Residents in Storey speak up

Storey County residents and business interests are divided on the issue of wild horses.

Lance Gilman, part owner and developer of Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, said he has no objections to the horses. Few wild horses come down from the mountains into the industrial area he markets, and their numbers are not an issue for him.

"Many of our customers want the horses, and from a marketing standpoint they are an asset," Gilman said. "They symbolize our roots and we'd like to just let them run.

The Industrial Center has been the focus of much speculation concerning the wild horses among residents in Storey County and Gilman said the rumors have been flying. The center is cooperating with the State Department of Agriculture concerning this issue at the department's request.

"We were approached by the state, who said they would like to relocate a portion of the herd and they said the population needed to be reduced," Gilman said."Are we doing something that shouldn't have been done? We thought everyone was in agreement on this issue."

Rancher Lauren Johnson leases a portion of the center's 102,000 acres to run cattle -- this maintains the center's agricultural tax deferment status, according to Gilman.

Industrial center partner Roger Norman Jr. said Johnson was having some problems with the horses and there are plans to fence the Industrial Center off. He declined further comment.

Fencing is one of the keys according to Virginia City resident Ellie Curtis. She said the horses have left her yard alone since she and husband Joe put up a 4-foot fence, but it hasn't stopped the deer. They have an array of fruit trees and grapes. For a while they had petunias, which it took the deer quite awhile to find.

"The deer eat as far up as they can go, and we get the rest," Curtis said.

The horses now hang around outside the fence.

"There is a band of about 10 horses with a foal and another band of four bachelors," Curtis said. "There are quite a few this year and before we put up the fence, we had no weeds in our yard. The horses were coming in and eating them all -- it's kind of sad."


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