Wild horses may soon have their day as BLM begins wildfire ground fuel abatement test

© BLM New Mexico
© BLM New Mexico

Cattle grazing is being used by the USA’s Bureau of Land Management in Idaho in an experiment to see if they can be used to provide fuel breaks for firefighters.

The recently launched test in the Soda Fire Burn Scar on the Owyhee Front can be easily accessed, monitored and managed, because of the hospitable terrain and relatively few apex predators (requirements for success when livestock are used). The Soda Fire affected some 450 square miles three years ago.

Before this project, and along with many others, Congressman Greg Walden had written (2017) to the heads of the US Forest Service and BLM in regard to a ground fuel abatement plan using substitute large-bodied herbivores.

Rural communities, especially ranchers and farmers, today face many challenges to their very survival, the worst of which may very well be catastrophic wildfire.

These rural areas and the agricultural products that flow from them are in turn vital to the very survival of the people who choose to live and work in cities and urban areas.

Today, catastrophic wildfire presents as one of the most serious challenges to mankind for the obvious and many not so obvious reasons, and deforestation is trending at an alarming rate.

Horses run to safety as smoke engulfs them during the Lilac Fire in California.
Horses run to safety as smoke engulfs them during the Lilac Fire in California last December. © San Diego county

Catastrophic wildfire: Impacts and an argument favoring wildfire grazing

As a rancher and naturalist I have to wonder what people in the cities perceive when news reports highlight the devastation from catastrophic wildfires; the burned-out ranches, charred forests, burned wildlife and livestock and toxic smoke filling the skies and polluting the air we all breathe.

Without doubt most city dwellers have some level of empathy for these horrific losses, including the loss of human life. However, I also know there are many other people who are in denial and believe that wildfire cannot affect them in cities far from the infernos.

But nothing could be farther from the truth, as we saw during the tragedies and aftermath of the 2017 California and southern Oregon fire season, where the death and destruction was not confined to just the forests or rural areas, and devastated many urban areas in several states. The direct, secondary and tertiary damage remains wide and far-reaching, and are ongoing, with damages in the many tens of billions of dollars in 2017.

Deadly toxic smoke from wildfires does affect people in cities and towns far from the flames as was seen in many western states. New research suggests that wildfire smoke can serious affect the health of our children in ways that we have never considered before.

BLM crews battle another wildfire.

The devastation of forests from catastrophic wildfire leads to damaged watersheds resulting in less water for cities, towns and agriculture, as well as releasing millions of tons of toxic pollution, including carbon into the atmosphere that had been sequestered in the trees.

The millions of tons of pollutants that enter the atmosphere from just one fire season outweigh all of the pollution savings from environmentally mandated air pollution regulations like CARB [California Air Resources Board]. And the costs that are mounting from wildfire smoke health related illnesses are beginning to rise into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Obtaining fire insurance is now becoming a serious economic problem for many home owners, ranchers, farmers and businesses with varying levels of exposure to catastrophic wildfire, as determined by insurance underwriters. Many home and ranch owners can no longer comply with the terms of their mortgages because in some areas now, insurers are unwilling to renew or issue wildfire insurance coverage, forcing some to self-insure. Others who cannot afford or even obtain fire coverage remain in default of mortgage contracts which mandate such coverage.

In other areas deemed as being at moderate risk for wildfire, insurance premiums are skyrocketing sometimes as much as five-fold.

It seems that environmentalists have inhibited sustainable forest industries and the lumber industry to the point where the US Forest Service can’t allow any meaningful logging, so now, it seems they are getting paid to let it burn and thereby monetizing the ensuing wildfires and a booming fire-fighting industry.

A juniper tree that is frequented by horses stands out and is visibly more vibrant and more fire resistant (note the health of its canopy) than nearby junipers that are not frequented, with sparse dry canopies.
A juniper tree that is frequented by horses stands out and is visibly more vibrant and more fire resistant (note the health of its canopy) than nearby junipers that are not frequented, with sparse dry canopies.

More money and time is being spent on suppression than on prevention.

In the 2018 USFS budget of nearly $3 billion is allocated for wildfire suppression or fire-fighting. However, in the same multi-billion dollar budget, a paltry $100-million is allocated for wildfire prevention; that’s only 3.5% of the budget being allocated to prevention.

The reason for the evolution of catastrophic wildfire is crystal clear to anyone seeking the truth: Through mismanagement, many western states have depleted populations of large-bodied herbivores that had been abating millions of tons of prodigious ground fuels in the form of grass and brush that kindle and carry wildfire, creating abnormally hot, catastrophic fires. And climate change enhances conditions for the ignition of these excessive ground fuels via longer and hotter summers.

There is significant science that supports this observation in addition to simple mathematics.

Wildfires in California.

Prevention is far cheaper than suppression

Recently, an excellent study was published in regard to forest fire and examining the 2011 Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico titled: Assessing the economic trade-offs between prevention and suppression of forest fires, which was authored by a team of economics and math professors. The learnings are certainly applicable in western states.

“We find that with the application of preventive fuel management, the value of the forest is greater and less variable than in the case where prevention management spending is not applied to the forest. We also find that prevention spending lowers the number of devastating large fire events. The mean value of the forest over a 50‐year time horizon in the no-prevention management case is $536m with a standard deviation of $111.7m. When prevention is determined by the successive application of our optimal control problem, we find that the mean value of the forest over 50 years to be $671m with a standard deviation of $34m. This result illustrates that there are real economic costs associated with using funding for fuel management to fund immediate fire suppression.

“Perhaps, more surprisingly, we find that when optimal prevention management is employed, not only are high suppression costs drastically reduced, total spending on fire management (prevention and fire suppression) is less than the case without prevention management. In the case without prevention management spending, $236m was spent on average on fire suppression over the course of 50 years. In the case with applying optimal prevention management spending, only $42m was spent on average on suppression over 50 years and $65m was spent on prevention management.

“By comparison, $40m–$50m was spent fighting the Las Conchas fire. In our work with unknown fire sequences, we observed an 88% reduction in suppression spending on average with prevention management, and a 55% reduction in spending overall. This result provides hope that a more careful integration of fire prevention into wildfire management plans may actually reduce the cost of these plans.

“Our results clearly highlight the value of fuel management. This result arises even when we assume that prevention expenditures only influence fire risk in the period they are incurred. The implicit assumption here is that the effect of prevention (mechanical thinning, prescribed fire) decays rapidly. There is very little data on the longevity of fire prevention expenditures. In forests that regenerate slowly, the effect of prevention expenditures may last for many years. In forests that regenerate rapidly, the effect of prevention may be short‐lived. But how long prevention lasts will also vary by the type of prevention. For instance, the effects of prescribed fire may be temporary in forests that regenerate through fire. Thus, identifying how long the effect of fire prevention expenditures should last is complicated. Since our results tend to highlight the value of prevention, we elected to adopt a conservative assumption that would work lower the value of prevention. Thus, our results can be viewed as a lower bound estimate of the value of prevention relative to suppression.”

For the past many years, given that our family owns and manages a ranch with a pine and oak forest, I have been researching and writing about the relatively recent trending of catastrophic wildfire over the past five decades. And without doubt, the root of the problem is a depletion in the natural ground-fuel grazing animals (cervids in and around forests and grasslands).

According to states’ fish and game authorities, cervids in western states are in significant decline from five decades ago.

All of the best science shows that the effect on ground fuels (kindling for wildfire) due to the loss of our deer population is profound.

Lost grazing on burned out grass, replacement fences and damaged stock facilities all add up in the economic losses.
Lost grazing on burned out grass, replacement fences and damaged stock facilities all add up in the economic losses. © Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Grazing offers a cost-effective solution to catastrophic wildfire

Another key requirement for success in the BLM’s test of ground fuel abatement plan is the use of free-of-cost grazing herbivores. If herbivores had to be bought for this purpose, the costs/benefits for public land managers would need to be reevaluated.

The ongoing success of using invasive species livestock grazing for wildfire ground fuel abatement will greatly depend upon designing methodologies that will ostensibly preclude environmental intervention that might occur under various potential circumstances, which we might envision should erosion or other issues result from poor methodology.

Using well-designed management methodology in properly targeted areas, cattle, sheep and goats can be very cost-effective in abating ground fuels in areas where livestock grazing makes sense. Converting hazardous wildfire ground fuels (grass and brush) into food with economic value is a wise approach. For example, in areas where cheat grass has become problematic, grazing cattle can obviously be used early on before the grass fruits and then follow-up grazing (again before fruiting) using sheep and/or goats, which graze closer to the ground than cattle, can further eradicate this invasive species of grass into and through summer.

Cheat grass.
Cheat grass. © University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Then these intentionally over-grazed areas, now largely devoid of cheat grass seed, could then be timely reseeded using various methods with the seed of more desirable forage to support native species wildlife, as well as for future livestock grazing. In some cases as needed, an offset for reseeding costs might be deducted from any normally assessed grazing fees.

Strategic wildfire grazing in carefully selected areas using appropriate herbivores can be a very important and cost-effective wildfire prevention and mitigation tool.

Contrary to wildfire ground fuel abatement over the relatively abundant and accessible grassland areas, wildfire grazing programs for areas in and around remote forests with rugged virtually inaccessible terrain would be conducted in different but appropriate manner. Areas such as Six Rivers National Forest, Rogue River-Siskiyou Kalmiopsis Wilderness Forest (which frequently burn catastrophically) and environmentally sensitive areas such as the Cascade-Siskiyou National Forest would require a different grazing implementation plan. In difficult areas such as these, year-round deployment of non-invasive species large-bodied herbivores, preferably monogastric digesters (wild equines), is well-advised because they don’t strip the soils of native plants and seed or damage sensitive ecosystems, but nonetheless cost-effectively abate and maintain deadly ground fuels all-year long. A key requisite is once again, these specialized grazers are available at virtually no cost to taxpayers.

More about the BLM wildfire grazing test here.

William E. Simpson

William Simpson is the author of Dark Stallions - Legend of the Centaurians, proceeds from which go towards supporting wild and domestic horse rescue and sanctuary. » Read Bill's profile

3 thoughts on “Wild horses may soon have their day as BLM begins wildfire ground fuel abatement test

  • April 23, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Grazing Leads to Blazing: Livestock grazing in southwestern Idaho and across the West has contributed significantly to intensity, severity, and enormity of fires. Important habitat for sage-grouse, redband trout, other wildlife species is now ablaze. Despite the livestock industry’s claims to the contrary, the Idaho fires are burning hotter and faster because of the impacts of cows and sheep on our arid western lands. http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2015/08/21/grazing-leads-to-blazing/

    • April 23, 2018 at 10:30 am


      Your misunderstand of the ecology involved is painful. However the man who wrote the article you cite should know better and makes many unsupported conjectures in his article.

      His article puts on a display of intellectual dishonesty as to the important biological and ecological and biological differences between grazing herbivores and grazing equids, and that is shocking considering the man is supposedly the Exec. Director of the Western Watershed Project.

      I guess the burn-out factor must be huge there, since they change seats there like musical chairs; last month it was Eric Molvar… but he was shot-down and his apex predator theory was debunked using published data that contradicted his assertions. This when he argued that the collapsing cervid populations of some western states (Oregon and CA) that are annually losing 60%+ of total deer populations due to predation by mountain lions is not population control.

      He (and others) are welcome to play their word and definition games (changing definitions to suit their evolving need); the fact stands that taking 60% of any healthy deer population (just lions, not other causes) annually is not natural, and does not in anyway represent normal predation (where predators take the sick, young and old animals, and thereby strengthening the gene pool).

      Your credo would be more properly stated as: obtuse management through lack of experience leads to blazing… and that’s exactly what is happening. The BLM runs around trying to manage wild horses using domestic horse behavioral ecology, only because they won’t bother to find and employ anyone who actually has the experience.

      Lots of nincumpoops and ninnies running around with freshly minted sheepskins who think they know how to run the world, yet have very little life experience themselves, let alone having the requisite amount of time invested into practical experience with boots on the ground management and understanding… just a lot of book learning in books authored by failed ‘Let It Burn’ scientists, and Nat. Geo. documentaries.

      On top of all that, the solid peer-reviewed science contradicts what you have spewed as well as the pontification of your mentor:

      Read and learn:

      “Large wild herbivores are crucial to ecosystems and human societies. We highlight the 74 largest terrestrial herbivore species on Earth (body mass ≥100 kg), the threats they face, their important and often overlooked ecosystem effects, and the conservation efforts needed to save them and their predators from extinction. Large herbivores are generally facing dramatic population declines and range contractions, such that ~60% are threatened with extinction. Nearly all threatened species are in developing countries, where major threats include hunting, land-use change, and resource depression by livestock. Loss of large herbivores can have cascading effects on other species including large carnivores, scavengers, mesoherbivores, small mammals, and ecological processes involving vegetation, hydrology, nutrient cycling, and fire regimes. The rate of large herbivore decline suggests that ever-larger swaths of the world will soon lack many of the vital ecological services these animals provide, resulting in enormous ecological and social costs.”
      Abstract from: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/4/e1400103
      Wildlife, forest and range managers have reduced the native species grazers (cervids and equids) and in many areas via poor (or non-existent) management methodologies, and meanwhile, introduced invasive species herbivores that have not evolved (over millennia) mutualisms within the specific ecosystems. These mutualisms (symbiosis), which had taken millennia to achieve are critical and largely missed or misunderstood by many people. Why is it that the fossils of equids litter the geology of almost every biome in North America, yet there are no fossils from cattle?

      Here’s one reason why: http://www.deerfriendly.com/wildfire/-fire-grazing-impact-of-wild-horses-vs-livestock-on-wildfire-regime

      The BLM has said it is desperately seeking ‘any solution that is politically and financially feasible’ that would not require the killing of American wild horses. The Plan outlined below fits those prerequisites and is based in solid empirical data and science:

      The core issue seems to be that some people underestimate or discount their intrinsic value within naturally operating ecosystems, including and especially forest ecosystems. Many scientists incorrectly sought horse fossils on grasslands not understanding that many wild horses have forest mutualisms based upon forest evolution. Now, that this incorrect perspective has changed, horses fossils are being found in forests around the world, including in our own forest here in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which shares the fence with our ranch. Cosmos just featured an article on this new breakthrough:


      Worse yet, others assert and assign blame for a host issues onto the wild horses and in doing so, mischaracterize their behavioral ecology and population numbers. More here: https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2017/09/25/evolution-wild-horses-cattle-effect-range-damage/

      Furthermore, wild horses and their strong genetic lines, may ultimately provide a ‘saving grace’ for the highly inbreed domestic horses and their gene-lines that are now weaken through thousands of years of inbreeding resulting in many genetically related maladies that are not seen in wild horses, as is cited here: https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2018/02/04/powers-wild-horses-genetics/

      My wife and I live among wild horses, and we have been studying them, photographing and filming them for the past 4-years on our privately owned (open range) wildlife/wild horse preserve, where the horses are not fenced-in and roam freely over the lands and through our forests. Few people in the world literally live among the wild ones 24/7, 365-days a year, as we have for nearly half a decade… and continue to do so. And I have the background in science to understand how to make and interpret our observations, which support the plan I have put forth title the Natural Wildfire Abatement And Forest Protection Plan.

      Each wild horse that grazes in and around forest ecosystems abates 5.5 tons of grass and brush annually. They make no sparks, don’t drip fuel/oil and safety abate hazardous ground fuels (grass and brush) in July, August, Sept, without any risk of causing fire. And they do not engage in logging as they perform as they have naturally for millennia.

      Wild horses are ideal large-bodied herebivores for use grazing existing fire scars (millions of acres) for reasons cited in this article: http://www.deerfriendly.com/wildfire/-fire-grazing-impact-of-wild-horses-vs-livestock-on-wildfire-regime

      Recently, thanks to the work of many concerned people, like Congressional candidate Court Boice and his wife Britt Ivy-Boice, Oregon Congressman Greg Walden (wrote to the BLM and the USFS asking them to look into the Natural Wildfire Abatement And Forest Protection Plan (aka: Wild horse Fire Brigade) many legislators are coming up to speed on this novel plan.

      Just recently (short session of the Oregon Legislature) Oregon Senator Al DeBoer’s office formally submitted my testimony about the Natural Wildfire Abatement And Forest Protection Plan to the Oregon Legislature’s Fire Caucus (2-28-18).

      Testimony of William E. Simpson II
      Naturalist – Rancher
      Wildhorse Ranch, Siskiyou County, CA
      P.O. Box 202 – Yreka, CA 96097
      Before the Oregon Senate Interim Committee On Environment and Natural Resources
      February 28, 2018
      Page 1 of 3

      Chairman Dembrow, Vice Chair Olsen and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the issue of catastrophic wildfires of State and National Forests. I spent my formative years on a working livestock ranch in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon and working in the forests as a logger as a young man. I attended Oregon State University as a science major and later attended Lane Community College and obtained a specialty degree in Flight Technology. I have worked around the globe in numerous capacities, including as a field gemologist and acquisitions agent for the Lyman Museum and Ben Bridge Jewelers and others, as a gemology instructor at the University of Hawaii Maui Campus, as a commercial pilot and a master mariner with commendation from the United States Coast Guard for search and rescue. I am considered an expert in the behavioral ecology of wild horses, and have along with my wife lived among wild horses for the past four-years studying and documenting them in a natural ecosystem, something few people in the world have done. I am an inventor and the recipient of numerous U.S. Patents ranging from system hydraulics to Internet software to aerodynamic control systems. I am also the author of more than two-hundred published articles and papers, with over one-hundred of those delving into science-oriented subjects, including wildfire, wildlife and forest management concepts, and wild horses.

      Likened to a water well, when the water runs out, it matters not who is pumping the well; rich man, poor man, Democrat or Republican. Our economy and its available natural resources are also finite and as our population grows the demands on resources increase and at a time when our limited natural resources are being diminished. There is nothing natural about catastrophic wildfire, which burns at temperatures well in excess of normal wildfire devastating much more than forests. As this Committee is aware, the toxic smoke from these months-long catastrophic wildfires is causing a significant increase in related cardio-pulmonary diseases and the direct and secondary health care costs will likely extend into the tens of millions of dollars. Catastrophic wildfire is not by any definition ‘normal’; it is man-caused by flawed wildlife management leading to the depletion of cervids (deer) resulting in excess grasses and brush (ground fuels) in and around our forests. The notion of ‘coexisting with catastrophic wildfire’ is simply obtuse when there is an easily deployed method that would devolve these extreme fires back into the realm of normal wildfire by removing some of the ground fuels that make wildfire catastrophically hot. The best science [1] cites that; “By altering the quantity and distribution of fuel supplies, large herbivores can shape the frequency, intensity, and spatial distribution of fires across a landscape”.

      Catastrophic Wildfire: Genesis And Mitigation

      The relatively recent evolution of worsening catastrophic wildfire trends, including megafire, is a function of many factors including but not limited to past forestry practices, climate change producing more rain in western U.S. forest landscapes and the resulting prodigious amounts of annual grasses and brush (‘ground fuels’), which is then subjected to longer warmer summers. These excessive hazardous ground fuels in and around forests and the wild-land urban interface are the result of reduced grazing by significant declines in deer populations. In and around western forest landscapes, deer have a critical mutualistic role in protecting forests by maintaining ground fuels at nominal levels.
      However with the advent of the recent decline in western deer populations many millions of tons of annually occurring grass and brush remains intact as un-grazed ground fuel. Much of this excessive ground fuel is in very remote and virtually inaccessible wilderness areas where rugged terrain and numerous apex predators make traditional ground fuel abatement methods, including livestock grazing impractical if not impossible. One novel approach to dealing with this ground fuel problem and thereby creating more fire-resilient forests is posited by the reintroduction of native-species herbivores (American wild horses) to substitute for seriously depleted deer and thereby reestablishing nominal ground fuel loads via grazing at least or until such time as cervid populations are returned to nominal levels. Such a plan fits within the scope of both established foundational science and common-sense, as well as the intent and purpose of established and pending Law providing local and state governments with the acquisition of wild horses from corrals; ‘excess animals’. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3354 – Section 114 – transfer of excess animals.

      In light of the foundational science [1] in regard to the evolution of catastrophic wildfire in areas where populations of large-bodied herbivores that normally graze ground fuels have become depleted, the reintroduction of substitute large-bodied herbivores is logical and provides a mechanism for natural ground fuel control. Clearly the reduction of ground fuels by grazing herbivores creates and maintains fire resistant landscapes. In many western states where deer have suffered significant population depletions we now coincidentally observe trending catastrophic wildfires. Therefore the reintroduction of large-bodied herbivores such as the readily available wild horses in the BLM corrals offers the potential to cost-effectively repopulate missing herbivores at least or until deer populations are recovered.

      A pilot study seems logical if wild horses were carefully allocated into deer-depleted areas in and around remote forest areas with difficult terrain and access issues. Such areas consistently present great difficulty for conventional ground fuel abatement methods and in many cases such methods are impractical or impossible. Furthermore, areas with difficult access and terrain present great challenges and risks for personnel and greatly increased costs for fire suppression. In these particular areas focusing upon prevention seems prudent via an ongoing natural method of ground fuel mitigation via large bodied herbivores such as wild horses.

      Wild equids seem to be the optimal herbivore for rebuilding fire damaged soils due to their simple monogastric digestive system. Manure from wild horses adds hummus, nutrients and microorganisms as well providing redistribution of native plant seeds intact across the landscape to a much greater percentage than any other herbivores, such as ruminants with complex digestive systems. (http://www.deerfriendly.com/wildfire/-fire-grazing-impact-of-wild-horses-vs-livestock-on-wildfire-regime)

      We have testimony of empirical evidence of the efficacy of the concept in hand, to wit:

      “I still like the idea of the horse and I would love to see a controlled area with them to really see what they are capable of. I have seen the work they have done on your property and it looked good but spotty with the low numbers they have. Additionally I really think they have a place in the fuel reduction world.” ~ ODF fire fighter Cascade-Siskiyou National Forest.

      Wild Horse Grazing Pilot:

      Federal, state and/or county authorities can identify areas meeting certain criteria including; remote/difficult access areas with potential for re-burn on fire scars, areas with exigent risk to forest products (timber, new production and restoration protection) and protection for fragile forest ecosystems at risk for catastrophic wildfire. Once an area is identified the carrying capacity of the land (based on soils classes) is established. The total carrying capacity would include and be adjusted for the existing populations of large herbivores (deer-elk), and then add enough wild horses to match 50% of the total estimated carrying capacity. Carrying capacity varies with soil class and the ability of soils to support plant growth annually. Fire scorched soils have reduced carrying capacities for grazing due to the pasteurization (death of beneficial microorganisms) of soils and sublimation of minerals and mineral analogs. The optimal herbivore for rebuilding fire damaged soils is a wild horse due to its simple monogastric digestive system. The manure from wild horses adds hummus, nutrients, microorganisms as well redistribution of native plant seeds intact across the landscape. ( https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2018/01/08/fire-grazing-wild-horses-better-cattle )

      Wild horses should only be used in and around remote areas that are unsuited to livestock grazing and/or mechanical ground fuel abatement methods. Such unsuited areas for livestock would include (i) fragile ecosystems, (ii) recently burned areas containing scorched (pasteurized soils) and or (iii) areas of difficult terrain/access and or high predator levels making them unsuited for livestock and range management methods. Fire and landscape ecologists along with an appointed wild horse ecologist would monitor their humane deployment and efficacy in pilot areas during a 48-month period, ideally in several locations.

      Using established monitoring programs for deer and elk, wild horses can be studied in their assigned forest ecosystems. The areas selected would be surveilled periodically with considerations of pre and post deployment effects of wild horses upon annually recurring grasses/brush ground fuels and forest landscapes. It is expected that as natural prey of mountain lions wild horse numbers would be reduced by some percentage annually in this natural process. Therefore at some point breeding populations with intact stallions would be required to maintain a balance until booming apex predator populations can be brought under control and deer populations re-established to historic levels.

      Scientists also believe that wild horses may hold the key to solving the mystery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) that is decimating herds of cervids (deer) in America, as we read here: https://www.environews.tv/022718-wild-horses-may-hold-solution-slowing-spread-fatal-chronic-wasting-disease-deer-elk/

      Potential Pilot Areas And Proposed Allocations:

      1: Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest (Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area, ~180,000 acres in Curry County, OR); very remote rugged terrain; site of multiple catastrophic wildfires; proposed allocation one (1) horse per 300-acres.
      2. Six Rivers National Forest (~1-million acres in Siskiyou County, CA); very remote rugged terrain; site of multiple catastrophic wildfires; allocation one (1) horse per 300-acres.
      3. Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (~58,000 acres in Jackson County, OR); semi-remote fragile forest ecosystem in difficult terrain; heavy ground fuel loading; proposed allocation one (1) horse per 100-acres.
      [1] Collapse of the world’s largest herbivores
      William J. Ripple1,*, Thomas M. Newsome1,2, Christopher Wolf1, Rodolfo Dirzo3, Kristoffer T. Everatt4, Mauro Galetti5, Matt W. Hayward4,6, Graham I. H. Kerley4, Taal Levi7, Peter A. Lindsey8,9, David W. Macdonald10, Yadvinder Malhi11, Luke E. Painter7,
      Christopher J. Sandom10, John Terborgh12 and Blaire Van Valkenburgh13
      1Trophic Cascades Program, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
      2Desert Ecology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia. 3Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. 4Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa. 5Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), C.P. 199, Rio Claro, São Paulo 13506-900, Brazil. 6College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Thoday Building, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL572UW, UK. 7Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA. 8Lion Program, Panthera, 8 West 40th Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10018, USA. 9Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Gauteng 0001, South Africa. 10Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney House, Tubney, Abingdon OX13 5QL, UK. 11Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK. 12Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, P. O. Box 90381, Durham, NC 27708, USA. 13Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095–7239, USA.

      The 48,000 available horses in the BLM/USFS corrals could be deployed into the key areas (not suitable to livestock grazing, difficult access areas, off-limits fragile ecosystems like the Cascade Monument)… And as an aggregate, they will without any doubt abate 264,000-Tons of grass and brush annually…

      What is the value of that ground fuel mitigation work on an annualized basis? We lose this tool forever if they are killed this year as some are planning… that’s what makes this an exigent situation as far as highlighting this particular tool.

      Here is a video of a wild mare abating woody fuel that domestic horses won’t touch:


      Additional References:

      Wildfire Grazing: CADeerFriendly http://www.deerfriendly.com/wildfire/-fire-grazing-impact-of-wild-horses-vs-livestock-on-wildfire-regime

      1. https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2017/12/14/congressman-wild-horse-fire-control-blm-usfs/
      2. https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2017/12/27/renowned-wildlife-ecologist-wild-horse-fire-brigade/
      3. https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2017/10/23/three-great-myths-america-wild-horses/

      All I can say is that if there isn’t a change of so-called experts, we won’t have any natural resources left to debate about… I have lived long enough to have actual experience in the results manifested from idiotic management paradigms, largely driven by political and ideological agendas…

      Capt. William E. Simpson II – USMM Ret.
      Member: Authors Guild / IMDb
      Muck Rack: https://muckrack.com/william-e-simpson-ii
      Contently: https://captbill.contently.com

  • April 24, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Wild horses would be the perfect dry tinder, fuel load reducers and they would build moisture retaining, and water-table building soils in the process! Happy Earth Day — I hope!


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