U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
March 6, 2009
In Reply Refer To:
4700 (260) P
EMS TRANSMISSION 03/10/2009
Instruction Memorandum No. 2009-085
To: All Field Officials (except Alaska & Eastern States)
From: Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject: Managing Gathers Resulting from Escalating Problems and Emergency Situations
Program Area: Wild Horse and Burro Program
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides guidance, policy and procedure to identify, prioritize, and mitigate potential and actual emergencies involving wild horse and burro (WH&B) gathers.
Policy/Action: Management of Gathers Resulting from Escalating Problems and Emergency situations
Land health and animal health are the top resource priorities in the WH&B Program. Due to fire, drought and other conditions, unplanned gathers are necessary every year and result in the re-direction of limited resources to critical areas. These deviations from planned work complicate the national effort to achieve and maintain appropriate management level (AML). Situations that may require adjustments in the national gather schedule are identified as: (1) Escalating Problems and (2) Emergencies.
1. Escalating Problems
Escalating problems are defined as deteriorating conditions resulting in a declining availability of forage/water that will negatively affect animal condition and land health. Causal factors are normally drought and/or animal numbers in excess of AML. These situations are normally detectable four to six months or longer in advance of a situation becoming critical. Adjustments in WH&B numbers due to escalating problems will be managed within existing state removal targets. Gathers within a state are to be prioritized according to rangeland conditions/monitoring data, water availability, animal condition, and other unique resource needs.
Action to gather should be initiated before animal and land health become emergencies. Removals should achieve the low end of the AML range, unless an assessment of rangeland conditions/monitoring data through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process determines that more animals need to be removed to protect land health, wildlife habitat and the health of horses and burros remaining on the public land.
Court ordered gathers and removals of nuisance animals and/or those that stray outside of herd management areas (HMAs) are also to be managed within individual state gather targets.
The following process will be used when state gather targets are inadequate to meet escalating problems gather needs, and individual State Offices (SO) have followed the policy of prioritization of gather/removals.
Factors that will be considered in determining adjustments in gather targets are:
The key goal of this process set forth for “Escalating Problems” is early detection and the ability to manage within individual state gather priorities on a “most critical first” basis so the situations do not become “Emergency situations.”
2. Emergency Situations
“Emergency situations” are defined as a situation that develops unexpectedly and threatens the immediate health and welfare of a WH&B population, its habitat, wildlife habitat, and range resources and health. Examples of emergencies include disease or fire, insect infestation, or other events of a catastrophic and unanticipated nature that affect forage and water availability for WH&Bs.
When an emergency is identified, the following steps will be taken in priority order:
If fiscal resources are inadequate to manage the emergency situations at the state level and an adjustment in national priorities is required, the NPO will immediately initiate a field review. Factors to be considered for a gather approval are as follows:
The key concept is that “Emergencies” occur suddenly, unexpectedly and require immediate action. An emergency poses an imminent threat to the health and survival of a population of WH&Bs and/or their habitat.
Time frame: Effective immediately.
Budget Impact: Management of Escalating Problem and anticipation of Emergency situations involves monitoring, data interpretation, report preparation and prioritization of work loads that are not unusual to the program and will not result in additional costs. When these gathers are managed routinely as part of the annual program, costs should not increase significantly.
If drought, fire or other emergency situations are so severe that reprioritizing scheduled gathers will not suffice, the budget could be seriously impacted.
Background: Escalating Problems and Emergency situations frequently are a necessary part of the WH&B Program due to limited financial resources available for gathers and the care of animals after removal from the public land. The program has enough history to enable each state to predict their gather needs relatively accurately. These fiscal needs should be planned and built into each budget request. Based on past experience the NPO can project “on the average” emergency removal numbers on a national basis and plan accordingly. This IM is a reissuance of previous policy.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None.
Coordination: This policy was coordinated with State Offices, Field Offices, the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, the Division of Rangeland Management (WO220), the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (WO230) and the Solicitor’s Office.
Contact: The primary contact person is Lili Thomas, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, WH&B National Program Office, at (775) 861-6457.
Signed by: Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning