NMA/CO’s night for mustangs

19 10 2018

Wednesday night at the Sunflower Theatre (Cortez, Colorado), the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association hosted a fundraising gala to benefit the mustangs of Southwest Colorado, including Spring Creek Basin, Mesa Verde National Park and off the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation.

Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin was our guest speaker and presented information about the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office‘s Mounted Patrol, which uses mustangs, on the long-ago recommendation of members of Mesa Verde Back Country Horsemen, some of whom are mustang adopters.

Short film “500 Miles” also was shown. It’s about Heroes and Horses, and how these wild horses help human warriors after combat and service to their country. From the Heroes and Horses website:

“Heroes and Horses is a Montana-based nonprofit organization that has created an innovative, three-phase reintegration program, which is offered to qualifying combat veterans (at no cost to them) suffering from PTSD. Our program utilizes the remote wilderness of Montana, coupled with human and horse connections, to challenge and inspire personal growth in veterans suffering from mental and physical scars.”

We know mustangs help those of us who *don’t* bear these tremendous physical, mental and emotional burdens. How much more intense must their connection be with these veterans??

On behalf of board members Tif Rodriguez, David Temple, Lynda Larsen, Sandie Simons and Nancy Schaufele, we are so thankful to our donors and to everyone who came to the Sunflower Theatre last night to help us in our ongoing endeavors to support and protect the wild horses of Southwest Colorado. (List of donors at the end of this post.)

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Board members Sandie Simons (right) and Lynda Larsen look over the offerings for the night’s silent auction.

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Some of the art donated: At left is a painting by renowned artist Veryl Goodnight of Mancos, Colorado (just east of Cortez); in the middle is a print by Corrales, New Mexico artist Ric Speed; and at right is a drawing of my boy, Grey/Traveler, by my friend, Denver-area artist and Spring Creek Basin mustangs (two!) adopter, Teresa Irick.

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Also close to my heart is this painting by friend and long-time supporter of Spring Creek Basin mustangs Karen Keene Day. It’s of Grey/Traveler (disclaimer: yes, it came home with me! :)).

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Taken from the theater balcony as people arrive to the fundraiser. Two Spring Creek Basin mustang supporters and often-visitors – Sue and Dennis Story – are in this crowd. Fun fact: They were the first to arrive!

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Attendees talk near the sheriff’s display of photos of the county’s Mounted Patrol Unit, which features three mustangs.

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Sandie, right, talks with Jeri Friesen while Jeri’s husband, Vern, bids on an auction item. Jeri and Vern have adopted three Spring Creek Basin mustangs, and as members of Four Corners Back Country Horsemen, have ridden two of them in Spring Creek Basin as part of 4CBCH’s wild horse counts. At left, Lynda talks with artist Veryl Goodnight (in blue) and Kate St. Onge, who bid on and won Veryl’s beautiful painting.

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Tif Rodriguez, NMA/CO’s executive director, introduces our organization and what we do to help mustangs. In the foreground is a photo (part of the auction) she took of Mesa Verde National Park mustangs a few weeks ago.

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The attentive crowd.

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Sandie speaks about the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office’s Mounted Patrol Unit during her introduction of Sheriff Steve Nowlin.

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During Sheriff Nowlin’s presentation, what struck me most – even more than all the work he and his staff did to bring mustangs to Montezuma County – was how admiring he is of the horses and their deputies and the work they have done, not only in crime fighting (pulling over drunk drivers!) but in community outreach.

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Because of grants and BLM help, bringing mustangs here as part of the county’s first mounted patrol cost taxpayers nothing. Each of the three mustangs – Rebel, Charlie and Cody – is valued at about $85,000. WOW – am I right? These horses are valuable not only because of the time and training and care put into them but because of how they help Montezuma County be a safer place. Criminals apparently ignore people on horseback (this is a rural county, after all, and people on horses is a common sight), but kids and community members are drawn to them as if by magnetic force, the sheriff said.

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Sheriff Nowlin also told the crowd how he and a local representative crafted a state bill that affords law-enforcement horses the same legal protections as law-enforcement canines. That bill was signed earlier this year by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Sheriff Nowlin has a framed photo of the occasion and the pen used that he brought as part of his display.

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The sheriff showed the display his office made that they took to all the schools in the county, asking for help naming their new mustangs. More than 2,000 schoolchildren responded, and the names Rebel, Charlie and Cody were chosen (Nowlin said it took his staff a month to pick from all the suggestions). The horses and their deputies visit schools and senior centers throughout the county as part of their community outreach efforts.

Sheriff Nowlin said he has received interest from police and sheriffs across the state and country, asking about their program. Another big win for mustangs. 🙂

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Also recognized during the evening were these talented young wordsmiths from Mancos Elementary School. Hannah Sword, right, was presented with a poster featuring her winning poem about Sundance and Arrow. Aysia Mathews was presented with a poster featuring her winning poem about Spirit. Each of the girls read their poems to the crowd. The third winner, Jordan B., who wrote about Sundance, moved away earlier this year (her poster will be mailed to her). The girls were in fifth and fourth grade, respectively, when they wrote their winning poems.

Artist and idea-bringer Ginny Getts also was recognized for her help in getting Mancos teachers and kids excited about mustangs. (And she donated a painting to the auction!)

Added thanks to San Juan Mountains Association‘s volunteer coordinator, Kathe Hayes, who not only provided finger foods for this event (and others we’ve done) but has done so much for Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs through work projects, especially alternative spring break (see blog roll for posts … late March every single year :)). Alternative spring break brings University of Missouri students to Southwest Colorado for a week each March to work on projects on public lands: BLM Tres Rios Field Office (including Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area), San Juan National Forest and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Again, we sincerely thank every single person who donated to our silent auction and came to our event to respect and honor mustangs and the work NMA/CO does in Southwest Colorado on their behalf. Special thanks to Tif Rodriguez who did the lion’s share of work pulling together this fabulous evening!

Many huge thanks to these donors who helped us help mustangs (below from Tif … list unfortunately delayed by yours truly, who had technical difficulties this morning 🙂 ) :

Kerry O’Brien
Montezuma Mexican Restaurant, Dolores
Shiloh’s Steakhouse, Cortez
Ric Speed
Equus Chiropractic – Petra Sullwold
Skyhorse Saddlery
Ginny Getts
Teresa Irick
Veryl Goodnight
Karen Keene Day
Dunton Hot Springs
Victoria Calvert
Trail Canyon Ranch
Chavolito’s, Dolores
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Cortez
Abundant Life, Cortez
Kokopelli Bike & Board, Cortez
FB Organics, Cortez
Millwood Junction, Mancos
Lynda Larsen
Tim McGaffic
Wendy Griffin
Nancy Schaufele
TJ Holmes

Special thanks to Ginny Getts, Mancos Elementary Students, Hannah Sword, Aysia Mathews, Jordan Berry; and to Diane Law (graphic design for poster art), Lisa Mackey (photo/poster printing).

AND

Sheriff Nowlin and the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Patrol Unit mustangs
Heroes & Horses – https://www.heroesandhorses.org/

And a very special thanks to:
Sunflower Theatre’s Dan and Desiree, Lyn Rowley, Kathe Hayes, Sandie Simons, Curly and Madison Rodriguez, and TJ Holmes

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Doing good

18 10 2018

Sundance

The Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association held a fundraiser last night at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez, Colorado.

I’ll do a longer post with pix from the event hopefully tomorrow, but for now, THANK YOU to NMA/CO board members, donors and attendees who made the night very successful and helped us raise money to help our work on behalf of mustangs in Southwest Colorado.

We so appreciate all of you!





Tribute to Mariah

6 10 2018

This post is specially for my friend Roy Garner, who grew up with his family in Disappointment Valley. He still visits a couple of times a year, to see the area and the mustangs. Roy is in his very fit 80s, and until recently, he was still trimming and shoeing horses. Love you, Roy!

Mariah

Thursday in Durango, Colorado, Dave Stamey was the headline performer for the opening night of the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, now in its 30th year (!).

Regular readers of this blog will know that every now and then, I quote Dave Stamey lyrics to go along with some photo of Spring Creek Basin and/or its mustangs.

Dave Stamey simply is the best cowboy singer/songwriter in the Western universe. That ain’t opinion, folks; that’s pure, simple fact. 🙂 (The mustangs know it, too. I like to sing (poorly, I’m afraid, though they’ve never complained) Dave Stamey songs to them while sitting in the sunshine and breeze while they graze and nap, especially my favorite songs, “Sunrise” and “The Circle.”)

Thursday night, one of the first songs he performed was a “classic,” meaning, in part, that he hadn’t written it (he writes true-to-hard-gritty-dirty-(and-sometimes-romantic-and-sometimes-hilarious)-life cowboy songs as only someone who lives the life can write).

This is where the tribute to Mariah – and my friend Roy – comes in.

He sang “They Call the Wind Maria,”* which is the song behind Roy’s naming of Mariah when she was a bitty babe, seen first by Roy during one of his spring visits to Spring Creek Basin.

Later, between shows (friend and fellow advocate Kat Wilder paid for my tickets as my birthday present – thank you, Kat!), we talked to Dave, and I thanked him for singing “They Call the Wind Mariah,” telling him that we have a mustang named Mariah … named for that very song.

“They Call the Wind Maria”

Maria, Maria
They call the wind Maria

Way out here they got a name
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe
And they call the wind Maria

Maria blows the stars around
And sends the clouds a-flyin’
Miriam makes the mountain sound
Like folks were up there dyin’

Maria, Maria
They call the wind Maria

Before I knew Maria’s name
And heard her wail and whinin’
I had a gal and she had me
And the sun was always shinin’

Then one day I left my girl
I left her far behind me
And now I’m lost so cold and lost
Not even God can find me

Maria, Maria
They call the wind Maria

Out here they got a name
For rain, for wind and fire only
But when you’re lost and all alone
There ain’t no word but lonely

And I’m a lost and lonely man
Without a star to guide me
Miriam, blow my love to me
I need my girl beside me

Maria, Maria
They call the wind Maria
Maria, Maria
Love, my love, pull me

~ Lyrics by Alan Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe

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Here, Dave Stamey sings/performs “They Call the Wind Maria” at the historic Henry Strater Theatre at the Strater Hotel on the opening night of the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Durango, Colorado.

If you appreciate the Western way of life exemplified by rich singing, perfect lyrics and masterful guitar playing, check out Dave Stamey. You won’t be disappointed.

*Note on pronunciation, from the above Wikipedia link: “In George Rippey Stewart’s 1941 novel Storm, he names the storm that is the protagonist of his story Maria.[19] In 1947, Stewart wrote a new introduction for a reprint of the book, and discussed the pronunciation of “Maria”: “The soft Spanish pronunciation is fine for some heroines, but our Maria here is too big for any man to embrace and much too boisterous.” He went on to say, “So put the accent on the second syllable, and pronounce it ‘rye’.”





Reminder

20 08 2018

Maiku

One week from today, on Aug. 27, the deadline closes on your opportunity to affirm to Tres Rios BLM that yes, we want bait trapping to be the method of choice when it comes to gathering and removing our mustangs – IN the future, WHEN needed (which is not now).

Follow this link to information for DOI-BLM-CO-S010-2015-0001-EA (Spring Creek Basin HMA Bait Trap Gathers).

Refer also to this blog post – ‘Do NOT freak out!’ (because we are NOT removing horses) – for more information about what this EA is about and why it’s a good thing.

The deadline for comments is Aug. 27, 2018. Please do comment favorably about bait trapping in Spring Creek Basin (in the future, when needed): Alternative A – proposed action: “The proposed action would utilize bait/water trapping as the primary gather method to remove excess wild horses from the HMA. No wild horses would be removed as long as population was or remained within AML.”

The population of Spring Creek Basin’s mustang herd IS within current AML (which is 35 to 65 adult horses, and yes, we know that’s fairly low, and yes, we are working to get that raised in the hopefully-soon-to-be-updated herd management area plan). NO removals of any mustangs from Spring Creek Basin are planned or “on the horizon,” as our herd manager, Mike Jensen, has told us.

Thank you to all who have sent in their comment letters! We appreciate it more than you can imagine. Please also let Tres Rios BLM staff know that you appreciate their commitment to Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs, as well as to the volunteer advocates who support them and partner with Tres Rios BLM for the horses’ continued good management. 🙂

 





Do NOT freak out!

28 07 2018

under the rainbow

Some of  you may have received an email from Tres Rios Field Office Manager Connie Clementson regarding an EA now out for public comment about bait trapping in Spring Creek Basin. If you didn’t, you can follow this link to DOI-BLM-CO-S010-2015-0001-EA (Spring Creek Basin HMA Bait Trap Gathers).

At the above website, you will find links to the “public notice: opportunity to comment” letter as well as the EA. You’ll also find this summary of information:

The BLM is analyzing the environmental effects of removing wild horses by bait and/or water trapping in a site-specific analysis of potential effects that could result with the implementation of a proposed action or alternatives to the proposed action.

Background
In August 2014, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tres Rios Field Office (TRFO) received a Bait Trapping Proposal for future removal of excess wild horses from the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area (HMA) from Kathryn Wilder, TJ Holmes, Colorado Chapter of the National Mustang Association, Four Corners Back Country Horseman and the Mesa Verde Back Country Horseman [collectively known as Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners].

The proposal is for the BLM to use bait and/or water trap methods for future removal activities of excess wild horses within the Spring Creek Basin HMA located in Disappointment Valley, Colorado. ***It should be noted that the BLM TRFO is not proposing to remove any excess wild horses from the HMA at this time.***

The purpose of the proposed action is to implement the use of bait and/or water trapping methods for removal of excess wild horses within the Spring Creek Basin HMA in order to maintain a thriving natural ecological balance with healthy sustainable rangelands by maintaining the appropriate management levels (AML).

The proposed action is needed because, at some future date, the BLM may determine that the number of wild horses on the range within the Spring Creek Basin HMA exceeds the established Appropriate Management Level (AML), and horse gathering is necessary in order to maintain the population at an appropriate level in balance with the ecosystem.

Decision to be Made
The BLM will decide whether or not to use bait and/or water trapping as the preferred gather method for removing excess wild horses from the Spring Creek Basin HMA. This analysis and subsequent decision will be utilized for future gathers over the next 10 years.

Project Location
The Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area is located between Norwood and Dove Creek, Colorado in the Disappointment Basin. The main access is from the west via San Miguel County Road 19Q (also known as Disappointment Road).

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*** Do NOT overlook this very important sentence: “It should be noted that the BLM TRFO is not proposing to remove any excess wild horses from the HMA at this time.” (Emphasis, mine.)

This, dear readers and wonderful supporters of Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs, is a good thing.

As noted, in 2014, we submitted a proposal to BLM to consider bait trapping above all other methods of rounding up and removing mustangs from Spring Creek Basin. In other words, bait trapping over helicopters. That led to a scoping period, during which BLM received 8,000 letters (give or take) favoring bait trapping over helicopters (thank you!).

Here’s the thing: Spring Creek Basin MUST be able to support its mustangs.

To great effect, we are using native PZP (one-year fertility-control vaccine) to slow population growth (because, as you undoubtedly know, PZP works where PZP is used). Given the fact that it is 2018, our last roundup was in 2011, and still NO HORSES ARE SLATED FOR REMOVAL FROM SPRING CREEK BASIN, I’m going to underline our successful use of PZP.

However, that doesn’t mean that we may never need to remove some horses for the continued range health of Spring Creek Basin, which is the absolute foundation of the health of our mustangs (of course, our priority is to manage our wild horses in the wild, on their home range).

This EA is the culmination of years of work by our groups (see above, noted by BLM) to make bait trapping the preferred method of gathering (yes, I’ll use that term with regard to bait trapping), as opposed to helicopter driving.

This EA does NOT mean the removal of horses from Spring Creek Basin is imminent; it DOES mean BLM wants to use bait trapping here instead of helicopters – IN THE FUTURE, WHEN NEEDED (also mentioned in the summary above) – and BLM wants your public comments to cement the deal.

We hope you’ll support us as we support our mustangs AND our local BLM folks who work closely with us toward that goal: Connie Clementson (manager, Tres Rios Field Office), Mike Jensen (herd manager extraordinaire (his official title is rangeland management specialist)) and Garth Nelson (rangeland management specialist who works with Mike and with us). (Special shout of note to former range tech Justin Hunt, now working for the recreation folks at TRFO. We’re sure – and glad – that we haven’t seen the last of him.)

The deadline for comments is Aug. 27, 2018. Please do comment favorably about bait trapping in Spring Creek Basin (in the future, when needed): Alternative A – proposed action: “The proposed action would utilize bait/water trapping as the primary gather method to remove excess wild horses from the HMA. No wild horses would be removed as long as population was or remained within AML.”

Even if/when removing some horses – for the good of the herd and the range – becomes necessary, we want to ensure that it happens in the best possible way for our beloved mustangs.

Please let me know if you have any questions. (You can query in the comment section, or leave a comment asking me to email you.)

Huge thanks. 🙂





Mustangs in poetry

25 05 2018

Something a little different for today’s post. 🙂

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Recently, our NMA/CO board members worked with local artist and substitute teacher Ginny Getts to hold a poetry contest with Mancos elementary students. A few weeks ago, each student got to pick one of three photos (one of Sundance; one of Spirit; one of Sundance and Arrow (his mare)), which were designed by executive director Tif Rodriguez like a postcard: photo on the front with room on the back on which to write their poems. Wednesday, at the school’s end-of-the-year assembly, we gave honorable mentions in each of the classes that participated: first grade, two third-grade classes, two fourth-grade classes and two fifth-grade classes. And we gave blue ribbons for the best poem for each photo. Above are all the fantastic winners. 🙂 Aren’t they cute?

These are the winning poems:

Fast as lightning’s bolt
Beautiful as a flower
on a brown dust trail.
~ fourth-grader Jordan B., Sundance

Beautiful mustangs
with your glorious manes.
The touch of your heartbeat rings,
your hooves thumping the ground
as you run faster and faster.
Precious and fragile
we admire you.
~ fourth-grader Aysia M., Spirit

One is day, one night
They go together dark and light
Like fire love burns bright.
~ fifth-grader Hannah S., Sundance & Arrow

Pretty nice, right? It was hard to pick from all the super entries!

Congrats to all these winning kids, and thank you to all the students who used their creativity to express their love of mustangs!

 





Water update

17 05 2018

Comanche at the new catchment trough.

Comanche and his band have found the “new” catchment trough (where we installed the apron and new trough two summers ago and the evaporation cover last fall).

The horses have two ponds and the two catchments as water sources, as well as numerous (if not high quality) seeps in various arroyos throughout the basin. Our BLM herd manager (Mike Jensen) is committed to closely watching the drought situation (we’re in the D4 category now – exceptional drought). Our awesome water hauler (Steve Heath) is able to pump water directly into the storage tanks. In the next week or so, we’ll be scouting locations that his water truck can reach to pump water into big troughs – supplied by BLM – elsewhere in the basin if conditions warrant.

Local ranchers have been hauling water continuously already this spring because it’s so dry.

And that wind – that howling, awful wind – is leaching away the moisture we don’t have, day after day.

It’s tough, folks, for wildlife and for livestock, and certainly not only in Disappointment Valley. That said, please know that the mustangs do not seem to be stressed. They have decent forage, as well as water sources, and they’re well dispersed throughout their range, not sticking to certain places as they would if they were stressed about sustenance/water.

Members of Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners are monitoring conditions closely, and the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association has offered to help pay for water deliveries to Spring Creek Basin.

We are so grateful (as always) to our Tres Rios BLM guys for being committed to the well-being of our mustangs!