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!

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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).

*****************************************

*** 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. 🙂





Best. Water. Man. Ever.

4 06 2018

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Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs are fortunate to have Steve Heath – Heath Water Service – in their corner when it comes to delivering water in this time of terrible drought. This isn’t the first time we’ve relied on Steve (and Cecil Foster before him) to deliver water to the basin’s catchment so the horses have a consistent source of water in that trough seen in the background of this photo. It’s one of only two clean sources of water in the basin, the others being silty, salty and fairly low quantity. Two ponds still have water, and there are some other small sources, but they’re shrinking rapidly.

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Steve on top of the storage tank putting the hose into the hatch to pump water.

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Best. Water. Man. Ever. 🙂

We are so grateful for his dedication and willingness to deliver water to our mustangs!

The Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association is helping BLM pay for water deliveries to the mustangs during this drought.

Horse Park Fire update: Inciweb lists the fire still at 1,221 acres and 90 percent contained, but by the lack of activity – and smoke – the last couple of days I think they have it pretty much nailed. 🙂 And big news: The area got about 0.15 inch of rain yesterday! For us, that’s huge. It doesn’t ease the drought, but it gave us a little relief.





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!





Continuing the good-work good news

23 10 2017

We have our fair share of good-news stories here in Spring Creek Basin. In the wake of the National Advisory Board’s recommendations last week, it’s a good thing we have more good news to share.

We’re no strangers to partnerships with the Southwest Conservation Corps, based in Durango. Most recently, readers may remember a fence project on the basin’s southeastern boundary line two years ago. Crew members hoofed (!) materials and wire up a steep, steep hill beyond where University of Missouri students have been slowly but surely rebuilding the fence north from Disappointment Road. This has long been a project in partnership with San Juan Mountains Association, alternative spring break (with Mizzou), Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association and Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners. ** I nearly forgot to mention the awesome work by the U.S. Forest Service’s mule packing team, which delivered materials to the site earlier this spring!

And beyond the steep hill, the fence cross the bends of an S-arroyo that brings water into the basin when it rains. Since 2011, we’ve been talking about rerouting the fence there so it crosses just one bend, goes up and beyond the arroyo and ties into the fence as it continues toward Brumley Point.

I hadn’t seen their work until yesterday, and boy was I wowed!

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This is now the fence over one bend of the S-arroyo. The branches are wired to the fence but aren’t embedded in the ground so they can give when water flows through. That’s Brumley Point in the background.

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From the bottom of the arroyo, this was my first view of the crew, hard at work.

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Crew members were putting the finishing touches on the end of the rerouted fence, adding wooden staves between metal T-posts and wiring the existing fence to the new H-brace. Pictured are Molly, Sara, Nicole and Mike.

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Lance has his work flow down as he wires a stave to the fence strands.

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Mike and Nicole attached the wire strands of the existing fence to their new H-brace, which tied the new fence to the old fence. Brumley Point is at back left, and McKenna Peak is visible behind Mike.

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A longer shot, showing McKenna Peak and Temple Butte. The new fence is that good-looking thing at left, and the old fence is visible (a couple of T-posts) straight ahead. To the right, down the hill, is the S-arroyo.

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Crew co-leader Sara carries extra wire and tools back along the fence at the end of the day.

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Sara (right) and her co-leader Alycia had just a few more staves to wire in …

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… with Molly (left) and Lance before the end of the work day. Here, you can look down the hill to the arroyo. At far right, you can see just a bit of their new fence going down the hill to cross the bend (first photo in this post). The fence used to run across the drainage at far right across the bend, through the trees to the left, across the first bend (as the water flows) and up the hill.

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Alycia walks down the hill along the crew’s new fence at the end of the day … and a job well done! (The crew still has a couple of days left in their hitch and will work on patching some saggy places in the fence line.)

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This perspective is taken from the south looking north. The fence is coming from behind my right shoulder, down to and across the arroyo, then up the hill to the left. It makes a corner toward the top of the hill (see pic above this one with Alycia) and runs across the hill above the arroyo – cutting the middle of the pic – to where it ties back into the existing fence above the first bend of the arroyo.

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Big kudos to this small group of huge-working young folks! This fence reroute will serve to keep our mustangs safe on their home range by ensuring that the fence doesn’t wash away during rain events that flood the arroyo. We’re so happy to have the help of (left to right) Mike, Sara, Nicole, Molly, Alycia and Lance!

THANK YOU!