As part of the Bureau of Land Management’s ongoing effort to engage volunteers in the stewardship of U.S. public lands, BLM Director Bob Abbey announced today that he has approved nearly $300,000 in the current fiscal year for 12 projects aimed at improving Western rangeland conditions where wild horses and burros roam. The on-the-ground work will also support the BLM’s forthcoming strategy to put its national Wild Horse and Burro Program on a sustainable path, as called for by the Government Accountability Office and members of Congress.
The “Director’s Challenge” initiative, announced by Abbey last October, seeks to offer citizen-based science opportunities to address land health issues within wild horse and burro Herd Management Areas (HMAs) across the West. The projects were reviewed by a team of BLM employees and Jim Stephenson, the Natural Resources Management representative on the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. The approved projects include conducting inventories of water sources, monitoring riparian area conditions, removing invasive plant species, and protecting spring sources.
“I am delighted with the projects submitted by BLM field offices in response to this initiative,” Abbey said. “Citizens, organizations, agencies, and other stakeholders will now have new opportunities to take a hands-on role in the stewardship of America’s public lands.”
Abbey also commended the Bureau’s national volunteer program, which oversaw 114,027 hours of wild horse-related work by volunteers and organization-sponsored workers in Fiscal Year 2010. “Volunteers not only contribute their valuable time and labor, but also serve as the BLM’s best ambassadors in local communities across the West,” Abbey said.
The projects are:
- Stillwater Field Office, Carson City District, Nevada, Desatoya HMA: The objective of this project is to restore a large riparian complex that includes four spring sources, two wet meadows, and associated riparian areas. The project will use 50 volunteers and involve numerous partners, including the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $25,000
- Surprise and Eagle Lake Field Offices, Northern California District, California, in those offices’ HMAs: This project will provide answers to basic questions regarding aquatic and riparian functions, conditions, and trends to support evaluation of land-management decisions, including range allotment strategies and wild horse and burro herd management plans. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $25,000
- Sierra Front Field Office, Carson City, Nevada, Pine Nut HMA, Dayton, Nevada: This project’s objective is to protect and promote the Pine Nut horses near the community and along well-established routes. The project will replace a temporary wire gate with a permanent metal gate and sign; an additional mile of fence will be replaced and repaired to keep horses off an airport runway. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $12,500
- Little Snake Field Office, North West District, Colorado, Sand Wash HMA: This project is aimed at developing a Friends of the Sand Wash Basin group that would work with the BLM to, among other things, clean up the HMA by removing large quantities of old woven wire and remnants of structures and corrals. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $25,000
- Grand Junction Field Office, Northwest District, Colorado, Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range: This project’s objective is to build on the Friends of the Mustangs partnership by providing additional materials and training while applying fertility control to mares to ensure a viable horse population and healthy rangelands into the future. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $25,000
- Southern Nevada District Office, Nevada, Spring Mountains Complex (three HMAs and three territories): The objective of this project is to purchase and install six interpretive kiosks, 16 roadway signs, and 20 smaller “do not feed” information signs within the Spring Mountains Complex. Partners will include the Nevada Department of Transportation and Clark County. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $25,000
- Tres Rios Field Office, Southwest District, Colorado, Spring Creek Basin HMA: This project is aimed at expanding the ongoing successful partnership with the Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners to include such actions as herd monitoring, fence repairs, invasive weed inventory and treatments, illegal route closures, and travel management sign installation. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $25,000
- Ely District, Nevada, Silver King and Pancake HMAs: This project’s objective is to restore and develop spring sources within the Silver King and Pancake HMAs to reduce competition for water in the area. Partners will include the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $15,000
- White River Field Office, Northwest Colorado District, Colorado, Piceance-East Douglas HMA: This project seeks to develop an HMA volunteer partnership to help the BLM monitor HMA rangeland health, maintain and install range improvements, collect wild horse census information, and develop a motorized viewing tour of the HMA with appropriate signage and a brochure. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $20,200
- Ely District, Nevada, Triple B and Pancake HMAs: The objective of this project is to construct and install guzzlers (water tanks for wildlife) throughout the Triple B and Pancake HMAs where water sources are limited and being degraded by overuse. Volunteers helping the BLM will include wildlife organizations, wild horse advocates, and livestock grazing permittees. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $25,000
- Mount Lewis Field Office, Battle Mountain District, Nevada, New Pass/Ravenswood HMA: This project is aimed at collecting data to complete a rangeland health evaluation within the New Pass/Ravenswood HMA. The project will be coordinated with the Great Basin Institute, an interdisciplinary field studies organization that promotes environmental research, education, and conservation throughout the West. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $25,000
- Mount Lewis and Tonopah Field Offices, Battle Mountain District, Nevada: The objective of this project is to inventory and assess water sources within 28 priority HMAs administered by the Battle Mountain District. This project will be coordinated with the Great Basin Institute. Funding amount from the Director’s Challenge: $25,000