Half a Decade of Research and Political Collaboration Yields New Vision on Wild Horse Management Via Rewilding
But how did this really come about?
In a recent press release CANA Foundation claims that Congressman, Steve Israel, has led this issue in Congress and continues to champion the cause as CANA Foundation’s strategic advisor. But he only recently joined CANA Foundation as of February 2017, late in terms of a wild horse rewilding advocacy already well underway, as the timeline shows.
In 2014, an American couple, Laura J. Simpson and her husband of 47-years William E. Simpson II did something extraordinary; they took-up residence in the remote mountain wilderness of the Cascade-Siskiyou mountains living among wild horses, studying them and their actions in the local ecosystem.
In brief, Laura handled primary photography and William as a naturalist and trained in science conducted the observational study; a study of the true behavioral ecology of wild horses in a wilderness area devoid of livestock.
Numerous reports and articles about the Simpson’s studies have been published at numerous media outlets beginning in 2015 and continuing over the past 5-years and up until the time of Laura Simpson’s tragic death on June 6, 2019 related to a degenerative autoimmune neurological condition believed to have been triggered by toxic wildfire smoke. (More: https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2019/06/14/wildfire-effects-claim-life-wild-horse-heroine/)
And over the course of the past five years, numerous non-profit organizations were kept informed as to the Simpson’s novel study and its remarkable insights regarding the value proposition of rewilding American wild horses into remote wildfire-prone wilderness areas.
Even during the first 24-months of the ongoing and continuous 5-year study by Laura and William Simpson, it became abundantly clear that wild horses living in a naturally balanced ecosystem devoid of invasive species herbivores (cattle & sheep) were not only highly beneficial to the forest-grassland ecosystems, but they reduced and maintained annual grass and brush fuels that are the kindling and primary fuels for the catastrophic wildfires devastating the west. And in that same process, wild horses keep carbon compounds sequestered in the soils instead of being burned and sent into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases, while conditioning soils and reseeding native plant seeds contained in their droppings.
Through eons of evolutionary processes, wild horses have many intrinsic beneficial symbiotic mutualisms with the flora and fauna of most North American ecosystems, including conifers and other trees they use for shelter from the elements. Trees are made fire resistant by fuels being reduced via grazing under canopies and via removal of fire-ladders (low hanging limbs on trees) via wild horses rubbing. All the while, in natural ecosystems, wild horses populations are kept in-check by evolutionary natural selection; depredation by the evolved predators of wild horses.
Two research papers – Collapse of the World’s Large Herbivores, and Fire Effect on Soil – support the fact that prodigious grass and brush fuels resulting from fewer herbivores results in hotter wildfires and damage to soils.
The timeline towards a solution for wild horses and wildfires:
By early 2017, a collaborative effort between the Simpson’s and Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts and former Senator Alan DeBoer had begun in regard to the plan that had been formalized by William E. Simpson II titled “Natural Wildfire Abatement And Forest Protection Plan” (www.WHFB.us), affectionately known as the, “Wild Horse Fire Brigade.”
Through efforts initially begun by Jackson County Commissioner Roberts, a conference call was held in early August of 2017 between the U.S. Department of Interior Deputy Director Timothy Williams and Mr. Simpson to discuss rewilding American wild horses to accomplish the needs of all stakeholders, while also addressing catastrophic wildfire.
The effort continued when Britt Ivy-Boice, wife of Curry County OR Commissioner Court Boice, brought the Wild Horse Fire Brigade Plan to the attention of Congressman Greg Walden, who then penned a Letter on November 29, 2017 to both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Department of Agriculture U.S. Forest Service (https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2017/12/14/congressman-wild-horse-fire-control-blm-usfs)
And around that same period of time, the “Testimony of William E. Simpson II – Naturalist” was provided to the Oregon Senate Interim Committee On Environment and Natural Resources by Senator Alan DeBoer’s office.
In June of 2018, a thesis film was produced by a graduate student from Colorado College. The film titled ‘Fuel, Fire and Wild Horses’ was filmed on and around the Simpson’s wilderness “Wild Horse Ranch” in Siskiyou County, California. (https://vimeo.com/327282987)
In July 2018, the Klamathon Fire, which burned approximately 38,000 acres primarily in Siskiyou County California at the Oregon border, was held at the Camp Creek fire-line; it seemed to have difficulty spotting-over into areas where there was some reduction of grass and brush fuels by wild horses. Additionally, conifers that had been used for shelter by wild horses were spared by the wildfire due to the reduction of fuels under the trees by the wild horses.
And finally, in April of 2019, theDoveTV show Focus Today hosted a discussion with William E. Simpson II (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve1ANL5zn9Q)
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