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Could horses be the solution to preventing wildfires in our state?

Posted at 12:27 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 12:09:25-04

PHOENIX — It's an out-of-the-box proposal brought on by William Simpson, who created the organization "Wild Horse Fire Brigade."

His ideas have been circulating on social media.

Through his research, he says he's found that horses placed in remote parts of the country where fires are common would eat grass and brush, cutting the amount of fuel that can spark a wildfire.

"The forests are burning to the ground. We're reducing our forests now by fire faster than we can grow. This is unsustainable, and we've got to change," Simpson says.

The Bureau of Land Management tells ABC15 they have concerns about the idea.

They say they don't have the legal authority to place wild horses on public lands where they weren't originally from.

They also worry unmanaged grazing could cause problems.

"We might actually make things a little bit more fragile," says Scott Fluer, with the agency's wild horse and burro program. "We might have an increase in the non-native plant community. We might have increased soil erosion. This could even make fire frequency even worse or more dangerous."

Bureau officials say it would also be difficult to manage the reproduction of those horses.

But Simpson says his research shows it could work.

He plans on bringing his ideas to leaders across the country, including in Arizona.