Wild Horse Education

Martin Fire; Owyhee Complex wild horses


InciWeb: Wild horses fleeing the Martin Fire

“We only have a handful of large areas where our wild horses can legally occupy the land. We are losing one of them as the Martin Fire rages. This area is criss crossed with fences and gates. I’ve spent a lot of time in these HMAs. My heart just aches.” ~ Laura Leigh, WHE President

Wild Horse Education has sent a note to BLM in Winnemucca and stand ready to assist with all of our resources and willpower. This is one of the most devastating events in recent memory to our wild horses. 



Rough overlay of Martin fire area over the last map BLM provided of the Owyhee Complex in the EA. Most people do not view the world in “HMAs,” we do. We are working on a more accurate overlay. (7/10, 6 pm)

The Martin fire, began near Paradise Valley north of Winnemucca is currently the largest fire burning in the US. The fire is only 8% contained and is continuing to spread now covering about 400,000 acres (over 620 square miles).

Please note these two maps to not match in scale. The above map shows about 1.5 million acres highlighted. The burned area is already 400,000 acres.

UPDATE 7/9 10 pm: 425,000 acres, 35% contained.

Update 7/10 6 pm: the fire has increased to about 440,00 acres and has reached as far east as the North fork of the Owyhee river. Still at 35% containment. The vast majority of the habitat burned is in the wild horse Complex. Fencelines are a real concern.

Update 7/10 10 pm: fire containment 48%


NASA map of the Martin fire, 7/9

From NASA: Hot, dry and windy conditions combined with an extraordinarily high fuel load in the area have created very challenging conditions for the more than 500 firefighters assigned to the blaze.  Firefighters are contending with a fire maelstrom with flames as high as 45 feet and fire that is spreading at the rate of eleven miles per hour.  The reason for the fast spread seems to be the amount of dry grass in the area which is 200 to 1,000 percent above the normal amount of growth, most probably due to heavy rains earlier in the year which promoted grass growth.  Now the hot weather, low humidity and steady winds create the perfect storm for a huge conflagration which is the Martin Fire.

The fire threatens wild horses.  The Owyhee Complex has had three, significant, removal operations of wild horses from the Complex since 2010. Many of our regular readers are familiar with the wild horses in the area.

In addition to the threats to structures, wild horses and wildlife, natural gas pipelines are in the area. We will update you as we know more. 

Article on Wildfire and what you should know if you are out wildlife watching or have domestic horses in your barn: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2016/08/08/wildfire-what-you-should-know/

There are other fires burning in the West that threaten wild horses and habitat, but nothing of the scale. Many often to not comprehend how large the areas are in Nevada. To understand how big the area that has already burned is; the entire Pryor Mountain wild horse range in Montana comprises 39,000 acres. This fire has already burned ten times that area and is only 8% contained at 1 pm on 7/9/2018. The area burned is larger than all the state and private property of the Virginia Range. This is a massive fire.

We have spent a lot of time chatting with fire crews every summer. May they all come back safe. 


Snowstorm (part of the Owyhee Complex) mother and foal wait for water in 2017

Those of us at WHE know this area well. We have driven it many times, flown it on multiple occasions and sat at roundup after roundup. This is perhaps the most devastating loss of wild horse habitat that has ever happened.

Some of the aerial footage is from Owyhee.




Categories: Wild Horse Education