Twin Peaks wild horses & burros in danger: another large and fast moving wildfire

 

Twin Peaks HMA Rush Fire on Rye Patch Road August 18, 2012 (Photo by BLM)

Twin Peaks HMA Rush Fire on Rye Patch Road August 18, 2012 (Photo by BLM)

After the Twin Peaks HMA Rush Fire in 2012, this HMA is again under siege by another large wildfire.

by Grandma Gregg

Another large and out of control wildfire is raging in the Twin Peaks HMA (NE California).  Many wild horses live in this Dodge Reservoir part of the HMA.  The fire has so-far consumed over 11,000 acres just since Monday afternoon.  The fire was caused by a BLM contractor.  The area has many fences and cross-fences and cattle guards. Most wild animals can go over or under a fence or go underground or fly away during a fire.  The wild horses and burros cannot.

If the BLM doesn’t open all the gates and drop a few fences in the path of the fire so the wild horses and burros can escape … many wild horses and burros will die.  Every minute counts.

Nobody wants to hear this but a few days after the recent Twin Peaks Rush fire, I saw with my own eyes, a stallion and two mares with black ash up to their knees and with fences nearby and the mares had heavy milk bags (full udders) and there were NO FOALS anywhere around.  There is no doubt in my mind that their foals were killed in the fire so although none of us can even imagine (without tears in our eyes) the terror and suffering of those foals and their mothers, it is because many were trapped by the livestock fences.  That is a major cause of wild ones dying from these fires – trapped by the livestock fences – and BLM would not admit that a single wild horse or burro died in that almost 400,000 acre fire.  So sorry to have to tell this story  … but some of us need to know the truth.  Tears in my eyes and pain in my heart for our wild ones out there this very minute – their fate is in jeopardy and in the hands of BLM.

Please contact BLM and ask them to be sure that ALL the gates in the path of the fire are OPENED and fences CUT so that the wild horses and burros have at least a CHANCE of escape from this wildfire.  BLM needs to know we care.  Please contact Jeff Fontana, (530) 252-5332 or jfontana@blm.gov and BLM Northern California District Manager Nancy Haug email nhaug@blm.gov
Please and thank you.

33 comments on “Twin Peaks wild horses & burros in danger: another large and fast moving wildfire

  1. Thank you Grandma Gregg, calls and emails sent. I will pray for their safety. But what kind of a stupid ass does anything in this heat that could remotely turn this brush into a raging fire!

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  2. Fire update…NO mention of Wild Horse & Burro habitat and the fact that they MAY BE TRAPPED
    http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4445/

    11,400 Acres
    The Dodge Fire, previously named R-1, is burning brush, grass and juniper in a remote area of northeast Lassen County, Calif. It is threatening habitat for greater sage-grouse.

    There are no threats to communities or critical infrastructure
    The fire is expected to continue moving to the south, southeast and northeast.

    The fire has burned general management habitat for greater sage-grouse. Crews are working to keep the fire out of nearby priority habitat. The area supports livestock grazing, wildlife and wild horse and burro herds. Private ranch lands are near the fire

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  3. I emailed to Jim and Nancy:
    From: “Fontana, Joseph” Date: Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 11:09 AMThanks for your message. We have shared with the team managing this fire and with our district manager. Jeff Jeff Fontana Public Affairs Officer BLM Northern California District 530.252.5332 (office) 530.260.0189 (cell) jfontana@blm.gov On Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 7:25 AM, Denise Brown wrote: ACTION ALERT IMMEDIATE RESPONSE NEEDED: Dear Jeff: Please open ALL the gates in the path of the fire and CUT fences so that the wild horses and burros have a CHANCE of escape from Twin Peaks Rush wildfire. It is in the BLM’s hands to save the wild ones and give them a chance to survive these fires. Thanks you so much From a concerned citizen for my wild horses and burros. And from many other concerned New Hampshire citizens. I hope to visit as a tourist some day and want to see the wild horses and burros. Denise Brown 603-436-0788 Portsmouth NH

    Liked by 1 person

    • During the Rush Fire, we were assured that ranchers were told to open the gates, but later found out directly from one rancher that he did not.
      And, you can’t always believe what the BLM tells you.

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  4. The Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Area is covered in fencing to accommodate the livestock permittees. These fences restrict natural migration, water resources, impact free-roaming behavior, restrict gene flow, and now have put the wild horses and burros and other wildlife in significant danger as the wild fire burns through their herd management area. The BLM is totally aware that the horses are fenced in to small areas throughout the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area as they manage them in what they call “Home Ranges” which correlate with the five major livestock allotments. Fencing is not good for the wild horses, burros or any wildlife that is trying to survive on our public lands.
    More information about the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area can be found athttp://csus-dspace.calstate.edu/xmlui/handle/10211.9/1492?show=full

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  5. Thank you to everyone who is helping to remind BLM that we care about our wild horses and burros and our land. For BLM to say there are no wild horses and burros on 11,000+ acres of the HMA is baloney. I personally have seen wild horses in this area and someone who has observed and photographed the HMA for 30+ years (including the back country where this fire is burning) says there are lots of horses in that area and for BLM to say no horses are in jeopardy is beyond belief!
    http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4445/

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    • GG – did email both the people above & the one at the nwcg.gov website. I hope that if enough of us do that – possibly someone will wake up & do the right thing.

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  6. I called and shared the number on Facebook with many. Pray the horses and other animals are safe. Those trees never should have been cut. Trees shade the ground to keep it cooler and hold moisture in the ground. More stupidity. They have even chained trees in places which caused erosion.

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    • The contractor that started the Dodge wildfire worked for BLM – so they will get off with a slap on the wrist. I don’t think it was started purposely but there have been fire restrictions in that area for many months because it is SO dry and nobody with a lick of sense would have authorized this equipment in the woods this time of year plus a water truck should have been onsite at all times. Stupid is as stupid does and the innocent suffer.

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  7. Friday Morning Dodge Fire Update:
    http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4445/

    I believe our emails and phone calls have brought it to some people’s attention that there ARE wild horses and burros in the burn area and that we care a lot about them because today’s update says, “Yesterday an aerial flight confirmed zero reported or observed injuries to wild horses, wildlife or livestock in the fire area.” This is good news but I also know from experience that a dead animal carcass that is covered in ash in an ash covered landscape is very difficult to see from even a close range – let alone from the air. The fire is still only reported to be 30% contained and not expected to be contained for another 5 days so keep the good thoughts going for our wild ones out there – they need it.

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  8. Thank you, everyone for the updates. I’m sending prayers that we do not lose any of our Wild Horses in Twin Peaks. I’ve been dealing with medical issues for over a week and feel so disconnected. So, much happening with the Salt River Wild Horses and now Sarge has been hurt and is in custody in NV. Saw a head shot picture, but, don’t know the extent of his injuries or if other Wild Horses were even hurt. I don’t know the particulars yet. What little information I gleaned from a quick review of a FB posting was that Borba has something to do with it.

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  9. Got a reply from Joseph Fontanna:
    We have confirmed there are no fences in the area being affected by this fire. Our field personnel are monitoring for horses and we will respond to any issues.
    There are no horses trapped in the fire area. Recon flights show they have plenty of room to move.
    So GG – they cant see the fences, I guess!

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  10. Someone sent me this message:
    “Elizabeth Kenna called me back…she told me that they have doubled the crews from 4 to 8 and the fire has slowed down due to lower temperatures. It sounds as though the fly-over was done by a woman and it being done every day. They saw the Horses in the green part of the HMA and so far, out of danger. I mentioned that it might be a good idea to just open the gates as a precaution, because fires can change rapidly and then it’s too dangerous for anyone to go out there to open them.
    They have had LOTS of call about the WH&B so they are very much aware of them being out there. She isn’t familiar with the area … she is with Forest Service and basically works at “central command” on the phone, but was on her way to pick up more equipment for the fire(s).”

    My personal thoughts:
    Just thought I would shed a little light on my personal opinion of what Ms. Kenna said … “They saw the Horses in the green part of the HMA and so far, out of danger.”

    This makes sense for a couple of reasons – because wildfires often burn in “patches” as we clearly saw with the Twin Peaks Rush Fire and those that can get to a large enough area that is not burning (middle of a large riparian area or lake for example – which would be the only place that is GREEN this time of year – and there are not many lakes or riparian areas with water this time of year – check google earth) then they might survive if they don’t die of smoke inhalation… and the other thing is that the aerial observers would not be able to see the dead ones in the ash and under the burned juniper and in the canyons by doing a fly-over. So … what she said may be correct but certainly not the whole picture.

    Ms. Kenna obviously tried although admitted she didn’t know the area … but she didn’t say anything of any value because it was just another PR spin on the truth … BUT it is VERY important that we have called and that others have called also and we need to keep emailing/calling occasionally until the fire is dead out – our calls and emails have apparently REALLY brought to the forefront that there are many people who care a lot about our wild horses and burros and BLM needs to know this. Many thanks.

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  11. The fire is still active.

    No mention of wild horses or burros or anything about wildlife except, “The fire burned in a mosaic fashion with numerous green spots within the fire perimeter, leaving a substantial amount of sage-grouse habitat unharmed.”

    10,570 acres
    PERCENT OF Perimeter Contained 45%
    Thunderstorms over the area could cause fire to move in any direction.
    http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4445/

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  12. Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Area Rush Creek Wildfire Report September 2012
    https://app.box.com/s/yf5mucjs

    PHOTOS
    burned cow in riparian area ( this bovine was obviously a recent death during the fire – apparently either from smoke inhalation or burned alive.”

    Both photos (above and below) are of Rye Patch
    cattle guard with safety rebar sawed out. Removal of “Wild Horse Annie” safety bars on cattle guards are documented as having caused broken legs and ultimate death when wild horses are being chased by helicopters or vehicles or panicked by fires.

    Fences and gate near water trough – this is “normally” open but note barbed wire strewn around.
    Fences were all up and we never did see any fences cut or opened in the area we observed on this post-fire trip. The above gate is often open but just dropped in animal walkway (lower photo) – a death trap for
    livestock, wildlife and wild horses and burros that live here. We have seen it like this before and have
    pulled it back against the fence to protect animal legs (as seen in upper photo).

    Lots of rusty barbed wire on the ground and rolled up in a tangled mess with some strands just strewn a long distance next to the road

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  13. Update:
    The Dodge wildfire is still active today and reported as 65% contained. Weather today is predicted to be partly cloudy with a slight chance of dry thunderstorms in the fire area. Thunderstorms bring the possibility of outflow winds, potentially causing hot spots within the fire interior to flare up. No information is reported about the wild horses and burros or wildlife except that this area is a sage-grouse nesting area.
    http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4445/

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  14. Dodge Fire Update – not much different than yesterday and STILL no word about our wild horses and burros or other wildlife.

    Date Started: Monday, 8/3/2015
    Cause: Human
    Total Personnel: 236
    Injuries/Illnesses to Date: 7
    Size: 10,570 acres Structures Threatened: 0
    Percent Contained: 70%
    Resources: 1 helicopters, 0 seats 0 Air tankers
    9 Engines; 6 Crews; 7 Water Tenders 6 Dozers
    Structures Lost: 0
    Estimated Containment: 8/14/2015
    Ravendale, CA August 11, 2015 8:30 a.m. – The Dodge Fire, named for the nearby Dodge Reservoir, started at
    approximately 2:00 p.m. on Monday, August 3, 2014. The fire is burning approximately 17 miles NE of Ravendale, CA in
    sagebrush, grass and juniper trees in a remote part of Lassen County, CA. Investigators have confirmed that a spark from
    a tree harvesting saw was the cause of the fire.
    Today fire behavior was minimal. Crews will continue on mop-up 300 feet around the perimeter today and maintain
    unburned fuel islands. Fire behavior has moderated due to containment efforts and recent weather.
    Typical afternoon breezes are expected for the rest of this week with the low pressure system approaching off the Oregon
    and California coast.
    The fire management team is asking all hunters and recreational users to please avoid roads and the fire area
    east of Tuledad Road, south of Tuledad Canyon and north of Buckhorn Road. This advisory is on account of
    heavy use of fire equipment, aircraft and numerous personnel utilizing the area and roads. The fire is still active.
    Diligent mop-up is done in an effort to preserve the Greater Sage-Grouse Priority Habitat Management Area (PHMA) that
    is still green and within the interior of the fire. This truly important habitat is referred to as “green islands of sagebrush” and
    will remain unburned and be protected from fire operations. Often, firefighters will burn out these patches during
    suppression to reduce the possibility that they may ignite before the fire is contained. These green islands provide cover
    and a food source for the Greater Sage-Grouse, a chicken-sized bird that cannot thrive in areas where sagebrush does
    not exist. The geographically isolated population of sage grouse that live in the area straddling the California/Nevada
    border, and will take advantage of these islands for nesting and rearing their young, hiding from predators, and as their
    primary food source through the long winter.
    7 minor injuries/illnesses have been reported.
    The Sierra Front Type 3 team, led by Incident Commander Nate Rasner, took over operations of the Dodge Fire on
    Thursday morning, August 5th at 6:00 a.m.
    For the remainder of the Dodge Fire there will only be one news release a day.
    To stay updated on the fire visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4445/. An information phone line is also available at 925-
    588-6732.

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  15. The Dodge Fire is now contained.
    No news has been provided regarding the wildlife and wild horses and wild burros.
    No news on them will probably ever be provided to the public but with 10,570 acres of wild horse and burro and wildlife habitat is burned, I think we know that death was part of the results of this man-caused BLM contractor and BLM authorized disaster.

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