In the West we are entering fire season early. Weather reports this week in wild horse country are already adding “fire warnings” to their reports. Dry conditions, low humidity and wind, create the perfect conditions for fire and the spread of fire.
If you own domestic horses now is the time to make sure you, or the barn where you board, have a fire evacuation plan.
If you are traveling to wild horse country after the long year of lockdown, please keep up your covid safety practices in remote communities you may travel to. Even if you had a vaccine, you can still catch and transmit covid. When you toss your hand santizer and mask into your vehicle, toss in a fire extinguisher, shovel and a few extra gallons of water.
If you are a new visitor looking to shake off your cabin fever we want to inform you that wildfire can move faster than your vehicle on a two-track, an ATV and much faster than you can run.
On July 5, 2018, over 430,000 acres of wild horse territory burned in the Martin fire. Countless wild lives were lost as fire ripped through fenced livestock allotments on public lands (grasslands) reaching 40mph.
Common Sense: If its windy or extremely dry… don’t start a fire. Don’t start a campfire, light a firecracker or shoot your gun. Remembering the “Duh factor” can save your life and the lives of others, never leave home without it.
Off Road Driving, basic tips when you drive in wild horse country to prevent wildfire:
- Stay on roads. If a two track is overgrown, and you are in a gas powered vehicle, you are unfamiliar with fire precautions, and the weather is dry, simply do not travel it.
- Inspect your exhaust system to ensure it is undamaged, functioning properly and free of grass and twigs. (Regularly inspect the undercarriage to ensure that fuel and brake lines are intact and no oil leaks are apparent.)
- Operate ATVs (or any vehicle) on established roads and trails only, and park on gravel surfaces or pull-outs. Avoid driving or riding where dry vegetation can contact the exhaust system. Never park over tall, dry grass or piles of brush that can touch the underside of a vehicle or tailpipe.
- Always carry an approved fire extinguisher in vehicles that are used off-road.
- Carry a shovel and additional water. If you start a small fire by accident (you see smoldering after you pull away, always check) or on purpose (camping) make sure you put it out.
- When you stop inspect undercarriage for grasses and debris, remove it. We can not stress this enough.
- If you smell smoke in your vehicle check your undercarriage and remove debris immediately. Any sparks or embers you remove, extinguish and saturate with water.
- Always check fire danger and local fire reports. You do not want to get caught on the range in a wildfire. Check inciweb or touch base with the field office if you are heading out on public lands.
- When possible travel with someone that has experience on range in any weather condition you face (fire or snow). Learning from those with experience could save your life.
As you travel out on public lands it is a good time to look deeper into the lives of the wild things that call them home. Every road, fence, mining site, tree clearing project, livestock operator, etc., create a challenge. The “water war” that is gaining in intensity threatens every living thing. Fire can destroy habitat and, the fragmentation of public lands, creates obstacles to flee fire.
Please, if you find a water source and see wild horses moving in, move back and let them drink. In many areas in wild horse country bands can spend hours moving in to get a drink during their “safe time.” Wild herds have a complex social order and move in to drink when it is their turn. Getting a drink is a stressful time to avoid other stallions stealing mares and to avoid predators.
We are entering another drought year, let them have their space, please. You can check the area you are traveling in on the drought monitor (HERE).
Our wild ones are dealing with ever increasing pressure as new fences, roads and even tree clearing projects impede access to water. In some areas, land managers have allowed waters to be shut off to “rest” and area where domestic livestock are out (after they pipe in the water from a spring livestock destroyed) depriving wild things of water.
State legislators (like those in Nevada) are passing bills to sell of water in the most arid states in the nation (to pipe that water out). You can learn more about two bills in the NV Leg, AB354 and AB356. (Good article that explains the situation HERE)
Springtime is baby season for wild things. Fire season has arrived early. If you are traveling, it is a magical time on the range.
Yet, the shadow of the impacts of human beings looms large.
When you travel, keep your shadow small, stay safe out there and help keep our wild ones safe.
Article with a fast “click and send” option: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2021/02/03/the-report-2022-funding-debate-and-a-request-for-hearing/
The BLM Report is where “Path Forward,” the lobby document, sits. We now have a chance to use a directive to return to science to get the old plan ditched and one based on science put in place: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2021/03/02/lets-talk-nas-reviewblm-report/
Deep reform, will it carry wild horses? https://wildhorseeducation.org/2021/03/08/will-momentum-for-reform-carry-wild-horses/
Categories: Wild Horse Education