Sept. 6, 2018, Letters to the Editor
September 7, 2018
Muller better road than Mottsville
Muller Lane is a state road and will be forever and so it is always maintained very well and work is always being done. The signage should send motorists west to Muller Lane to the state's Foothill Road to lead them to Kingsbury Grade. Mottsville Lane is a county road that is not maintained on a regular basis (county doesn't even have brush cutter for sweet clover 3-feet tall) has cattle crossings, irrigation water to the edge during the summer months, only a couple places to pull off, one in front of cattle corrals, is 45 mph with a double-yellow line most of the way. Twenty years plus of trying to get the state to fix signage – they say it's county's desire to have people use Mottsville. Another light at Muller?
Wild horses part of the ecosystem
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As a lifelong wild horse and burro observer and advocate, I am shocked that you would propose such a cruel procedure as possible wild mare spaying experiments on the Warm Spring wild mares.
This would make a mockery of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act whose mandate is to protect and preserve America's remaining wild horses and burros in the wild, not subject them to gruesome and invasive operations that would seriously compromise their individual well-being as well as their long-term survival.
I therefore implore you not to go ahead with this ill-conceived plan.
As a professional wildlife ecologist concerned about the future of wild horses and in place of this insensitive plan, I recommend that you work to restore truly long-term viable habitats for truly long-term viable populations, both in Warm Springs and wherever else these "national heritage" animals belong according to both legal and natural law.
A major aspect that is being willfully overlooked and that is a major consideration concerns the many major positive contributions that wild horses make in many natural ecosystems. It is well substantiated that members of the horse family contribute substantially to healthy soils, especially as pertains to their vital humus content and, consequently, to their retention of water – which augments water tables that are crucial to many dry Western ecosystems. Also, their post-gastric digestive system disperses intact seeds, including from many native species. These go on to successfully germinate, especially provided the rich fertilizer that accompanies them in the form of equid feces.
These are major positive points concerning the naturally living horses whose ignoring would be very wrong.
Wild horses greatly reduce dry flammable vegetation that is a major contributing cause of many of the catastrophic wildfires that are having such devastating effects today. Wild horses reduce this not only earlier in the year but also substantially later in the year, as their mono- and post-gastric digestive system allows them to process drier vegetation and to derive considerable nutrition therefrom without having to expend the more taxing amounts of metabolic energy to which most multi- and pre-gastric, ruminant digesters, such as cattle, sheep, and deer, are subject.
It has been estimated that a single, average-sized wild horse over the course of several years can reduce dry vegetation, including not only grasses and forbs but also brush and some trees, so as to save at least $100,000 in loss of valuable habitat and human infrastructure.
Much of this critical and indispensable role that wild horses play is due to their ability to reach remote, steep, and rocky places where most of ruminant herbivores have a difficult time reaching and where lightning strikes and other forms of fire ignition, including off-road/highway vehicles and campfires, often initiate furious blazes that tend to spread far and wide before they can be put out, especially given increased drying out of habitats and windy conditions.
Both common sense and abundant evidence indicate that equids play a vital – in many cases even indispensable – role in fire prevention. To overlook and fail to deploy the wild horses in this crucial role today would be unconscionable.
Many other supportive points can and should be made about horses returning to their natural lives and habitats so as to become a long-term component of their distinctive life communities.
I propose that you adopt a much more positive and benign approach to America's wild horses and burros, their protection, preservation and restoration to long-term viability.
Craig C. Downer
Wild Horse and Burro Fund