We are still just a small organization; we don’t have millions of dollars and we cannot hire professional fencers. However what we do have, is many determined people applying teamwork, expertise and determination, to accomplish amazing things together.
Bush Highway is a road that cuts directly through the habitat of the Salt River wild horses, with their grazing grounds on one side and their water source on the other. It has no lighting and the speed limit is 45 in most places. This road falls under jurisdiction of MCDOT and just outside of it, it is public lands, the Tonto National Forest, under jurisdiction of the local Forest Service, the Mesa Ranger district.
For many years we have worked hard with both of these agencies pushing for safety improvements through proposals, emails and meetings. We have gotten some of the improvements we’ve needed, and some we haven’t. We’ve gotten farther and more things accomplished for wild horses than anywhere else in the country, but what we would really like to see is real concern and real cooperation from either of these agencies BEFORE the real life tragedies we predict, occur.
A fence has been highly needed in the area of Granite Reef (the burn area) for the past 5 years, in order to prevent accidents in this most dangerous corner of Bush hwy. Both agencies have been aware because we notify them in writing. The Forest Service was not planning to put a fence here and has never authorized us to construct one either, because they said a NEPA process was needed. (that takes 3 years, but was never started 3 years ago either)
The band of horses that frequents the area, the handsome but notorious Lancelot, has tragically lost 3 band members to traffic and 2 bandmembers to the canal, because it is so dangerous here. (2 died from the collisions and 3 have been rescued and are living happily ever after at our facility.)
We have had to watch Lancelot tragically loose one horse after another; it has caused heartache and grief and extreme danger to the public in the blind corner at the beginning of Bush Hwy. It has also cost us thousands of dollars in vet bills.
However, the situation instead of getting better, became even more dire in the last two weeks with the newly constructed FS fence on the Southside! This left Bush Hwy wide open from the northside, but closed on the southside, with no other place to go for Lancelot’s band, except for the middle of the road. (See Video)
Then, all of the professional paid FS fencers went home, and no one was available in the offices because of the holidays. So OUR holidays were spent trying to keep horses off the road, at all hours of the night, ensuring that no one had a tragic accident during the holidays.
MCSO was also called, but they do not have the time to assist with horses on the road, so here we are, on cold holiday nights, protecting public safety and wild horses, when we should have been with our families too.
After decades of recording information on the same wild horses daily, we know their territories, we know their migrating patterns, we know the area and we always inform all of the agencies when there is an issue. We OFFER our help, we cooperate with everyone and we do whatever it takes to keep people and horses SAFE. The agencies know all of this, it is why we have a contract with the State to humanely manage the Salt River wild horses, who are protected by State law.
With the situation a daily occurence at Granite Reef, here we are again, pushing for solutions to real life safety issues. Well, we finally just were authorized to do something. ( We just don’t know why it had to take 5 years, 6 accidents in the same spot, 5 horses, and us getting very upset. )
The minute after they let us, on MCDOT’s easement, we installed about a quarter mile of 3 strand barbless wire fence and finished it just yesterday. We then walked Lancelot’s band away from Power road, out of the dangerous Granite Reef Rec area, away from harm, to safety, behind our new fence. The horses then kept a steady pace towards Phon D Sutton when we left them. Tadaaaa.
We want to thank AZDA for their help with traffic assistance during the project and we want to thank you the public for your support.
Problem solved, by hard working citizens, with donated money from the public. Long live Lancelot, all of the other Salt River wild horses, and the people who will do just about anything to protect them.
UP NEXT, we need an overpass!
Thank you. SRWHMG.