BLM investing more than $600,000 to improve Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area



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Lakewood, Colo. – In order to improve wild horse management and wildlife habitat for greater sage-grouse and other wildlife species in Sand Wash Basin, the Bureau of Land Management is announcing it will invest $625,000 in the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area to better manage the wild horse population through increased fertility control and small-scale gathers.

“BLM Colorado is committed to managing healthy wild horses on healthy public lands and this additional funding will help us achieve that goal in Sand Wash Basin,” BLM Colorado State Director Doug Vilsack said. “By improving range conditions, we will also improve habitat for greater sage-grouse and other wildlife.”

The appropriate management level, which represents the carrying capacity for horses in Sand Wash Basin, is 163 to 363 horses. In 2021, the BLM gathered and removed 684 horses in the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area to bring the herd to the appropriate management level, but horse populations are estimated to have since climbed above that level. The high population of horses led to over-grazing and a steeper decline in greater sage-grouse numbers than similar areas in northwest Colorado.

To reduce the need for future large-scale gathers and help maintain the current appropriate management level for the herd, the BLM will establish fixed bait and trap sites to gather small numbers of horses and invest in and increase efforts to apply fertility treatment to mares in the Sand Wash Basin while monitoring the conditions of range health for improvements. 

“Balancing the health and safety of wild horses, range health, and wildlife species is a priority for the Bureau of Land Management as we continue to improve our stewardship of wild horses and their habitat with the help of wild horse advocates and conservation groups,” said Vilsack.



The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.