|Release Date: 10/29/11|
BLM's "Director's Challenge" Initiative Will Enhance Volunteer Opportunities on Western Rangelands
WASHINGTON – As part of its ongoing effort to ensure the health of Western public rangelands, the Bureau of Land Management is announcing its “Director's Challenge” initiative to expand volunteer participation in monitoring and sustaining the health of wild horse and burro Herd Management Areas (HMAs). More specifically, this volunteer program is aimed at engaging members of the public in monitoring, conducting inventories, and restoring natural resources on BLM-managed HMAs throughout the West.
The Director’s Challenge initiative will offer citizen-based science opportunities that enhance both the BLM’s and stakeholders’ knowledge of resource conditions on public lands. Under this initiative, BLM field offices may receive up to $25,000 to implement projects that will engage citizen stakeholders in addressing land health issues within the HMAs. Possible challenge projects include conducting inventories of water sources, monitoring riparian area conditions, removing invasive plant species, and protecting spring sources.
"The BLM is committed to ensuring the health of the Western rangelands so that the species depending on them – including the nation’s wild horses and burros – can thrive," said BLM Director Bob Abbey. "The projects that will spring from this challenge will enhance the BLM's ability to make land management decisions based on the most current information, while also providing hands-on opportunities for those committed to preserving the Western rangeland."
Appropriate challenge activities may range from projects requiring specific skills and/or training, such as the inventory of key resource indicators, to riparian restoration projects that may require minimal training. Community or partnership-supported volunteer efforts are preferred, and field offices will recruit individuals at http://www.volunteer.gov, where volunteers can review project opportunities.
The BLM manages more land - over 245 million acres - than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.
Here is the topic of discussion:
The BLM manages over 245 million acres in 12 Western states. Approx 35 million acres of those are still utilized by horses through the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro protection act. Yet already approx 25million have disappeared due to complicated and intransparent shifts of landuse. And those areas defined as HMA's (total of 188) still feed and overwhelmingly exceeding amount of cattle, which leads to the continuous struggle for forage and results in the removal of more and more horses, without ever having established the actual number (USGS studies at the FORT are inconclusive) of horses on the range...With increasing public pressure over the last 2 years and and ever growing BLM budget, (Feeding nearly 50 000mustangs in Long term Holding by the end of 2011) the need for reform is apparent. Above is the OFFICIAL request for public involvement, though not to sit down and develop different management strategies which will preserve the horses on the range, eliminate roundups and reroute the never ending stream of horses into long term holding to meaningful and actual preserves and adoption events. The request is for VOLUNTEERS to support and assist the Field Offices with range studies and water improvements, with counts and most likely also with Fertility control (After training)...OUR first reaction is:
"....so they want US to do the work and provide all the data, how many horses, where they are, what they are eating and drinking..." and then go out to round them up and all on our DIME and OUR VOLUNTEER TIME?" On second thought we need to look beyond that and as in the example of the Little Bookcliffs Herd and also the Pryor Mountain HMA and the Kiger Horses, there is an advantage to be directly at the base of command and information and it will benefit the horses and us to be out on the range and witness their life-conditions on a daily basis. That is why I believe monitoring work like the daily blogs by Nancy Roberts for the Sandwash Basin are a very important aspect of public involvement and claiming of our herds. So the answer to the Announcement of the BLM would be Yes, let us know what we can do for and with the Field Office of any particular Wild Horse Management area....and YES, let it be clear that our activism will result in the elimination of roundups and cruel processing of our horses.