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Temporary fencing approved for south Reno horse safety 

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The Reno City Council on Wednesday approved a $60,000 temporary fence in south Reno to provide emergency access to water for Virginia Range horses to keep both the horses and residents safer. 

Since December 2019, there have been 43 vehicle-horse collisions along Veterans Parkway and the surrounding neighborhoods. Most of these have resulted in the horses either killed in collisions or having to be euthanized, and almost all have resulted in destroyed vehicles. 

The horses are searching for one thing: water. 

The city’s John Flansberg said flashing signs, slower speed limits and a nighttime speed limit have all been introduced, but all of those were made to avoid collisions with the horses. Putting in fencing will create a barrier between the horses and the roadway. 

“This increases safety not only for the horses but for the traveling public as well,” Flansberg said. 

The emergency temporary fence will be the first of a four phase approach to fencing at a cost up to $60,000. Two more fencing projects are planned.  An already-approved Northern Fence Project should be finished by the end of September at a cost of $500,000. The Southern Fence Project is not yet scheduled, and it will cost around $550,000. In addition, another fencing project initiated by the Nevada Department of Transportation will be constructed across 23 miles south of Toll Road to Carson City. 

The temporary emergency fencing will give horses access to approximately half a mile of Steamboat Creek instead of the current 60 feet they have access to. Council member Naomi Duerr said this has been an issue for years, and she was happy it was finally being resolved through a number of avenues. 

“We’ve been very challenged with this for 10 years so I’m very glad to see it come to this,” Duerr said. 

Council member Taylor asked why the city of Reno is responsible for the fencing as opposed to the state. The Nevada Department of Agriculture has legal jurisdiction over the Virginia Range horses, which are deemed “feral-estray” livestock and not “wild” horses under the Bureau of Land Management’s authority. 

The City of Reno, however, has in recent years taken over responsibilities related to the horses previously managed by the state.

“The role we have is public safety,” Flansberg said. “We are trying to mitigate vehicle-horse collisions for the horses and the public.”

Taylor said she’d rather go to the Department of Agriculture and ask them to handle it since “these are [their] horses,” and she’d rather see the money go towards other areas of public safety.  

Council member Miguel Martinez said he was conflicted by the amount being asked about the larger fencing project because developers have shown him photos of areas where the public has been cutting through or taking down fencing. He said he wanted to know how staff was planning to keep those fences intact. He said he supported the emergency fence but would like further discussion on the larger council. 

“We’re responsible for the people that live here and their safety,” council member Ebert said. “We need to do what’s right.”

Because Mayor Hillary Schieve and council member Jenny Brekhus did not attend the meeting, the vote to fully fund the Southern Fence Project for $550,000 failed by a 3-2 vote with Taylor and Martinez voting against it. In order to pass the initiative council would need at least four votes. 

However, council did approve the $60,000 temporary fencing. 

Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose is a proud Native Nevadan whose work in journalism and publishing can be found throughout the Sierra region. She received degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from Arizona State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. She is an avid supporter of high desert agriculture and rescue dogs.

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