Director: Agriculture Department is on board in wild horse project

The state is working with wild horse groups to come up with a cooperative agreement to possibly relocate Virginia Range horses at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

Nevada Department of Agriculture Executive Director Donna Rise said that comments by acting state veterinarian Dr. Anette Rink in a story earlier this week about the TRI plan did not accurately reflect the department's position.

"The draft proposed cooperative endeavor is a work in progress," Rise said in an e-mail. "The department has agreed to provide constructive comments as wild horse advocates move toward a cooperative agreement that will address a variety of needs."

She said there was a lot of work to be done to assess the land capacity at TRI and the condition of the range as well as the horses, but the state is still optimistic about working out an agreement.

Though they can't promise anything yet, officials are hopeful. The state is struggling right now with the cost of feeding wild horses taken off the Virginia Range.

"The Nevada horses are a unique, public resource having their own special appeal that resonates with people's sense of history and serves as a symbol of Western culture," she said. "The department recognizes the interest that individuals and groups have in the horses and the collective desire to address the challenges these Western icons face."

Rise said the new state veterinarian, Phil LaRussa, would be scheduling meetings with the groups.

"The Department of Agriculture is committed to a sustainable, healthy horse population." Rise said. "Although this is a challenging process, we remain committed to moving forward. To that end, the department is working to bring together the interested parties to partner in solutions that will ensure the viability of a healthy and sustainable population for generations to come."

She said she appreciates that the public has a "love affair" with the wild horses, and added it just makes sense to involve the advocates in deciding what's best for the animals.

"The state is willing to work with any group's ideas and suggestions because we all have the same goal: a sustainable horse herd," she said.

•••

Ashlee Smith is at it again.

The 8-year-old Sparks girl who mounted, with the help of her mom, a toy drive for children who were victims of the Angora fire last July, is doing it again.

Only this time it's for Fernley children who lost items in the flooding.

"I know that most kids keep all of their toys on the floor in their rooms, so almost all of their new Christmas toys were ruined by the water and the mud," she wrote in a letter.

Ashlee raised a semi-truckload of toys and clothes for the fire victims and hopes to do it again for the kids in Fernley.

"Everyone always helps the adults and I want to help the kids," she said.

Reno Rodeo will be helping in the toy drive, she said.

New clothes and toys can be dropped off from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday at Custom Aire Inc., 2205 Glendale Ave., Suite 143, Sparks, NV 89431.

For information, call 527-2245 or 331-3337.

•••

Well, tomorrow is the caucuses and thanks to political correctness, the Democrats in Virginia City won't have as good a party as they did last election.

The last time the caucus was held, as it has been for many years, it was in an upstairs banquet room at the Delta Saloon and Casino. Though the bar in the banquet room was not in operation, caucus-goers were free to order libations at the bar downstairs and bring them along - which many of them did.

Come on, you need a stiff one to be able to vote for some of these clowns. Candidates make a lot more sense after alcohol has dulled the senses.

This year the location for the Democratic caucus is the Virginia City Middle School gym, where, of course, there is no downstairs bar.

A state Democratic Party official in Las Vegas said the reason for the location change was because the upstairs banquet room at the Delta is not handicapped accessible.

Last year there were no caucus-goers who were disabled, and this year is likely to be no different. Yet, the official said, party policy is not to "disenfranchise" anyone.

Another Comstock tradition goes down to political correctness.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 881-7351.

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