Extreme fire danger forced forest closure
As the days moved on more people both near and far became aware of the drought situation and helped in different ways such as donating or loaning water tanks to be placed in the forest, donating water from their wells to fill the tanks, offering money for gas for the water haulers, etc. All was greatly appreciated more than words can express.
On May 23, 2018 due to extreme fire danger the Forest Service closed areas of the Sitgreaves including the areas where the wild horses are most abundant. Entry gates were closed and locked and closure signs were posted. The HWHFPA coordinated with the Forest Service and water haulers were issued permits so that they could continue to enter the forest in order to provide water for the wild horses and other wildlife in the areas where the animals were cut off from water sources due to cattle pasture fencing. Our permitted water hauling team was Robin, Irene, Jackie, Mike, Bob, and Stacy. The permits were very specific as to who could enter the forest, where they could go, and when they could go in.
Although the Forest Service did not actually participate in the water delivery effort they listened to our needs and responded accordingly though not always as quickly as they should have. We learned that no water had been provided on FS Rd 50 by the party the Forest Service told us would be coordinating to do so. So we fought with FS in order for our haulers to be allowed to include hauling water into that area. After a few days our haulers were finally issued a temporary permit for the other party’s area. Weeks had gone by with no water being hauled into that area of crisis. The other party not only didn’t provide the water they said they would, they didn’t even bother to tell anybody, including the Forest Service, which left the horses and other wildlife to suffer for their negligence. That party did come back days later and began hauling water to their area of assignment.
As the summer temperatures grew hotter the tanks were running dry before the day was over. One trip into the forest a day was not enough. After explaining the situation to the Forest Service our haulers were permitted a second daily run.
Finally the monsoon rains came. The forest was reopened on July 16. Water haulers were asked to remove their temporary tanks.
We are forever grateful to all the people who helped by donating their time and resources because we could not have done it alone. Water hauling has been occurring off and on as needed since the summer of 2018.
Just a few photos from the water hauling effort of 2018...