Tonto National Forest officials made the announcement Thursday they have decided to “take another look” at the plan.
PHOENIX (KPHO/KTVK) – The U.S. Forest Service is reevaluating its plan to round up and remove dozens of wild horses from the Salt River.
Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor at the Tonto National Forest, released this statement Thursday:
“We appreciate the local community’s feedback and we’ve decided to take another look at the proposed gathering of stray horses at Tonto National Forest. The Forest Service will continue to engage with the local community, state and federal officials to explore potential alternatives for meeting our obligations for both land stewardship and public safety.”
The Tonto National Forest had placed a Friday deadline on letting people claim any stray horses from the wild herd. After that, Forest Service officials planned to round up the wild horses and remove them from the national forest land.
The plan had stirred a huge amount of controversy, emotion and public outcry. The issue also prompted protests, and led advocates and lawmakers to make appeals to scrap the plan.
In response to the feedback, Tonto National Forest officials made the announcement Thursday they have decided to “take another look” at the plan.
The response was immediate. Sen. Jeff Flake posted this on his Twitter page Thursday afternoon:
Just received word that the #SaltRiverWildHorses roundup has been called off. The Forest Service has decided to reexamine the issue.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 6, 2015
Senator John Mcain responded on Twitter as well:
Forest Service is postponing roundup of #SaltRiverWildHorses – step in right direction, but FS must engage w/ concerned Arizonans, answer Qs
Bill Miller is the attorney representing the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, which filed a lawsuit to stop the feds from removing the horses.
Miller said that public pressure from the community had an impact on the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to take a step back and re-evaluate the wild horse issue.
“I think it was the forest service making the decision to monitor public input,” said Miller. “Obviously, they will be looking at the law we cited in our lawsuit and doing some due diligence to whether or not this is a proper decision.”
Miller said that Thursday’s announcement was a victory, but he’s not about to celebrate.
He plans to move forward with their lawsuit to prevent the forest service from ever removing wild horses in the future.