BLM Launches Scoping Period for Horse Gather, Research

BLM Launches Scoping Period for Horse Gather, Research

Photo: iStock

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Utah’s Salt Lake Field Office (SLFO) is launching a 30-day public scoping period prior to beginning work on an environmental assessment for a proposed wild horse gather and removal in the Onaqui Herd Management Area (HMA).

The SLFO proposes to gather and remove excess wild horses to reach the low appropriate management level (AML). The current horse population in the Onaqui HMA is estimated at 450 animals (not including 2017 foals); the agency has set the AML at 121-210 horses. The BLM estimates that more than 325 wild horses will need be removed from the HMA to achieve a low AML. The proposed gather would take place no sooner than summer 2018.

The BLM said the proposed gather comes in response to several issues currently occurring in the HMA. This includes, but is not limited to, actions to comply with the Utah Greater Sage-Grouse Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment, emergency stabilization and restoration of lands affected by wildfires, reduction of impacts due to over-population of wild horses, and the establishment of a research study focused on wild horse, greater sage-grouse, and vegetation treatment interactions.

To comply with regulations, the BLM will conduct scoping and will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) for the proposal. Scoping activities identify reasonable alternatives to be evaluated in the environmental analysis that meet the purpose and need of the project. Through this process, environmental issues related to the proposed gather are identified, the depth of analysis for issues addressed in the environmental document determined, and potential mitigation identified.

The EA will disclose to the public the potential environmental consequences of the project and alternative(s), identify all practical means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the project and alternatives, and provide the responsible official with information upon which to make an informed decision regarding the project.

Public input is valuable early in the process and will enable the BLM to develop a well-informed EA. Written comments will be accepted during the public scoping period up to close of business on Oct. 31; submit written comments:

  • Via mail: Bureau of Land Management
    Salt Lake Field Office
    Attn: Trent Staheli
    2370 Decker Lake Blvd.
    West Valley City, UT 84119
  • Via fax: 801/977-4397
  • Via e-mail: blm_ut_cedarmt_onaqui@blm.gov

Please refer to “Onaqui Wild Horse Gather/Population Control and Research” in the subject line of the letter, e-mail, or fax.

Comments, including names, e-mail addresses, and street addresses of respondents will be available for public review at the BLM Salt Lake Field Office during regular business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., local time, Monday through Friday), except federal holidays. Comments and related personally identifying information will be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Comments may be published as part of the Documentation of National Environmental Policy Act Adequacy and other related documents.

Individual respondents can request confidentiality. Those wishing to withhold their name, street address, or e-mail address from public review and disclosure under the FOIA must state this prominently at the beginning of the written comment. Such requests will be honored to the extent allowed by law. All submissions from organizations or businesses will be made available for public inspection in their entirety. The BLM will not accept anonymous comments.

For more information contact Staheli at 435/743-3164. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf can call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 800/877-8339 to leave a message or question for the above individual; the FRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and replies are provided during normal business hours.

A copy of the project map and additional details can be found at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/projectSummary.do?methodName=renderDefaultProjectSummary&projectId=90785.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More