Siskiyou County’s Multifaceted Ag Commissioner Meets with Cal-State Students on Wild Horse Research

Jim Smith, Siskiyou County’s Agricultural Commissioner since 2015, comes from a long line of farmers with roots in the Chico area. Growing up in Tulelake, he pursued higher education in agriculture, earning his bachelor’s degree from Chico State and later his master’s degree. He worked as an ag consultant for two decades before transitioning to teaching in various schools.

Smith’s role as commissioner encompasses diverse responsibilities, including animal control, air pollution management,and weights and measures. His overarching goal is to leave the county’s agricultural sector in a better state than he found it.

In recent years, Smith has taken interest in William E. Simpson II’s research on the environmental benefits of horses, specifically their potential for wildfire fuel management through grazing. Recognizing the value of this research and the unique role of horses in the local ecosystem, Smith formally recognized Simpson’s nonprofit, Wild Horse Fire Brigade, as the legal owner of a heritage herd of horses northeast of Hornbrook in 2022. This designation reclassified the horses as livestock, providing them with legal protection.

On June 10th, Smith visited Wild Horse Ranch to meet with students from California State University, Sacramento who were conducting field research with the horses. During the visit, he emphasized the expanding career opportunities for environmental science graduates in the agricultural sector, even within his own department. This visit highlighted the growing intersection between environmental science, animal husbandry, and wildfire management.


  1. Barbara Bocca

    I hate that they’re being called “livestock”. These are wild mustangs who belong all over our public lands to live out their lives in peace with their families. I love that you’re educating the next generation about the value of these magnificent animals!

  2. Gopa Patni

    Bravo to Jim Smith! Thank you for recognizing William Smith’s 11 research on the benefits of keeping wild horses for a fire brigade.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *