Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Land and Water Conservation Fund must not be allowed to expire

September 25 2015
By Rep. Alcee L. Hastings

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) recently held its 45th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC), which was a resounding success. Now, I believe, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will be faced with the challenge of pursuing the numerous important goals outlined during the conference: ensuring justice and opportunity for all Americans, protecting voting rights, and expanding access to education and health care.

A lesser known priority, but one that is no less urgent, is the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is set to expire on September 30.

The same Congress that passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 created the LWCF. The Fund, which is cost-free to the taxpayer, uses royalties from offshore oil and gas leases to protect national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas – preventing them from being lost to development.

Near my own district, Everglades National Park and the Everglades ecosystem benefit significantly from the LWCF. The continuing efforts to restore this piece of America’s heritage have already increased access to outdoor recreation in the Everglades, reduced urban sprawl, protected our water supply, and helped local economies. Many of these restoration efforts would not be possible without the LWCF.

Indeed, LWCF matching grants have helped every county in the nation stretch their budgets further to create parks and playgrounds in urban and rural communities. The Fund even protects clean water supplies by helping cities to restore river ways.

Congressional reauthorization of the LWCF seems like a no-brainer. Yet, funding for the program is in jeopardy, and Congress is threatening to not re-authorize it.

If the Fund is allowed to expire, it will have hugely negative consequences for African-American communities across the country. We already have fewer local parks and playgrounds and our communities suffer from greater incidents of toxic air and water pollution, higher rates of obesity, asthma, and other illnesses. We benefit less than any other ethnic group from the national parks and forests that are our birthright, and are at greater risk to be inundated by rising sea levels and other effects of climate change.

Our young people deserve safe, accessible local parks and playgrounds in which to play and thrive, clean air to breathe, and clean water to drink.

I proudly sponsored a panel at the ALC, titled: “Public Lands, Environment & Conservation: Peril & Opportunity for African Americans,” Panelists highlighted how parks increase the livability of communities and keep people from having to move away to new communities.

African Americans have a long and valiant history in this country, and much of it is written on the land. In the past few years, President Obama has used his authority to protect places where African Americans made tremendous contributions. Recent additions to the National Park System include the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio, and the Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, where the first enslaved Africans arrived in America and where some of those same people gained their freedom during the Civil War.

As a proud member of the Congressional Black Caucus, I call upon my colleagues to support reauthorization of the LWCF. More than 165 Members of the House of Representatives already support H.R. 1814, legislation introduced by my good friend and colleague Congressman Raul Grijalva, which would permanently address this issue.

Time is running out! Congress should act immediately and send this bill to the President’s desk without delay.

Hastings represents Florida’s 20th Congressional District and has served in the House since 1993. He sits on the Rules Committee, and is ranking Democratic member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Land-transfer argument goes up in smoke - Full Article

Guest Writer
Sep 20, 2015

In his Sep. 16 opinion post, “States far better land managers than feds,” State Sen. Doug Whitsett writes that “state trust-managed lands generally earn from four to 10 times more per acre, for local communities, than their federal counterparts” and that an oppressive wildfire season is symptomatic of federal land management failures. All this, he says, justifies transferring federal lands to state ownership.

I’m glad he brought up wildfires, because as a mother, one of my many concerns is the safety of my family. Just last week, a fire burned outside my window, partially on Bureau of Land Management lands up Bakeoven Canyon, only two miles from the city limits of Maupin.

Oregon’s public lands and residents are at risk and the suppression of wildfires across the West has come with a tremendous financial burden...

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

AERC Board of Directors Passes Resolution to Oppose the Sale of Federal Lands Managed by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to State Ownership

September 22 2015

Votes to Add AERC to Organizations that Support Senate Bill 1110 and House Bill 845

AUBURN, California – September 22, 2015 – For almost 100 years, Americans have enjoyed access to federal lands for recreational use. Now millions of acres of federal land are at risk of being transferred to individual states, a move with significant repercussions for equestrians who use the extensive trails to ride for pleasure or competition.

On March 26, 2015, the United States Senate approved a budget resolution that would establish a procedure for selling, exchanging or transferring to the individual states federal lands that are not national parks, monuments or reserves. Also in March the Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), requested $50 million for the Fiscal Year 2016 Federal budget in order to facilitate immediate transfer of public lands to state control.

A resolution to oppose the federal-to-state land transfers by the federal government was passed unanimously at the American Endurance Ride Conference’s midyear board meeting on August 15. The AERC and its Trails and Land Management Committee has joined other concerned organizations such as the Back Country Horseman of America who have already publicly denounced the federal government’s intentions on this issue. AERC, a non-profit organization with more than 5,000 members, sanctions endurance rides of 25-100 miles throughout the United States and Canada, and is a leading proponent of trail building and maintenance, especially of historically significant trails.

The proposed land transfer has many downsides for trail users, such as that state and local government-managed lands typically do not embrace the “multiple use mandates” that guide federal land management agencies, including promoting diverse opportunities for public outdoor recreation. This means that equestrian access to the lands that are sold to states – and potentially resold by states to individuals or global corporations – could be severely limited or even denied and/or fees for access to public lands or amenities such as camping grounds could increase significantly. In addition, the sale of federal land to the states calls into question the states’ ability to address wild land fires and the current lack of fire-fighting resources and capabilities by the states.

In response the AERC Trails and Land Management Committee put forth the following Resolution, which was passed unanimously at the AERC BOD midyear meeting on August 15:

AERC Resolution To Oppose The Transfer Or Sale Of Federal Public Lands Managed By The United States Departments Of Interior And Agriculture

Whereas, a mission of the American Endurance Ride Conference (herein known as AERC) is to develop, use, preserve trails, and to work to ensure public lands remain open to recreational equestrian saddle use, and

Whereas, the public lands of this nation managed by the United States Department of the Interior and Agriculture are a part of our national treasure and heritage, and

Whereas, these public lands are held in perpetuity to benefit future generations of Americans because of the renewable resources and recreational value, and

Whereas, we support the sustainable management of resources on federal lands in cooperation with other stakeholders, and

Whereas, the transfer or sale of these lands will remove large acreages from the national federal public lands system, fragmenting existing land areas, compromise public access, and set a precedent for privatization of all public land, and

Whereas, specifically the disposal of these federal lands will decrease the opportunity for all recreational use of these lands,

Whereas, no federal lands should be removed or transferred except for lands considered under the Federal Land Transaction Reconciliation Act (FLTRA, PL 106-248),

Therefore, be it resolved by the AERC to go on record in opposition to any plan, action or legislation for the disposal, sale, or transfer of public lands managed by the United States Department of the Interior and Agriculture (except under FLTRA) and

Be it further resolved that this resolution be made to the President of the United States of America, congressional delegations and elected officials from each state, and agency officials of the Department of the Interior and Agriculture.

“Preserving access for our members to the public lands that we enjoy is a priority for the AERC,” said Monica Chapman, AERC Trails and Land Management Committee chair. “We need to continue to take a custodial role in maintaining these lands and in keeping trails available for equestrians and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy for generations to come.”

AERC’s 26-member board also voted to support S.1110 and H.R. 845, two identical bills that would promote volunteerism in the service of our national forest trails. Known as the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act, S.1110 was initially promoted by Back Country Horseman’s Association, The Wilderness Society and the American Horse Council.

If enacted as currently written, S.1110 and H.R. 845 would:

• Direct the U.S. Forest Service to develop a strategy to more effectively utilize volunteers and partners to assist in maintaining national forest trails;

• Provide outfitters and guides the ability to pay permit fees in trail maintenance activities instead of dollars;

• Address the liability issue that hampers volunteer and partner trail maintenance activity in some national forests; and

• Prioritize specific areas for trail maintenance within national forests.

Today, the bill enjoys widespread support among the national trails community, including national organizations representing hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, motorcyclists and snowmobile riders. Click here to read the text of the Senate bill as introduced.

About the AERC

In addition to promoting the sport of endurance riding, the AERC encourages the use, protection, and development of equestrian trails, especially those with historic significance. Many special events of four to six consecutive days take place over historic trails, such as the Pony Express Trail, the Outlaw Trail, the Chief Joseph Trail, and the Lewis and Clark Trail. The founding ride of endurance riding, the Western States Trail Ride or Tevis Cup, covers 100 miles of the famous Western States and Immigrant Trails over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These rides promote awareness of the importance of trail preservation for future generations and foster an appreciation of our American heritage.

The American Endurance Ride Conference, established in 1972, is headquartered in Auburn, California, “The Endurance Capital of the World.” For more information please visit us at

Media Contact
Candace FitzGerald
Dobbin Group LLC
Photos Available on Request

Monday, September 21, 2015

Most senators sign letter backing conservation fund - Full Article

By Devin Henry - 09/18/15

More than half the members of the U.S. Senate are urging chamber leadership to pass a bill reauthorizing a federal conservation program before it expires at the end of the month.

Fifty-two senators, including 12 Republicans, signed a letter from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) calling on Senate leadership to push a Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) bill this month.

The lawmakers said the Senate should consider passing even a temporary authorization for the program if a deal can’t immediately be reached on extending the program long-term.
“We urge the inclusion of a short-term reauthorization of the LWCF in the coming days before the program expires on September 30, and seek your commitment to work with us to achieve permanent authorization and consistent funding of the LWCF in any legislation poised to become law this year,” the senators wrote in their letter, dated Thursday.

“We must act quickly to renew this program, and we look forward to working with you toward that end.”

The LWCF, a $300 million federal program that pays for land acquisition and recreation projects on federal land, traditionally wins bipartisan support on Capitol Hill...

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Land Managers Request Cooperation in Avoiding Areas Burned in Soda Fire to Assist Recovery Efforts

DATE: September 16, 2015

Marsing, Idaho – The Bureau of Land Management, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and Owyhee County, Idaho, are asking residents and visitors to avoid the area burned in the recent Soda Fire while recovery efforts continue.

With fire rehabilitation and stabilization work in progress, the BLM is requesting cooperation in avoiding burned areas in the interest of safety and resource protection.

“We are asking recreationists and other public land users to work with us during recovery,” said BLM Owyhee Field Manager Michelle Ryerson. “Seeded vegetation needs time to establish and be effective in blocking the spread of weeds and invasive species. Burned areas need a vegetative cover to protect the soil from erosion and help retain moisture.”

The fire was 100 percent contained on August 23rd, but safety remains a concern for the public and workers in the area. Ryerson said target shooting in the burned area has made working conditions unsafe and inhibited the progress of rehabilitation. Dozer lines built during fire suppression have received some rehabilitation work and are not authorized for use as trails. She noted that non-compacted dirt, berms and water bars within the lines create hazards for OHV use.

Minimizing further stress to wildlife and additional soil and vegetation damage will also facilitate the success of rehabilitation and recovery efforts in the burned area. Owyhee County commissioners noted that a significant portion of the burned area is private and state land intermingled with the federal land. The Commissioners ask for equal respect from the public for all the lands affected by the fire.

The BLM, in conjunction with the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes and Owyhee County, will patrol and monitor entry into burned areas and assess whether tighter restrictions are necessary. Should public safety and resource impacts become an issue, the agencies may consider and implement a mandatory closure, Ryerson said.

BLM recreation areas and developed parking sites at Jump Creek, Wilson Creek, Hemingway Butte, Rabbit Creek, Scorpion Creek, Chalky Butte, Kane Springs, and Black Mountain remain sensitive and are best avoided. Alternate recreation sites listed below offer opportunities for hiking, camping, OHV riding, mountain biking, horseback riding and authorized target shooting.

As a reminder, when recreating in other areas of Owyhee County, the use of motorized vehicles, including ATVs and motorcycles, is limited to existing roads and trails outside designated Wilderness, where motorized and mechanized travel is prohibited.

Alternative Recreational Sites

Fossil Creek OHV trails are accessible between the Melba Junction and Oreana on Highway-78. A trail map is available online or at the BLM offices in Boise and Marsing.

Silver City offers camping and hiking in a partially restored 19th-century mining town in the Owyhee Mountains.

Owyhee Back-Country Byway and North Fork Campground - At the western end of a scenic backcountry drive, camp and picnic on the North Fork of the Owyhee River Canyon, much of which is designated Wilderness.

Pickles Butte OHV Area in Jubilee Park, west of Nampa, Idaho, is a former military tank training compound with 370 acres of open riding.

Hulls Gulch National Recreation Trail is a quiet escape above the city in the Boise Foothills, at the end of 8th Street. The trail is for pedestrians only. Bicyclists and equestrians may enjoy the many other trails in the Ridge to Rivers Trail System.

Bruneau Dunes State Park offers hiking and equestrian trails, water and sand sports, an observatory and camping around the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America, in the high desert south of Mountain Home.

The 485,000-acre Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area has one of the world's densest concentrations of nesting birds of prey. In addition to outstanding bird and wildlife viewing, this area offers hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping and target shooting.

The Danskin Trail System (US Forest Service) encompasses 60,000 acres and provides more than 150 miles of mountainous/high-desert motorcycle and ATV trails on the Boise National Forest, northwest of Mountain Home, Idaho.

Steck Park offers access to Brownlee Reservoir along the Snake River from the Idaho side of Hells Canyon, with two boat launching facilities and two camping areas, about 20 miles northwest of the town of Weiser.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.

CONTACTS: Jessica Gardetto, (208) 957-1355
Erin Curtis, (208) 373-4016,

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Future of Land Resources - Full Article

Across the Fence
20 Jul 2015

Each horse needs about two acres of land to meet its basic exercise, shelter, and forage needs. In addition, owners and riders need land for their horse-related endeavors. Unfortunately, the amount of land for sustaining our horse population and activities has been declining. This loss will continue unless horse enthusiasts come together to demand consideration of their needs in a changing economy and land market.

The U.S. Forest Service estimates that about 6,000 acres of farmland and open space are lost each day to urban development. This means we lose more than an acre of farmland per minute.

In 2008 the Equine Land Conservation Resource (ELCR) organization determined that 165 equine competition sites in 28 states had gone out of business...

- See more at:

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Back Country Horsemen of Utah Chapter Receives Power of Service Award

September 2, 2015

by Sarah Wynne Jackson
Back Country Horsemen of America leads our quest to protect our right to ride horses on public lands with a lifestyle of volunteerism. Across the country, on any given day, Back Country Horsemen are donating their time, effort, skill, and resources to trail maintenance, responsible recreation education, community outreach, being our voice in public lands planning meetings, and so much more. It’s not surprising that others take notice.
Well Earned Praise
The hard-working Uinta Basin Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Utah was recently recognized by the state of Utah for their commitment to this standard of getting things done.
In July, UServeUtah of the Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism (UCSV) presented the Uinta Basin Chapter of Back Country Horseman of Utah the Power of Service Award, presented by Lieutenant Governor Spencer J Cox, Chris Bray of the Utah Nonprofits Association, and LaDawn Stoddard of UServeUtah. This award rewards exceptional dedication to on-going volunteer service, which is evident in Uinta Basin BCH’s recent history.
A Habit of Service
In February, 21 members of the Uinta Basin Chapter received UServeUtah Volunteer Recognition Certificates for their work in 2014. The UCSV awards Volunteer Recognition Certificates to Utah residents who demonstrate exemplary volunteer service to their community. Throughout the year, Uinta Basin BCH members cleared and maintained 43 miles of trails, donating 782 hours of service with a monetary value of $30,742. Even more remarkable is that this contribution is similar to the level of volunteerism of larger BCHU chapters.
The Uinta Chapter also received Volunteer Recognition Certificates in 2013 for their 883 volunteer hours with a monetary value of $36,763. Throughout the year, they worked with the Bureau of Land Management’s Vernal Office, the US Forest Service, managers at Ashley National Forest, and managers at Dinosaur National Monument.
Nominees for the Volunteer Recognition Certificate are automatically considered for the Power of Service Award, given three times a year to a volunteer who shows significant commitment to the overall well-being of the populations for which they serve.
Another Productive Year
This year, the Uinta Basin Back Country Horsemen have been busy with a variety of projects. They teamed up with the Canyonlands Chapter and Utah’s Department of Natural Resources to pick up and pack out camp trash left by careless recreationists in the majestic Book Cliffs Roadless Area.
Named for the cliffs of Cretaceous sandstones that appear similar to a shelf of books, this wild land is part of a mountain range nearly 200 miles long. The core of the region, a 48,000-acre tract of roadless land, is one of the largest unprotected back country areas in the west, and provides essential habitat to a variety of wildlife. The four-day, three-night cleanup trip featured heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and driving hail, but the Uinta Basin Chapter got the job done and left the stunning landscape cleaner and more pristine.
Seven Uinta Basin Chapter riders braved the heat to work near John Jarvie Ranch on the Bureau of Land Management's Home Mountain Trail, to which the chapter donated over 200 hours re-opening in 2013. This year, they built rock cairns and added equestrian stickers and arrows to trail signs to help horseback riders enjoy their visit to the historic ranch. This 35-acre property with four original structures built in 1880, provides a glimpse of turn-of-the-century frontier life.
The Uinta Basin Back Country Horsemen adopted the overgrown Highline Trail in Ashley National Forest, from highway 191 to the Leidy Peak Trailhead in 2013. Since then, they have cleared from East Park Reservoir westward to Soldier Peak, Lost Park, and beyond. Horsemen removed 90 trees that were blocking this trail, rebuilt an erosion fence, and installed two water bars that had been diverted and washed out a portion of the trail. In one five mile section, they cut out 30 trees that had fallen across the trail. This challenge resulted in over 500 volunteer hours in 2013 alone.
The Highline Trail is the main east-west corridor across the High Uinta Mountains and stretches nearly 100 miles through Ashley National Forest. Much of the trail is above 10,000 feet elevation and has more above-the-tree-line terrain than any other range in the lower 48 states. Keeping the Highline Trail open is essential to maintaining recreation access to this unique land.
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; 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 1 888 893 5161

8 places to go horseback riding near Atlanta - Full Article

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull for The AJC

Want to go horseback trail riding? Giddy-up and head to these Atlanta area locations that don't required your to BYOH (bring your own horse) to have a good time.

Georgia Frontiers (Canton, GA) – Get into the saddle and out on a Western style trail ride on 150 acres of land featuring wooded trails. Package options include a one hour, 90 minute, and two hour riding options. Add a private ride with a trail guide for a more personal experience.

Lanier Islands (Buford, GA) – The Lanier Islands Equestrian Center offers a variety of options for riding including pony rides, summer camps, riding lessons and trail rides. Trail rides last 45, 60 or 90 minutes for adults with a 30 minutes option for children ages two and older...

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