Thursday, April 30, 2009

The ROAM Act

I just read on The that there is some good news in the Wild Horse and Burro front.

H.R. 1018 is a bill aimed at improving protections for wild horses and burros. Yesterday it passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee and is destined for the US House of Representatives. It would prohibit the euthanasia of healthy BLM horses.

Read more about The ROAM (Restoring Our American Mustangs) Act here and here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Those Little Buggers

I just got a call this morning to tell me my little bugs are one their way. Around here, that is cause for great joy. The next exciting event is when the little cardboard box arrives. Then it is a daily watch to check for the little buggers. (is that a pun?) When enough of them hatch out of the fly larva, then we take them out to the barn and the pastures and sprinkle them around. Then we watch for the little things flying all over the place.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, then I’m guessing you use fly predators, have used fly predators or know of someone who does. I believe the ‘haves’ in this group are happy campers cause they are not flapping and swatting at flies all summer.

Now I’ll come clean. We have used Spalding Fly Predators for the past 3 summers and are anxiously waiting for our first shipment for this season. The only time we use fly spray is when we take our horses to the fairgrounds for the 10 days of fair. And maybe when we go ride at Battle Ground Lake if they seem bad that day. We don’t even use fly masks except when we are hauling our horses because we have a stock trailer and I’m worried about hay scarps or something flying into their eyes. Those little bugs really work.

They do not control mosquitoes or horse flies but they do a bang up job on all those nasty things that try to crawl into your mouth or congregate around our horse’s eyes. We have a couple of those old fashioned sticky fly strips hanging over the stalls and they never get full. The amount of bugs you buy depends on the stock that you have. And the amount of stock that is around you. If you had two horses and were neighbors to the race track, these probably wouldn’t work well enough or would cost you a fortune. On a smaller scale, I have heard of some that buy them for their horses and some for their neighbors too just so they keep their fly problem under control. A word of warning – they work best if you can get a jump on the fly season. Once there is a fly problem, it is harder to get it under control.

How it works is that these little bugs exist only to eat out the center of the fly larva. Then they lay eggs in there and those hatch in 5 days and then those hungry little things eat the fly larva and it goes on and on. Because their food is so specialized, they will eventually eat themselves out of a job. To fix that problem, Spalding ships out new bugs each month. You can order them a month at a time or for the whole season like we do. They are actually tiny little wasp like creatures that don't sting and don't bite and they and they stay pretty close to the floor. The light switch for our barn is in Poco’s stall so when I go in to turn it off and I have my headlamp on, I see a few of them fluttering around the light. Turn the light off and the problem is solved.

I was talking to Maryjo out at Silver Buckle and they use them too. In fact, I’m sure there are a bunch of folks around here that do. It’s just something that I don’t hear talked about too much. If you haven’t used them and would like to hear more about how much I like them, send me an email or give me a call. I am a FAN.

PS – if you do decide to try them, tell the folks that you heard about them from me and I’ll get a bonus shipment.

Friday, April 24, 2009

BCH Action Alert -

COMMENT NOW (The comment period only runs through April)

In 2003, the historic Skyline Bridge over the Suiattle River in the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie (MBS) National Forest was washed away. The Skyline Bridge was a critical crossing for the Pacific Crest Trail in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. In fact, several other bridges were also lost due to the horrific storm damage, though the large span Skyline Bridge was by far the most substantial.

Restoration of stock access through the Glacier Peak Wilderness on the Pacific Crest Trail remains to this day not passable. This truly compromises the stock and hiker purpose of the historic trail. The Pacific Crest Trail is one of the two original trails (the other being the Appalachian Trail) authorized under the National Trails System Act of 1968, making it just about as old as another famous congressional piece of legislation, the Wilderness Act of 1964.

In 2007, the MBS released a scoping letter asking for public comments on what was the best route for restoring access to stock and hikers across the Suiattle River. It was clear that the old Skyline Bridge location was no longer feasible. A new bridge location was identified with strong rock footings on each side of the river bed, but this site was a few miles downriver and would require a new 3 mile reroute segment of the PCT to be built on the south side of the river, and a .5 mile segment on the north side of the river connecting to the Suiattle River Trail, and would also entail abandoning old trail segments along the old Skyline Bridge route. BCHW responded that lacking no other reasonable alternative (the only other combination trail option would have been to use the Milk Creek Trail adding many reroute miles and still relying on a bridge over the Suiattle), we fully supported a new bridge re-sited downriver, and that this was essential to preserving the congressional purpose and integrity of the Pacific Crest Trail.

In 2008, the MBS released a second scoping letter asking for public comments on moving forward with the new bridge and the logistics of the best methods to accomplish this. Again, many BCHW members responded giving support to a Minimum Tool Analysis exemption that would permit the new bridge to be flown into the Wilderness by helicopter and use power rock drills to anchor the bridge. Also, the scoping letter suggested expediting the new trail construction by using chainsaws and a mini-excavator.

We want to very much wholeheartedly thank each of our members who took the time to comment on the 2008 scoping letter. HOWEVER, there are many members that we think missed the opportunity (the comments are listed by person in the EA). Rather than chastise you, we are GIVING YOU ANOTHER CHANCE!!!

The MBS has now posted an Environmental Assessment (EA) on their website with a 30 day comment period further defining the input received in the 2008 scoping letter. DO YOU WANT THE PCT TO REMAIN A STOCK TRAIL? Hikers have been able to use the rather dangerous footlogs across the river, so we are the most impacted user group. It is time to send in your comments NOW!!!

Alternative 1 – No Action (This is not acceptable as it means no stock passing on the PCT.)
Alternative 2 – Use a helicopter and rock drills for reestablishing a new bridge. ALSO, use chainsaws and a mini-excavator for constructing the new trail access segments.
Alternative 3 – Use a helicopter and rock drills for reestablishing a new bridge. Use traditional non-mechanical methods for constructing the new trail access segments.

BCHW Review:
While Alternative 3 is by far the most appealing from a baseline Wilderness use principle, it would require a much longer period to implement than using chainsaws and a mini-excavator and would require much more rock blasting. Based on overall impacts as the MBS analysis shows, the use of chainsaws to complete 3.5 miles of new trail is clearly justified. The use of a non-handheld tracked mini-excavator is more debatable, but we think when you look at weighing the short term use of this excavator over multi-season blasting and large camps for user crews, the MBS has made a good argument for utilizing this piece of equipment.

We therefore recommend the following (include in your words in your comments):

1. Alternative #1 (no action) of the Pacific Crest Trail Repair Suiattle River Crossing Environmental Assessment is not an option. Access for the Pacific Crest Trail across the Suiattle River must be re-established by construction of a new bridge in a sustainable site – as identified in Alternatives #2 and #3. A new bridge is the only safe solution both for stock users and for hikers trying to cross the river.

2. Alternative #2 is our preferred option. A new bridge must be constructed and moved to the site Using pack stock to move materials for the new bridge is not feasible as even the Suiattle River Road is washed out and there are no other access options. Use of a helicopter to move materials is fully justified, and no landings of the helicopters in the Wilderness will occur. Power rock drills are the most functional method to anchor the bridge. The significant amount of new trail construction to access the bridge site justifies the use of chainsaws. The savings in impacts from rock blasting, stump removal, and large crew impacts justifies the use of a mini-excavator.

3. Alternative #3 is our less preferred option. It does replace the bridge as in Alternative #2 – and that is the most critical component. However, without considerable resources, it would make the new trail construction much more difficult and drag it out over a number of seasons.
SEND IN YOUR SUPPORT NOW!!! Your names will be joining the dedicated names of our members who have acted in prior years (published in the EA Pages 47-48) and whom we hope will follow up with another comment in this third year of this effort. Show your support for stock use in Washington State on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Send your comments to Dawn Erickson, Team Leader, Darrington Ranger Station or by mail to Dawn Erickson at 1405 Emens St, Darrington WA 98241

The full Environmental Assessment and materials can be found at the Mount Baker Snoqualmie website .

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Signature Event

I'm on my soap box again.
I just read this in a small 'box' in The Columbian this morning:

What is Vancouver's New Signature Event?
Without Vancouver's annual fireworks extravaganza, what will be our signature event?
Tell what event you think is the highlight of Clark County's social calendar.
E-mail your response to
Be sure to include your city of residence, age and phone number.

Ok, so I think the Vancouver Rodeo could fill that hole.
  • It is already on the July 4th weekend and used to be part of the Vancouver 4th of July events (a few years ago).
  • There is wide appeal and it is unique for this area. There are two other rodeos but they are not close and they are not as 'home town' as OUR rodeo.

Yes, I am on the Rodeo Committee and we have been talking about how we adjust our event to provide something more for the community in light of the absence of the fireworks display this year.

The other part that I saw when I read that piece was this designation would be a chance for the 'other' folks to see more of the horse community. I know this isn't about all the horse people in the area but it is horse related and would be a great chance for the rest of the folks to recognize that we (horse people) exist and are an economic force here. A lot of local people participate in the rodeo both as contestants and as volunteers. And if anyone wanted to see the economic impact of horses, all they would have to do is look at the infield at the Saddle Club during the rodeo and see all the trucks and trailers not to mention the horses and tack. Even if they do a write up about the ones that are mentioned, if a bunch of people sent in this idea, we could get some really good press for the rodeo and the horse community as a whole.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Harney County, Oregon

Pat Brown forwarded this post to me thinking that there might be some people reading this blog that either live down in Southeastern Oregon or who know someone who does. It is tough for her to share things like this cause she wants our local people available to help out 'our' horses but the concern for all horses wins out. Good for you, Pat.

Many of you may have heard about the large-scale seizure of neglected horses and cattle that took place in Harney County recently. The Harney County Sheriff seized 45 badly neglected horses. In addition to the animals that were found alive on the property, there were dozens of dead horses and cattle that had apparently been left to starve to death.

The court has ordered all the animals forfeited to Harney County, so now we need to find homes for these horses. They have been fed good-quality hay for over two weeks now, and all appear on their way to recovery.

The selection includes at least eight pregnant mares, two mules, a Belgian stallion, QHs, Arabs, yearlings, two and three year-olds, and older horses. It’s quite a wide selection. Many of these horses are halter-broke and appear to have been ridden. Others are wild as march hares, but are nice-looking young horses. There are also some older animals that appear very quiet and calm. I make no guarantees or promises about any of these animals, except that after what they have been through, they deserve to receive some good TLC for the rest of their lives.

If anyone is interested in providing these animals with a good, loving home, please contact me. I can arrange to have you visit the horses at the location where they are being held.


Scott Beckstead
Senior Oregon Director
The Humane Society of the United States

Friday, April 3, 2009

Weather Cafe

This is from a great Yahoo forum called Weather Cafe. The group message/weather report is sent out twice a week. So far, it has been very accurate and has lots of really good information.

A portion of todays report is especially worth passing on -

Well, patrons, every once in a great while, we PNWn'ers catch a break. The weather for the next WEEK is likely to become one of those surprises - and so very much needed for our region.

That little window of nice wx that was anticipated may open enough to allow for several days of great wx conditions across the PNW starting later today. The upper low expected on Sunday is now modeled to be weaker and track south off the coast (some moisture may back-spin up into southern OR, but not too wet). This pattern will keep a high pressure ridge in place, with MILD and DRY conditions lasting until Thursday, Apr 9. Temps will climb up into the warmest of the year. Soils will have time to dry down, so get those tractors primed and plants ready. It's time to farm
. (my emphasis)

A big THANK YOU to Rufus for keeping us informed.