Revising our HMAP

22 01 2020

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Same basic, iconic view … different day, different grey!

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As most regular readers of this humble blog know, we have worked closely and for many years with BLM managers of Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area. Our partnership is one to be envied; we have great respect for our BLM folks – especially herd manager Mike Jensen – and the health of our mustangs and the range they call home is directly because of that partnership.

We have accomplished almost everything on our big-goal to-do list for Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs, including the commitment to using bait-trapping if/when we need to remove horses in the future and our successful fertility-control program using native PZP. How successful is it? We’re celebrating our NINTH year of NO roundups and removals in Spring Creek Basin. I’d say that qualifies. πŸ™‚

All of the things we have done and are doing – and the fact that our current one is 26 years oldΒ  – means we’ve come to another big goal: updating Spring Creek Basin’s herd management area plan. Mike Jensen has been working on that for a while now, and a LOT goes into it.

So to *start* the process (see above where I note that a LOT goes into it, including time in the field doing vegetation monitoring over the last few years, archaeological-site assessments, ongoing data collection about our PZP program, etc.), we come to the scoping process for updating the herd management area plan, otherwise known as the HMAP.

Here, you will find that scoping letter on BLM’s eplanning website.

At the left side of the page, click the “Documents” link. On the next page, under “Document Name,” click the link for “Spring Creek Basin HMA Interested Parties Letter.”

At the first link, read the information (the other two links will take you directly to the page to access the document link and the comment link, and the letter itself):

“The BLM is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) to analyze the proposed action and alternatives to that action.

“What: Name/Type of Proposed Project: Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) Revision.

“Where: General and Legal: This Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area (HMA) is located within the Spring Creek Basin portion of Disappointment Valley in Southwest Colorado. The HMA is approximately 21,932 acres is size and lies within both Dolores and San Miguel Counties.

“Disturbance: Estimated Disturbance (acres/area) Description: The HMAP Revision will include the proposal for constructing two water catchment structures which will result in approximately 1.0 acres of total of ground disturbance.

“When: Expected Implementation and Duration: The Herd Management Area Plan would be implemented immediately following the issuance of the Final Decision.”

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On to the letter.

What it’s TELLING you is that Tres Rios Field Office (where Mike is employed as a rangeland management specialist and Spring Creek Basin’s herd manager) is “seeking input on a proposal to revise the 1994 Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area Plan (I just realized, on typing that, that they swapped a couple of words) for the Spring Creek Basin Wild Horse Herd Management Area in Dolores and San Miguel Counties, Colorado. …”

In addition to advising interested parties about potential disturbance of about an acre of land total for the construction of two (more) water catchment structures, this is the stated “purpose and need” of the HMAP revision:

“The BLM is proposing to revise the 1994 Spring Creek Basin HMAP. Herd Area Management Plans (again, word swap!) identify specific management actions, goals, objectives and monitoring for managing wild horses and /or burro herds and their habitat. Therefore, the proposed HMAP revision will identify goals, objectives and monitoring to address 1) existing appropriate management level (AML) of wild horses; 2) rangeland health conditions; 3) population control measures; 4) removal criteria and gather techniques; 5) genetics; 6) population dynamics; 7) range improvements; and 8) sustaining healthy populations of wild horses.”

What it’s ASKING is for the public to offer comments about those issues along the lines of answering these basic questions:

Do you agree with those topics/issues BLM has identified?

Are there additional topics/issues might you like to see identified/addressed in the revised HMAP?

The comment deadline is Feb. 19, and as you’ll see in the letter, there are a variety of ways of delivering those comments: There’s a “Comment on Document” button on one of the pages above; send an email to Mike; send your comments via USPS mail to the office.

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Now some suggestions.

First of all, do we want Spring Creek Basin’s HMAP revised and updated? Yes, please! πŸ™‚

Do we want a couple of new water catchment structures? Yes, please!

So let’s look at each of the topics from the letter.

  • Existing AML. We would like to raise this slightly, and based on vegetation monitoring conducted the last few years, as well as the use of PZP fertility control and the slow, measured growth of the population during the last nine years since the 2011 roundup and removal, we believe this is reasonable. The current AML is 35 to 65 adult horses.
  • Rangeland health conditions. Having participated in vegetation monitoring in Spring Creek Basin the last few years, including the Rangeland Health Assessment, it’s important to note that by and large, the condition of the range in Spring Creek Basin has improved (even during extreme drought situations) since previous monitoring was completed and is continuing to improve. This can be attributed to management of the herd’s population growth with the use of fertility-control vaccine PZP.
  • Population control measures. Native PZP continues to be extremely effective in managing the population growth of Spring Creek Basin’s mustang herd, and we urge its continued use.
  • Removal criteria and gather techniques. As one of the authors of the bait-trapping proposal that was accepted and signed as an EA by BLM in 2018, I urge that bait trapping continue to be the gather technique of choice in Spring Creek Basin. Many discussions have been held about the viability and potential success of this method in the geography of Spring Creek Basin, with our well-documented mustangs. Removal criteria should continue to reflect current documented age and genetics dynamics, as explored elsewhere in this document.
  • Genetics. Because Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area is small (almost 22,000 acres) and its herd is correspondingly small, genetics is an extremely important topic to consider with regard to the sustainability of this herd and its health. Introducing mares periodically, as was done in 2008 and in 2001 (and stallions in the 1990s), should continue at intervals that reflect current management practices in Spring Creek Basin, and the ages and offspring of previously introduced mares – all of which are known from the 2008 introduction because of documentation since 2007.
  • Population dynamics. To have a healthy herd, we must have a healthy mix of stallions and mares, as well as age groups within the herd. Currently, we have a fair number of horses older than 10, as well as horses filling every age year from 2007 and younger. We favor a healthy, natural relationship dynamic of a roughly evenly mixed stallions-to-mares ratio. Keeping this ratio natural with the use of native PZP is an attained goal.
  • Range improvements. During the last 20-plus years, advocates have partnered with BLM to improve the range with various projects including fencing, weed identification and location, water-enhancement projects, identification of ponds to be dug out (because of silt and sedimentation buildup), and vegetation monitoring, all of which enhance our knowledge of the range and how the horses use it. We are proud to partner with Tres Rios Field Office to keep our horses and range healthy and urge the continuation of the same partnership, which has become a model in the BLM-citizen-advocacy community.
  • Sustaining healthy populations of wild horses. Keeping our horses healthy depends on keeping our range healthy, and we remain committed to helping BLM ensure the continuation of both with volunteer projects including PZP darting, documentation, vegetation monitoring and help with all range projects.

Regarding the disturbance expected for approximately 1 acre for the proposed construction of two water guzzlers/catchment structures: Herd manager Mike Jensen explored two potential sites with an archaeologist from Tres Rios Field Office and found no cultural resources at either site, leading to acknowledgement of both sites as good for guzzler placements. In addition to providing two additional sources of clean water for the mustangs, siting the guzzlers in those locations will help with the dispersal of the horses to currently under-used grazing areas within Spring Creek Basin.

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If you made it this far, you deserve another pic of our beauties. πŸ™‚

Thank you for reading this far!

To reiterate a very important fact: We work very closely with Mike Jensen and our Tres Rios BLM folks for the good management of our Spring Creek Basin mustangs, and have for a very long time.

Much of that work is the fun stuff: In-the-field, boots-on-the-dry/dusty/muddy/snowy-ground, mustangs-near-and-far, under-blue-sky-in-the-great-wide-open awesomeness. Some of that work involves paper (and computer) work.

We thank you for following along with our Spring Creek Basin mustangs and for your support during these many years. If you’d take a few moments to send comments to Mike about this scoping letter, we’d sure appreciate it! If you’ve visited Spring Creek Basin and the mustangs, say so. If you know the horses and our advocacy work through this blog or elsewhere, say so. Say that these mustangs are important to you, and please say how much you appreciate BLM’s partnership with advocates on behalf of Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs.

Thank you all in advance for helping us achieve our goals for our beloved mustangs. We know how much you love them, too!

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More rain, frost, fog, sunshine!

10 12 2019

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The fog wasn’t nearly as heavy or as long-lasting this time as it was last time.

Also like last time, I couldn’t find a single cooperative pony to photograph!

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In other news:

The Bureau of Land Management seeks public comment on wild horse fertility control study.

Article about it in the Las Vegas Sun.

I’m not really sure what to think about this, let alone what to say about it. While BLM continues to search for and research various ways to limit or stop reproduction in wild horses and burros, the fact remains that PZP is a tried and true vaccine (with more than 30 years of research and use) to limit reproduction in horses and burros. PZP works where it’s used. When it’s used, PZP works. Why not use it? Why keep complaining that there’s nothing to do but round up and remove? Why wait to use what exists and works??

Yes, please: Continue to research other, *humane* ways of reducing fertility in wild horses and burros, ways that work longer and are “easier” to deploy (than native PZP).

But in the meantime, PZP WORKS. USE IT.

A very good, very effective tool exists. When it’s used, it works. When it’s not used, it’s difficult to listen to the complaints about the consequences of its lack of use.

I would love to offer support to another tool in the goal to reduce reproduction – in turn reducing the need for roundups and removals – and I really hope PZP would get the support and use our wild horses and burros deserve.

Disclaimer: We have used PZP in Spring Creek Basin since the roundup in 2011. We haven’t had a roundup since 2011, and no roundups are planned. Reason? PZP, plain and simple.

From BLM’s release at the link above:

A 15-day public comment period on the preliminary environmental assessment is set for December 5 – 19, 2019. The public is encouraged to review DOI-BLM-NV-0000-2020-001-EA (Oocyte Growth Factor Vaccine Study), located at: https://go.usa.gov/xpEvc and provide comments or concerns, prior to 4:30 p.m. (PST) on December 19, 2019. Comments and concerns may be emailed to blm_nv_nvso_research@blm.gov or sent in writing to the BLM Nevada State Office, Attention: Ruth Thompson, Wild Horse and Burro Project Coordinator, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, NV 89502.

If you’re moved to comment, I would encourage readers to offer respectful comments that support continued research of humane fertility-control options. I also would encourage readers to point to the long-known success of PZP and encourage BLM to make use of it.





Dedication

20 05 2019

Family members and friends of Pati Temple drove into Disappointment Valley yesterday to celebrate a woman who changed all our lives for the better. To her, we dedicated the now-officially named Temple Butte.

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David Temple led the ceremony with Marona, the first mustang he and Pati adopted. She’s a Spring Creek Basin native. πŸ™‚ Pati’s sister Marcie is in the striped jacket, and long-time family friend Mark is in the yellow jacket.

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Long-time friend Sara Staber (in blue) speaks about Pati, telling the story about how Pati successfully fought to return Traveler to Spring Creek Basin after he was removed during the 2007 roundup.

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Kat Wilder talked about the impact Pati had on her … though she never met Pati.

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Former San Miguel County Commissioner Art Goodtimes served with Pati years ago on BLM Colorado’s Southwest District RAC. He spoke about how she inspired everyone with her passion for public lands. She was Art’s introduction to the mustangs of Spring Creek Basin.

(Note: Temple Butte is in San Miguel County. It’s just outside Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area, which straddles San Miguel and Dolores counties.)

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Marona, about 21 years old, loved the attention.

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The feelings were mutual. πŸ™‚

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Our sincere thanks to everyone who came from far and wide to honor Pati Temple and her dedication to Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs!





Happening today …

19 05 2019

Maia; Temple Butte and McKenna Peak

A special dedication to a special lady.

Today in Disappointment Valley, we’re having a ceremony to dedicate Temple Butte in honor of our dear and much-missed friend – and friend of mustangs – Pati Temple.

Last year, just before Christmas, we learned that the U.S. Board of Geographic Names had granted our request to officially name Temple Butte. It was an arduous application process, and we are tremendously thankful to Ann Bond for her commitment to the paperwork and seeing it through to the successful end.

San Miguel County commissioners (Kris Holstrom, Hilary Cooper and Joan May) wrote a letter of support for our application, and we thank them, especially past and present members who knew Pati personally.

Pati worked tirelessly with local BLM employees to get things done for Spring Creek Basin’s herd, and Wayne Werkmeister, herd manager in the 1990s who played a vital role in the creation of the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association, wrote a letter of support for Temple Butte. He’s currently the associate field manager at the Grand Junction Field Office (out of which the Little Book Cliffs herd is managed). At Pati’s insistence (one of her best traits was her absolute refusal to take no for an answer!), Wayne was here for our 2011 (last) roundup, during which we implemented our PZP program.

Mike Jensen, current Spring Creek Basin herd manager who also knew Pati, had this to say: “I really see it as fitting to have that beautiful butte which looks down on the HMA named in honor of Pati. Her passion for those horses was a driving force in where we are today in the management of the HMA.”

During her many years of involvement with Spring Creek Basin and its mustangs, Pati made sure that we partnered with BLM instead of fighting with the agency. That philosophy continues … and look at the good it has generated for our mustangs!

Pati touched the lives of humans and animals alike during her life, and it is fitting for those of us who knew her to continue to advocate for all those who need a helping hand and a word of encouragement.

Thank you, Pati. Thank you to all who made this happen.





No Colorado mustangs left behind!

2 04 2019

This past weekend in Fruita, Colorado, you would have been lucky to take home one of the 26 mustangs or two burros offered for adoption.

Lucky because they ALL got adopted.

Every. Single. ONE!

Lucky because it took several hundred dollars to adopt many of the mustangs.

Lucky because one 2-year-old gelding was adopted for – wait for it – $2,750.

Twenty-four of the mustangs are from Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range, and two of them were captured from private land outside Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area.

Twenty-some potential adopters had filled out applications by the end of Friday’s demo day. By the time the clock started on the adoptions Saturday morning, close to 60 people had filled out adoption applications.

Do you have goose bumps now? πŸ™‚

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One of our BLM partners in Grand Junction – Ben Smith, who started his career here in Southwest Colorado – said later that about 100 people braved the cold, wind and snow flurries on Friday to see the training demos (including Inez Throm, Diane Shipley, Stephanie Linsley, Montrose 4-H kids and their mustangs, Mustang Maddy and Anna Twinney), and at least TWO HUNDRED people showed up for the gorgeous day that was Saturday and adoption day!

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In this pic, taken from the opposite side of the arena from the top photo, you can see the very first adopter driving into the arena (Rimrock Adventure Rodeo Grounds) to pick up their mustang – which is the light palomino mare, named Sunshine, at bottom left.

Also visible in this photo are the booths set up at the far side of the arena representing Colorado’s marvelous mustang advocates.

Let’s take a minute to applaud these amazing folks (follow the links to learn way more about each of these groups than I can possibly share here):

Friends of the Mustangs, advocacy group for Little Book Cliffs mustangs, spent hours and hours and weeks and months preparing and advertising for this adoption, which followed last fall’s adoption of LBC mustangs. Members know every single horse on the range – as well as sires, dams, siblings, etc. (And that’s how *I* know that the palomino above is Sunshine. :)) Their resources don’t end on the range; they offer training help and mentorship to adopters, and they’re the first to congratulate new adopters! This group has been around for nearly 40 years; they have fabulous BLM folks (shout out to Jim Dollerschell, Ben Smith and Wayne Werkmeister); they count as long-time members two of my very first inspiring people (Marty Felix and Billie Hutchings); their adoption team (Kathy Degonia and … ???) pulled off a TRIUMPH here! Massive, ginormous, astounding and grateful KUDOS to all of these folks!

Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary/Sand Wash Advocate Team are the dreams of Michelle Sander (dedicated to her dad) and the hard-working advocates for Sand Wash Basin (including but certainly not limited to Stephanie Linsley (head trainer at GEMS), Petra Kadrnozkova, Stella Trueblood and Connie Wagner). On the range, SWAT documents the mustangs, darts mares with PZP, and hosts range-project days, working closely with BLM. At GEMS, they offer sanctuary to some mustangs, and they take in more mustangs to gentle/train and find new, wonderful, loving homes. Also at GEMS, they host a wide variety of events, including horsemanship clinics and yoga with the mustangs!

Wild Horse Warriors for Sand Wash Basin also advocate for the Sand Wash Basin mustangs. They raised money to haul water to the horses during last year’s devastating drought, and they’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars to help build fence along the highway to keep the horses within the basin and safe from traffic. Cindy Wright represented the group to help educate people about mustangs.

Piceance Mustangs is a brand-new group formed to advocate for the mustangs of Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area, the largest HMA in the state. Some of the FOM members are taking on double-duty working for this herd, and they’ve already hosted range projects, during which they have removed miles of fence (repurposing old barbed wire into wreaths that they are selling to raise funds) and completed water-improvement projects. They’re working with BLM to hopefully implement PZP darting in the future. Tracy Scott (Steadfast Steeds Mustang Sanctuary) and Kathy Degonia (FOM) are working hard for this herd, and BLM herd manager Melissa Kindall is an amazing (and amazingly grateful!) partner in their endeavors.

And I attended to support these amazing advocates, their mustangs and their BLM partners … and to set some Spring Creek Basin brochures on FOM’s table to round out the full complement of Colorado mustang herds. πŸ™‚

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The amazing George Brauneis, pictured above with Michelle Sander and me (photo taken by Kathy Degonia), announced all the trainers and pertinent information during the weekend. George has adopted numerous mustangs (he currently has 12!), and he is one of the most enthusiastic promoters of mustangs in Colorado! He has a resource list miles long, all related to helping adopters help their mustangs. He’s a Colorado native, and he is supremely dedicated to Colorado (and other) mustangs. On Friday, his gorgeous black Little Book Cliffs mustang, Rango, helped trainers Stephanie Linsley and Anna Twinney help potential adopters by serving as a model.

My gosh, folks. This is the way it should be done everywhere. Everyone is mutually helpful and supportive and respectful. We appreciate our BLM partners, and they listen to our voices when it comes to our Colorado mustangs.

BLM’s Northwest Colorado District Manager Stephanie Connolly and BLM Colorado State Director Jamie Connell attended the adoption and saw the benefits of their partners for Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range, Friends of the Mustangs.

Also deserving of a big round of appreciation for their work for and during this adoption event are the following BLM folks: Steve Leonard and Monica Mohr (from Canon City); Jim Dollerschell, Ben Smith, Wayne Werkmeister and Bob Price (Grand Junction Field Office); and Melissa Kindall (White River Field Office, Meeker).

To repeat: Not a single horse went unadopted this weekend. Not a single horse returned to BLM’s short-term holding facility at the prison complex in Canon City. Not a single horse costs taxpayers another dime.

As George and Kathy said: No mustang left behind! πŸ™‚

I can’t say enough about the people who make up Colorado’s mustang advocate community (and although I specifically named several people in this post, never doubt that there are many, many, MANY more). There simply aren’t enough superlatives. They worked long and hard, and their ultimate reward was seeing all of the horses and burros get adopted.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHMAAAAAAAAAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some additional links: Photo gallery in the Grand Junction Sentinel.

And this little girl, Jade, stole everyone’s hearts!

 

 





Our Pati

8 01 2019

Seneca; Temple Butte and McKenna Peak

Check out this wonderful article in the Telluride Daily Planet by writer Katie Klingsporn:

https://www.telluridenews.com/news/article_d8e1bd26-112e-11e9-b31f-0f3d56d820bc.html

In the photo above, Temple Butte is the prominent promontory behind snow-covered McKenna Peak (shaped like a pyramid).

Seneca is the lovely mustang, walking through her lovely, winter-white-coated world.

Thanks so much to all who contributed to the success of our application to name Temple Butte in honor of Pati (and David) Temple. It’s the least we could do to honor a woman who did so much for the wild she knew and loved.





Temple Butte forever!

19 12 2018

Seneca; Temple Butte

It’s official! Temple Butte IS Temple Butte!

Just last night, we received word that our application* to name Temple Butte, above Spring Creek Basin’s eastern boundary, in honor of our beloved and much-missed Pati Temple was approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

We are ecstatic. πŸ™‚

Pati was an integral part of NMA/CO‘s long mission to protect and preserve Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs in a way that sustains both the herd and the range upon which they depend. With perseverance and commitment, our partnership with BLM’s Tres Rios Field Office is stronger than ever, and our horses and their range are beautiful and healthy.

We are forever grateful for Pati’s guiding light, and, thus named, Temple Butte now is a testament to her memory.

The formerly unnamed promontory has its forever name. πŸ™‚ Just in time for Christmas!

*Heartfelt thanks to Ann Bond for her diligent efforts gathering and submitting the paperwork for the application!

** Another aside: Pati is responsible for Seneca’s name. πŸ™‚