Wild Horses Pay Tab For Martin Fire
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has changed the roundups schedule, Owyhee wild horses will pay a big price for the Martin fire.
On August 17 the BLM removed the Silver King area off the schedule and replaced it with the Owyhee Complex.
In July the Martin fire ripped through the Owyhee Complex reaching nearly 440,000 acres. The fire moved at speeds reportedly reaching 35 miles per hour. This fire is the largest single loss of wild horse habitat due to a natural event since the passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act in 1971.
The fire was fueled by grass loads that ranged from 200-1000 times the normal in the area. This area has been repeatedly hit with large scale removals of wild horses, the last in the winter of 2016, nearly 2000 wild horses were removed. In 2017 there was the Snowstorm fire, in 2018 the Martin, totalling over half million acres. Wild horses remove grass fuel loads. Each roundup of wild horses has been based on a premise that the "land can not sustain them."
Since the fire began Wild Horse Education (WHE) has reached out to BLM offering assistance; monitoring, equipment, post fire planning. WHE received no reply except a "thanks, but no thanks."
Instead of working with long-standing and known wild horse interests to create a management plan for the remaining wild horses, BLM simply proposes to remove them.
Wild Horse Education received a confidential report from an involved party that hundreds of wild horses burned in the fire. BLM has not made one statement that addresses wild horse casualties of this massive loss of habitat in an area criss-crossed with fencelines.
"BLM constantly ignores any assistance, comment, involvement from any wild horse interest that makes all attempts to engage process appropriately," said Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education. "BLM rewards those that engage with intimidation and harassment tactics. What are you trying to teach me BLM? That to get you to allow me to help you do your jobs for free I need to set up a protest camp outside a BLM office? This is insane, cruel and simply wrong."
Wild Horse Education and it's members have long histories of demonstrating how much they care about the wild horses of the Owyhee Complex.
"We pay the price for BLM arrogance and the horses pay the price for prioritization of interests, every single time. It's heart breaking," Marie Milliman, Wild Horse Education volunteer.
"Maybe some of the horses do need to be removed, but not the 1200 announced, all that is left in the area. BLM was not transparent in any way.” said Leigh "This is the price the wild ones always pay; the entire tab. We are aware that there are powerful ranching interests in the fire zone. We grieve their loss. But wild horses should not pay the entire tab for rehab for cow chow. We need to do better than this.”
The announcement of this operation, and the exclusion of wild horse interests, comes on the heels of a discovery that a massive mine is moving into the Pancake HMA and wild horse interests were never included in scoping or draft comments.
“BLM NV is notorious for being particularly exclusive, a real social club,” said Leigh. “While prioritized interests scream that we need more ‘local control’ they simply mean they want things to stay as they have always been with the addition of further control over federal action. BLM simply caves every single time to their buddy system. Our frustration is beyond measure.”
History of Owyhee Wild Horses and our involvement: https://bit.ly/2fc5Ijj
Gold Rock Mine; Pancake: (second item, 8/21) https://www.publichorses.com/press-releases/