Wednesday, March 21, 2012

‘Ecosanctuary’ Plans for Wild Horses Add Tourism to the Mix

This was prime horse country once, in the old Western working way of bridles, bits and sweat. Leather tack from those days still hangs, cracked and preserved in the arid dust, on the wall of the 1906 vintage hay loft at the Wilson place. Little other evidence is left, though. Horsepower on the ranch went under the hood and was called four-wheel drive. Horsehair rifle sights, once supplied to the United States Army from the Centennial Valley here in southeastern Wyoming, were supplanted by newer technologies. Horses became gentle, recreational and costly to keep. Now the rougher version is about to return. Wild horses — feral descendants of the workaday animals that once toiled for the farms, the Indian tribes and the Army — could soon be running the fields of Rich and Jana Wilson’s 4,700-acre spread. This “ecosanctuary” project, announced last month by the federal Bureau of Land Management, which oversees most of the nation’s wild horse population, could be the first of many if it works, federal officials said. And part of the novelty is a reconnection of equine life and economic growth, making horses more than just a financial burden or a charity case. Sheltering a herd of 250 wild horses on Deerwood Ranch, replacing the cattle that the Wilsons once raised, is intended to be at least partly self-sufficient, through tourist visits, and to be a stabilizing factor in an area where working agriculture is increasingly threatened. “It’s new territory; we’re still figuring it out,” said Ms. Wilson, 49, who has lived here since her parents bought the ranch in the 1980s. The effort, which is still under review but could start as early as September with the first horses, is coinciding with other developments that collectively add up to a new chapter in a strange and tangled tale that helped define the West...more

1 comment:

drjohn said...

This ecosanctuary is at 8000' above sea level where the winter comes early and stays late. Another federal boondoggle by the BLM.Plan on feeding these horses for 4-5 months at least.