Three-step cycle aimed at removing threat to military in training area
FORT POLK — The Joint Readiness Training Center commanding general has released the Environmental Assessment (EA) and draft Finding of No Significant Impacts (FNSI) concerning the disposition of trespass horses at Fort Polk.
Using the National Environmental Protection Act process, Fort Polk has developed and analyzed a variety of alternatives, including those recommended in public comments, to eliminate the danger to American military personnel caused by horses trespassing on the Fort Polk training area.
The public has 30 days to comment on the documents. No decision will be made until all input has been considered.
The EA and draft FNSI are available in four local parish libraries:
Beauregard Parish Library, 205 South Washington Avenue, DeRidder; Rapides Parish Library, 411 Washington Street, Alexandria; Vernon Parish Library, 1401 Nolan Trace, Leesville; and Sabine Parish Library, 705 W. Main Street, Many. The EA and draft FNSI can also be viewed at http://www.jrtc-polk.army.mil/trespass_horses.html.
The population of trespass horses on the military training area creates a safety hazard and training distractor. After a careful and thorough analysis considering safety, training impacts, environmental impacts, public perceptions, cost and time, the preferred alternative is to remove the trespass horses using a cyclic process. This process was selected because it offers the best opportunity to find a new safe home for every horse.
The cyclic process begins with the round-up of about 10-30 horses. The first step provides official 501(c)3 (animal welfare groups) with a 10-day window to claim the horses. Fort Polk officials will maintain a list of interested advocacy groups and will contact a group via e-mail when horses are available to be picked up.
This process provides the best opportunity for 501c(3) organizations to assist with the effort while not being overwhelmed with a large volume of horses at one time.
If any horses are not picked up by the animal welfare group, the process proceeds to the second step which provides the general public a seven-day window to claim a horse.
Fort Polk will also maintain a list of members of the general public interested in receiving horses and will contact the list members via e-mail when horses are available to be picked up.
Fort Polk officials believe that all or almost all of the horses will be removed by animal welfare groups or members of the general public, but to ensure that every horse is removed so that safety concerns are sufficiently addressed, Fort Polk has another step in the cyclic process.
If any horses are not picked up by members of the general public, the third step is for the Army to offer the remaining horses for sale to the general public at a local sale barn.
Upon completion of all three steps, the cycle begins again until no horses exist on the training area. Throughout the process, Fort Polk officials will consider offers to relocate all or significant numbers of the horses to non-Army property.
Fort Polk officials anticipate the process may take three years. This allows for the removal of the horses from the training area so JRTC remains the premier training facility in the Army.
"In order for this installation to remain viable, we must be able to provide rigorous, realistic training without risk from avoidable interference and hazards," said Col. Gregg Athey, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Polk commander.
Comments may be sent by e-mail to email@example.com or by mail to: JRTC and Fort Polk, Public Affairs Office, Attention: Public Response, 7033 Magnolia Drive Bldg. 4919, Fort Polk, LA 71459