As part of the Bureau of Land Management’s ongoing effort to engage volunteers in the stewardship of U.S. public lands, BLM Director Bob Abbey announced today that he has approved nearly $300,000 in the current fiscal year for 12 projects aimed at improving Western rangeland conditions where wild horses and burros roam.
The on-the-ground work will also support the BLM’s forthcoming strategy to put its national Wild Horse and Burro Program on a sustainable path, as called for by the Government Accountability Office and members of Congress.
The “Director’s Challenge” initiative, announced by Abbey last October, seeks to offer citizen-based science opportunities to address land health issues within wild horse and burro Herd Management Areas across the West.
The projects were reviewed by a team of BLM employees and Jim Stephenson, the Natural Resources Management representative on the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. The approved projects include conducting inventories of water sources, monitoring riparian area conditions, removing invasive plant species, and protecting spring sources.
“I am delighted with the projects submitted by BLM field offices in response to this initiative,” Abbey said. “Citizens, organizations, agencies, and other stakeholders will now have new opportunities to take a hands-on role in the stewardship of America’s public lands.”
Abbey also commended the Bureau’s national volunteer program, which oversaw 114,027 hours of wild horse-related work by volunteers and organization-sponsored workers in 2010. “Volunteers not only contribute their valuable time and labor, but also serve as the BLM’s best ambassadors in local communities across the West,” Abbey said.
The projects being funded by the program in the local Herd Management Areas will provide answers to basic questions regarding aquatic and riparian functions, conditions and trends to support evaluation of land-management decisions, including range allotment strategies and wild horse and burro herd management plans.
The Director’s Challenge initiative will contribute $25,000 to the local projects.