Forest Service to withdraw notice on Salt River horses

The U.S. Forest Service has informed the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group that it intends to withdraw its July 31 notice to round up and impound the wild horses that roam the Tonto National Forest along the Salt River.

The withdrawal comes within days of the expiration of the 120-day stay of the roundup that was negotiated by the SRWHMG shortly after the impound notice was published.

Since August, the SRWHMG, the local community and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign have worked toward the cancellation of the impound notice in order to allow time to negotiate an agreement for the long-term protection of the horses on Salt River.

On Dec. 4, the Arizona U.S House delegation led by Congressman Matt Salmon, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging the Forest Service to move quickly to implement reasonable, humane solutions and protect the horses where they live. The letter encouraged the agency to work with the community and questioned why the horses could not be managed under the 1960 Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act.

Last week, I met with Neil Bosworth, the Tonto National Forest supervisor, and received assurances that the agency is committed to working toward a long-term plan for the humane management of the horses along the river.

This is a big deal to us. That notice has been hanging like a cloud over our heads all this time. We are grateful for this important step and will continue to do everything in our power to work with the Forest Service and other authorities towards the good of the Tonto National Forest.

“While much work remains to be done and many details to work out, this is a very positive step toward protecting these horses, who are clearly valued by the public,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “It’s wonderful when our elected representatives and government agencies listen to the will of the people.”