The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests is seeking public input on the Draft Proposed Action for the Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Plan. The scoping period begins today, February 14, 2020, with publication of the draft proposed action and will be open for comment for 30 days. Scoping provides an opportunity for the USDA Forest Service to introduce and explain the approach being considered and solicit input.
USDA Forest Service’s proposal to develop and implement a plan will guide future management of the horses and their habitat, including setting an appropriate management level of wild free-roaming horses for the territory. The proposed action is designed to foster a self-sustaining population of healthy animals within the designated territory, in a thriving natural ecological balance as part of a functioning ecosystem with other ecological values, land management uses, and within the productive capacity of their habitat.
The draft proposed action was developed with recommendations from stakeholders and put a high priority on relationships with communities and public input in future phases of the plan’s development. During the development of the draft plan, the USDA Forest Service worked for 15 months with an established collaborative working group facilitated by Southwest Decision Resources and Arizona State University School of Sustainability. The working group included wild horse advocates; ranchers; wildlife managers; and professionals in equine recreation, training, range science and veterinary medicine. It also included feedback from Arizona state agencies such as Arizona Game and Fish Department and Arizona Department of Agriculture.
The USDA Forest Service intends to continue to usher the proposed action forward collaboratively with the most diverse group of stakeholders possible before the deciding official, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests’ supervisor, makes the final selection of a management strategy for the Heber wild free-roaming horse herd and habitat.
To read the draft proposed action (https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=18916) and submit comments, please visit the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests NEPA Project webpage: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/asnf/HeberComments