The Salt River wild horses are the historic and majestic creatures roaming the lower Salt River in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. They are the pride of the community, a favorite subject of photographers and the icon of the wild, free spirit of Arizona and the American West.
These wild horses were brought into the limelight during the epic battle for their protection; the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group rounded up large herds of people who gave them a voice; we stampeded congress and we worked toward positive solutions with Federal and State governments. It worked; while almost gone forever, today the Salt River wild horses are protected pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute 3-1491 (aka the Salt River Horse Act) We are currently under contract to manage this herd humanely under the AZ Department of Agriculture (AZDA), this partnership is rare and very succesful, however we have to warn that the battle for their protection is not yet over. Please see below press release.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Simone Netherlands, 928-925-7212
FOREST SERVICE IS FENCING THE LOWER SALT RIVER
- MANAGEMENT GROUP WARNS PUBLIC OF DETRIMENTAL IMPACTS
- SALT RIVER WILD HORSES TO LOSE HABITAT
- TUBERS/KAYAKERS TO BE HINDERED BY RIVER CROSS FENCE
Mesa, AZ (January 12, 2020)…. The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) today reacted to news that the Tonto National Forest intends to begin construction of a nearly four-mile, metal fence along the banks of the lower Salt River, warning that the fence will have devastating impacts to protected wild horses as well as to Forest visitors.
The management group urged the Forest Service to drop plans to construct the fence and criticized its failure to disclose and analyze the boundary fence’s many serious impacts, which include blocking wild horses from accessing their critical river and historic habitats on both sides of the river, creating a risk of starvation and dehydration. The fence will also harm tubers and kayakers by forcing them to pass through a gate in the fence across the river, raising public safety and aesthetic concerns.
“We are alarmed that the Forest Service did not consider the fence’s negative impacts to the Salt River wild horses, who are protected under state law, and to the thousands of kayakers, tubers, hikers and wildlife viewers, who enjoy this beautiful area of the Tonto National Forest,” said Simone Netherlands, President of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. “We call on the Forest Service to suspend construction immediately and explore alternatives.”
The group is also concerned about Forest Service fencing along Bush Hwy. While SRWHMG shares the goal of keeping horses out of the roadway, the current fencing, once closed, will cut off horses from the entire south side of Bush Hwy, almost half of their historic habitat. This will result in a severe concentration of horses exactly where the most people are, putting people and horses on a course to collision, making future wild horse removals highly likely. SRWHMG has advocated for a wildlife overpass over Bush Hwy as a solution, but this is NOT currently included in the fencing plan.
“We believe that cutting the Salt River wild horses off of half of their historic habitat and building fences to keep them away from the river is not consistent with the state law that protects the Salt River wild horses, which mandates that they be protected ‘where they have historically lived,’” Netherlands concluded.
Today, SRWHMG, with its national coalition partner the American Wild Horse Campaign, are launching a Week of Action to Save the #SaltRiverHorses to protest the fence and weigh in on the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s pending decision on a permanent management plan for the horses (see below).