Saturday, July 25, 2015

Beartooth Back Country Horsemen of Montana Receives Back Country Horsemen of America’s Double Diamond Award

July 21, 2015 by Sarah Wynne Jackson With the annual Double Diamond Award, Back Country Horsemen of America acknowledges a Back Country Horsemen chapter that has exceeded even their high standards of public service. Established in 2003 by the Back Country Horsemen of America National Board of Directors, the Double Diamond Award honors special projects and programs that best exemplify collaborative spirit, community awareness, and devotion to the mission and purpose of BCHA. Eligible projects and programs include, but are not limited to, trail maintenance, trail construction, trailhead construction, educational workshops and youth programs. A Multitude of Skill The Beartooth Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Montana won this year’s Double Diamond Award with their Ernie Strum Trail project, which was accomplished by one of the largest and most diverse group of volunteers and government representatives in the history of BCHA. This project ultimately involved five government agencies, fifteen private entities, and numerous individuals, which required tremendous organization and coordination by Beartooth BCH. Formulating a Plan The idea of a four-part trail complex to provide public access to McDonald Basin and the north face of the Beartooth Mountain Wilderness took root in 1999. Ernie Strum and other BBCH members had heard old timers talk of long abandoned hunter and sheepherder trails in this area. Despite limited access, the terrain lends itself to many recreational opportunities and was described by a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologist as the most biodiverse area in Montana. From 1999 to 2007, BBCH pitched the project to various groups and held meetings, which continually grew larger due to strong public support. In early May 2007 BBCH held a spring campout and barbecue for the coalition of government agencies and volunteers. They reviewed project plans and the proposed trail location on aerial photos, and visited possible trailhead sites. Amazing Generosity In the following years, Beartooth Back Country Horsemen coordinated the on-the-ground trail building as funding permitted. Volunteers worked without the use of motorized equipment to protect the ecosystem. The Bureau of Land Management guided construction while the US Forest Service surveyed, plotted and marked the trail location. Ernie was added to the BLM Resource Advisory Committee, which enabled him to coordinate the project more effectively. Many horsemen and other organizations donated their time and labor. In the very busy spring and early summer of final construction in 2014, 480 hours of labor (valued at nearly $17,000) plus signage was donated by BBCH members and partners in assisting Montana Conservation Corps crews doing the trail building. In addition, Beartooth Back Country Horsemen shared the actual dollar costs with BLM. MCC donated 232 hours of crew labor, valued at nearly $10,000. A Celebration of Dedication Although the trail was first called the Lily Pad Lake Trail, it was officially re-named the Ernie Strum Trail after his passing in late 2013, to commemorate his long and tireless work on the project. Ernie, a Beartooth Back Country Horseman from the first days of the organization, also brings lasting recognition and tribute to Back Country Horsemen of America with this partnership. By July 2014 the trail was completed with an additional side trail to a scenic overlook on BLM land called Ernie’s Point. A volunteer built wooden benches on site from timber removed from the trail corridor where visitors sit to take in the fantastic view of the north face of the Beartooth Mountains. An Example to Emulate The support of such a diverse group brings talent and resources to the table that made this project possible even in times of tight budgets. Back Country Horsemen of America believes a project of this magnitude, with such an array of volunteer organizations working alongside so many governing entities can only lead to more seamless collaboration in the future. This cooperation will ultimately provide sustainable trail maintenance because of the ownership gained by all participants. Back Country Horsemen of America is confident this will serve as a model for others to follow. About Back Country Horsemen of America BCHA is a non-profit corporation made up of state organizations, affiliates, and at-large members. Their efforts have brought about positive changes regarding the use of horses and stock in wilderness and public lands. If you want to know more about Back Country Horsemen of America or become a member, visit their website:; call 888-893-5161; or write PO Box 1367, Graham, WA 98338-1367. The future of horse use on public lands is in our hands!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Deer Creek land access deal a victory against insidious trend - Full Article July 22 2015 All those involved in reestablishing access to thousands of acres of public lands south of Big Timber are to be commended for their efforts — Forest Service officials for their perseverance and private landowners for their willingness to work with public lands managers and do what’s right. The West Deer Creek Road, about 10 miles south of Big Timber, opened earlier this month, reestablishing public access between the Boulder River Road and some 16,000 acres of Forest Service land. The opening and the deal that made it possible marked the resolution of many years of disputes with private landowners... Read more here:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ELCR Teams Up with 'Tread Lightly!' on Respected Access is Open Access Campaign Targeting Equine Community

Lexington, Ky. – July 21, 2015 - Equine land Conservation Resource (ELCR) announces a new partnership with Tread Lightly! and AQHA to launch a Respected Access is Open Access campaign targeting the equine community. Tread Lightly! is a nonprofit organization with the mission "to empower generations to enjoy the outdoors responsibly through stewardship to further the goals of responsible and ethical recreation." The organization started the Respected Access is Open Access program to educate recreational users of public land about responsible use and proper stewardship. The overarching goal of the program is to maintain and enhance access to public or private lands by improving recreationists’ behavior. The message is simple – responsible and respectful behavior leads to continued access. This powerful message resonates in the hearts and minds of the entire outdoor recreation community. Equine Land Conservation Resource has teamed up with Tread Lightly! to bring this educational campaign to the equine community with support from the AQHA STEP (Stewards for Trails, Education and Partnerships) program. The campaign will focus on raising awareness of the consequences of riding wet trails ranging from resource damage to increased conflict with other trail users through educational articles and placement of printed public service announcements. “ELCR is pleased to partner with Tread Lightly! and AQHA to bring the Respected Access is Open Access educational campaign to the equine community,” said ELCR executive director Holley Groshek. “As private land continues to disappear, public land will become increasingly more important to our equine community. Creating awareness about good land stewardship is essential to keeping land open and accessible to horses and horse related activities.” Organizations or publications interested in supporting the educational campaign by placing public service announcements can contact Abby Gates at or 859-455-8383. About the Equine Land Conservation Resource (ELCR): ELCR builds awareness of the loss of lands available for horse-related activities and facilitates the protection and conservation of those lands. We work to ensure America’s equine heritage lives on and the emotional, physical and economic benefits of the horse-human relationship remains accessible. ELCR serves as an information resource and clearinghouse on conserving horse properties, land use planning, land stewardship/best management practices, trails, equine liability and equine economic impact. For more information about the ELCR visit or call (859) 455-8383 About Tread Lightly! - Tread Lightly! is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a national nonprofit organization in October 2015. Founded in 1990 through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, Tread Lightly! promotes responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship programs. Tread Lightly! has more than 70 official partners from various industries and is likely the nation’s only non-profit holding MOUs with every federal and state agency in the U.S. Tread Lightly!’s diverse member base enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities including hunting, angling, camping, boating, biking, four-wheeling and much more. Become a Tread Lightly! partner or member today and start supporting access, education and stewardship at For additional information, contact: Abby Gates Equine Land Conservation Resource Phone: 859-455-8383 Email:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Efforts to reauthorize the Recreational Trails Program currently underway

Efforts to reauthorize the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) are currently ongoing by the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT). The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) was created in 1991, applying the "user-pay/user-benefit" philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund, returning federal gasoline taxes paid by off-highway recreationists. RTP is the foundation for state trail programs across the country. Project categories eligible for funding are many and varied, giving states the flexibility they need to administer state trail programs. The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) is an organization of national and regional trail-related groups, working together to build awareness and understanding of the RTP, and ensure that the program continues to receive adequate funding. The most recent reauthorization of RTP came through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), signed in 2012, with dedicated annual funding of $85 million for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014 as a setaside from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). With the expiration of MAP-21, efforts to reauthorize RTP are once again underway. Transportation funding was recently extended to July 31 due to lack of agreement on a long-term funding fix in Congress. A six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill was announced by U.S. Senator Jill Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, on June 23, titled the "Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act" ("DRIVE)". The legislation would maintain TAP funding at $850 million per year (currently $819 million). It also continues RTP as a "set-aside" fund within TAP. As far as RTP and trail advocates are concerned, this is a win for the program, as the proposed bill does not change anything regarding the Recreational Trails Program. For more information and the latest news regarding RTP, visit

Support National Forest Trails Bill Today!

On Thursday, July 16, the Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2015 (S.1110). The bill would direct the Forest Service to take several actions to help address the current trail maintenance backlog that is adversely impacting all trail users on many national forests, including equestrians. This bill is strongly supported by the American Horse Council. AHC urges all recreational riders and trail users to call their Senators and ask them to support the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2015 (S.1110) and to please co-sponsor this legislation. You can reach your Senator through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121. Once connected to the Senator's office, ask to speak to the staff person who handles public lands issues. Call them today and tell them; • You support the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2015 (S.1110) and it is important to trail riders and all recreational trail users in your state. • The Forest Service has deferred trail maintenance needs that exceed half-billion dollars. This maintenance backlog is causing access and safety issues for equestrians and all trail users on national forests. • S. 1110 will direct the Forest Service to develop a strategy to more effectively utilize volunteers and partners to assist in maintaining national forest trails and identify and prioritize specific areas with the greatest need for trail maintenance in the national forest system. • This bill will help improve trail maintenance without adding to the federal budget deficit. • The bill is bi-partisan and supported by a wide range of recreational users of public land. • Please support and co-sponsor this important legislation. If you have any questions please contact the American Horse Council.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Horse Trail Access: Protect It or Lose It - Full Article June 16 2015 By Denise O’Meara Setting out on the trail with your horse is a magic moment. The promise of quiet solitude, the beauty of nature, relaxing with friends, the companionship of a beloved horse and enjoying a bit of adventure are all part of the attraction of trail riding. How did this inviting trail become available to you? Did you develop a relationship with the landowner or manager, or is there any relationship at all? Good relations with both public land trail managers and private landowners are imperative. Do you have a written agreement or an informal understanding? And do you show your respect for the owner/manager by using trails responsibly? Just as trail riding contributes to your happiness quotient, treating the land with respect contributes to the durability and availability of your trail. You should know the condition of your trails before you ride, especially during inclement weather. Thoughtlessly slogging through wet areas can cause extensive damage and create unsafe conditions. And it can lead to loss of trail access. It’s not uncommon for a private landowner to deny access to existing trails on their land, posting the dreaded No Horses Here sign. Public land managers, citing damage to sensitive lands, post Access Denied notices. Disappointing, yes; and often irreversible... Read more here:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Back Country Horsemen of America Donated $14.4 Million in Volunteer Value Last Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 3, 2015 By Sarah Wynne Jackson Back Country Horsemen of America protects our right to ride horses on public lands, cherishing America’s heritage of traveling this landscape as our ancestors did. That’s not just a conviction; it’s a way of life. For over four decades, Back Country Horsemen have volunteered their time, skill, and resources towards keeping trails open to horse use and promoting responsible recreation. In 2014, Back Country Horsemen from coast to coast donated $14.4 million in volunteer value to this cause. The nearly 14,000 BCHA members cleared trails, restored trail treads, built bridges, educated youth and adults in horse use, spread the word about responsible Leave No Trace habits, attended public lands planning meetings, spoke with legislators, held food drives, cleaned up litter, and so much more. BCHA Executive Director Jim McGarvey is leading by example. When his two year term as Chairman ended in April 2015, he announced his commitment to fill the vacant position of executive director on a volunteer basis for up to two years. During that time, he aims to raise the funds required to cover three years of salary and travel expenses for a professional executive director. Back Country Horsemen of Virginia In May, the Iron Mountain Chapter and the Eastern Divide Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Virginia teamed up for a National Trails Day project in the east­ern end of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The work party included 14 members on foot and four on horseback with one pack horse. They were joined by US Forest Service Ranger Stephen Hmur­ciak and two American Endurance Ride Conference certified trail masters to advise in the best way to solve the problems on the trail. Located in southwest Virginia, the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area encompasses 200,000 acres of National Forest land, including four Congressionally designated wilderness areas; the Virginia Creeper Trail; the 5000 acre Crest Zone featuring elevations over 4,000 feet, large rock formations, and a mixture of bald mountain summits and spruce-fir forests; and a herd of wild, free-ranging ponies. In five hours, the group widened and repaired several hundred yards of tread on the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail and reworked a washed out switchback. They cut a tree to make cribbing and filled it with rock and soil to form a sturdy, wider trail bed. They also cleared deadfall from six miles of trail. Their work, which was done by hand using trail tools and a chain saw, made this treacherous area much safer. Show Me Missouri Back Country Horsemen The Tri-Lakes Chapter of Show Me Missouri Back Country Horsemen participated in another successful collaboration. They routinely carry trash bags on the trail and pick up garbage left by other users. The group recently approached the PepsiCo plant in Springfield to help fund the purchase of mesh bags that are easily carried on horseback. PepsiCo and SMMBCH pur­chased 5,000 reusable mesh bags print­ed with the Pepsi and SMMBCH logos, along with trail ethics statements. Show Me Missouri Back Country Horsemen distributed the mesh bags to its chapters across the state to be used in trail maintenance. The bags are proving not only to be very useful and practical but also good for spread­ing the message of Back Country Horsemen val­ues and purposes. Bags were giv­en out at SMMBCH’s Leave No Trace display tent at the Missouri State Fair, and will also be made available at trailheads, saddle clubs, and to any interested equestrian individual or group. This beneficial project was made possible by generous funding from PepsiCo and a grant from the Back Country Horsemen of America Education Foun­dation. Show Me Missouri Back Country Horsemen also works regularly with five differ­ent federal and state public land man­agement agencies to maintain and protect Missouri’s wild lands. Ride Kansas Back Country Horsemen The new Ride Kansas Back Country Horsemen expresses the same spirit of volunteerism BCHers are known for. Every autumn, they organize a benefit trail ride to raise money for improving the campground at Rockhaven Horse Park on the south shore of Clinton Lake in northeast Kansas. With the money raised, Ride Kansas Back Country Horsemen have built over 30 steel pipe pens at the camping sites to go with the 18 electri­cal sites, 32 primitive sites, 14 centrally located pens, a shower house, and a shelter house. Along with 70 miles of wooded and scenic trails, these amenities make Clinton Lake one of the best trail riding destinations in Kansas. The Things We Value BCHA believes our nation’s public lands are a precious resource to be preserved and enjoyed. With federal, state, and local budgets shrinking, it’s our responsibility as citizens to pick up the slack. When we accomplish the required maintenance, all users can continue to recreate in these beautiful areas. Back Country Horsemen of America highly values our right to ride horses on these public lands, despite the fact that every day more of them are being designated “No Horses.” Without a unified voice such as that of Back Country Horsemen of America, our heritage of equine use and our right to ride on public lands is in serious jeopardy. About Back Country Horsemen of America BCHA is a non-profit corporation made up of state organizations, affiliates, and at-large members. Their efforts have brought about positive changes regarding the use of horses and stock in wilderness and public lands. If you want to know more about Back Country Horsemen of America or become a member, visit their website:; call 888-893-5161; or write PO Box 1367, Graham, WA 98338-1367. The future of horse use on public lands is in our hands! Peg Greiwe, Executive Secretary Back Country Horsemen of America