Seattle Native Andrea Maki had a dream to preserve and protect our vital wild places…and almost a decade ago, she did exactly that. Among all the Gem State’s most precious treasures are its wild horses – and one very special sanctuary in Challis, Idaho is providing protection for them.
Andrea, who graduated from NYU in 1988, had a 30+-year career as a contemporary visual artist, but she wanted to expand her impact. In 2010, she founded Wild Love Preserve, a 501(c)3 nonprofit sanctuary that is nestled in the foothills of the White Cloud mountains and home to one of Idaho’s six Herd Management Areas (HMA).
An HMA is a parcel of land that is designated for wild horses, but when their populations exceed what the Bureau of Land Management deems is manageable, “helicopter roundups” are used to cull the population. Many of the captured horses are sold off to control population growth rates.
“I created Wild Love to protect and preserve our vital wild places as an interconnected whole by way of bridging divides with native wild horses leading our way,” Andrea said.
“Wild Love is a WE project and was created to show what we can achieve by working together because our wildness is imperative to our collective whole, now and for future generations. While many told me this would be impossible, we’ve set a new precedent in bringing all sides together and have created an inclusive conservation model in Idaho that has garnered national attention and is sourced as a framework for other regions in the West. By design, Wild Love programs have also saved American taxpayers well over $7.5 million dollars in a few short years, and the work we’re doing in Idaho serves to benefit wild horses in other regions throughout the West,” Andrea said.
Since Wild Love was founded in 2010, Andrea has saved countless horses from being rounded up and shipped off; instead, they are living their lives, wild and free, on the open plains. Andrea faced resistance from the Bureau of Land Management, local ranchers who needed the natural resources for their own livelihood, and the state – not all of these entities were in agreement about the best way to use this land.
So in 2012, after another helicopter roundup, Andrea did something unprecedented: she adopted every horse that had been captured. Using the money raised through grants, fundraisers, and donations, Andrea was able to keep more than 100 horses on their homeland at Wild Love Preserve, reuniting families that had been separated.
“As a 501(c)3 non-profit, Wild Love Preserve’s legacy project includes our inclusive wild horse conservation programs, conflict resolution, education platform, comprehensive range health, and the acquisition of our 10,000-acre wildlife preserve in the heart of Idaho’s wild horse country which is teeming with indigenous wildlife, such as wolves, cougar, bear, elk, and deer, and will serve as permanent home to our current 136 Challis-Idaho wild horses and future Idaho wild horses,” Andrea said. “This remarkable wild expanse is central to our work and will be protected in perpetuity, ensuring the lasting wildness of this indigenous environment for future generations through our collaborations, partnerships, youth employment and education programs, science and research studies, eco-tourism and youth camps.”
Wild Love is presently at a pivotal juncture, as their 10,000-acre wildlife preserve at Twin Sisters is under contract. “The wild cherry on top is that our wildlife preserve will be a safe zone for all the indigenous wildlife that choose to call this wild expanse home,” Andrea explained.
“Stone Gossard and the Pearl Jam Vitalogy Foundation have been instrumental to our efforts from the onset in 2010, along with generous support from Duff McKagan, Raymond James Endowment Fund, The Earth and Humanity Foundation, ASPCA, Humane Society of the US, the Gates Foundation, The Science and Conservation Center, Summerly Foundation, and other private donors,” Andrea said.
To support Wild Love Preserve, you can make a donation of any size via the official Wild Love Preserve website. “Even the smallest amounts count and can be a big help in supplying food, water, and other essentials to the horses each and every day,” Andrea said.
“You can also become a sponsor of one of the wild horses living at Wild Love Preserve,” Andrea said.
For more information, visit the Wild Love Preserve site to learn more: www.wildlovepreserve.org.
Please join us in thanking Andrea Maki and Wild Love Preserve for helping protect one of America’s true gems – and for preserving our wild places.