AZ Chapter

Steve Johnson
Information Assistant
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Service

Steve Best
Forest Supervisor
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Service

Richard Madril
District Ranger
Black Mesa District
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Service

Kendell Hughes
Range Manager
Black Mesa District
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Service

Re: Request for “Permanent Permit to provide water for animals” – Inappropriate permittee fencing, during drought and forest closure, causing trapped horses and, creating a lack of water, and a fire hazard to the horses.

8 June 2018

Dear Sirs:
We are writing in regard to the issue of inappropriate permittee fencing, during drought and forest closure, causing trapped horses and, creating a lack of water, and a fire hazard to the horses.

Thank you for working with us and providing the permits you have communicated are necessary in order for us to provide a service (water tanks and water) to the Forest Service for these and other animals until the fencing issues are rectified and or the cattle grazing permittee are back and providing water as needed to the animals trapped by their permittee fencing apparently approved by the USDA FS. We have also communicated to multiple appropriate USDA FS personnel that all of the fences should have gates and that all gates should be opened and in fact that all gates on the HWHT should be locked open. We have documented that all fences do not have a gate, some only have a cattle guard and that the existing gates are not opened.

With this letter, we are also requesting that the permits we have obtained be issued as permanent until such time that the fencing issue which we alone have observed and worked to resolve, is resolved.

After finding the first band of horses trapped within fences, where no gates exist we alerted you to the situation and obtained permission to take tanks and water to them. After the forest closure, we followed all proper channels and obtained permits to continue this. As of Monday, June 11, 2018, we will have been providing water on the HWHT for 5 weeks. We have 15 tanks in place and are delivering up to 2,100 gallons of water per day.

While It has come to our attention that other groups are meeting with the FS personnel. Including one wild horse protection organization stating to one of our members that they are now spearheading the Heber Water Project. We have grave concerns with this on a number of levels.

Our people are all local and Robin Crawford has been our coordinator on the ground. Our people know the forest and the herds. This is essential for doing the job we are. Having Barbara Rasmussen, who does not drive, per my phone conversation with her, does not have funding in place, and does not know the forest or the herds is problematic at best.

We have documented for 5 weeks the collaboration between Ms. Rasmussen and the Forest Service. Those efforts were not successful and neither, followed up to ensure the horses in her “designated area of permit” were receiving water. No tanks were ever placed in this designated area either by her or by Rodney Porter. The day we verified that she never actually received the permit thanks to Mr. Steve Johnson, we obtained a temporary permit and got 2 tanks and water to horses in that area.

There may be a developing issue that would again ADD to the risk the animals/horses are already facing. We are being told that another organization and one of their previous associates, is looking to take over our work with you to keep these animals safe.

We feel it may be appropriate to notify you of previous issues that a certain governmental agency felt were animal welfare issues, apparently caused this group, which we understand is claiming ‘her lawyer’ is in control of the water efforts happening now, but that you may not be aware of severe issues with this group which we understand resulted in over 900 starved, injured horses that had to be removed
through legal channels in coordination with other rescue organizations and advocacy groups including ours, and at great expense. This is not a personal issue but we believe this is a matter of fact.

Pictures from the employee that were submitted to the courts are below.

Screenshot 2018-06-08 08.52.42 57ef223423c98-image


Screenshot 2018-06-08 08.57.25

Photo Source

If the USDA FS is involving either of these organizations or people involved with them, this would be of grave concern for the horses/animals we believe and to us. We do not think that passing any responsibility for the Heber Wild Horses on to people who we understand have shown not to be reliable regarding animal welfare in recent events should be considered.

If we are misunderstanding this issue regarding this “Protection” group, please let us know.

We also believe that our actions have proven to the USDA FS that we are capable and are successfully raising and addressing the issues of water and fencing, as well as working together with the USDA FS.

If any further action, other than our permit to take water during these ongoing drought and Forest closure should be taken we expect the next step to be taken would be opening fences and gates due to trapped horses and hazards of fire.

We appreciate the collaboration of the FS working with Citizens Against Equine Slaughter and our local chapter, the Heber Wild Horses Freedom Preservation Alliance. We look forward to a continued working relationship on this and other projects in the near future.

Theresa J Barbour
Research & Legal Consultant
Citizens Against Equine Slaughter
PO Box 115
Drain, Oregon 97435



  1. These are pictures from the ISPMB rescue a couple years ago. Is there now an attempt by this same rescue or someone involved to interfere with the ongoing care these horses have been getting? If so, thats a shame. Far too many caring people were involved with saving as many horses as they could in the winter of 2016.
    Hate to admit it, but the DOI, the BLM & the FS were not responsible for the 2016 mess.

  2. This makes me sick!! Pictures are evidence that should be used to file a lawsuit against the DOI, the BLM and in this case the FS and I suspect the BIA!! This is total dereliction of duty and jobresponsibility. Gross negligence. Thank God the volunteers and CAES are on the job.

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