El Paso Statement on Wild Horses - 8 News NOW

El Paso Statement on Wild Horses

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The Ruby Pipeline — both in its construction and its operation — is entirely compatible with current wild horse and burro populations in and near the Project's geographic footprint. Ruby is committed to minimizing any impacts from the Project, and that commitment includes wild horses and burros.

Ruby has never discussed or in any way advocated removal of horses or burros by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or any other entity.

Ruby has never participated in any effort to remove wild horses or burros from the Project area, and no one at Ruby has had any discussion with the BLM, or any other entity, concerning any such effort.

Ruby's proposed route crosses five Herd Management Areas (HMAs) south and west of the Sheldon NWR in Humboldt and Washoe counties, Nevada. The five HMAs crossed by the project comprise approximately 35 total miles of HMA lands to be crossed by the pipeline, according to the BLM.

Ruby takes protection of wild horses and wild burros seriously, as evidenced by our willingness to develop and implement measures to mitigate potential impacts during construction of the pipeline, if we receive government approvals.

Ruby continues to conduct outreach with stakeholders in developing and implementing mitigation that protects this valuable resource. Specifically, Ruby is working with the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to limit the impact of the pipeline on wild horse and wild burro habitat and grazing areas.

Ruby will remove salt licks that may be close to the right of way (ROW) and relocate the salt licks to locations away from the right of way; and identify additional watering areas farther away from the pipeline ROW.

Ruby has committed to working with the BLM to find ways to limit wild horse and wild burro grazing, as well as livestock grazing under grazing permits, on the construction right of way for three years following construction of the pipeline, if it is determined that their grazing is impacting reclamation success. The sole purpose of these temporary, grazing diversion efforts is to facilitate responsible habitat restoration and reclamation along Ruby's right of way.

Ruby's reclamation/restoration plan includes low-palatable plant species in the seed mix to discourage wild horse and burros, as well as livestock under grazing allotments, from grazing on the newly reseeded right of way.

Another option is to install temporary fencing in HMAs to protect horse and burro populations during construction or during reclamation efforts, if it is determined that their grazing is impacting reclamation success.

Ruby has committed to installing soft plugs in the pipeline trench/crossovers (i.e., gaps in the trench, spoil piles, and pre-welded pipe sections) every 0.5 mile or less when the route crosses agency defined migration corridors and when water sources are present within 1,200 feet of the right-of-way. If pipeline construction comes within 0.25 mile of an existing water source or impedes access to a nearby water source, and if Ruby sees evidence that wild horses and burros are not crossing at installed soft plugs or crossovers, Ruby would locate temporary water supplies 0.5 mile outside of the construction area for wild horse and burro use.

The BLM would require, as part of its right-of-way grant, that Ruby identify where supplemental water supplies may be necessary for wild horses and burros.

Ruby also would be required to establish crossovers at well-defined trails, existing roadways, and other locations where the BLM expects wild horse and burro movement. Ruby would leave major horse trails across trenches intact as long as possible so as to minimize access impacts on forage areas and minimize loss of movement to habitat. Ruby also would install crossovers at existing fences within grazing allotments. These mitigation measures would minimize impacts on wild horses and burros.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has expressed concern that certain measures proposed by Ruby (i.e., facilitation of horse and burro movement around construction areas, fence line manipulation, and opening of gates for construction activities) could result in additional wild horses or burros entering the Sheldon NWR.

The USFWS could then be required to increase its expenditures to manage the wild horse and burro populations, which could detract from the funds necessary to manage other NWR resources. Ruby has committed to coordinating with the Sheldon NWR to implement and maintain access restriction controls to prohibit the migration of wild horses and burros onto the Sheldon NWR.

Ruby would coordinate with the USFWS to repair or replace any cattle guards on the Sheldon NWR damaged by construction, and install new fencing, gates, or cattle guards at key areas. Finally, Ruby would erect fences to restrict animal movement out of the HMAs.

Construction of the pipeline could also affect wild horses and burros by creating safety hazards for the animals due to open trenches or vehicle collisions and increasing the likelihood of harassment.

The BLM would require, as part of its right-of-way grant, that Ruby minimize the amount of time that the trench is open to decrease the potential for wild horse and burro entrapment, and also would install exit ramps every 0.5 mile in trenches within HMAs to facilitate escape for animals that enter the trench.

Ruby also has stated that it would educate construction personal regarding the federal protection status of wild horses and burros and the penalties associated with their harassment. Ruby would post warning signs on access roads in areas known to have wild horses and burros to warn construction workers and to help minimize the risk of accidental vehicle/animal collisions.

Any animal observed to be injured requires Ruby to contact the BLM immediately to determine a proper course of action for compliance with the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

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