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RBC | Next week Grand Junction will play host to the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. According to a BLM Press Release the purpose of the meeting is to, “discuss the pressing challenges of wild horse and burro overpopulation on public lands and the impacts they are having on the range.”
The meetings will run Wednesday and Thursday at the Grand Vista Hotel. The general public will be allowed to address the board on Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. Those wishing to address the board must register to speak prior to 3 p.m. and are encouraged to bring written copies of their statements. The meeting will also be available via live web stream which can be found at www.blm.gov/live.
Preceding the meeting will be a limited availability field tour. On Tuesday beginning at 8 a.m. interested parties are welcome to join the BLM and Advisory Board as they tour the Little Bookcliff Herd Management Area. Space is limited and a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. The tour will fill on a first come, first served basis and those interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rest of the gathering will be filled with various presentations and discussion by the advisory board culminating in the board making their recommendation to the BLM.
White River and Douglas Creek Conservation District Executive Director Callie Hendrickson encourages Rio Blanco County citizens to attend the meeting and share their thoughts during the public comment portion of the gathering. “This is their chance to be heard regarding their thoughts and experiences,” she said.
The BLM press release includes a statement from acting BLM Director Michael Nedd who said, “The rapid growth rate and chronic overpopulation of the West’s wild horses are already affecting the health of the animals and the resources on which they and many other species depend. To be effective in solving this challenge, we must work together to explore a wide variety of solutions to an unsustainable situation.”
The press release states there are an estimated 73,000 wild horses and burros in 10 Western states, “a record number since the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed and almost three times the number the habitat can sustainably support in conjunction with other land uses.”
Locally, Rio Blanco County is home to two wild horse herds. The Piceance/East Douglas Herd Management Area has a stated appropriate management level of 135-235 horses but contains an estimated at 480 horses. The West Douglas Herd is located outside of the Herd Management Area and is considered an area unsuitable for sustaining a wild horse population. However recent estimates put the population of the herd at 254 horses. Wild horse populations typically double every four to five years, adding pressure to the situation.
For those who would like to provide comments on the situation but are unable to attend the meeting the board is also accepting comments via email. Comments may be emailed to email@example.com.