Yes we battled with our Forest Service too. But in the end, they did the right thing.
There are big differences between ranger districts, regions, and Forest Supervisors, and each makes his/her own decisions.
The Tonto National Forest, (TNF for short) instead of letting their phones go into voice-mail, they hired more secretaries. Instead of argue with the upset callers, they listened. Instead of sending beloved wild horses to a horrid fate, they kept an open mind towards a more humane path. They said “we are public servants and we are going to listen to the public”.
Instead of making backroom deals, they organized a Salt River Horse Collaborative and invited us, plus many other stakeholders too. (Fyi, We did not get invited to the Heber wild horse collaborative) Instead of spreading false rumors about PZP, they saw the possibilities in fertility control.
When we said: ” the population can be reduced humanely, without ever removing one horse” we are not sure if they believed us back then.
However, they gave us time to prove it, and that’s how we changed these horses fate forever. Not one horse has ever been removed from the Salt River, except if it needed rescue.
Do they completely love wild horses the way we do? Probably not. To them they are kind of a pain in the butt. But we made sure to put our money where our mouths had been, and we handled each and every issue that’s ever come up regarding a Salt River Horse. So they didn’t have to deal with it.
There were many kinks to be worked out and a few compromises were made on our part as well as their part. But today, the only battles that still go on along the Salt River are between the horses. (and they always work it out quickly.)
We think the Tonto National Forest is one of the best managed National Forests and with it’s 8 million visitors yearly, and many different stakeholders, that can’t be easy.
The Salt River wild horses are not everywhere, they only get 20,000 acres to live on. But the public gets to enjoy them and they create tourism income for the local community. The TNF did the right thing.
The intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for the management of the Salt River horses is between the TNF and the AZDA and it is a one of it’s kind. We, SRWHMG, are the 3rd party contractor and we take care of everything, like we always said we would.
The AZDA and MCSO are close working partners ofcourse, and we mention them a lot, but today, we just want to give some kudos to the Tonto National Forest for being an honest and good partner in the humane management of the Salt River wild horses. Thank you TNF.
#tontonationalforest #SRWHMG #saltriverhorses #saltriverherd