Ochoco National Forest Revamping Wild Horse Plan

By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin /

Current Big Summit herd guidelines have been in place since 1975

OchocoHorsesThe Ochoco National Forest is set to revise a 40-year-old management plan for a wild horse herd near Prineville and is looking for help from the public in the revision.

“We are basically going to redo the plan,” Tory Kurtz, rangeland management specialist for the national forest, said Tuesday.

Congress enacted the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971, and four years later, in 1975, the Ochoco National Forest established a 27,300-acre management area for the Big Summit herd of wild horses. The act protects wild horses in designated areas, which include the more than 42-square-mile Big Summit management area. The management plan for the Big Summit herd, also known as the Ochoco Mustangs, has not been updated since 1975.

Revising the plan is not related to the planned roundup of wild horses east of Lakeview in south-central Oregon. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management began preparations Monday for the roundup of more than 1,000 wild horses in the Beatys Butte herd, drawing criticism from wild horse advocacy groups.

The Big Summit herd is the only wild horse herd in Oregon and Washington solely managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The BLM manages most herds in Oregon.

In the middle of the Ochoco National Forest, just west of Big Summit Prairie, the Big Summit herd management area is predominantly wooded.

Each June, the national forest teams up with volunteers to count the wild horses. The count is conducted on foot or horseback because of the terrain.

This past June, the count showed about 150 wild horses, Kurtz said. While horses in the herd have been captured or adopted in the past, she said that hasn’t occurred since 2010 in part because of the aging management plan. The revised plan probably would detail how to conduct captures and adoptions.

In October 2013, six horses from the herd were found shot, five were dead and one was so badly wounded it was euthanized , all near Big Summit Prairie. The case remains open, according to Ochoco National Forest and Forest Service law enforcement officials.

National forest officials are inviting the public to join a stakeholder group, convened by the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, to develop plan recommendations. Starting in December, the group is set to meet monthly for at least two years, according to the national forest. Overhauling the plan is expected to take up to three years.

The current plan is outdated and does not address modern issues about wild horses, said Gayle Hunt, president of the Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition. She is glad the plan is set for an update.

“It’s way overdue,” she said. Established in 2002, the nonprofit aids in the management of wild horses in Central Oregon, particularly the Big Summit herd. Hunt said Ochoco National Forest officials have worked well with people advocating for wild horses.

Issues likely to be tackled in the revised plan include wild horse birth control and adoption programs, both aimed at keeping herd size in check. Kurtz said the current plan does not have a target number for the herd.

What will be in the new plan depends on the direction taken by the stakeholder group.

“We don’t really have anything set in stone,” Kurtz said.

10 comments on “Ochoco National Forest Revamping Wild Horse Plan

  1. Oregon has been fighting to eliminate all wild horses (and the few burros) for years and they almost have succeeded. Oregon will have NO wild horses in it within our life-time … it is a big dairy and cattle state and timber (what is left of it) and those things are exported and have been for years and the Ruby pipeline will be completely connected to the Pacific Ocean port of Coos Bay soon too for export of more of our resources … so obviously a few wild horses on public lands is a bug in their britches and the BLM Oregon Beaty Butte HMA capture and removal of about 1400 has already started and without public input. And the Burns, Oregon BLM facility was one of the major “sellers” of our wild horses to Davis.

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  2. From PEER ( Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    SUIT TO ENFORCE FEDERAL CONTRACTOR WHISTLEBLOWER LAW

    Little-Used Law for Federal Contract and Subcontract Employees to Lapse in 2017
    Posted on Nov 02,
    http://www.peer.org/news/news-

    Today, PEER filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth
    Circuit on behalf of Terry Schaedig who was discharged on September 22, 2014
    from his job as an employee of a government contractor after disclosing
    numerous contract violations to both his management and federal officials
    responsible for contract oversight. The contract was between the Forest Service
    and his employer, the National Wild Turkey Federation.

    On December 19, 2014, PEER filed a formal whistleblower complaint in the matter
    with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the
    Forest Service’s parent agency. In a letter dated September 4, 2015,
    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declined to act and issued an “Order Denying
    Relief.” This action exhausted the law’s stipulated administrative process and
    freed Mr. Schaedig to seek judicial review, which PEER’s filing initiated.

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  3. In Memory of Slider-Wild Horse of the Ochoco’s

    Slider was a wild horse from the Big Summit HMA in the Ochoco National Forest, Central Oregon. He got his name when he was just a month old or so when we saw him running up and sliding down the other side of a mound of dirt. We’ve watched him grow up through the years. In 2010, his band was captured and sent to the Burns Wild Horse Corrals for processing. I was ready to adopt him; we were just waiting for them to get him freeze branded etc.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Grandma Gregg and Barbara, this is what was posted in the comments. It sounds as though Slider didn’t make through the castration process. MANY captured.Stallions don’t

        COMMENT
        “…I don’t pay much attention to my YouTube stuff…just happened to see an old email that you had made a comment. So, I had to watch the video again…dabbin’ my eyes again.
        That whole mess should not have happened…
        but we’re so glad that most of them were released back to the Ochocos (especially Dreamcycle!)”.

        Reply ·

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  4. I found this …
    Uploaded on Mar 23, 2010
    Slider was a wild horse from the Big Summit HMA in the Ochoco National Forest, Central Oregon. He got his name when he was just a month old or so when we saw him running up and sliding down the other side of a mound of dirt. We’ve watched him grow up through the years. In 2010, his band was captured and sent to the Burns Wild Horse Corrals for processing. I was ready to adopt him; we were just waiting for them to get him freeze branded etc.

    Slider sustained a broken shoulder at the Corrals and was euthanized.

    Like

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