Pictured above: Black Canyon Road crossing on Tuesday just west of the Heber IGA Grocery store. Below: Artists Draw Road crossing (west side) at Buckskin Canyon on Monday.
This last week there was a warming trend with mixed snow and rain. Those conditions were enough to accelerate thawing of much of the snow on the upper levels of the Mogollon Rim. The ravines continued to flow at a more rapid rate than before.
Some crossings have closed due to the rising waters. The in-town crossings that have signs posted “Do not cross when flooded” have at times gone unheeded by some, judging by the wet tire tracks on both sides coming out of the water. Those that are closed to passage are the Artists Draw Road at Buckskin Canyon crossing and the other is Black Canyon Road crossing just west of the Heber IGA Market.
One census worker by the name of “Tom” walked to the paved shore of the Buckskin Canyon crossing with his muddy boots and a paint scraper in hand mentioned, “Instead of breaking out the hose at home, I can come here and not have to mess up my yard. The clay and mud in Clay Springs stuck to my boots like peanut butter. It’s really hard to get this stuff off,” he said. “It really was a sloppy mess over there.”
Those road crossings include many that are in the forest as well. Forest Service Road 50A, where it crosses one arm of the Buckskin Canyon, had a depth where no one has crossed recently evident by the lack of fresh tire tracks in the mud on the road. It was much deeper than the other crossings and running swiftly. Even a high profile truck would have water entering the door jamb.
On Tuesday, the snow returned making roads slippery. Weather forecasters expect more storms are coming. Our wetter than normal season continues.
Wild or feral horses continue to roam free on the Mogollon Rim years after the Rodeo-Chediski Fire. There are some estimated 300 head according to Forest Service officials that came from various places after the fire. They are not native and compete with elk, cattle and pronghorn sheep for food and water. According to a study by the Bureau of Land Management, wild horse herds grow at a rate of 20 percent. However, in a statement from the government, “Congress finds and declares that wild, free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the nation and enrich the lives of the American people,” the introduction to the 1971 law says. “It is the policy of Congress that wild, free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment or death,” the law states.
The BLM has been rounding up these horses and removing them and relocating portions of the herds.
On May 26 there will be a final decision on the litigation pending against the government by the California-based “Defense of Animals” in the courts on the horse removal from the BLM lands. That possibly could set a precedent on how the population on the Mogollon Rim is handled by the Forest Service.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) introduced a bill last year to protect wild mustangs. The bill has passed the House but is stalled in the Senate. There is a plan to start contraception next year by the BLM. When and where that starts, no report is available on that schedule yet. There have been promises made in the past to start that program, but no indication of any agencies commitment yet. With the increasing population of these herds, we may see more of these horses around our community as time passes unless something changes.
There have been reports in Arizona of horse abandonment on public lands by citizens due to recent economic downturn and having the lack of money to take care of them. It is illegal to “leave or drop off” any horse in any national forest or public lands.