –assessing water and horse condition. Their report stated that the water sources were no different as in other years–springs and seeps are running fine and horses are fat and healthy. Concern is that they want to claim “emergency roundup” and remove those horsesl; this is the herd that they have been trying to zero out for years. It seems to be a manufactured water crisis to remove horses that are doing just fine. Most of these folks frequent the W. Douglas herd on a regular basis and they know the horses and all the water sources well.

22 06 2012
Lynn and Kathy

Interesting. What is REALLY going on here? How can there be so much help for one group of wild horses in SW Colorado and yet, there’s another group (not so far away in distance and within the same state) now “suddenly in dire straits”?

22 06 2012
Linda Ha

You’re exactly right Lynn and Kathy–There is still a pending court case on prohibiting the removal of these horses, who have been documented long before 1971–1600’s to be exact.

23 06 2012

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