BLM releases environmental assessment on horse gather

RANGELY I The Meeker office of the Bureau of Land Management last Friday released for public review an environmental assessment addressing the gather plan for removing a specific herd of about 100 wild horses south of Rangely.
Under the proposed plan, BLM would begin removing the wild horses in the West Douglas Herd Area in October. Gathering methods could include helicopter drive-trapping, helicopter-assisted roping and water- and bait-trapping.
The majority of the wild horses gathered will be available for adoption through BLM’s wild horse and burro program. The wild horses not adopted will be placed in long-term pastures.
The wild horses in the West Douglas herd are isolated from the larger Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area immediately to the east, which is an area specifically managed to maintain a healthy wild horse herd of 135 to 235 horses.
“The West Douglas Herd Area is simply not as suitable for wild horses as the area to the east,” said Field Manager Kent Walter. “Wild horses are an integral part of the multiple use management of the 1.5-million acre White River Field Office. We will continue to manage for wild horses in the better-suited, 190,000-acre Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area.”
BLM made the decision to remove the wild horses from West Douglas through various public planning efforts since 1975, including the current 1997 White River Resource Management Plan and a 2005 RMP amendment. This current environmental assessment addresses the specific plan for the gather, not the decision to remove wild horses from West Douglas.
Copies of the environmental assessment are available at www.blm.gov, or by contacting the White River Field Office, 878-3800. BLM will accept public comment on the environmental assessment until July 19.
Under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, BLM manages, protects, and controls wild horses and burros as part of its overall multiple-use mission. The bureau works to ensure that population levels are in balance with rangeland resources and other uses of the public lands. Wild horses have virtually no predators and can double in population about every four years, if not managed.
BLM conducts gathers to remove excess wild horses and burros from public lands to help keep the wild horse populations and rangeland healthy.