Draft Proposed Action for the Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Plan
The draft proposed action for the Heber Wild Horse Territory was developed with recommendations from stakeholders and puts a high priority on relationships with communities and public input in future phases of this plan’s development. The selection of a management strategy for the Heber wild free-roaming horse herd and habitat falls to the deciding official, however, the Forest Service worked for 15 months with an established collaborative working group facilitated by Southwest Decision resources and Arizona State University School of Sustainability during the development of the draft plan. Forest Service officials will prepare an environmental assessment document to analyze the environmental effects associated with development and implementation of the action. The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the assessment document. USDA Forest Service encourages public engagement and to submit comments through the many provided opportunities.
Unmanaged horses can increase in numbers to a point where they exceed the ability of the land to sustain them, leading to a decline in health of the animals. When population thresholds are met or exceeded, conflict with other animal populations and uses of the land develop. The draft plan fosters 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.
Public participation is key for the development and implementation of a management plan. The draft proposed plan for the Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Plan is a compilation of informed, creative, and solution-oriented recommendations developed by the USDA Forest Service and an established collaborative working group, facilitated by Southwest Decision Resources and Arizona State University School of Sustainability.
Establishment of an appropriate management level is critical in formulating the range of numbers of animals that will result in a thriving natural ecological balance and avoid deterioration of the range. The higher and lower limit of the appropriate management level for horses within the Heber Wild Horse Territory will be based on an in-depth analysis of population inventory, resource monitoring, and other available data. A range of types of monitoring will enable us to know which tool to utilize to help manage population growth, change patterns of horse use, and to maintain horse health and habitat.