The HMAs cover 255,463 acres and have a combined AML of 210. A small part of DHS has been reserved for livestock only, per note c of Table 15 in the Final EA for wild horse management actions in the Complex. The acreage was not given.
The 210 horses allowed by plan require 2,520 AUMs per year. The stocking rate alowed by plan is 0.8 horses per thousand acres. A fractional stocking rate, as noted earlier this year, may indicate large amounts of resources diverted to livestock. Let’s see what the numbers reveal.
Projects involving wild horse and burro roundups are often designed to achieve and maintain AMLs, they do not set them or revise them. Refer to the last paragraph on page 4, Section 1.1, in the EA.
A takeaway from those remarks is that when commenting on a draft EA for wild horse or burro management actions in a given HMA, don’t ask for a reduction in permitted livestock AUMs. That’s not what the project is about.
Those requests, completely valid, should be aimed at the Resource Management Plans, where forage is apportioned. A first step would be to force the government to manage the HMAs principally for wild horses and burros, per the statute.
That’s what the big-name ‘advocacy’ groups should be pursuing, not the implementation of fertility control programs. Don’t give them a penny until they see the light!
The HMAs intersect nine grazing allotments, per Map 2 on page 6 of the EA, which overlap all of the land in the Complex. Table 15 provides the forage allocations and grazing seasons but does not provide the allotment sizes. Therefore, the stocking rates allowed by plan in each allotment can’t be determined.
Although cattle and sheep are permitted within the Complex, the calculations are based on cow/calf pairs only, for a direct comparison to wild horses. The resources required by wild horses are said to be equivalent to cow/calf pairs.
The total estimated forage available to livestock inside the Complex was computed as the sum of the forage amounts in each allotment falling within the Complex, assuming the resource is evenly distributed across those parcels.
For example, the amount of forage contributed by the Black Point allotment would be .98 × 4,312 = 4,226 AUMs per year. The sum of the nine contributions is 17,952 AUMs per year, about seven times higher than the forage allocated to horses.
The Black Point ranchers would have to place 650 cow/calf pairs inside the Complex to graze off 4,226 AUMs in 6.5 months (4,226 ÷ 6.5). The total estimated number of cow/calf pairs allowed by plan inside the Complex is 2,741, compared to 210 horses.
The land available for permitted grazing is 255,463 acres, for an aimed-at stocking rate of 10.7 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres (2,741 ÷ 255,463 × 1,000).
The land available to wild horses inside the Complex is slightly less due to the fenced area in Diamond Hills South but was assumed to be identical to that for livestock.
These management indicators are displayed in the following charts.
The Complex is managed principally for livestock. Wild horses receive 12% of the authorized forage, with 88% going to privately owned cattle and sheep.
The forage assigned to livestock inside the Complex would support an additional 1,496 wild horses for a true AML of 1,706. The pre-gather population was thought to be 1,495 wild horses, plus this year’s foal crop, for a total of 1,794 (1.2 × 1,495).
The number of excess horses in the Complex, to be removed starting later this week, is 88 (1,794 – 1706), not 1,584 (1,794 – 210).
With the horses gone, the ranchers won’t have to worry about moving their animals onto rented pastures and paying (OMG) market rates to feed them.