Target: Black Mountain, Idaho

April, 2023. Black Mountain HMA Idaho

BLM has published a tentative roundup schedule that will run through the end of fiscal 2023 (Oct. 1). Late fall and winter roundups will be part of the fiscal 2024 budget. We expect this schedule to change (additions) as the season moves forward. (You can read about the schedule HERE)

Note: BLM does bait trapping all year. Helicopter capture is limited to July 1 – February 28. BLM cannot do helicopter captures during foaling season. BLM does not determine and site-specific foaling season (based on the distinct climates, altitude, growing season and, now, impacts from various methods BLM uses for population growth suppression) for each HMA. They use an anecdotal notation from the 1970s for all herds.

As “roundup season” gets underway we will highlight the “target” HMAs.

In these highlights we will introduce you to the herds, some of the challenges they face on the landscape and with management, politics and something we can do to try to create change. Reaching out to your lawmakers to address the 2024 budget bill is something you can do that can have broad impact (HERE). When we are talking about specific roundups, we are then in the area of “site-specific management planning” (or the annoying paperwork process where wild horse and burro management planning is neglected and the framework keeps them in a cycle of “remove to suit planning for industry.”)

UPDATE: On May 15, BLM has finally released a DRAFT Gather-EA for Black Mountain. Comments are due June 13th. We will have sample comments for you soon on this draft plan. You can find the plan and submit comments HERE.

Black Mountain, ID

When some of you hear “Black Mountain” you think of the burro herd in Arizona. There is another Black Mountain HMA. In Owyhee County in Idaho, south of the Snake River, the 50,904 acre Black Mountain HMA contains gorgeous wild horses.

BLM Idaho has historically lumped removal paperwork into some format that combines HMAs that sit on the westernmost side of the state. (Example: 2009 removal paperwork for Four Mile and Sands Basin.) In 2020, BLM finalized a distinct Environmental Assessment (EA) for Four Mile and did a roundup in 2021. (video below from 2021)

In May of 2022, BLM began a scoping period (done before a draft assessment is prepared for public comment). The scoping period covers Sands Basin, Hardtrigger, and Black Mountain HMAs. Scoping would cover  “a variety of methods would be evaluated for use to achieve AML including aerial, ground gather and bait trap removal operations of wild horses from the HMA’s. Fertility control treatment to mares using either Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) or GonaCon may occur.” The scoping document suggests doing removals in 3-year cycles, very much like Reveille (learn more about Reveille).

You can find the May 22 scoping documents HERE.

BLM has not even produced a draft EA for public comment. Has not analyzed public comment. Nor have they finalized the paperwork. 

The last paperwork BLM finalized for Black Mountain was in 2012. BLM must feel pretty confident that they can slam through the NEPA process and any challenge. They have already placed this HMA on the roundup schedule to “maintain AML” and capture 110. 

Wild Horse Education stands ready to address this disregard for public process at Black Mountain and nearby HMAs.

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The experience of our Idaho volunteers has not been “all bad” dealing with BLM. As an advocacy organization we advocate to create necessary changes. By definition if something needs to be changed, it is something wrong. Our work focuses on creating desperately needed changes.

The waters in the HMA are in disrepair. Our volunteer notified BLM and continued to monitor the area.

Note from one of our volunteers, Bobbie writes: 

“Living in Idaho, my husband and I visit the HMA’s here periodically to see how the horses are doing and to photograph them.  They are such beautiful, tough creatures living in rugged terrain through all types of weather.  We love to just sit quietly and enjoy how beautiful they are and it’s interesting to watch how they interact with one another.  One of the HMA’s in Idaho is called Black Mountain.  Last October, while at Black Mountain, we noticed the water troughs were bone dry.  One area that had 2 bone dry water troughs right by each other is fed by a pipe from a spring that’s apparently up further in the mountain.  We saw that the pipe leading into the trough was cracked.  Water was falling from the pipe into the dirt, leaving no water for the horses to drink.  I took some pictures and contacted the BLM.  They told us they would get it fixed.  When we went back out there in November, it was clear someone had been there and attempted to repair the pipe, but it was still not functioning properly resulting in no water in the two troughs for the horses.  Once again, we contacted BLM.  Wild Horse Education was willing to pay for the repair.  We told BLM that.  They said that wasn’t necessary, that they would repair it.  

After a long and very snowy winter, we were able to get back out there this past weekend to check on the troughs.  The repair had been made and both troughs were 100% full of water!”

Looking really good after such a hard winter!

Our volunteers are among the the visitors to Idahos public lands that absolutely cherish their experiences with our wild ones. 

Idaho is the 14th largest state in the country with a land area of 83,570 square miles. BLM manages 12 million acres in the state.

Only six small HMAs exist on all of BLM land in Idaho. BLM says only 617 wild horses can be managed on 418,000 acres in the entire state, where domestic livestock receive over 80% of available forage.

In contrast, BLM Idaho authorizes livestock grazing for domestic horses, sheep and cattle on more than 11,500,000 acres of public land. This includes more than 2,100 grazing allotments, approximately 1,500 livestock operators and roughly 1,900 grazing permits.

The few areas the public can enjoy wild horses in Idaho are precious and worth taking a stand to protect for future generations.

What can you do?

You can contact your reps on the spending bill. You can take the 4-steps outlined HERE or, if you already have a relationship with your lawmakers you can jump to the longer letter in step 2 and then make an appointment.

For Black Mountain you can contact the field office and get on the mailing list. You will receive notification when the draft plan is released for public comment. (info HERE)

As soon as the draft is released, WHE will provide some same comments and show you how to read and comment on an Environmental Assessment (EA). You can subscribe to our newsletter HERE or just watch our social media.

UPDATE: On May 15, BLM has finally released a DRAFT Gather-EA for Black Mountain. Comments are due June 13th. We will have sample comments for you soon on this draft plan. You can find the plan and submit comments HERE.

We stand ready to bring a challenge to protect Idaho’s wild horses.

Help keep us in the fight!

Categories: Lead