The RMP: Which Alternative To Choose? An Understanding Of The Choices.

Jemez, July 30, 2012
Jemez, July 30, 2012

Today I am going to spend some time explaining the best I can what each Alternative means and what the impact of each alternative will mean.  I am no expert, so please, if you have more questions: 1.  You can ask them here and I will try to find out the answer. 2.  You can contact the BLM directly for answers. (I have Jared’s number listed at the bottom of this page.)

I am also under the understanding that you may ask for a combination of the alternatives.  I intend to do that, as there are some things from a couple of the alternatives that I like and some things that I don’t.

Here is the link to the fact sheet that the BLM put out about these alternatives.  You can click FACT SHEET to go there.  I also encourage you to spend some time reading the RMP, not just the fact sheet.  You can go there by clicking on RMP.  And to take you back to my original post on the RMP that I posted in March, click on POST.  You can also see the maps of the proposed alternatives on the fact sheet.

When you make your written comments, please be as specific as possible.  This RMP is including a lot more land and issues than just the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range.   I encourage you to take some time, study and submit a comment.  The plan that goes through will be in place for the next 20 years, so this is a very important issue.  We all need to help do what is best for this herd.

This is from Lori after attending the meeting last night in Lovell: 
“In Spring 2014 there will be a “proposed RMP and Final EIS, and a comment period after that. Then in the summer of 2014 there will be a Record of Decision, Final RMP and the public will have 30 days to appeal their decision.”
AND also from Lori:
” Also, give the reasons why you would support a certain thing, and/or not support it. This helps them to understand exactly what people want and for what reasons. They did talk about that last night.”
So let’s take a look and break each Alternative down.
Hamlet
Hamlet

Alternative A: This alternative is what they are doing right now, so no changes will be made.

I think some changes can be made to better the range, so I will not be recommending this alternative.  Also to be noted, some of these specifications in A transfer to other alternative choices.  For example:  In Alternative D there are some things that are the same as in Alternative A. 

Alternative A, the No Action Alternative, continues current management of resources within the planning area under the existing plans.

  •   Manage wild horses on approximately 24,595 acres of BLM administered lands (37,494 acres all ownerships -BLM, NPS, USFS, private). Keep the administrative pastures closed as well as areas adjacent to private lands to reduce public/private conflicts.
  •   Within an HMAP, herd structure would be managed for all representation in the herd, not allowing specific colors or bloodlines to dominate from management manipulation.
  •   Appropriate management level (AML) determination would be made within the context of having the maximum amount of wild horses the range can sustain while preventing deterioration.
  •   Range improvements would be authorized through site-specific analysis. Vegetation conversion treatments would not be allowed.
  •   Wild Horse Protection: Public feeding – allowed, but discouraged.
  •   Wild Horse Protection: Harassment – not allowed, but harassment of wild horses not locally defined.
  •   Wild Horse Protection: Seasonal road closures – motorized travel limited to designated routes. Therewould be no seasonal road closure during foaling season or for habitat protection.
  •   Wild Horse Protection: Fencing – exclusion fences for study, riparian protection or rehabilitation would beallowed.
  •   Wild Horse Protection: Wild horse health – no current management decision provided.
  •   Wild Horse Habitat Enhancement: Considered on a site specific basis.
  •   Public Health and Safety: Target Shooting – no current management decision provided.
  •   Public Health and Safety: Speed limits for mechanized and motorized vehicles – no current managementdecision provided.
  •   Livestock Grazing: The PMWHR would be unavailable for livestock grazing, except for trailing throughBad Pass.
  •   Special Recreation Permits: Current levels of permitted use with approximately 1,200 visitor use days inthe PMWHR would be managed per application, with no limit on commercial permits.
Sykes on the left, Burnt Timber on the right
Sykes on the left, Burnt Timber on the right

Alternative B  This plan Eliminates 6,341 acres from the existing horse range!!!  Including Krueger Pond. (Please look at maps on this to confirm).   I personally will not be recommending this Alternative.

Alternative B emphasizes conservation of physical, biological, heritage, and visual resources with constraints on resource uses.

  1.  Manage wild horses only within the boundaries of the original Secretarial Orders from 1968 (23,204 acres BLM-administered lands and 31,153 acres all ownerships). The rest of the Herd Area would be closed to wild horse use in order to maximize protection of plant species of concern, sub-alpine meadows and to protect wild horses from commercial uses. Within an HMAP, herd structure would be managed through natural selection with no promotion of any characteristics or preservation of colors or bloodlines. Appropriate management level (AML) determination would be made within the context of having a minimum amount of wild horses to improve ecological conditions, protecting other resources and individual animals. Range improvements and/or vegetation treatments would not be authorized in wild horse habitat; only natural processes would be allowed to occur. Wild Horse Protection: Public feeding – not allowed.
     Wild Horse Protection: Harassment – Interrupting their behavior or disruption of their daily activities,outside of management activities, such as moving animals to take photos or filming, feeding, or touching orattempting to do these things would not be allowed.
     Wild Horse Protection: Seasonal road closures – Motorized routes within the PMWHR would bedesignated according to the Pryor TMA. Burnt Timber Road from the East Pryor Mine (the abandoned uranium mine) to the USFS boundary and Sykes Ridge Road from the Sykes horse trap to the USFS boundary would be closed to provide protection during the primary foaling season and protecting habitat when roads are not ready for travel due to moisture content in soils (March 1-June 30). Wild Horse Protection: Fencing – No exclusion fences would be allowed within the HMA.
     Wild Horse Protection: Wild horse health – Domestic horse use would not be allowed except for special

recreation permits or livestock trailing.

  •   Wild Horse Habitat Enhancement: No vegetation treatments would be conducted in wild horse habitat, only allow natural processes to occur.
  •   Public Health and Safety: Target Shooting – not allowed (approximately 8,301 acres).
  •   Public Health and Safety: Speed limits for mechanized and motorized vehicles – Not to exceed 15 milesper hour.
  •   Livestock Grazing: The PMWHR would be unavailable for livestock grazing.
  •   Special Recreation Permits: No commercial special recreation permits (SRPs) would be authorized in thePMWHR. Non-commercial organized group events would be considered per application dependent on site specific analysis and monitoring.
  • Starman, July 2011.
    Starman, July 2011.
  • Alternative C has some things that I like and some things that I don’t like.  In this alternative, the range would be Expanded by 7,361 acres.   Please see map for specific expansion details.  That will be one of the couple of things from this Alternative that I will ask for.
    1. Alternative C emphasizes resource uses opportunities within the planning area and reduces constraints on resource uses.
      •   Manage wild horses on approximately 28,622 acres of BLM-administered lands (44,855 acres all ownerships). Designate the entire Herd Area as the Herd Management Area.
      •   Within an HMAP, herd structure would be managed for and to promote the public perception of the quintessential Pryor horse that is Dun or Grulla with striping and line back markings.
      •   Same as Alternative A – Appropriate management level (AML) determination would be made within the context of having the maximum amount of wild horses the range can sustain while preventing deterioration.
      •   Maximize the amount of acres available for vegetation treatments and/or water developments that potentially increase forage availability for wild horses that is compliant with other multiple-use decisions and restrictions.
      •   Wild Horse Protection: Public feeding – allowed as long as no moving or chasing of horses.
      •   Wild Horse Protection: Harassment – Same as Alternative A – not allowed, but harassment of wild horsesnot locally defined.
      •   Wild Horse Protection: Seasonal road closures – motorized routes within the PMWHR would bedesignated according to the Pryor TMA. There would be no seasonal road closure during foaling season orfor habitat protection.
      •   Wild Horse Protection: Fencing – Same as Alternative A – exclusion fences for study, riparian protectionor rehabilitation would be allowed.
      •   Wild Horse Protection: Wild horse health – Domestic horse use would be allowed during overnightcamping (16 day limit). Recreational domestic horse use would require proof of a free-use permit to ensureanimals have health certifications to protect wild horses from disease transmission.
      •   Wild Horse Habitat Enhancement: Maximize the amount of acres for vegetation treatment and waterdevelopments that would increase forage availability for wild horses, to maximize and/or increase wildhorse numbers within other multiple uses and restrictions.
      •   Public Health and Safety: Target Shooting – allowed (approximately 32,767 acres).
      •   Public Health and Safety: Speed limits for mechanized and motorized vehicles – no speed limit.
      •   Livestock Grazing: Bad Pass Trail would be managed as a livestock grazing allotment for a trailing useonly. The remainder of the PMWHR would be closed to livestock grazing.
      •   Special Recreation Permits: An Outfitter Permit Area (OPA) would be established in the PMWHR in orderto protect wild horses, resources within the range, and minimize conflicts based on site specific analysis and monitoring. Visitor use days for both commercial and non-commercial permits would be analyzed through a site-specific analysis and monitoring and would also consider other commercial permitted uses.
    Jackson, February, 2013
    Jackson, February, 2013

    Alternative D is the Preferred Alternative by the BLM.  There are many things in this alternative that I do like, but some I don’t.   I will be combining some of this Alternative and also some things from Alternative C when I submit my comment.

    1. Alternative DAlternative D represents the BLM’s ‘Preferred Alternative’ at this stage of the planning process. The Preferred Alternative seeks to balance resource protection with resource uses/production.
      •   Manage wild horses on approximately 27,094 acres of BLM-administered lands (39,994 acres all ownerships). Designate the closed portions of the Herd Area known as the administrative pastures to be included in the Herd Management Area. Due to private property conflicts, the “buffer” area would remain closed.
      •   Same as Alternative A – Within an HMAP, herd structure would be managed for all representation in the herd, not allowing specific colors or bloodlines to dominate from management manipulation.
      •   Same as Alternative A – Appropriate management level (AML) determination would be made within the context of having the maximum amount of wild horses the range can sustain while preventing deterioration.
      •   Same as Alternative C – Maximize the amount of acres available for vegetation treatments and/or water developments that potentially increase forage availability for wild horses that is compliant with other multiple-use decisions and restrictions.
    •   Wild Horse Protection: Public feeding – Only allowed for management purposes.
    •   Wild Horse Protection: Harassment – Same as Alternative B – Interrupting their behavior or disruption oftheir daily activities, outside of management activities, such as moving animals to take photos or filming,feeding, or touching or attempting to do these things would not be allowed.
    •   Wild Horse Protection: Seasonal road closures – Motorized routes within the PMWHR would bedesignated according to the Pryor TMA. Burnt Timber Road from the East Pryor Mine (the abandoned uranium mine) to the USFS boundary and Sykes Ridge Road from the horse trap to USFS boundary would be closed to wheeled vehicles and motorized vehicles to protect wild horse foaling and their habitat (April 15 to June 15) providing consistency with the USFS seasonal closures.
    •   Wild Horse Protection: Fencing – Exclusion fences for study, range improvements, riparian protection or rehabilitation would be allowed through site-specific analysis.
    •   Wild Horse Protection: Wild horse health – Domestic horse use would be limited to day use only. Recreational domestic horse use would require a free-use permit to ensure animals have health certifications to protect wild horses from disease transmission.
    •   Wild Horse Habitat Enhancement: Same as Alternative C – Maximize the amount of acres for vegetation treatment and water developments that would increase forage availability for wild horses, to maximize and/or increase wild horse numbers within other multiple uses and restrictions.
    •   Public Health and Safety: Target Shooting – Not allowed on T. 8 S., R. 28E., Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend (approximately 6,720 acres). Allowed in remainder of PMWHR.
    •   Public Health and Safety: Speed limits for mechanized and motorized vehicles – Not to exceed 15 miles per hour within T. 8 S., R. 28 E.
    •   Livestock Grazing: Same as Alternative C – Bad Pass Trail would be managed as a livestock grazing allotment for a trailing use only. The remainder of the PMWHR would be closed to livestock grazing.
    •   Special Recreation Permits: SRPs for wild horse viewing would be initially limited to existing SRPs. Additional (new) wild horse centered SRPs would be permitted only when determined not to result in congestion, wild horse displacement, or cause an adverse experience for members of the public viewing wild horses outside of an SRP experience through monitoring of existing SRPs and visitation.
    • Map
      Click on the map to view it in a larger size.
    Issaquah, April 28, 2013
    Issaquah, April 28, 2013

    Please feel free to use this post as a discussion on the Alternatives.  The more we understand, the better our comments will be in this process.  All comments have to be in by June 28, 2013.  I plan to have mine ready to send in by June 1, 2013.

  • Sandy
  • Meadowlark, August 30, 2012
    Meadowlark, August 30, 2012
  • The public may submit written comments related to the Billings and Pompeys Pillar National Monument DRMP/EIS by any of the following methods:Email: Billings_PompeysPillar_RMP@blm.govFax:    (406) 896-5281Mail: “Billings/PPNM RMP Comments,” Billings Field Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101.Hand-deliver: Billings Field Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT.  59101.  Please address letters to : Carolyn Sherve-Bybee, RMP Team Lead
  • All letters and emails should include the first and last name of the individual commenting and a complete mailing address.  Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time.
  • For further questions you can always contact:

    Program Contact: Jared Bybee, RMS/State Wild Horse & Burro Specialist (406) 896-5223 

    Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
    Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

An Update On The Scoping Notice For Changes To The PZP Program In The Pryors.

Kiva's foal, Madrid, July 2012
Kiva’s foal, Madrid, July 2012

There have been a lot of questions and confusion on the scoping letter that was sent out last week.  You can read about that letter by clicking SCOPING LETTER.  I decided to make another post on it, so that those that want to know more can read it in this post, instead of having to wade through all the comments from my previous post.

I am still waiting to hear from The Cloud Foundation on what exactly what their proposal is going to be.  I have been in contact with Ginger and I hope to have that answer soon.

So while I waited, I contacted Jared to ask for some clarification on what this meant.  Thank you so much Jared for getting back to me so fast.  Here is what he had to say:

Sandy,

 
You really need to ask TCF what they exactly have in mind.  The scoping letter pretty much explains it. TCF isn’t the only party that has wondered if the current PZP prescription is adequate, based upon the details provided in the scoping notice about demographics, efficacy, timing due to access, etc  TCF just requested BLM do more. The first place to start to determine the feasibility is a scoping notice. There has been no proposal from any party for an Assateague model, that died in 2010 when the preliminary current  EA was issued and the public saw exactly what they asked the BLM to do.  This is an opportunity for the public to send BLM a proposal, instead of BLM sending one out and trying to read the tea leaf’s.  Any scoping comments provided to the BLM are public record.
 
Hope this clarify’s things
   
Jared Bybee

Rangeland Management Specialist
Montana/Dakotas State Wild Horse and Burro Specialist
5001 Southgate Drive Billings MT 59101
Desk:406-896-5223
Mobile: 406-698-4831
Fax: 406-896-5281
Lakota, June, 2012
Lakota, June, 2012

I have my letter ready to send, but will wait until I hear from The Cloud Foundation on their proposal.  But, I am thinking it will not change.  Here is that letter:

Dear Mr. Sparks,

In regards to the scoping letter regarding the PZP program released April 1, 2013, I as a Montana resident, frequent visitor to the Pryors and permit holder within the Pryors request that the current PZP program remain in place.  I feel I have been able to observe and study the horses in their home intently.  This year alone, I will be with them for more than 50 days.

I feel that we should see how the current plan works on a good year. With the NPS assisting in the darting of the horses, I feel that the horses will be given the injections in a more timely manner. We should give this program some more time to see how it is working and then re-evaluate as necessary for the next phase starting in 2015.

I would hate to see a rushed decision on changes to the PZP program.

I do not support any changes to the current plan.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Sandra P. Elmore

UPDATE:  Here is the link to TCF proposal, just released tonight.  I still stand by my letter above.  Click TCF to go there.  

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

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.

Sandy

Some Thoughts and Recognition on the Removal

I found out this week that the BLM Billings office was going to be presented with an award for the job they did in the removal this past summer.  This award was presented to Jared Bybee yesterday in Washington DC.

I was happy that Jared and his team were getting some recognition on a job well done.  Hopefully other HMA’s will ask him for advise on how to better do their gathers.  They can ask him to come and show them, but they cannot keep him, he needs to stay here with the Pryor Horses!

As I said in my April post about this gather, there are some good people in the BLM and we need to make an effort to continue to communicate with them.

Just in case you did not remember how I felt about the removal you can click on SANDY and it will take you to a post I did the beginning of April.

Also here is the link to the list of Awards.  Click on Awards to go to that page.  I also copied and pasted the paragraph telling about the Pryor Gather award:

BLM-Montana Pryor Mountain Horse Gather and Adoption Team, recipients of the Director’s Team Accomplishment Award.

This Award recognizes this year’s tremendously successful Pryor Mountain wild horse gather and adoption. Thanks to outstanding public engagement, sound decision making, and cohesive teamwork, this gather and adoption were completed safely and with positive public support.”

It is still painful for me to think about the horses that were removed, those I will not see on the mountain again.  But I know where most have gone, and I will continue to see how they are doing.

But I am glad that the Pryor Horses have a team of BLM people who for the most part listen to our concerns and hopes for these horses.  I thank them for that.

I believe that if everyone would take the time and effort to effectively communicate with them that the management of these horses may just continue to get better and better.

Sandy

Polaris, Isadora, Lemhi and Rosarita, July 2011

 

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

The Day Before the Adoption

I don’t know how much sleep I will be able to get tonight.  Tomorrow is the adoption and I am hoping that all the horses get adopted to good homes.  I was able to spend several hours with the horses in the pens today, some of it was alone, which I really enjoyed.  I was hoping when I visited last Saturday that I would be able to get some clarity of who would be my final pick, but that was not to be for what ever reason.  Today I got that opportunity.  I tucked a piece of Lakota’s tail hair in my pocket today, hoping that in some way that would help me.  I started out with a top 10 pick, then narrowed it down to a top 4 and today, I have my number one.   I won’t share who that is yet, but I think it will all work out.  Some of you that I spoke to today, know who I am talking about.  Depending on how it goes, I may come home with more than one.

It was hard for me to decided.  Knowing almost all of the horses so well, it made it harder, so much harder.

I also had the opportunity to watch a demo by a wonderful horseman, Dave Weeding.  He has competed in the Extreme Mustang Makeover several times.  In 2 1/2 hours he was able to take Kane (son of Sequoyah and Two Boots) from a scared and unsure wild horse and turn him into a willing (but still a bit stubborn)  accepting and calm horse.  Dave even laid on his back.  It was very amazing.  I have studied Natural Horsemanship for 12 year now and I always enjoy seeing it in action.  I love watching someone new and hope that I can somehow soak in their knowledge.  I find the more I know the more I learn.  I hope that makes sense.  It was a wonderful two hours and I hope that sometime I may be able to take a clinic with Dave or work with him personally.  Tomorrow morning before the adoption he will be working with another horse and I am going to make sure I get there in time to witness it.

I am going to end this post by saying that I know that a lot of emotions ran high during the time of this removal and adoption.  But I want to thank those that were involved.  I got to meet and talk with several of those people today.  Cass from the NPS was there today and I really enjoyed getting to know her.  Don, who has taken such great care of the horses during their time at Britton Springs.  I really enjoyed talking with him and learning about how much he cared for the horses and the Pryors. (yes, lets hope some new signage can go up to educate people on range and what they should not be doing up there!!!)  The horses all look good and well cared for.  Thanks Don!  Jared and Ryan for the care that they showed the horses during the gather and after.  Nancy, who has a hard job with all the cordinating of the adoption.  She has a beautiful horse from Calico that I got to meet today.

These are real people that care for the horses and I think that people really need to take the time to realize this and reach out to them, it would benefit the horses and everyone involved with them.

Kane, July, 2012

I will make a quick post tomorrow to let you know who I will be bringing home on Sunday.  I am also going to try to keep track of who adopts who.  I hope I have a lot of good news for you tomorrow!

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell