Heber Wild Horse Territory

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September 28, 2018

Update on the Heber Wild Horse Territory (HWHT) planning process


It’s already been a year since the collaborative group began the important work to provide recommendations that the forest and cooperating agencies will take into consideration in the development of the Heber Wild Horse Territory (HWHT) management plan. The group started by setting goals, and defining roles and expectations. Shortly afterwards they, along with subject matter experts, took a field trip to learn more about the territory.  They also developed a communications plan, drafted press releases, and contributed to the creation of a project website. The group identified desired conditions for the HWHT, developed proposed management actions and a host of adaptive management practices.  To tackle key issues and develop specific recommendations, the collaborative group divided into two subgroups with one group looking at forage and ecosystem health, and the other group looking at horse population health, genetics, and herd management.


The collaborative group was guided by Arizona State University, the convener, and a facilitation team, Southwest Decision Resources.  Members of the working group are composed of a variety of voluntary participants such as interested citizens, representatives of non-governmental organizations, academics, cattle growers, scientists, a Veterinarian, and horse advocates. Participating agencies joining the collaborative effort include the Arizona Game & Fish Department and the Arizona Department of Agriculture.


The collaborative working group is in the final stages of completing their deliberations and providing recommendations to the Forest Service and cooperating agencies.


I would like to take a moment to thank Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, Southwest Decision Resources, and the collaborative group members for all of their hard work and dedication over the past year. The work that was accomplished was a real testament to their commitment to the future of the Heber Wild Horse Territory, and could only have been achieved through open dialogue.


Now that the collaborative phase is nearing completion, it is time to begin the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The Forest has assembled an interdisciplinary team of resource specialists that will provide their expertise and analysis to aide in the development of the proposed action for the management plan, and draft an Environmental Impact Statement. Throughout the NEPA process there will be opportunities for the public to provide written comments. Public meetings will provide a means for further engagement during the planning process. The NEPA process is expected to be completed by 2020.


The key to the continued success of this process will be our unwavering commitment to the future of the Heber Horses. The HWHT is considered a special area by the Forest Service, and we are committed to developing a management strategy that maintains the horses in a thriving natural ecological balance and a multiple-use relationship on the territory.

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If you would like more information on the collaborative planning process, convened by Arizona State University, please visit the website at https://heberhorsecollaborative.asu.edu

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