Wild horse advocates preparing to haul water to Sand Wash Basin
CRAIG — The Wild Horse Warriors of Sand Wash Basin called a last-minute meeting Wednesday to coordinate hauling water to the Sand Wash Basin in western Moffat County to alleviate the group’s concerns that wild horses in the basin do not have access to enough water. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Loudy-Simpson Park near Craig.
To haul water, the volunteers would need approval from the Bureau of Land Management, the agency tasked with managing wild horses and burros.
About 750 wild horses live in the Sand Wash Basin herd management area — an area comprising about 150,000 acres under a federal designation that mandates the land be managed for wild horses and burros.
Wild Horse Warriors, a volunteer advocacy group, is growing increasingly concerned about drought conditions in the basin. Ponds and springs in the area are drying up, according to Cindy Wright, one of the group’s organizers. Though this happens every summer, ponds that are dry now typically don’t dry out until August or September, she said.
The Wild Horse Warriors is raising funds and working to repair three watering locations in the basin. The group has been collecting donations to improve the horses’ access to water in the basin. Wright said they had collected $20,000 so far.
Volunteers have added new water tanks to a well, a new pump and tanks to another spring. Volunteers and the BLM worked to repair a pump system at one more pond, but Wright said the Wild Horse Warriors is concerned the water table is not recharging that spring enough to provide water to the horses.
The Sand Wash Basin is currently home to about 750 horses, twice the number the BLM has determined to be an appropriate number to manage, about 163 to 362 horses.
“The stress to resources like forage and water will be increased in an area where the population exceeds AML (appropriate management level) — in this instance, nearly double the number of horses the range can support,” Hall said.
Last week, the BLM announced it was accepting public comment on a gather of wild horses in the Sand Wash Basin to bring the horses’ population closer to these lower numbers.
“They’ve never had 750 horses that were fenced in this kind of drought condition,” Wright said.
Though the horses roam free in the basin, the boundary of the herd management area is enclosed by a fence.