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. 🙂





Fighting the Horse Park Fire

30 05 2018

052718comanchefire1a

The smoke as of Tuesday is way less from the Horse Park Fire as many more firefighters are arriving to work on it. This photo is from Sunday evening as Comanche paused while grazing. You can see the lines of red retardant on the far ridge below the smoke where the air tankers were dropping it along the fire’s edge.

Update: I wanted to add this link to a Facebook page specifically for the Horse Park Fire.

Some more links to information about the Horse Park Fire:

Cortez Journal article

Wildfire Today





They’re totally rock stars

12 08 2017

080917SCBphotoBLMoffice1

Earlier this week, I visited the BLM state office in Denver (Lakewood). As we walked into the entry way … I was drawn to the photo of mustangs on the wall (naturally, right?!).

080917SCBphotoBLMoffice2

Photos also were on the opposite wall, but the mustangs catch your eye (of course!). (Above: Already out the door is BLM’s Ben Smith, wild horse and burro specialist based in Grand Junction, and holding the door while yours truly geeked out taking photos of a mustang photo is Jim Hyrup, president of Friends of the Mustangs, which is the group that advocates for Little Book Cliffs mustangs near Grand Junction.)

080917SCBphotoBLMoffice3

This is the view of the photo as we walked into the building. It’s the view EVERYONE has as they walk into BLM’s state office!

I stopped to look closer … and was about to ask if anyone recognized the horses … when *I* suddenly did.

I might have gotten a little loud. 🙂

Pictured are Hayden, Jif, Chrome, Two Boots and Rio (now named Legado, owned by an NMA/CO board member). The BLM people didn’t know who took the photo, but it had to have been taken in 2010.

Because our wild beautiful ponies are just that famous. 🙂

In other pretty awesome news, we were there to support friends who advocate and volunteer and partner and collaborate with BLM for the good management of our Colorado mustangs on Colorado’s herd management areas and wild horse range: Sand Wash Basin, Little Book Cliffs, Spring Creek Basin (specifically) and Piceance-East Douglas (coming soon, we hope!). BLM folks, including Laria Lovec (on-range management), Steve Leonard (off-range management) and Ben Smith (wild horse and burro specialist based in Grand Junction), were there to recognize folks including Michelle Sander and Aleta Wolf (with Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary and Sand Wash Advocate Team), and Jim Hyrup (president of Friends of the Mustangs).

FOM has been involved with Little Book Cliffs mustangs for more than 30 years and have been using PZP for more than a decade. SWAT and GEMS are about 5 years old, and advocates have been darting in Sand Wash Basin for at least the last three years. We are so happy and proud to support their efforts and call them friends and heroes/heroines for mustangs!

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Left to right: Steve Leonard, Laria Lovec, moi, Michelle Sander, Aleta Wolf, Jim Hyrup and Ben Smith.

Many of our valued volunteers couldn’t attend the meeting, but Stella Trueblood and Connie Wagner (SWAT), Marty Felix and Billie Hutchings (FOM), and Pat and Frank Amthor and Kat Wilder (Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners) are standout folks who spend hours working for our mustangs – and have done so for years and years. Marty earns the longevity award for more than FORTY years with Little Book Cliffs’ mustangs! Pat and Frank Amthor have logged TWENTY years supporting Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs!

In the “coming soon” category, Dona Hilkey and Pam and Tom Nickoles have been visiting, photographing and documenting Piceance-East Douglas’ mustangs for at least 12 years. They’ve been working closely with BLM, and folks are close to forming an advocacy group for that herd (and perhaps casting an umbrella over West Douglas as well). When that happens, it will mean every mustang herd in Colorado will have the support of volunteer advocates!

THANK YOU to every one of our dedicated volunteers!

And THANK YOU to BLM for recognizing and appreciating their work for our Colorado mustangs!





To arms

28 05 2017

Spirit

By now, you all must have heard about the explosion of disbelief and outrage about the 2018 budget proposal. No one seems to be happy … and wild horse and burro advocates are no exception.

My friend Pam Nickoles has a succinct post with pertinent links on her blog.

More information is available on all the major advocacy sites, and news sites are covering the issue as well.

Surely we can work together for better treatment and management for our wildlife.





Sand Wash Basin advocates get ’er done

20 09 2016

091816swbgreystallionmoon1

This handsome hunky stallion is Star, and he lives with his family in Sand Wash Basin, in northwestern Colorado. He posed extremely considerately Sunday morning with the setting full moon.

This past weekend, Michelle Sander, Aleta Wolf, Stella Trueblood and others with Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary and Sand Wash Advocate Team, along with Gina Robison with BLM’s Little Snake Field Office in Craig, hosted about 50 people who came from near and far (including Texas, Missouri and Toronto, Canada) to help with work projects that directly and indirectly benefit those gorgeous mustangs.

SWAT members are directly responsible for the successful PZP program in Sand Wash Basin. In place for just about three years now, it’s having a direct impact on slowing the population growth of this popular herd. BLM plans a bait-trapping operation there later this fall, with which SWAT and GEMS will be intimately involved. BLM plans to remove 50 horses. They’ll go to Cañon City for “processing” (brands, vaccinations, gelding, etc.), then to GEMS, in northeastern Colorado, to be gentled and offered for adoption through GEMS’ partnership with BLM as a TIP storefront.

Read more about the great weekend of camaraderie, work projects and MUSTANGS in this Craig Daily Press article.

SWAT and GEMS and all the folks associated with these groups are doing phenomenal work for this beautiful herd. Any chance you get, please send out your thanks to these ladies and gents. They are compassionate and passionate, considerate, caring and vastly knowledgeable.

In short: They rock. 🙂





Raise your voices

15 09 2016

Cassidy Rain

For those of you waiting for a way to tell BLM that you won’t stand for the mass slaughter of wild horses and burros in holding, please visit the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign’s website: http://act.wildhorsepreservation.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=23589

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Right after I sent my own comments, this popped up in my emaill from a friend: http://news.trust.org/item/20160914201301-s43hn

Thankful. 🙂

But we need to continue to tell BLM – and the U.S. government – that the threat of slaughtering and/or sterilizing our wild horses and burros is not acceptable. Humane solutions exist – including PZP and reopening ranges that BLM has zeroed out, enabling horses in holding to return to the dignity of life on the range.

 





Black is beauty

17 08 2016

Raven

Pretty Raven in the secret forest.

Many readers know that Raven was born and raised in Sand Wash Basin and came here in 2008 with Mona and Kootenai to help boost our genetics. Because Spring Creek Basin’s appropriate management level currently is just 35 to 65 adult horses, BLM periodically introduces horses in order to help keep our herd’s genetics viable, per a recommendation by equine geneticist Dr. Gus Cothran (at my alma mater, Texas A&M University).

An EA has recently been released for a bait-trapping operation in Sand Wash Basin. Information about where to send your comments by the Sept. 4 deadline may be found here, in a news brief in the Craig Daily Press.

“The BLM seeks comment on the Environmental Assessment of this gather plan, available at the Little Snake Field Office at 455 Emerson St., Craig, CO 81625 and online at: 1.usa.gov/23gjg6w. Public comments will be most helpful to the BLM if received by Sept. 4. Written comments can be mailed to the Little Snake Field Office or submitted via email to blm_co_sandwash_hma@blm.gov.”

(Note that the website indicated in the press release leads to an error page.)

Of note in the very positive category, Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary and Sand Wash Advocate Team are specifically mentioned for their partnership with BLM in managing this herd: “Our partnership with SWAT and GEMS has been vital to meeting our goal of maintaining the health of the Sand Wash wild horses and the lands they depend upon,” BLM Northwest District Manager Joe Meyer said in a news release.

Also: “While confined in a corral, BLM employees and Sand Wash Advocacy Team members would identify mares, that would be treated with a contraceptive called PZP, which delays fertilization, before being released back to the range. Up to 50 young wild horses would be removed for placement in the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary training and adoption program.”

Please take a look at the EA and send comments. SWAT volunteers are currently using fertility control in Sand Wash Basin, and they need support in order to continue their efforts to manage this herd well.





Some gold

30 07 2016

Chromesrainbow

A few days ago, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign alerted wild horse and burro advocates to some good news: BLM Colorado doing good things for our wild horses.

“Please sign the petition below to THANK BLM Colorado for leading the way in humane management that Keeps Wild Horses Wild! Your signatures will be hand delivered by our friends and wonderful wild horse advocates TJ Holmes and Kat Wilder, along with a thank-you card to the BLM. 

“Let’s give credit where credit is due and support the BLM when it takes important steps in the right direction! Hopefully, the ongoing success of the humane management programs in Colorado will encourage other BLM districts across the West to implement similar programs.”

Also:

“On Aug. 4, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Colorado will hold its annual public hearing on the use of motorized vehicles in wild horse management. While we are usually critical of the BLM’s wild horse policies, this hearing provides a rare opportunity for us to SUPPORT the progress that the BLM in Colorado has made toward implementing humane management of wild horses in that state.”

Please consider signing the petition – click here to go to AWHPC’s site – to let BLM Colorado know that you’re aware of the good things happening with mustang management in our state, and that you’d like to see these good things continue – and spread to other states and other herd management areas. At that meeting, Kat Wilder and I will present BLM with the thank-you card that honors all that BLM has done and all that BLM is doing to support our wild horses staying wild on their home ranges.

We have come a long way with BLM managers who are willing and committed to working with volunteers to ensure “thriving natural ecological balance” on the rangelands our Colorado mustangs call home. We will always work to ensure the best management for our wild ones.





Mudder mare

17 04 2016

Reya, La Sal Mountains

Jaunty, shaggy, feisty, muddy pinto pony! Some of the horses seem nearly fully shed out; others still are long-haired. All in good time.

Disappointment Valley and Spring Creek Basin got an awesome soaker of a rain system Friday and a little more Saturday evening, so presumably the ponies are even muddier – and the seeps and springs and ponds are even fuller! We are relieved and grateful that the “omega block” brought much-needed moisture to our corner of the world!

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Also in the grateful category, thanks to Kat Wilder and to Suzanne Roy of American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign for posting the first in Kat’s series of “Mustang Tales: Bringing the Reader to the Range”! This first post records our meeting with Jen Maramonte and Suzanne last summer in Spring Creek Basin, where we were privileged to introduce them to the range and to several bands of our amazing mustangs. 🙂

Suzanne and the AWHPC team work tirelessly to keep advocates informed about threats to our wild horses and burros, as well as highlighting the good work being done by countless volunteers across the West (and elsewhere). Kat is working on a variety of “tales,” in a variety of formats, to highlight challenges faced by – and successes made by – advocates and BLM managers on behalf of the now-wild equines whose ancestors were instrumental in developing this country.

Join Kat on the (digital) range with the mesteños!





‘PZP: Where hope, science and mustangs meet’

6 01 2016

Thanks to Kat Wilder for her Writers on the Range op-ed in High Country News. 🙂

It’s getting harder and harder to deny PZP and its success!

Houdini

This is Houdini, who, at best guess, is somewhere north of 25 years old. She shows her age but otherwise looks great. She has contributed her genetics to Spring Creek Basin and has daughters and granddaughters and grandsons (at least) still wild in Spring Creek Basin.

I’ve known at least two elder mares that have had foals in the spring and died that fall, leaving their weanlings as orphans. Houdini has contributed her genetics and deserves a long, healthy life  as the wild, wise mustang mare she is, adding her knowledge to the whole herd.

PZP makes that possible.