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Wild Horses Eating Cheatgrass - A Wildfire Mitigation Study

I would like the DOI to undertake a study on the relationship between wild horses, invasive grasses like "cheatgrass", and wildfires, especially in the Western United States. Also, I would like the reports and conclusions of the study to be made available on the DOI website.

I have submitted a number of ideas and comments regarding wild horses on our public lands. One of the issues that frequently come up in wild horse discussion groups is the invasive plant commonly called "cheatgrass". As I understand it, this grass is extremely opportunistic. It grows in the early spring and then dies, providing dried ground fuel that helps spread wildfires.

There have been observations that wild horses feed on cheatgrass when it first emerges, before seed heads have a chance to develop and disperse. There have been professional firefighters who consider the absence of wild horses on areas where cheatgrass has taken hold actually increases wildfire danger.

I think this type of study could provide important information on mitigating the available fuels that contribute to the dangerous and destructive wildfires that ravage our lands, and might find our wild horses are more than icons of the West. They may be a natural, widely available, and economical fire brigade.


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  1. Comment

    Linda, I have heard much about this also and the sever effects many of these invasive plants contribute to sever wildfires. And the benfit of wild horses. Its not wildfires that are bad, it is when the natural BTU of the fuel load is unaturally high that the fires become overly sever. And wild horses help to curtial the seeding. The fire service has a huge inventory of information on many plants and on Cheatgrass:

    Moderator - I hope this is allowed. If not please advise the best way this information be provided for further research.

  2. Comment

    We have been able to reduce and almost eradicate the cheatgrass in our pasture by grazing the horses(10)and a small herd of goats (9),part-time, in the early spring to keep it from going to seed. They love it when it is green and tender and seem to prefer it so it gives the other grasses a chance to come on. We are in our 5th year of re-habilitating a severely overgrazed dryland pasture. We do not irrigate because there is no water with the land. They graze together and our pasture has never looked better.