I have been drawn to southern Utah, particularly Moab, for the past six years. I pass in and out of this town several times each year. Of all the places that I've been, Mill Creek is my favorite and my most visited. I've watched the numbers of people grow tremendously in this short time, who, along with me, impact the canyon greatly with our foot traffic. Not only us, but the dogs we bring with us! It's sad to see all the changes, and I can only imagine what the locals saw before I arrived, and before them, when the Indians once lived there. They would be horrified.
On Sept. 9, a friend and I hiked up Left Hand around 3 to 4 miles. Where the canyon opened up, there was horse manure everywhere! Soon we ran into 6 horses with no saddles, just roaming around with no humans in sight. It appeared that they had entered the canyon from further upstream. We observed them walking up and down the trail for the next quarter mile that we hiked (and beyond that), destroying the quality of the trail. They were trampling over crypto and hanging out along the creek. It was alarming to see all the damage done.
I reported the situation to BLM shortly after and sent them pictures of the horses. I received an email response: "Thank you for sharing your observations. The BLM and Grand County Sheriff’s Department are aware of these horses and are following up."
Later, I ran into Sara Melnicoff and spoke with her more about the matter. She told me that the horses have been there for years and that no one has bothered to fix this problem! She said that perhaps a fence to keep them out of the canyon would solve the issue.
Something needs to be done about this. While I love wild horses, there needs to be a balance. Haven't we seen enough examples of what happens with invasive species? I'd also love us as humans to be going freely everywhere, but with the amount of people in this growing world, we all have an immense impact. That's why there are trails in wilderness areas. In these times of environmental catastrophe, not only do we have to be mindful of ourselves as humans, but we have to be mindful of the animals we raise and the impact that they too have.
When contacted for comment, the Bureau of Land Management Canyon Country District officials said: “BLM is familiar with the horses in Left Hand Canyon. They are owned by a private landowner. Grand County Sheriff's Office is aware of the situation and has jurisdiction in the matter.” - ed.