Mustang group hosts free events

Directions: From the Kum and Go store west of Meeker at the intersection of highways 13 and 64, take Hwy. 64 towards Rangely for approximately 22 miles to County Rd. 5 (Piceance Creek Road) just beyond Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area. Turn left, proceed about 18 miles south (do not turn at County Rd. 20) but do turn right on County Rd. 24 (Ryan Gulch Road). Proceed approximately 10 miles to County Rd. 91, turn left, go past well pad. Horse corrals and barbecue site will be on the right. The total distance from Meeker is about 50 miles. There will be poster board signs along the route. COURTESY PHOTO

RBC | Anyone interested in learning more about the area’s wild horses is invited to a free tour and barbecue hosted by the Piceance Mustangs group Saturday. There will be a workday on Sunday on the horse range. BLM is co-hosting the events.

The picnic gathering will begin at about noon Saturday at the site immediately south of the junction of County Road 24 (Ryan Gulch Road) and County Road 91 west of Piceance Creek, south of State Highway 64, actually on Yellow Creek (see map). The site is about a 50 mile drive from Meeker.

The public is encouraged to attend this event, especially if they are interested in learning more about Rio Blanco County’s wild (or feral) horses. The Mustangs group will provide portable corrals and water for any of the public who would like to bring their horses for a horseback tour of some of the range, part of the Piceance-East Douglas Wild Horse Herd Management Area (HMA). Vehicle tours to see wild horses will be led by Piceance Mustangs members and BLM horse managers. Tours are expected to conclude by 6 p.m.

Participants are asked to bring a side dish to share at the barbecue. The main course and drinks (water, soda and Gatorade) will be provided.

On Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m., the group and willing volunteers will be engaging in a work project on the horse range which will involve repairing and removing old fencing. Don’t forget your work gloves and fencing pliers, if you have them. Insect repellent is highly recommended. Overnight camping at the site is welcome for those who would like.

Following the picnic, members of the Piceance Mustangs will explain the purpose of the group and  opportunities for getting involved. Benjamin Smith, BLM Northwest District wild horse and burro specialist from Grand Junction, is expected to be participating Saturday.

“Groups like Piceance Mustangs play a critical role in helping BLM manage wild horses both on and off the range. The newly formed Piceance Mustangs are a very welcome addition here. They are similar to Friends of the Mustangs with the Little Book Cliffs herd in Garfield and Mesa Counties and the Sand Wash Advocates Team with the Sand Wash Basin herd in Moffat County,” Smith said.

Since its Feb. 17 organizational meeting, Piceance Mustangs have named officers and begun to fill out their board of directors. Tracy Scott of Glade Park, west of Grand Junction, is the president of Piceance Mustangs, Diane Mobley of Meeker is vice-president, and Kathy deGonia of Grand Junction is secretary-treasurer. Meekerite Jane Turnburke is director of work day projects while Debbie Rudd of Grand Junction is director of public relations and promotion. The group is also in the process of forming an advisory board on which wildlife, land conservation, livestock, oil and gas, government agency, motorized outdoor recreation, Ute tribe, fire and county interests will be represented.

Mobley previously has told the Herald Times that the intention PM organizers have is not to save or keep every wild horse on the range, but to support and advocate for the necessary and appropriate management of wild horses in Rio Blanco County for the general improvement of the range and other environmental conditions.

For more information, contact BLM range manager Melissa Kindall, acting advisor to Piceance Mustangs, at 970-878-3842 or mkindall@blm.gov.