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Fish Springs herd advocates seek water

Fish Springs horses take a drink from a trough set up in 2017.
Sarah Drinkwine/R-C File Photo

Wild horse advocates are concerned the Fish Springs herd is being boxed in by the Bureau of Land Management.

In a Dec. 7 letter, the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates is seeking a meeting to resolve an issue over providing water to the herd.

“We write to request a meeting and your immediate assistance to address a manufactured problem related by the lack of a memorandum of understanding with our local organization to humanely manage the wild horses in Fish Springs,” the letter said.



The organization sought a permit from the State Engineer to provide water for wildlife and horses in Fish Springs.

The major grazing rights permittee in the Pinenuts is Christopher Bently, who has publically supported leaving the Fish Springs herd where it is.



The permit was denied because the advocates didn’t have an agreement to manage the horses.

“The Sierra Front Field Office has outlined that a water permit for wild horses is required for the long-term management of wild horses in Fish Springs,” advocates wrote.

That puts the advocates and the horses in a box canyon where the State Engineer won’t issue a permit without a letter from the BLM and the BLM won’t issue a letter without a water source.

 “We are disappointed that the BLM appears to have abandoned working collaboratively with us — the local community,” the letter said. 

Douglas County commissioner issued a proclamation in January indicating their support for the Fish Springs herd, which has lived in the area for a century.

A program darting horses with birth control was piloted in Fish Springs, and the advocates said the foaling rate was down to 5 percent in September.

“These wild horses are extremely important to the local community and BLM is setting up our horses for failure or removal,”  Advocates Vice President Deniz Bolbol said. “Instead we call on BLM to provide a letter that agrees to the use of the water for wild horses in Fish Springs or finalize the MOU with PNWHA.”

Bolbol said the water is being provided on the range to prevent horses from coming into neighborhoods.

“We call on BLM to work with our local community to ensure the State provides a water permit for our wild horses and to continue our partnership to humanely manage our beloved Fish Springs wild horses,” she said.

A memorandum of understanding between the BLM and the advocates was presented last year, but the advocates felt it set the herd up for failure.

Federal officials said at an Oct. 16, 2019, meeting that one of the reasons the bureau hasn’t pursued a round-up of the horses was because an agreement was in the works.

In a letter to State Engineer Tim Wilson, Sierra Front Acting Field Manager Kimberly Dow said providing feed or water other than in an emergency doesn’t meet the definition of minimum feasible management.

In her letter, Dow implied that providing water to the horses indicates they are not a self-sustaining population.

A spokeswoman for the BLM declined comment. The Record-Courier reached out to the Department of the Interior.