Wild horse enthusiasts in western Colorado have formed a new partnership to help the BLM White River Field Office manage the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area. The BLM and Piceance Mustangs formalized the partnership in April 2018 through a memorandum of understanding.
"We're already seeing significant results on the ground from this partnership," said White River Range Technician Melissa Kindall. "The projects completed by Piceance Mustangs benefit wild horses as well as livestock and wildlife."
Between April 2017 and October 2018, Piceance Mustang members worked 2,730 volunteer hours. They worked with livestock grazing permittees to redevelop several water well resources using a $10,000 donation from a local family foundation.
Piceance Mustangs also built 0.25 miles of new fence, repaired 1.5 miles of boundary fencing, and removed about 0.75 miles of old, unnecessary fencing. The group made wreaths and barbed wire swags from some of the barbed wire they removed, some of which was more than 100 years old. They received more than $1,000 in donations for their wares.
Group members have staffed informational booths to increase awareness of the Piceance-East Douglas Herd and wild horse management at popular local events in nearby Meeker, such as the Range Call Celebration, the Meeker Sheepdog Trials, and Fall Craft Show.
"Piceance Mustangs formed to support long-term maintenance of a viable, healthy, free-roaming horse herd on healthy rangelands," said Piceance Mustangs President Tracy Scott. "As we go forward, Piceance Mustangs plans to work with BLM to develop more water sources, continue educating the public about the mission of Piceance Mustangs and about the American Mustang, continue with fence management, begin documenting horses and implementing fertility treatments, and assist with adoption events."
BLM Colorado has found these types of partnerships effective in helping manage its wild horse herd management areas.
"All four of Colorado's herd management areas now have citizen partner groups taking an active role in helping BLM successfully manage these areas," said BLM Northwest District Wild Horse Specialist Ben Smith.