Straight from the Horses Heart

RT Fitch

Call to Action from American Wild Horse Preservation.org

BLM Plans to “ZERO OUT” and Destroy Two Unique Wild Horse Herds

Public Comment Deadline: December 7, 2012

Taking its marching orders from Wyoming’s powerful livestock industry, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning the second roundup in less than three years of wild horses living in the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in Wyoming’s pristine Red Desert region. The 1.5 million-acre public land area is managed as a complex due to wild horse movements between the two HMAs. The roundup is proceeding despite the fact that the Adobe Town HMA is substantially below the low end of the Allowable Management Level (AML) of 610 – 800 horses. Even more disturbing, the BLM intends to remove all wild horses on “private land or checkerboard land within the Rock Springs Office portion of the HMA.” Since the majority of the Salt Wells HMA is “checkerboard” (alternating public and private land parcels), and since the wild horses living there cannot tell the difference between public and private land, this raises the alarming possiblity that the entire HMA will be zeroed out!

This stepped-up roundup plan is the result of a lawsuit filed last year by the Rock Springs Grazing Association, which owns or leases the checkerboard lands for livestock grazing. The legal action — which the Interior Department itself advised ranchers to file – seeks to compel the BLM to remove all wild horses from the public and private lands in the checkerboard area. AWHPC and our coalition partners, The Cloud Foundation and the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, have intervened in this lawsuit in an attempt to prevent the government from simply settling the case by agreeing to wipe out all the horses on the 2 million acres that constitute the Wyoming checkerboard. Yet, deciding not to wait for the outcome of this litigation, the BLM is now proposing this potentially devastating roundup.

The BLM allows the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA) to graze the annual equivalent of 15,000 cows — or 75,000 sheep — in the alltoments that lie within and around the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek HMAs, while restricting the wild horse population in this vast area no more than 1,165. The RSGA members enjoy the privilege of grazing their livestock on our public lands, as well as the benefits of the taxpayer subsidies that underwrite below-market grazing rates. It’s time for our government to demand that, in return for those privileges, the RSGA members be required to tolerate the presence of America’s cherished wild horses on the public and private lands in this area.

Please submit your comments today during this scoping period for the development of an EA on this unnecessary, cynical and egregious wild horse roundup and removal plan.

If you prefer, you can submit your comments no later than December 7, 2012 via email, fax or U.S. postal mail to:

Jay D’Ewart, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist
BLM Rock Springs Field Office
280 Highway 191 North
Rock Springs, Wyoming 82901
Fax: (307) 352-0329

Electronic comments must be sent to the following email address to be considered:
AdobeTown_SaltWells_HMA_WY@blm.gov
(Please include “ATSW Scoping Comment” in the subject line.)

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Background Information

Adobe Town HMA

The Adobe Town HMA is located in south-central Wyoming between Interstate 80 and the Colorado/Wyoming border. It encompasses 472,812 acres of which 444,744 are BLM-administered public lands. The topography of the area is varied with everything from colorful eroded desert badlands to wooded buttes and escarpments. In between are extensive rolling to rough uplands interspersed with some desert playa and vegetated dune areas. Limited, sensitive desert riparian areas are important features of the landscape. Winters are long and severe. Annual precipitation ranges from less than seven inches in the desert basins to more than twelve inches at some of the higher elevations. Elevation ranges from 6600 ft to 7800 ft along Kinney Rim, which forms the western boundary of the HMA. Some of the HMA is in the Adobe Town Wilderness Study Area. Other features in the area include the Cherokee Trail, the Haystacks, and Powder Rim. The Allowable Management Level for wild horses in this HMA is 610-800, with BLM managing for a target population of 700. The current estimated wild horse population in the Adobe Town HMA is BELOW the low end of the AML at 433 horses.

Salt Wells Creek HMA

The Salt Wells HMA encompasses 1,193,283 acres, of which 724,704 acres are BLM-administered public lands. The majority of the herd management area consists primarily of checkerboard land ownership area created by the Union Pacific Railroad grant in the Northern portion. Consolidated public lands with state school sections and small parcels of private land making up the majority of lands in the southern section of the HMA. Topography within the herd area is generally gently rolling hills. There are several small streams passing through the area, and some high ridges. Elevations range roughly from 6,300 to 7,900 feet. Precipitation ranges 7-10 inches in lower elevations and 15-17 inches at higher elevations, predominately in the form of snow. The area is unfenced other than portions of boundary fence and right-of-way boundaries along I-80.

The AML for this HMA is 251-365 horses. The current population is estimated to be 572 wild horses. A full range of colors is present. This herd has a high number of palominos and sorrels with flaxen manes and tails. Other horses’ colors are bay, brown, black, paint, buckskin, or gray.

Livestock Grazing in the Complex

22 livestock grazing allotments lie partially or wholly within the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Areas.

The BLM allocates a total of 177,829 Animal Unit Months (AUMs) for livestock grazing in these 22 allotments. This is the annual equivalent of 14,819 cow/calf pairs or 74,095 sheep. Meanwhile the agency allows a MAXIMUM of 1,165 wild horses in these two HMAs.

More information:

Click (HERE) to fill out Auto-Letter at AWHP

2012 Scoping Notice

Photographer Carol Walker’s Blog, ”Wild Horses: Only the Complete Destruction of the Red Desert Herds Will Do

The Atlantic, “On Wyoming’s Range, Water is Scarce, but Welfare is Plenty

2010 Adobe Town/Salt Wells Creek Roundup Environmental Assessment

2010 BLM Adobe Town/Salt Wells Creek Gather Reports

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