By Jeff Munson, Carson Now
Local residents gathered at the Bureau of Land Management field office in Carson City Wednesday, amid concerns over pending action that may include removal of wild horses.
The area known as Fish Springs, three miles southeast of Gardnerville, is home to scattered bands of wild horses that have become part of the landscape to property owners over the past 20 years. The situation came to a head recently, when residents provided supplemental watering tanks for the horses.
The BLM says there is adequate natural water sources available to the wild horses, but some locals say otherwise.
"Horses on this range have to travel 3-10 miles for water, which is a challenge during average conditions," says Annie Jantzen, organizer of the Deer Run Wild Horse Preservation Group. "Anyone who has lived in here for any length of time knows that rivers are reduced to a trickle in the blistering summer temperatures. All these people want to do is give the horses a little help during the hottest time of the summer."
The BLM argues that the residents are enticing horses to their water tanks, causing them to wander from their ''herd area" boundaries, about 8 to 10 miles outside the Herd Management Area to the Fish Springs area and are impacting private property.
Jantzen addressed the issue, displaying a map for the crowd showing that the BLM has removed more than half of the area initially assigned for wild horses to live on.
Fish Springs resident Lillian Brown is one of the residents who has a supplemental water tank on her property. She said she added the tank in response to the abrupt removal of a stock tank that the horses have utilized for nearly 10 years. Brown said she is willing to remove the tank when she is satisfied that the horses are being supplied with adequate water.
While the issue is being deliberated, BLM Field Manager Leon Thomas agreed to supply interim water tanks about a mile away from the residential area. It will be up to the residents to keep them full of water beyond the initial fill by the BLM.
The goal of the watering station is to pull the horses back toward the range and away from homes. A packed house of attendees offered several ideas on resolving the BLM's concerns, that are being considered by Thomas.
Public safety is also being cited as a concern, although only one party voiced objection to the close proximity of the wild horses. She related an incident of feeling fearful of a horse that came within about 20 feet of her, saying it happened more than a year ago.
Thomas says he is going to review the suggestions made by the community and will schedule a follow up meeting in a few weeks.
"I'd like to think the many viable solutions of the community will be put into action, instead of having another treasured herd of wild horses stripped from their homes," Jantzen said. "This situation just smells too much like Deer Run all over again. We hope the BLM will act on the determination of the recent NAS (National Academy of Science) report and work it out with the community this time."