BLM Lists Range Improvement Projects

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will spend $300,000 on 12 projects to improve conditions on Western rangelands where wild horses and burros reside, agency director Bob Abbey announced on March 22. 

The projects are part of a "Director’s Challenge" initiative unveiled in October. Under the initiative, the BLM will partner with individual and group volunteers who will help monitor wild horse and burro herd management areas (HMAs) by conducting inventories and restoring natural resources on BLM-managed rangelands in Western states. 
Abbey said BLM field office directors in Nevada, California, and Colorado submitted the dozen projects about to begin, which include water resource inventories, monitoring riparian (river bank) area conditions, removing invasive plant species, and protecting spring resources. 
The projects and their locations include:
  • Stillwater Field Office, Carson City District, Nevada, Desatoya HMA to restore a large riparian complex that includes four spring sources, two wet meadows, and associated riparian areas. The project will involve 50 volunteers and numerous parties including the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
  • Surprise and Eagle Lake Field Offices, Northern California District, California, in those offices’ HMAs to provide answers to basic questions regarding aquatic and riparian functions, conditions, and trends to support evaluation of land-management decisions, including range allotment strategies and wild horse and burro herd management plans. 
  • Sierra Front Field Office, Carson City, Nev., Pine Nut HMA, Dayton, Nev., to protect and promote the Pine Nut horses near the community and along well-established routes. The project will replace a temporary wire gate with a permanent metal gate and sign; an additional mile of fence will be replaced and repaired to keep horses off an airport runway. 
  • Little Snake Field Office, Northwest District, Colorado, Sand Wash HMA to develop  a Friends of the Sand Wash Basin group that would work with the BLM to, among other things, clean up the HMA by removing large quantities of old woven wire and remnants of structures and corrals. 
  • Grand Junction Field Office, Northwest District, Colorado, Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range to build on the Friends of the Mustangs partnership by providing additional materials and training while applying fertility control to mares to ensure a viable horse population and healthy rangelands into the future. 
  • Southern Nevada District Office, Nevada, Spring Mountains Complex (three HMAs and three territories) to purchase and install six interpretive kiosks; 16 roadway signs; and 20 smaller “do not feed” information signs within the Spring Mountains Complex. 
  • Tres Rios Field Office, Southwest District, Colorado, Spring Creek Basin HMA expands the ongoing partnership with the Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners to include herd monitoring, fence repairs, invasive weed inventory and treatments, illegal route closures, and travel management sign installation. Ely District, Nevada, Silver King and Pancake HMAs to restore and develop spring sources within the Silver King and Pancake HMAs to reduce competition for water in the area. Partners will include the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. 
  • White River Field Office, Northwest Colorado District, Colorado, Piceance-East Douglas HMA to develop an HMA volunteer partnership to help the BLM monitor HMA rangeland health, maintain and install range improvements, collect wild horse census information, and develop a motorized viewing tour of the HMA with appropriate signage and a brochure. 
  • Ely District, Nevada, Triple B and Pancake HMAs to construct and install guzzlers (water tanks for wildlife) throughout the Triple B and Pancake HMAs where water sources are limited and degraded by overuse. Volunteers will include wildlife organizations, wild horse advocates, and those who hold livestock grazing permits. 
  • Mount Lewis Field Office, Battle Mountain District, Nevada, New Pass/Ravenswood HMA to collect data to complete a rangeland health evaluation within the New Pass/Ravenswood HMA. The project will be coordinated with the Great Basin Institute, an interdisciplinary field studies organization that promotes environmental research, education, and conservation throughout the West. 
  • Mount Lewis and Tonopah Field Offices, Battle Mountain District, Nevada, to inventory and assess water sources within 28 priority HMAs administered by the Battle Mountain District. The Great Basin Institute will coordinate the project.  
Abbey said the projects represent "new opportunities to take a hands-on role in the stewardship of America's public lands."
Wild horse advocate Laura Leigh said the projects represent "token gestures" that do not address advocates’ concerns over BLM handling of wild horses and burros.
"These are small' public works,' that is all," Leigh said. "This agency is still fighting basic premises in a courtroom on transparency of operations and a humane handling protocol."

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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