Letter to the Editor: Conservation districts join to promote wise use of resources, gathers

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Dear Editor:
The Douglas Creek and White River conservation districts’ purpose is to promote the wise use of natural resources within our county and in general. The districts announce the development of a natural resource informational campaign.

“The districts have partnered with a multitude of local, state and national organizations and individuals to help inform and educate the public through a natural resource information campaign and the districts are announcing an upcoming campaign regarding the challenges posed by excess wild/feral horses (horses),” a press release from the joint districts states. “The campaign will focus on the health of the horses, rangelands and wildlife as well as the budget for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program. The BLM estimates that more than 58,000 horses (as of 3/1/15) on BLM lands in 10 Western states that will support only 27,000 horses.”
Horse populations are documented to increase annually at an average of 20 percent because they have virtually no predators,
“Few removals of healthy horses, such as the West Douglas gather, have occurred over the past two years, therefore, we can estimate well (in excess of) 64,000 horses on the BLM rangelands today,” the release stated, “That is a minimum of 37,000 excess horses on the rangelands in the 10 Western states that are causing degradation to the rangelands and supporting ecosystems. This will continue to lead to more emergency gathers such as those in Nevada, where horses are literally dying.”
The 2015 fiscal year BLM Horse and Burro Program budget is $75 million with $50 million earmarked for feed and care of the nearly 50,000 excess horses currently in holding facilities.
“While this is an excessive financial cost to taxpayers, it is critical to recognize the environmental cost of leaving the excess horses on the rangelands,” the release stated. “With the current management and removal rate, there will be an estimated 900,000 horses on the rangelands by 2030. This management scheme is unsustainable and will be devastating to the western rangelands in which the horses, wildlife, and western communities depend.”
Callie Hendrickson
Executive Director
Douglas Creek and White River
conservation districts