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BLM Approves the Winter Ridge Herd Area Wild Horse Gather and Removal Plan EA

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on August 8, 2011

Release Date: 07/29/11Contacts: Guss Warr, (801) 824-1632

BLM Approves the Winter Ridge Herd Area Wild Horse Gather and Removal Plan Environmental Assessment

Vernal, Utah—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Vernal Field Office approved the Winter Ridge Herd Area (HA) Wild Horse Gather and Removal Plan Environmental Assessment (EA) on July 26, 2011.

This EA was prepared to analyze the BLM’s proposed gather and removal of approximately 150 excess wild horses from the Winter Ridge Herd Area vicinity beginning in September 2011. As outlined in the 2008 Vernal Resource Management Plan, all wild horses gathered in this area will be permanently removed from the HA.  Public comments were solicited from July 26-August 26, 2010 and were considered prior to the finalization of the EA. The EA describes the potential environmental impacts from implementing the proposed project and includes related information and a map of the project area.  The BLM will also provide updates and information on line on a regular basis throughout the course of the gather.

The EA and Decision Record are available on line at:

Updates and information will be available at: on a regular basis throughout the course of the gather.

Members of the public are welcome to view the gather operations daily once they begin, so long as the safety of the animals, staff, and observers is not jeopardized, and operations are not disrupted. During the public observation days the interested public may participate in an escorted tour and will meet at 5:30 a.m. at the Pelican Café in Ouray, Utah (tentative plan). Current plans call for the Winter Ridge gather to operate September 10, through September 14, 2011, although weather conditions and available resources may affect the projected schedule. Participants must provide their own transportation, water and lunches. The BLM recommends that the public dress for harsh field conditions. Binoculars as well as four wheel drive vehicles are strongly recommended. For information on participating in public observation days, please contact Lisa Reid, Public Affairs Specialist, at (435) 435-743-3128. 

“Animals removed from the Winter Ridge Herd Area will be available for adoption through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program,” according to Dusty Carpenter, Wild Horse Specialist. Horses removed from the Winter Ridge HA will be shipped to Salt Lake Wild Horse and Burro Center short-term holding and preparation facility.  Animals that are not adopted will be cared for in long-term pastures, where they retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The BLM does not send any horses to slaughter. 

4 Responses to “BLM Approves the Winter Ridge Herd Area Wild Horse Gather and Removal Plan EA”

  1. Jan said


    doubt if blm ever considers our protests to what they do as they go ahead and do as they please

  2. Anonymous said

    Tracie, There are no horses at this HMA. I have been there. You are a researcher, maybe you would like to see what Gus Warr has to say about this??? This HMA is all gas platforms and little gravel roads that snake all over in order to reach all the leased spots. A man who tends his gas well there told me the horses have been gone for years. Has this HMA got a new location or something??? mar

    • Mar,
      Email sent, awaiting reply, will post as soon as I get one.

    • Mar,
      As requested and promised, here is the reply from Gus Warr. (I apologize for it taking so long; I had put in his email address incorrectly.) T.

      Hey Tracie … Here is the information on the Winter Ridge gather.
      Winter Ridge is not a wild horse Herd Management Area (HMA), it is a Herd Area (HA). It has never been an HMA since the passage of the FRWH&B Act. A small population of horses has been in the area since the 1970’s, consisting of BLM wild horses, private horses, and Tribal horses. Here is some historical information on the HA:
      No official herd record was ever kept prior to 1977. The first record, made in 1977, indicated that there were about 40 horses present in the area. The winters of 1977-78 and 1978-79 were very severe, and deep snows and several weeks of below zero temperatures resulted in a herd loss of about 70 percent of the population. The 1980 count revealed only eight horses in the Winter Ridge area. In 1982, the herd consisted of six adults and two foals (November 1984, BLM Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Book Cliffs Resource Management Plan).
      According to the 1985 Book Cliffs RMP, the Winter Ridge wild horses were to be gathered and removed; however, the decision has not been implemented. The rational for the 1985 decision to remove horses from the herd area was that the area might not be suitable habitat for wild horses. Because of the high elevation of the area, deep snow (24-40 inches annually) can accumulate during the winter months, putting a wild horse herd in this area at risk (2008 Vernal RMP – Chapter 3.20.2).
      Besides being an area that has no winter range for the horses to move into (primarily spring-summer & fall habitat); the HA is surrounded by various land owners that make manageability of the HA very difficult, thus it’s never been an HMA. The HA has large blocks of State lands to the south of it, a large tract of Tribal land to the west of it, and large blocks of private land to the north of it. A large population of unmanaged-feral Tribal horses occupy the Tribal land to the West of the HA (estimated Tribal horse numbers have exceeded 1,000+).
      The HA does have oil & gas lease drill rigs, pads, roads, and other sites throughout the region. The topography is very rough with the HA sitting on top of a plateau with deep canyons that are heavily covered with mountain brush and trees, with scattered open meadows and sagebrush flats. I was recently in the HA (about 3 weeks ago) and observed 60+ from the roads that go through the HA.
      I hope this helps! I’d encourage anyone to go to our web site and review the environmental assessment (EA) that was prepared for the gather.
      I’ve attached below a map of the gather area, and an old 2006 map that shows the HA’s in eastern Utah with land ownership status on it (this can also be found on our BLM web site at:
      Wild Horse & Burro Specialist / Utah Program Lead
      BLM-Utah State Office (UT-933)
      440 W. 200 S., Suite 500 -Salt Lake City, Utah 84101-1345
      [Mail: P.O. Box 45155, Salt Lake City, Utah 84145-0155]
      Desk: 801.539.4057
      Fax: 801.539.4074

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