April 9, 2012 – Gather Thoughts

I have seen discussion and talked to many of you regarding the newly released gather plan that will lead to the removal of a number of younger Pryor Mountain Wild Horses this summer.  Obviously, there are a lot of feelings that emerge about such an action.  Gathers are always difficult.  This especially holds true here, in the Pryors, when we get to know individual horses as well as friends.

That said, I do believe that this gather must happen based on my interpretation of a series of events that have unfolded in recent years.  In 2008, an oft-forgotten gather plan was released.  Taking place just two years after a small bait-trap gather, this plan was quite similar to both the 2006 and 2012 ones in strategy and in magnitude. However, due to certain circumstances, the gather was unable to proceed.  As should be expected, the herd grew in size; and just over a year later, a new and much more known gather plan was released.  In 2009, gather operations were carried out with a helicopter and professional crew; and, in the end, more horses were removed than had been in any year since the modern Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was finalized in 1971. Right now, the herd is in a situation very similar to that of 2008. Though we are only a few years removed from the last gather, the herd has again grown in size.  This year is essentially the last opportunity for a less intrusive bait-trapping operation; by next year, the size of the herd and the need for a gather would be such that a helicopter gather would be the only feasible option.  If this gather were to be stopped, I am absolutely certain that a helicopter gather comparable to that of 2009 will occur.  There is no reason that this should happen.

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Published in: on April 9, 2012 at 9:18 pm  Comments (18)  

April 4, 2012 – 2012 Gather EA and Decision

Today the Billings Field Office released the following press release:

Release Date: 04/04/12

Contacts:

Kristen Lenhardt 406-896-5228

BLM Releases Environmental Assessment and Decision on Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range Non-Helicopter Gather

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Billings Field Office today released the Environmental Assessment (EA) and Decision Record for a 2012 non-helicopter gather of wild horses within the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range (PMWHR). A 30-day appeal period will begin today and end on May 3, 2012. The EA analyzed the effects of the decision to conduct a non-helicopter gather to remove excess wild horses within the PMWHR. The field office received about 1,000 individual comment letters and 63 unique comments on the preliminary EA, and considered those in making the final decision.

The EA identifies a range of alternatives, including the Proposed Action, Alternative A and a No Action alternative. The final decision after conducting the EA states the BLM will move forward with the Proposed Action that recommends a combination of bait trapping, water trapping, and some herding. The gather will be conducted by BLM personnel and is not associated with recent news regarding a BLM solicitation for bait trapping contracts. Since bait trapping can occur year-round, the gather is anticipated to take place at any point during the 2012 calendar year, after June 4.

The gather is designed to manage for the appropriate number of wild horses so that rangelands and horses can be healthy and productive for years to come. The current population is approximately 170 wild horses, exceeding the established Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 90-120 horses, excluding the current year foals.

The Decision may be appealed to the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), Office of Hearings and Appeals, U.S. Department of the Interior, 801 North Quincy Street, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia, 22203.  The appeal must also be filed with the Authorized Officer, BLM, Billings Field Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101. If you wish to file a petition for stay of the EA during the pendency of your appeal before the IBLA, the petition for stay must accompany your notice of appeal. If a petition for stay is submitted with the notice of appeal, a copy of the notice of appeal and petition for stay must be served on the IBLA at the same time it is filed with the State Director.

The PMWHR is located in the Pryor Mountains south of Billings, along the Montana-Wyoming border and encompasses approximately 38,000 acres of BLM, U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service managed land.

To view the Decision Record, FONSI and EA, please visit: http://blm.gov/08jd

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, recreational and other activities on BLM-managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends. In FY 2012, nearly $5.7 billion will be generated on lands managed by the BLM, which operates on a $1.1 billion budget. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.
–BLM–

Billings Field Office   5001 Southgate Drive      Billings, MT 59101

Last updated: 04-04-2012

To read the Environmental Assessment, please click here or on the image below. Note: New or revised information in the EA is highlighted in grey.

To read the Decision Record, please click here or on the image below.

Also, please read the Questions and Answers document that was written for this gather; it can be accessed by clicking here.

Published in: on April 4, 2012 at 9:16 pm  Comments (9)  

April 1, 2012 – Sykes Ridge

I spent yesterday on Sykes Ridge. It turned out to be a very nice day, though it was very windy up there.

The first horse I saw was Jupiter. I didn’t really find him; he came running over to see me. This happens with young single bachelors; they’ll come running up to see you. The first young stallion to do this to me was Blizzard back when he left Durango’s harem.

Jupiter

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Published in: on April 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm  Comments (23)