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Horse Waste Program May Get on Fast Track

Citing economic and environmental concerns, a City Council committee Monday asked the heads of two departments to continue looking at ways to expand a program that collects horse manure for use in composting.

Plans to update the collection service--which saves the city money by keeping the waste out of landfills--have been on hold for more than a year as officials from the Department of Animal Regulation and the Bureau of Sanitation have explored ways to license more of the city’s equines and bring them into the program.

Despite a city ordinance that requires licenses, only 1,840 of the city’s horses have been properly registered, animal regulation officials said.

Estimates on the actual number of horses citywide vary from 20,000 to 100,000.

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The $14 city licensing fee pays for the upkeep of trails and the placement of markers, said Francine Oschin, assistant deputy chief to Councilman Hal Bernson, who has pushed for the program’s expansion.

Oschin said it is unfair for a small percentage of horse owners to pay for amenities that benefit all riders.

To be fair and because of ongoing environmental and monetary concerns related to the dumping of manure in landfills, Bernson has requested that the issue come before the council as soon as possible, Oschin said.

“A lot of people just shovel the manure in the washes,” Oschin said.

“It becomes a big problem because it compresses like clay and it’s very difficult to remove.”

Only about 220 horse owners--most of whom live in the far eastern and western areas of the Valley--currently participate in the collection program.

Those owners pay $5 per month for every 30 gallons of manure trucked away by the city.

The manure, which is dumped by the horse owners into special containers, is hauled to a recycling site in Sun Valley where it is mixed with yard trimmings and other degradable materials for use as compost and fertilizer.

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