Salt River Horse Advocates Applaud Arizona Congressional Delegation’s Support for Salt River Wild Horses

For Immediate Release

Phoenix, AZ (December 5, 2015) The Arizona-based Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and its national coalition partner, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign today applauded U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon and seven of his colleagues from Arizona for sending a letter asking the U.S. Forest Service to step up efforts to protect the Salt River wild horses in the Tonto National Forest outside Phoenix.

Rep. Salmon, joined by Representatives Trent Franks, Martha McSally, Ann Kirkpatrick, Raul Grijalva, Kyrsten Sinema, Ruben Gallego and David Schweikert, sent the letter on behalf their constituents, “who remain adamant that these horses be left alone and allowed to live free.” It asks the Forest Service to protect the horses as treasured natural resources in the national forest, and urges development of “a sound management plan that allows this herd to continue to live on the land where it has resided for so many years.” The lawmakers also asked the Forest Service to extend by another six months the original 120-day roundup delay to allow time for a management agreement to be reache

“We are very grateful for and proud of Representative Salmon and the entire Arizona Congressional delegation for standing up for their constituents who clearly want the Salt River wild horses protected in their habitat in the Tonto National Forest,” said Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. “This continued political support makes us optimistic about the prospect of reaching the agreement we’ve been seeking for the humane management and long-term preservation of the Salt River horses.”

“Rep. Salmon and his colleagues have our deep gratitude for being champions for their constituents who demand protection for the iconic Salt River horses in their habitat,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC director. “We’re grateful to Arizona Senators McCain and Flake and Governor Ducey who have also demonstrated their strong commitment to protecting the interests of Arizona citizens and the thousands of tourists from around the globe who enjoy viewing these unique horses in their home in the national forest.”

Last summer, the Forest Service set off a storm of public outrage when it published a notice to impound the Salt River horses and remove them from the Tonto National Forest. The horses, who have lived along the lower Salt River for more than a century and are uniquely adapted to the river environment, enjoy strong public and political support. In fact, wild horse watching is one of the most popular recreational activities in the Tonto National Forest, which is one of the most visited urban forests in the U.S., with nearly six million visitors annually.

In news release about his letter, Congressman Salmon stated, ““Our government is a government by, of, and for the people.  When the Forest Service decided to round up a valuable local resource, the people’s outcry forced it to halt its plans and promise to consult with our constituents.  Sadly, it appears the Forest Service is treating this consultation as a token effort, as no new management plan has been introduced.  As we quickly approach the deadline for action, we want to reiterate our calls for the Forest Service to consult with the people directly affected by their actions before implementing any plan.”

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group is an Arizona non-profit organization established to protect, monitor and scientifically study the Salt River Wild Horses. The SRWHMG has been spearheading the effort to secure lasting protections for this iconic and beloved wild horse herd in the Tonto National Forest.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHPC’s mission to preserve and protect wild horses and burros in viable free-roaming herds on public lands for generations to come is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.

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