Table 1-1 in the Draft EA for resource enforcement actions at the Surprise Complex provides the sizes of the six HMAs involved. Table 1-2 provides the forage allocations and AMLs.
Table 3-2 provides the forage allocations and grazing seasons for the six allotments that overlap the HMAs. The allotment master report created on January 17 by RAS provides the allotment sizes and permittees.
The map in Appendix G shows how the HMAs and allotments are related.
What do these data tell you about the management priorities at the Complex?
Land in the Bare Allotment, which overlaps the Fox Hog HMA, can produce 65.7 AUMs per thousand acres per year if you’re talking about livestock, but can only produce 21.4 AUMs per thousand acres per year if you’re talking about wild horses.
The Bare permittee would have to place 1,473 cow/calf pairs on the allotment to graze off 13,260 AUMs in a nine month season, for a stocking rate of 7.3 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres, while the management plan allows only 1.8 wild horses per thousand acres in Fox Hog.
In general, the land can produce almost four times as much forage for privately owned livestock than it can for wild horses, and can support an overall stocking rate for cattle that’s nearly seven times higher than the stocking rate for wild horses.
The HMAs are a subset of the allotments, with approximately 73% of the allotment acreage falling within the HMAs. If forage is evenly distributed, that means the cattle receive an estimated 22,300 AUMs per year inside the HMAs, compared to 6,000 AUMs per year for the horses.
The forage assigned to livestock would support an additional 1,850 wild horses, for a true AML of 2,350.
The Complex is managed primarily for livestock. The HMAs, and the crumbs assigned thereto, are concessions of the grazing program.
The Complex is not overpopulated. There are no excess horses and there is no justification for a roundup or fertility control program. The resources consigned to the public-lands ranchers are more than enough to support the current herd, thought to be around 1,300 animals.
RELATED: Surprises at Surprise Complex.