NMA/CO fundraiser

23 06 2015

Attention locals: The Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association plans to host a fundraiser from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 10, with the film “Roaming Wild” at the center of the event. Funds raised from ticket sales and the silent auction will benefit Spring Creek Basin mustangs and other wild horses in Southwest Colorado (potentially those in Mesa Verde National Park).

Find more information and buy tickets on NMA/CO’s website.

According to promotional material provided by the film, “Roaming  Wild offers an insider’s look at an  invisible battle unfolding in the American West over wild horses  on public lands. Wild  horses find themselves at the center of an age-defining  controversy  where the demands of modern  development are colliding with the needs of the wild. A fiery activist rescues horses from slaughter, a cattle rancher struggles to keep his way of life viable in the modern era, and an unlikely hero invents new possibilities. Each searching for a solution to the pressure on their own disappearing ways of life in the West, they can agree on one thing – the current ‘bandaid’ solution is failing them all.”

Among other things, this film addresses the benefits of fertility-control vaccine PZP, which has been used in Spring Creek Basin for four years. By slowing the population growth of the herd, at least one roundup has been prevented, a trend we hope to continue.

Sunflower Theatre in Cortez will provide the venue. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for the silent auction, with appetizers and a cash bar available. The film will start at 6:30 p.m. Afterward, NMA/CO board members will be available for a question-and-answer session about issues challenging wild horses and burros, their advocates and managers.

We hope to see “old” friends and meet new ones interested in our mustangs!

Scoping period’s deadline extended to Feb. 28

9 01 2015

Kudos to all who already have sent letters and emails in response to BLM’s request for comments about future bait trapping in Spring Creek Basin! We are so appreciative.

For you procrastinators out there (you’re in good company with yours truly), BLM has extended the deadline to comment. It’s now Feb. 28.

To repeat some information, the scoping letter and National Mustang Association/Colorado chapter- and Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners-submitted bait-trapping proposal are linked at NMA/CO’s website.

When you comment, please consider including your address to be added to BLM’s mailing list for future contact about issues related to our Spring Creek Basin mustangs – including the forthcoming EA. The scoping notice is the step that will lead to an EA that should include the potential to use bait trapping in Spring Creek Basin – in the future, when needed.

It is important to know that NO ROUNDUP is scheduled in Spring Creek Basin this year, and with the success of our PZP program, we shouldn’t need one for at least a year or two.

This is a very positive step forward in the evolution of good management of Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs. We already are using native PZP to slow the population growth of the herd. Bait trapping will provide a means of safe “gathering” and removal of horses when needed to keep the herd’s size in balance with the resources of Spring Creek Basin. In our fragile, high-desert environment, we must protect the range for the good of all generations of our mustangs.

Please pass the word, and send those comments! Thank you!

Maia, Alegre and Houdini


Tell BLM …

5 01 2015

… you want to see bait trapping in the future in Spring Creek Basin.

Today, BLM sent a scoping letter to gauge the public’s interest in doing bait trapping there in the future as opposed to helicopter-driven roundups. I think you’ll all agree that we want bait trapping instead of a helicopter. It was very successful in Little Book Cliffs in 2013, and we’re confident it can be successful in Spring Creek Basin – when needed.

The scoping letter (and bait-trapping proposal submitted by our groups to BLM last year) can be found through links on NMA/CO’s website.

It is important to note that there will NOT be a roundup in Spring Creek Basin this year. Our population is below the appropriate management level of 35 to 65 adult horses, and the use of native PZP has slowed population growth. Apparently, all of Colorado’s wild horse herds were put on the “2015 gather list,” but none were approved because of lack of funding and lack of corral space (this information is as of November 2014).

Note that the name of our herd management area is Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area. Also note that Spring Creek Basin is in Disappointment Valley (there’s no such thing as Disappointment Basin – at least not locally).

Please submit respectful and positive comments by Jan. 30. Members of the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association, Four Corners Back Country Horsemen and Mesa Verde Back Country Horsemen (a coalition known as Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners) have established a long-term working partnership with Tres Rios Field Office managers with regard to managing our Spring Creek Basin mustangs well. Our network of mustang advocates helps reinforce this partnership.

Thank you for your support of our mustangs in Spring Creek Basin!

Comanche, Piedra and Aurora

4CBCH annual wild horse count

30 05 2014

On May 17, members of the Four Corners Back Country Horsemen came to Spring Creek Basin for their annual wild horse count. This was their 14th year!

This is an important, ongoing partnership between 4CBCH and BLM. In addition to counting mustangs in Spring Creek Basin and getting an idea of the makeup of bands, members traditionally complete a work project during the weekend. Previous projects have included fence maintenance, packing out old wire and weed surveys. The last couple of years, the Forest Service has sent a weed-spraying crew to the basin to spray some of the locations we’ve surveyed.

In years past, horseless members of the group would drive to the base of Round Top and hike to the summit, then use binoculars and spotting scopes to search for mustangs. Radio communication between horseback groups and the hikers would help with locations and identifications. Now, we have horseback folks and folks who take “horseless carriages” around the loop road in the basin to look for horses, completing projects on the way.

Again this year, we surveyed ponds for the presence of knapweed and musk thistle. Fortunately, we found little of either type of weed at all the locations we checked.

Between the riders and the drivers, we saw almost all the horses! And a few of the bands put on a show by being in close proximity to each other, which was great for everyone to see so many of our mustangs!

Pat (president of 4CBCH) and Frank Amthor were the weekend’s leaders, as usual, and as always, they hosted a wonderful event full of horses, stories of past mustang sightings and terrific food. A highlight this year was meeting a Spring Creek Basin mustang, Tipi (spelling?), adopted in 2005. He reminded me completely of Bruiser – minus the spots!

Lisa Cribbs, Travis, Cathy Roberts, Cindy, Adrian and Mikayla

Lisa and her son, Travis, lead the way into the basin from the campsite off the Disappointment Road. Travis has attended most counts since he was 6 years old!

Travis, Cathy Roberts, Mikayla, Adrian, Kat Wilder

Eva Duvillard and Tipi

Eva and her Spring Creek Basin mustang, Tipi. (Yes, the gnats are out!)

Adrian and mustang Reno

Eva’s husband, Adrian, also rode a mustang, Reno. They recently adopted a third mustang. These are true mustang supporters!

Cathy Roberts and Shenoah (sp?)

Cathy is 4CBCH’s vice president; this was her first count. Her lovely mom, Millie, came from California and joined us to see mustangs from the vehicles.


This also was the first count for Cindy and her daughter.

Mikayla and Saphira

Daughter Mikayla (sp?) and her little mare Sapphira made a great pair.

Lisa Cribbs on Bullseye

Lisa is a past 4CBCH president, and she has attended numerous counts – and has lots of great stories about the mustangs they’ve encountered!

Travis, Lisa Cribbs, Cathy Roberts and Mikayla

As noted, Travis has been coming to Spring Creek Basin since he  was 6. He’s now 20!

Bob Volger on Buckley

Bob is another past 4CBCH president who has ridden in the basin several times. He also has packed old wire out using his horses.

Kat Wilder on Kua

Kat is one of our NMA/CO board members, and this was her first count. It probably won’t be her last!

Thank you to all involved for your camaraderie and super enthusiasm for our Spring Creek Basin mustangs! We’ll see you next spring!

Alternative spring break – 2014

26 03 2014

We had sunshine. We had short sleeves. We had the flush of sunburn on winter-white arms and faces. We had, uh, shale?

No beaches, but we had hard workers and fantastic attitudes. As usual, Mizzou sent some – 10 – excellent students to continue the fence-rebuilding project on Spring Creek Basin’s southeastern fence line as part of alternative spring break. Leader Chalen said the number of groups working this spring break is 52 – up from 38 last year. If all you’ve heard about the next generation is a not-so-hearty endorsement, these students made myth of such statements.

They ranged from freshmen to seniors, from undecided majors to finance, to animal science/pre-vet to fisheries and wildlife, to journalism.

Every year, we’re grateful and excited to welcome them, and every year, a new group of students humbles us with their willingness to work on public lands very far from their Missouri campus.


The sweatshirts didn’t last long. It was a gorgeous day in Disappointment Valley, and we were down to T-shirts in no time at all. Right to left: Grace, Sam, Chase, Sophia, Casey and Kyla.


BLM range specialist and former herd manager Mike Jensen helps Mizzou student Jake set a cross piece into an H-brace at the start of the project.


Students Chase, left, and Mark attach boards to a tree to protect it from wire fence strands biting into it. This is just up the line from the H-brace Mike and Jake are working on in the previous pic.


Student leader Chalen – who also was last year’s group leader – drew the short straw in digging this post hole with Sam. See all that rock? See the tamp bar? The only other tool they used was a post-hole digger.


Same post hole – post in! Sam, right, tamps it in while Chalen and fellow student Sophia admire the work.


MK Thompson with San Juan Mountains Association carries out old wire strands that the students removed and rolled. A local Girl Scouts troop will pick up the old wire to recycle and earn some money! How about that for both recycling and partnership among local groups?


Herd manager Damon Corley pounded his fair share of T-posts. Part of the fence line was relocated to a straighter route, so posts were lifted out and reused or replaced. The lower wire strand was left in place temporarily to help align the new posts.


Sorry, Dustin! While he was hard at work with a shorty tamp bar, Kyla bombed his photo – but gave his hard work an enthusiastic thumbs-up! They and Casey (whose foot appears at bottom left)  – and Sophia helped, too – dug two holes for an H-brace at the bottom of this steep little arroyo toward the end of the day’s work project.


Sophia, right, and Kyla set the cross piece into the notches of the posts they dug holes to place. Kathe Hayes, mastermind of the alternative spring break week for many, many years (did I hear 17 years, Kathe??), supervises.


The Forest Service’s Tom Rice helps Dustin drill a hole for a spike to secure the soon-to-be-upright juniper post to the cross piece, as seen in the previous pic. Remember, in McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area, no mechanized tools are allowed.


On this end of the brace, Dustin hammers home the spike while Casey steadies the cross piece.


NMA/CO executive director and volunteer Tif attaches a clip to a T-post to secure a wire strand. Only the top strand to go! The top and bottom strands are smooth twisted wire, and the the middle strands are barbed.


We’re using wildlife-friendly wire spacing on this entire line (I think that’s usual now for Forest Service and BLM fences). Jake holds one of the measuring sticks used by students to  attach the wires at the right spacing while Casey attaches a strand to the T-post with a metal clip.


The students were so “on the ball” that hardly had a wire strand been tightened and tied off at the H-brace than they were attaching the strands to posts and staves to wire. Wow, they were fast! Some of the students have fence-building experience, but most don’t. Quick learners, these college students!


This shot is a little out of order, but it’s a good contrast to the previous pic, which shows the nearly-finished fence. In this pic, taken from about halfway up the steep bank of the arroyo at the end of the day’s work section, you can see Kyla and Tom drilling a hole in one of the juniper H-brace posts while Dustin, Kathe, Casey and Sophia have set their post and are getting ready to tamp dirt in around it. When the H-brace is completed, wire will be strung – from the bottom wire up – clips will be placed, staves will be set, and we’ll call it a day well spent!


One of the last things to do was to dig a hole and place this tall, stout juniper post (cut Saturday during work prep) about midway up that steep arroyo bank. Sophia, Grace and Damon carried it to its place, and they and other students dug the hole and placed it and tamped it steady before we hit the trail for the trucks …


… where we took the obligatory group shot. Back row from left: Damon, Mike, Kyla, Sophia, Dustin, Casey, Chase, Grace, Chalen, Sam, Mark and Jake. Front row from left: Tom, Connie, Kathe, Tif and MK.

We really can’t say “thank you” too many times. Mike, Tom and Connie won’t be joining us for the second day of work, but the students, Kathe, Tif and MK will return along with a couple of wildland firefighters Kathe conned encouraged to come.

Water for mustangs

30 06 2013

Not elephants. Although, as this drought continues, it’s beginning to look a lot like the sere plains of Africa out here.

I call this photo “La Sals, Imagination”:


Whaddya mean you can’t see the mountains … through the smoke? Use your imagination. :) Although Grey/Traveler’s band seems to also be looking for the mountains, they were watching Chrome’s band walking toward them on their way to the water catchment.

Smoke from this fire – way, way, way east of here – apparently has drifted into New Mexico then blown back north and west into Colorado. But it’s not the only fire burning in the region.

Earlier, Grey/Traveler’s band had been drinking at the water catchment’s trough:


Maia, clearly at her leisure, worried me; I thought the worst, that the storage tank had drained and the trough was empty, and she was waiting for someone to come fill it, darnit!

Not to fear.

Water trough at the catchment in Spring Creek Basin, looking toward the road.

The trough was full of water. Whew. (The big green tank is the storage tank that holds water from either rain or snow or direct-fill.)

Because of the drought, BLM has been checking to ensure that the horses have enough water sources, and we – National Mustang Association/Colorado – recently got the green light to deliver a load of water – 4,000 gallons – to the catchment tank. Donors and silent-auction-item buyers at the Pati Temple Memorial Benefit Bash, this is the first use of the money you helped us raise! Interestingly, the area of the catchment is used primarily by Chrome’s band and rarely by other bands. But some other bands have started to find the water – and the good forage in this area. Water is a good way to disperse the horses’ grazing and get them to use under-used areas.


Chrome’s band at the catchment trough, drinking clean water. This is an important water source because it’s the only clean source of water in the basin. The others are high in alkalinity and salt because of the basin’s soils. The dusky, hazy color cast is because of the smoke.

The temperature hit 110 degrees Friday. On Thursday, the high was 108. Smoke, wind, heat, zero moisture = ugh.

Cecil Foster, owner of Foster’s Water, to the rescue.


The storage tank is about 15 feet tall, so Cecil brings his ladder to access the hatch at the top. At right is the hose from his water truck.


Seen here are his water truck, the hose to the tank and the water trough in the background at right.


Thanks, Cecil! He also donated a load of water for the benefit’s silent auction. Cecil is a super nice man, and a friend of the mustangs of Spring Creek Basin.

Thank you, NMA/CO, for the delivery of water to the mustangs!

Pati Temple Memorial Benefit Bash

5 06 2013

Monday’s event to honor the National Mustang Association, Colorado chapter’s Pati Temple was a great success! A huge, heart-felt thank you to all the friends and family of Pati – and David – Temple who donated items to the silent auction and/or attended the bash. Your attendance and contributions go a long way toward helping us continue our advocacy on behalf of our Spring Creek Basin mustangs!


Durango photographer Claude Steelman donated a print of his outstanding photo of our handsome Traveler (left) and two of his photography books, including Wildshots, pictured. Bayfield artist Sarah Rose donated a print of her beautiful painting of Spring Creek Basin’s Aspen, right.


NMA/CO board member Karen Keene Day donated this stunning painting of Traveler. It’s based on a photo she took of him and his band in 2004.


Susan Thomas and NMA/CO board member Nancy Schaufele (in purple) check out silent auction items.


Nancy marks the final bids at the end of the silent auction. Kennebec Cafe, one of Pati’s favorite restaurants, provided a really beautiful setting for our event; many thanks for the great food and wonderful setup!


Kathe Hayes with San Juan Mountains Association shows off Alice Billings’ donated painting of Temple, wild filly in Spring Creek Basin named in honor of Pati and David. Kathe was the high bidder on the painting!

In addition to Nancy and Karen, many thanks to NMA/CO board members Tif Rodriguez and Lynda Larsen – and, always, David Temple – as well as our event planner, Tina Roth, for making this such a memorable and successful event in Pati’s memory.

Pati was an exceptional woman who fought for the well-being of animals and people whenever she saw a wrong. We think she would have loved this party. The worst part of it was that she wasn’t there to enjoy it with us.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 143 other followers