Slow steps in making Highway 50 safe

It takes an earthquake for government to take action.

Unfortunately, state or federal government — take your pick – always appears to be in a reactive state rather than proactive. Planning for the future, however, doesn’t involve a crystal ball but better common sense and foresight without being strangled in red tape and political correctness.

The U.S. Highway 50 corridor between Mound House and Fallon has seen its share of fatal crashes, near misses and run-ins with wild horses that periodically camp on the highway while waiting to cross to the other side. The days of wandering wild horses along the highways must be curtailed for public safety.

Too much governmental kicking the can down Highway 50 has caused a problem of too many horses grazing along and near the roadway. Too many times, collisions have occurred between the Mustangs and vehicles, which have led to the deaths of both horses and humans.

Such an unnecessary waste of life.

The public’s safety far outweighs any horse’s right to graze along a public highway. Blind justice abounds when horse lovers say “leave them alone” and let them graze. Others blame drivers for the mishaps. If that be true, then drive Highway 50 at night without a moon shining on the vast landscape while playing Russian roulette with the chance of unexpectedly meeting a wild horse.

A noted University of Nevada, Reno expert in range ecology said the horse management areas is also not being managed effectively. The federal government’s wild-horse management for decades has not been ideal considering how Congress plays with the Bureau of Land Management’s budget like a blind puppeteer.

Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil recently blasted the state’s Department of Agriculture on several occasions for its herd management. It also took a deputy’s crash into several horses last month to bring more awareness to this problem and for McNeil to go on a long overdue and needed rant to get someone’s attention.

Now, the Nevada Department of Transportation will issue a contract later this year to install fences designed to keep the wild horses off Highway 50 in the Stagecoach and Silver Springs areas. Stagecoach is where in late September, the Nevada Highway Patrol responded to a fatal crash between the driver of an Explorer and a wild horse near the firehouse. A 26-year-old man formerly from Fallon was traveling westbound when he struck the feral horse on the highway.

The state, though, installed an underpass on the USA Parkway for horses to use without fear of being hit by a vehicle. Nevada, along with seven other states and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, is looking at additional over and underpasses for both horses and wildlife.

What’s even more astonishing, however, is this problem has been ongoing for years, even before the 2006-2015 reporting period when the state recorded 350 horse vs. vehicle crashes, the largest concentration along the Highway 50 corridor.

Protecting the highway with fencing and crossings is a good first step. Managing the herds will be a nice second step. Being proactive, especially with more growth expected between Dayton and Silver Springs, is the third.

But we do have one question regarding the decades of collisions and deaths. Why has it taken so long for the state to respond?

LVN editorials appear on Wednesdays.


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