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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