Public Comment Deadline: February 20, 2014
Information provided in conjunction with Laura Leigh, Wild Horse Education.
It's time to comment on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Oregon's plan for sage grouse conservation. The sage grouse is a seriously threatened ground-dwelling bird that depends on the West's vast sagebrush habitat to survive. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recommended that sage grouse be officially added to the U.S. Endangered Species List. But the BLM, knowing that the listing of the sage grouse could spell the end of livestock grazing on public lands, is trying to avert this action by introducing its own sage grouse conservation plan.
The BLM's plan for Oregon affects 10.2 million acres of land, including 17 wild horse Herd Management Areas (HMAs) and 24 Herd Areas (HAs). Among those affected would be the famed wild horses of the South Steens HMA, pictured above, and the Sulphur Spring herd, which has pure Spanish bloodlines.
Although wild horse habitat comprises less than a quarter of sage grouse habitat, many of the alternatives under consideration set the stage for a reduction in allowable population levels and acreage for wild horses. Predictably, although livestock grazing occurs in 95% of sage grouse habitat in Oregon, the BLM's preferred alternative would reduce livestock grazing acreage and levels by just 1%, even though livestock outnumber wild horses in the planning area by at least 30 to 1!
Please do not let the BLM and their rancher constituencies get away with using the sage grouse as an excuse to further destroy the remaining wild horse and burro populations in Oregon. Get your comments in today!