Wednesday, January 15, 2020

This Is Why Mountain Bikers Can’t Have Nice Things - Full Article

Bad behavior might be jeopardizing access to Kingdom Trails, one of the premier networks on the East Coast. Here’s what we can learn from it.

Eben Weiss
Jan 13, 2020

ome years back I visited Gothenburg, Sweden, and my host took me to ride some trails in a park just a short pedal from the city center. “Is this even legal?” I asked incredulously, imagining how much trouble I’d be in were I to steer my bicycle off the pavement in Central Park, even briefly. He then explained to me the Swedish concept of freedom to roam, or allemansr├Ątten—literally “the everyman’s rights”—by which the constitution entitles people to walk, cycle, ski, and camp on most open land, regardless of whether it’s public or private.

It doesn’t work that way here in America, where mountain bike access to parkland is tightly regulated, and where public access of any kind to private land is entirely at the landowner’s discretion. One outstanding example of landowner largesse is Kingdom Trails in northeastern Vermont, which features over 100 miles of non-motorized trails “for all seasons and abilities,” and is spread across the properties of 97 private landowners, all of whom generously allow the public access to their land for a variety of uses, including mountain biking. Run by the non-profit Kingdom Trails Association (KTA), it’s become one of the premier recreational trail networks in the Northeast. A $15 one-day membership fee (or $75 annually) nets you access to a famously well-groomed and signed system that attracts over 100,000 visitors a year, 84 percent of whom come from out of state, and all of whom bring tourism dollars. Over the past 20 years, the trails have transformed the town of East Burke, which once attracted mostly skiers and leaf-peepers, and turned what was once the off-season into the peak season.

This past December, however, three landowners on Darling Hill informed KTA that they would no longer allow mountain bikers to use their property. “While the success of the trails has brought meaningful economic benefit to the area,” stated KTA on its website, “challenges and tension points exist around traffic, congestion and pedestrian safety of residents and visitors alike.” The landowners will continue to allow Nordic skiers, snowshoers, runners, hikers and horseback riders to access their property...

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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Council: Horse manure still OK on Texas city's beaches - Full Article

December 13 2019
Jennifer Reynolds

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — City leaders in Galveston have turned down a proposal that would require horseback riders to pick up what their animals leave behind on the beach after equestrians argued that horse manure is harmless.

One person even brought a bag of manure to Thursday's city council meeting while arguing against the measure, the Galveston County Daily News reported.

“It is really pretty much non-toxic and doesn’t do anything,” said island veterinarian Lea Fistein, as she placed her fingers into the bag of manure. “It’s really the only feces I would touch with my hands...”

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Monday, December 9, 2019

ELCR is celebrating its 20-year anniversary of saving horse lands!

In 1996, members of the United States Pony Club’s Task Force for the 21st Century identified loss of land and access as the greatest threat to the future of that organization – and to equestrian activities in general. Out of that committee came the founders of ELCR.

ELCR has made great headway in the last 20 years:
• Advanced the development of nearly 2,020 acres of new horse centers and parks
• Helped dozens of small farm owners work through planning and zoning challenges to keep their horses on their property in urbanizing areas
• Helped protect more than a quarter of a million acres of horse properties and more than 1,860 miles of equestrian and shared use trails in the last five years
• Developed the most comprehensive educational resource library available for horse land protection focusing on six core conservation issue areas accessible at
• Provided professional one on-one counseling and technical assistance to hundreds of individuals, organizations and communities working on local horse land issues 

Please join us in celebrating and help ELCR continue saving cherished horse lands for the next 20 years by becoming a member or making a donation today!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Colorado is owed 9,900 acres by the federal government. But getting that land could mean no more recreating on it. - Full Article

The federal government wants to settle a 143-year-old debt to Colorado with a grant of 9,900 acres across 16 counties. Some of those grants would block access to hunting, fishing on adjacent BLM land.

December 5 2019
Jason Blevins @jasonblevins
The Colorado Sun —

The whisper of transferring federal lands to states typically ignites firestorms, with conservationists, sportsmen and mountain communities fearing a shift of ownership could lead to unfettered development, lost access, habitat degradation and injury to recreation-based economies.

But this week’s proposal by the Bureau of Land Management to transfer 17,700 acres of federal land and 6,000 acres of mineral estate to the Colorado State Land Board hasn’t raised a hackle. Yet.

The BLM wants to pay a 143-year-old debt it owes the state. Under the Statehood Act, the federal government doled out land — a pair of 1-mile sections for every 36 square-mile township — to state land trusts to generate revenue for public schools...

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Arizona: Get ready to hit it: New trail open for motorbikes, bikes and horses - Full Article

December 7 2019
By Jorge Encinas

Load up the motorbikes, horses and mountain bikes — there's a new 24.6-mile trail south of Green Valley ready for riders thanks to a partnership between a non-profit and the U.S. Forest Service.

The Red Springs Trail in the Tumacacori Mountains, off Interstate 19 at the Chavez Siding Road exit, began as part of the Forest Service's plan for a long-distance, single-track trail for motorcycles on the Coronado National Forest.

Heidi Schewel, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, said the trail was a collaboration between the Forest Service and the Trail Riders of Southern Arizona.

"It's on Forest Service land, and we had to do the environmental analysis, but they did a lot of the work and the heavy lifting," she said.

The Forest Service and Trail Riders started construction on the trail in 2018; it was dedicated Wednesday...

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Friday, December 6, 2019

Be a Good Steward of Public Land: 10 Tips for Equestrian Trail Riders - Full Article

If we want to keep our trails and public lands open to horses, we must be responsible riders who care for the land and coexist with other trail users.

Posted by Alayne Blickle | Sep 12, 2019

If we want to keep our trails and public lands open to horses, we must be responsible riders who care for the land and coexist with other trail users. With that in mind, there are things equestrians can do to reduce our environmental impact on the trails we ride. Here are 10 steps you can take to make a difference.

Carry a manure fork, muck bucket, and garbage container in your trailer. When riding on public lands, abide by the principle of “leave no trace.” Always take home everything you and your horse brought—that includes refuse, manure around your trailer and/or camping area, old hay, and spilled bedding. If possible, throw a bucket of water on urine puddles to help dilute them. Smelly piles of manure and urine attract flies and are unsightly to other users...

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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Washington: At Bridle Trails park, equestrians feeling the impact of growth — and two-legged visitors — on their Eastside ‘horse heaven’ - Full Article

December 3 2019
By Paige Cornwell
Seattle Times staff reporter

KIRKLAND – All around Bridle Trails State Park are reminders of the horse community that’s centered there — and the booming Eastside growth that surrounds it.

Traffic whizzes past “horse crossing” signs on roads that once guided equestrians from one town to another. Teslas are parked alongside trucks with horse trailers at the park’s main entrance. New developments woo potential buyers with descriptions of neighborhoods that were “formerly occupied by equestrian stables.”

For decades, Bridle Trails has served as a haven for the horse community even as the area around the 489-acre park transformed. Deep in the forest, the sound of the cars and development construction fades, and new riders trot their horses alongside experienced equestrians.

But on the trails is yet another reminder of growth, this one relatively new and increasingly frequent: pedestrians.

“There’s a lot more density, lot more traffic, lot more use of the park,” said Jennifer Duncan, president of the Lake Washington Saddle Club, based at Bridle Trails. “It’s busier than it’s ever been...”

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