The act authorizes the department of agriculture (department) to create the Colorado wild horse management project (wild horse project) as a nonprofit, state-owned corporate entity that manages and operates programs benefitting wild horses and supports wild horse management. The director of the wild horse project will be selected by a committee of the governor, the commissioner of agriculture, the executive director of the department of natural resources, the majority leader of the house of representatives, and the minority leader of the senate. The wild horse project has the same powers as a nonprofit corporate entity. Until December 31, 2027, the department must annually report on the project to the governor, the joint budget committee, and the appropriate joint legislative committee at the department's "SMART Act" hearings.
The wild horse project may seek federal payment, gifts, grants, and donations for wild horse management support activities. On the effective date of the act, the state treasurer is required to transfer $1.5 million from the general fund to the wild horse project fund, which is created for use by the wild horse project and, until the project is created, the department. The money is continually appropriated for the purposes of the act.
The wild horse project must establish a working group to identify and pursue long-term solutions for wild horses that are removed from federal horse management areas or held in federal facilities and make recommendations to the governor and the general assembly. The working group will have representation from the executive branch, the legislative branch, nonprofit organizations, businesses, the western slope, and the ranching community. The Colorado state director of the federal bureau of land management (bureau), the Southern Ute Tribe, and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe may appoint representatives to the working group.
The wild horse project must oversee the wild horse stewardship program, created to help manage range health and infrastructure, and the wild horse fertility control program, created to manage the wild horse herd population by collaborating, coordinating, and training people and entities to manage wild horse populations.
The department must support the wild horse project through grants and contracts to assist with managing wild horse populations using fertility control methods, subject to approval by the bureau, until the wild horse project is created and commences its own program to manage wild horse populations. The department must also coordinate with certain interested parties.
To implement the act, $1,654 is appropriated from the general fund to the legislative department for use by the general assembly, and $21,148 is appropriated from the legal services cash fund to the department of law.
APPROVED by Governor May 20, 2023
EFFECTIVE May 20, 2023
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)