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Know the West

Take a load off

  Forget llamas, goats or horses, says the Bureau of Land Management. Burros are better for packing equipment into the backcountry. That's the message the federal agency is trying to get across to baby boomers, says Tom Taylor of Mesa, Ariz., a volunteer who takes his burro, Hualapai, to community events to talk up the adopt-a-burro program. The prospect of weight-free walking led Taylor to bring a burro home 10 years ago. Since then, he's trained Hualapai to carry his equipment on hundreds of miles of trails, including the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon.

Arizona has nearly 3,000 wild burros, says agency spokeswoman Dorothea Boothe, and to keep herds from overrunning available public land, the agency works hard to encourage adoption. Private owners must guarantee a good home; bidding starts at $125 and Internet adoptions are possible. Visit the Web site at www.blm.gov/whb/internetadpt.html You can also call the BLM in Phoenix at 623/580-5500.