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Horse decisions in Lyon County, federal government’s futures

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

Important decisions on the fate of wild horses will be made soon on both federal and county levels.

Wild horse advocates are pressuring Lyon County government and developers to fence the areas around their subdivisions lest wild horses go where they are not welcome and end up in BLM or state roundups.

On the federal side of the issue HR249, a bill reinstating a ban on slaughter of wild horses, is scheduled to come up for a vote on Wednesday in the House of Representatives.

The law provides “that no wild free-roaming horse or burro or its remains may be sold or transferred for consideration for processing into commercial products.”

The bill was introduced by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and is cosponsored by eight other lawmakers, including Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Efforts to reach Congressmen Dean Heller on how he would vote on the issue were unsuccessful.

Willis Lamm, of Least Resistance Training Corps., said that although state law requires property owners to fence out livestock, counties are responsible for putting fencing requirements on subdivisions and so far Lyon County has not done so.

“A subdivision is not open range and the county has the authority to establish fencing standards that apply to that subdivision,” he said. “The question is what about the boundary area of the subdivision meets open range?”

To answer that question, Lyon County planner Paul Esswein is drafting an ordinance that would require fencing between a planned-unit development and any open rangeland.

He said the ordinance, if passed, would apply to new developments and not those already approved.

“There are generally problems with adding requirements to things already in the pipeline,” he said.

He said the problems brought about by developers is that they don’t fence the developments and they aren’t consistent in providing home buyers with the Nevada Open Range Disclosure Form.

In August, 22 horses were removed from the Santa Maria Ranch area after damage was done to landscaping around the new homes in that subdivision. In December, another herd of seven horses were removed from the same subdivision.

At the time, Santa Maria developer Gary Hill agreed to bring up the subject of fencing with the subdivision’s homeowners’ association.

Bonnie Matton, of the Wild Horse Preservation League, said in an e-mail that some fencing of the subdivision had begun, but that it would not reach the highway.

She added her group had decided not to help pay for the fencing, fearing setting a precedent where they will be asked by every developer to help pay for fencing.

Her group will make a presentation to the Dayton Regional Advisory Council at its meeting Wednesday.

Lamm thinks that developers should be responsible for fencing.

“I have a problem when developers come in and they know the horses are there and they promise one thing and then they don’t deliver,” he said.

Hill could not be reached for comment.

If You Go

WHAT: Dayton Regional Advisory Council meeting

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Lyon County Utilities Building, 34 Lakes Blvd., Dayton

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.