The national director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is headed to Boise tomorrow to discuss rehabilitation after the Soda Fire; Neil Kornze announced that the huge range fire that burned 285,000 acres in southwestern Idaho is currently the BLM’s highest rehabilitation priority. Meanwhile, BLM officials are planning an emergency roundup of roughly 285 wild horses whose range burned in the fire; 29 died in the fire, and six more had to be killed due to injuries from the blaze. The “emergency wild horse gather,” which will start this week, is designed to reduce the wild horse numbers to match the remaining forage; the rest will be held at the BLM’s Boise Wild Horse Corrals through the winter until the range recovers.
“Throughout the duration of the fire, BLM teams were monitoring the condition and whereabouts of the horses,” said Jenifer Arnold, acting Boise district manager. “A patchwork of unburned islands within the HMAs (herd management areas) provided limited forage, but not at a sustainable level. It is critical that we see to the horses’ nutritional needs by bringing them in to the Boise Wild Horse Corrals until the range recovers.”
The BLM is activating its Burned Area Emergency Response program, or BAER, to address the area burned in the Soda Fire, with the goals of protecting life, property, water quality, and deteriorated ecosystems from further damage. Post-fire effects on fish, wildlife, archaeological sites and endangered species also are concerns.