Horse News

Wyoming – based Group Advocates for Better Water for Wild Horses

The only water source in the area is a creek downstream from several major Marathon Oil fields.

Wild horses gather near the reservoir outside Cody on Tuesday. The Cody-based wild horse advocacy group Friends of a Legacy has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management and Marathon Oil to build reservoirs on 110,000 acres of BLM land, ensuring that the herd of roughly 150 horses has a sustainable water supply.  - photo by Ryan Dorgan

Wild horses gather near the reservoir outside Cody on Tuesday. The Cody-based wild horse advocacy group Friends of a Legacy has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management and Marathon Oil to build reservoirs on 110,000 acres of BLM land, ensuring that the herd of roughly 150 horses has a sustainable water supply. – photo by Ryan Dorgan

CODY — A black mustang shook its nose while lumbering along the edge of a fence outside town.

Ada Inbody, 76, pulled her truck to a stop on the side of the highway when she saw it.

“I think that may be Tucson,” Inbody said Tuesday. “I need to see his face.”

Inbody twisted around in the driver’s seat and saw the white star on the horse’s nose. It was Tuscon, a stud she named on one of her hundreds of days spent among the horses. A swarm of stinging nose flies had flown into his nostrils.

“They drive him crazy,” Inbody said of the insects, shifting her truck back into gear. “Bless his heart.”

Inbody is one of several members of Friends of a Legacy, or FOAL, a Cody-based advocacy group fighting for better water for Tucson and the 150 other wild horses living on federal land between Cody and Powell.

The only water source in the area is a creek downstream from several major Marathon Oil fields.

For years, produced water from the fields — suitable for animals but not humans, Inbody said — has sustained the wild horse herd. Recent regulation changes limited the amount of contaminated water Marathon could send down the stream, causing water levels in the creek to drop and FOAL to form.

Now, the group hopes to help Marathon and the Bureau of Land Management construct a series of pipelines for water on the land.

Dry Creek

Tricia Hatle always thought Dry Creek was a perennial water source.

The narrow gulley runs through most of the 110,000 acres of federal land designated for wild horse management outside Cody. Most years, it’s full of water, Hatle said.

That changed in 2010, when for the first time the creek went dry.

Around that time, Marathon changed the way it disposed of the water it uses to extract oil from the ground in the nearby Oregon Basin, said Mike Williams, a senior environmental professional and hyrdogeologist for Marathon.

To comply with Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality regulations, Marathon began injecting more and more water back into the oil formation and lessened the amount of water it treated and released down Dry Creek.

New permits limited the amount of produced water the company could discharge down the creek by about half, Williams said.

“It being beneficially used either putting it out on the surface for wildlife,” he said. But injecting it is useful, too

Hatle, a BLM range specialist, began investigating the source of the dryness. Marathon came forward to say what had happened, she said.

Marathon didn’t have to get involved — it is not drilling on the herd’s land — but it did, Williams said.

“It’s an incredibly valuable supply of fresh water in this arid landscape,” he said of the water produced by Marathon and other oil producers in the area…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story and to comment at the Star Tribune

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12 replies »

  1. Good! These multi-billion dollar companies are accountable to no one – and the responsibility is on the individual affected to prove the water may have been contaminated, not on these guys, the polluters! This needs to change – and Sally Jewell is aware of no studies that show confirmed water contamination from fracking? Not with the current set up you won’t.

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  2. BUT it does appear that the local BLM rep is more helpful to this group and the horses than most, doesn’t it? I guess we all have to be thankful for any sign of caring.

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  3. You’re right Maggie. We should give credit when it’s due. When something is corrected and people do step up to the plate, it should be acknowledged.

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  4. It seems to me that if Marathon Oil acknowledged their role in the drying up of the creek and offered to help with the building of the pipelines and reservoirs, they are doing more than any other oil company that I’ve heard of. Maybe they should be thanked for taking an active role in trying to provide water for the area wildlife instead of all of the bashing. If you read the article it states that they are not drilling on herd management areas. It seems refreshing to see an oil company, the BLM and horse advocates all working together for the benefit of the horses, especially when it’s usually just the opposite from the oil companies and the BLM.

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      • I think you all are missing the point of this article where it talks about the horse advocate group working with the oil company and the BLM to provide a sustainable source of water for the horses. This bashing makes the oil company damned if they do and damned if they don’t as far as helping the horses. How many other oil companies have you heard of that have even gone this far to try to help wildlife? This is the first one that I’ve ever heard of that’s even trying to help, and the horse advocates are working with them. The oil companies have been in that area since World War II, and the horses and other wildlife have been sustained by that water for many years. I am a horse lover and would love nothing more than for the oil companies, mining and logging companies, welfare ranchers and BLM to leave the wild horses and burros alone on their natural habitats. But when someone steps up and tries to help, we shouldn’t automatically assume the worst. Any efforts to sustain wild horses should be applauded.

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  5. I just don’t think it is helping – it’s an attempt to make oil companies (and the BLM)look good. This company has created an artificial environment that may not be sustainable, and oil is the primary reason, not horses. It is also a roundabout spin to get around increased regulation about contaminants in the water. I don’t see how contaminated water can ever be good for any living creature.

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  6. A new partnership among the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Cody Field Office, Marathon Oil Corporation and Friends of a Legacy (FOAL) made great strides in 2012 toward improving water sources for the benefit of wild horses, wildlife and livestock inside the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Herd Management Area (HMA) east of Cody, Wyo.
    Mike Williams (Marathon) talks with Tricia Hatle (BLM), Ada Inbody (FOAL) and Marshall Dominick (FOAL) about the
    water wells. Partners are excited about encountering water in one of the
    test wells.
    Wild horses of the McCullough Peaks HMA will benefit from the partnership.
    For years, the McCullough Peaks wild horses, livestock operators and wildlife have been dependent on produced water from Marathon’s Oregon Basin oil field that flows into Dry Creek. However, to comply with a Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality permit, Marathon is reducing the amount of produced water it releases into Dry Creek.
    This partnership is a proactive step towards looking at alternative ways to provide additional sources of water to the Dry Creek drainage,” said BLM Cody Field Manager Mike Stewart. “I am so pleased that Marathon came forward with this idea to benefit wild horses, wildlife and livestock and comply with its permit at the same time.”
    A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed earlier in 2012 by the three parties. The purpose of the Dry Creek Water Augmentation MOU is to identify, evaluate, develop and enhance water resources along the Dry Creek drainage. The partners will employ a phased approach over the next few years.
    The first phase, which includes the identification of water supply development (reservoir enhancement, groundwater wells, guzzlers, etc.) and implementation of plans to capture, contain or conserve the available surface water, is well underway. Possible sites to install shallow groundwater wells on FOAL and BLM property within the HMA were identified and groundwater of adequate quantity and quality was recently encountered at one of the sites that will be used future water supply development. In addition, several reservoirs have been cleaned-out in the HMA, which are critical for capturing spring snow melt.

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