Opening A Closed Area On The Range

Sunrise and moon 8-1-12

Lately, I have been hearing about and also getting asked a lot about an area at the base of the range that has been fenced off.

This area is called ” The Administrative Pasture”.  I was not sure of its exact location, so I did some research and came up with several interesting discoveries about this area.  I plan to take a closer look at this area when I am there this week.

1.  There are different references to its size.  Some say 3,000 acres, some say 3,600 acres and another said 4,000 acres.  So we do know that it is over 3,000 acres.

2.  The location is: Southwestern area of the range.  The southern side is all fenced with the boundary defined by the county roads (Crooked Creek Road and Road 16).

3.  This pasture was closed off to the horses in the 1980’s.  It was used when the removals were done on horseback.  This pasture allowed the wranglers on horse back to push the wild horses into this area and then taken to Britton Springs.  This type of removal has not been done since 1994.

December 1, 2012

There are several people (and I am one of them), that would like to see this area reopened to the horses.  Matt, in his blog post dated October 27, 2009, stated in one of his comments:

“I honestly don’t think it would take the horses a lot of time to repopulate that area if it was totally opened. Sitting Bull’s harem are frequently near that area. Some of the other Dryhead horses, especially Bristol’s harem, drift nearby there, and it is common to see Burnt Timber and Sykes Ridge horses wintering in the area.”

This is a really good post and you can click October 2009 to read it.

Sitting Bull in the early morning light, August 2, 2012
Sitting Bull in the early morning light, August 2, 2012

I have contacted both Jim Sparks and Jared Bybee of the BLM, regarding this matter.  I hope to hear back soon from them.

I encourage everyone to take a minute and write a polite email, call them, or mail them a letter, asking them to consider reopening this pasture.  You can click BLM, to get the contact information for them.

With the drought of last year, I believe that the forage this winter is not as good as it should be.  By opening this pasture it would give the horses over 3,000 acres that have been closed off to them for more than 25 years.  I request that this be done as soon as possible for the benefit of the horses.

I would be happy to volunteer and work with Jared to help remove or repair any fence lines to make this possible.


34 thoughts on “Opening A Closed Area On The Range

  • It will certainly be great if this area can be released for regular use by the horses and would make sense if it is actually part of the original Range. I’d be interested in knowing more of the history on the subject—like who it belongs to (BLM, the Range, private owners???) and why it hasn’t been opened before this if it IS part of the Range. It could surely have been considered in figuring how many horses the Range could support if it were included. Ginger Kathrens made reference to this area in her last post. It definitely is an interesting subject.

    Thanks Sandy, for sharing your research.

  • I will be writing my letter tonight!
    It would be so good if this area was open to the horses, especially this time of year when forage is scarce.
    Thank you Sandy for writing a blog about this subject. I believe it is important for the horses to be able to live there once again.
    It would also be good if the NPS would let the horses go into the north part of the Park where they used to be able to go in years past. I am not sure if it was part of the original horse range when it was first established. More researching!
    Thank you Sandy, it will be interesting to see how this goes!

  • I would like to see this part of the range opened back up too! And like you said, it would be great if it could be done asap so the horses can access this area THIS winter. And I agree it wouldn’t take long for them to repopulate and use this area again. The horses remember, and although not all of the horses have personally had access to this area, the knowledge has been passed down. They still travel to these areas, only to be blocked by the fence. It’s the same with the Custer National Forrest lands. I personally would like to see that area reopened too. Mid summer all the mountain bands can be seen grazing along the fence line because that is where they have been going for generations. Thanks for drawing more attention to this Sandy! I will be writing my letter tonight too!

  • Yes Sarah! I totally agree with you about the Forest Land being open again. They had grazed upon it and lived there in the summer for many years, only to be taken away; besides the fact that there is a major water source up there on “Tony’s Island” I believe it is called. There are not many “natural” water sources as it is on the wild horse range and it is a shame that the horses cannot access this land.

    • The horses were on the Custer Forest Land when the Wild Horse and Burro act was established saying that wherever the horses currently roamed is now legally their land and is the area they will be managed on. And I know they lived there long before that too. And I really truley hope that one day (hopefully sooner than later) the Freedom Fund horses can go back home to the Pryors. So many of them left no offpsring on the range and some of them were their parents only offspring. I don’t know if it will happen, but I would truely love to see them running through the meadows of the Pryors again. I know they would love to be back home.

      • That is true Sarah! I also would love nothing better than that. I know the round up of 2009 broke many hearts!!!!

  • Last time I was there, Garcia and his harem were right near this land/fence I believe. I was wondering about the land between CC road/Britton Springs and where they were. There was also a weird wire fence line that ran up perpendicular to the area. The horses could go around it at the bottom of the hill and also on the other end. I didn’t know if it was a fence that was used for round ups and to section off areas, or if it is one we could volunteer to help remove if it isn’t used.

    • Hey Shawn, I am going to have a look at that fence this weekend. So this other fence was also over by CC and BS? If so Livy, that would be the range. The NPS land would be much further away the other direction.

      Yes, I would most certainly volunteer for fence removal or range cleanup anytime.

  • I just sent a polite e mail to Jared and Jim. Seems crazy to have 3000+ acres just sitting there fenced in for no good reason when the horses could make good use of it.

  • I had thought that maybe I should keep these emails private, but apparently the BLM has been sharing this response they gave me with others, so I guess it is okay for me to do so also. I sent a letter to them (as I stated in this post) then I made this post, then a while later I got this email from Jim Sparks. I was informed that they have told at least one person that their response came before my post. So I am publicly setting the record straight. I sent them the email at: 1:26 pm. This post was published at 2:29 pm. I received this email at 2:59 pm.

    From Jim Sparks:
    “Sandy, although the “Administrative Pasture(s)” are part of the original Herd Area (HA), the 1984 RMP and Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP), did not include that area as part of the Herd Management Area (HMA). Decisions to make changes to a HMA (addition or subtraction of acreage), must be done within the boundaries of the original HA with public input through the land use planning process (RMP). We are considering making that area available to wild horse use in our soon to be released Draft RMP revision, so the wheel is turning albeit probably not as fast as you would like….. we are looking to have the draft RMP out for 90 day comment period on March 15. That puts us into the fall of 2014 to have the final out.”

    I still think it is important to let them know now and if they then “consider making that area available to the wild horses” we can let them know how we feel about it again when the public comment period begins.

    • More from Jim Sparks sent via email to me:

      “Sandy, from some of the posts I have seen, I think there is some impression that we are looking at opening the admin pastures in our RMP due to these latest requests. We addressed the issue in the 2009 HMAP. Another thing is that I get the feeling that some people think that the RMP revision is being done to primarily address wild horse issues. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The document is about 2000 pages long at this point, and there is actually very little in it regarding wild horses. Most wild horse management stuff is in the HMAP.”

      • That is fine. But I still think they need to know that we want this pasture(s) open to the horses. If we don’t speak out now, perhaps it will be put on the back burner. They are “considering it”, I would like to have assurance that it will be included.

        It is too bad that the horses may have to wait until 2014 to see this area opened. Hopefully nothing catastrophic happens between then and now.

      • I find this part of the statement extremely interesting — “The document is about 2000 pages long at this point, and there is actually very little in it regarding wild horses. Most wild horse management stuff is in the HMAP.”— since the land in question is part of the Pryor Mountain WILD HORSE Range. Hopefully, the people handling this process will turn their attention and handling of this situation away from a power struggle between persons involved and concentrate on what this Range was intended for with non-political, non-personal professionalism. I will submit my comments asking for the best consideration possible for the horses, and the reasons I believe that is important, during the comment period commencing on Mar. 15th.

      • Yes Linda, Now that I have better understanding of all of this, I will be doing a Part Two of this post. It will be later next week after I get back from the Pryors. I have been communicating with Jim Sparks in detail on this, so that I can give the best possible picture of what and when things will happen.

      • Our tax dollars at work for the management of land that was existing just fine for years without the interference of the Federal government. Is there any wilderness left that is not managed anymore? We can see throughout history how well our management is working. Mother Nature knows best, and that is the way that God intended it to be.

  • Very interesting Sandy! Thank you for publishing this reply and you did bring up a very important point, we can all comment again when they get this “legal process” started. I do hope that some good can come from this new “Draft RMP revision”. Just maybe YOU got the ball rolling in the right direction for the horses. Maybe there will be some other positive “revisions” considered along with this one! Let’s pray for that.

  • The Cloud Foundation has been working on this for some time. Maybe with a great deal of interest from many folks, it will be opened, finally.

  • Is there a designated range clean-up day in the Pryors like (I think) they do in Sand Wash Basin HMA? If not could one be started? Since people do camp on the Mountain top it might be beneficial to the range for a group of people to check the range near the road to see if people may have left trash after camping or other items. While people should be responsible to clean up after themselves there are people that really are that ignorant or apathetic. Also, if people are hands on cleaning up the range with the potential to see the horses the message might sink in more than simply reading rules and regulations. I know I would be willing to do something like that.

  • I agree, we still need to continue to speak out to get them to put it this RPM draft. I know TCF has been pressuring them to do this for awhile, but I think that pressure from individuals outside the organaization is helping too. Especially if we want to get this revision in THIS RPM draft. And not let it get passed over again. It’s frustrating that it will take so long. I don’t understand why if they put the draft out in March, why it will take until fall of 2014 to get the final out. But at least the process is moving in the right direction. Like you said, hopefully nothing catestrophic will happen between now and then.

  • Gosh I would love to see the herds back on this land this summer. I don’t doubt they would find it quickly enough

  • Looks like there is no reason for them not to open this land to the horses, afterall it is just sitting idol and makes no sense, to me anyway…They need someone tolight a fire cracker under their butt;s, lol…

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