BLM Extends Eco-Sanctuary Proposal Deadlines

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced May 12 that it has extended the deadlines for private-sector wild horse and burro sanctuary development proposal submissions.

In March the BLM issued a pair of solicitations seeking proposals from private-sector individuals and organizations interested in partnering with the agency to develop eco-sanctuaries for wild horses and burros. The eco-sanctuaries would help the BLM feed and care for excess wild horses that have been removed from Western public rangelands and would be publicly accessible with a potential for ecotourism.

The first solicitation sought private sector partners to establish sanctuaries on private lands for wild mustangs and burros currently residing in agency-managed long-term holding facilities. Under the program, individual land owners, Indian tribes, and state and local governments can submit proposals for eco-sanctuary development. The sanctuaries would sustain at least 200 animals and must be designed to provide a variety of public access opportunities. The BLM extended the deadline for private land sanctuary proposal submissions from May 14 to June 7.

The agency later reached out to potentialprivate-sector partners interested in developing eco-sanctuaries for wild horses and burros on combined private and public lands located within Herd Management areas in Western states. The agency extended the deadline for submitting those proposals from May 24 to June 21.

Some wild horse advocates expressed differing opinions about the sanctuary development program.

"One has to wonder why this partnership is available now," said Jerry Finch, president of Habitat for Horses. "There is no indication that (the BLM's) overall attitude toward equines has improved."

Karen Sussman, president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, thinks well-managed sanctuaries could represent a good alternative to long-term holding.

"I think the horses should be in the care of those who truly honor and care for them," Sussman said.

Agency Spokesman Tom Gorey said prospective partners have shown considerable interest in the projects, "which is why we have extended the deadlines for applications."

Anyone interested in learning more about the proposal solicitation should visit www.grants.gov and reference opportunity number L11AS00033 for the first solicitation and opportunity number L11AS00043 for the second solicitation.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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