Fence project to keep horses off highway to begin next phase

January 11, 2020 GMT

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Tonto National Forest officials say workers plan Monday to begin installing 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) of steel fencing along and near the lower Salt River east of metro Phoenix to prevent wild horses from crossing the Bush Highway and to keep livestock from mingling with the horse herd.

Forest officials say the fence work starting Monday is the second phase of a project that saw workers on Friday complete installation of 10 miles (16 kilometers) of barbed wire fencing. That work began in November.

Forest Service and state Department of Agriculture officials said previous fences didn’t prevent horses from getting onto the highway, resulting in the deaths of 20 or more horses annually.

The Forest Service said the project includes installing 35 gates at designated trails and historically-used access points.