Thursday, November 26, 2015

Republican Rep. Rob Bishop proposes major changes to popular conservation fund - Full Article

Bill Theobald, USA TODAY
November 5, 2015

WASHINGTON — The popular Land and Water Conservation Fund would be extensively reworked to focus more spending on local recreation projects and maintenance of existing federal holdings while severely limiting new land acquisitions, under a Republican proposal to be introduced Thursday.

The long-awaited legislation introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, comes more than a month after the authorization for the 50-year-old fund expired at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30...

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Congress extends transportation funding, looks to future

November 11, 2015

On November 5 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act, a new multi-year transportation authorization bill. The bill, which was supported by both parties, keeps funding for trails and bike/ped programs intact.

More than 80 amendments had to be debated, including at least two that would have eliminated eligibility for funding of bikeways, trails, and other “non-highway” purposes. However, the onging problem for transportation is finding a long-term funding solution, which is not addressed by current bills.

The Senate previously passed a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill which maintains “Transportation Alternatives” funding, including trails and bike/ped programs, at $850 million a year, up from the current $819 million. The Recreational Trails Program continues as a “set-aside” fund within the Transportation Alternatives.

The next step is that the House and Senate must reconcile the differences between their two versions and pass a compromise bill. The Coalition for Recreational Trails commented that “since the RTP was included in the legislation already passed by the Senate, we have every reason to expect that the Recreational Trails Program will be in the final version of the legislation that emerges from the House/Senate conference.

Recreational Trails Program authorization has cleared another important hurdle

November 2015

An ELCR Action Alert was recently prompted by two proposed amendments that would have eliminated the Recreational Trails Program.

Neither of the anti-RTP amendments for were considered on the House floor. The first one (#69) was withdrawn by Representative Buddy Carter. The second one (#158), filed by Representative Ted Yoho, did not make it through the Rules Committee's vetting process. As a result, the RTP will be part of the Transportation Reauthorization bill that is eventually approved by the House of Representatives. And since the RTP was included in the legislation already passed by the Senate, it is expected that the Recreational Trails Program will be in the final version of the legislation that emerges from the House/Senate conference.

We are very grateful to the RTP supporters who made their voices heard in the last few days. Your strong support saved a program of great importance to the entire trails community.

ELCR has been working over the past few months with our Conservation Partners, Coalition for Recreational Trails and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, on the reauthorization of the Transportation Alternatives Program, which includes the Recreational Trails Program. This is an important program to all recreational trail users, including equestrians.

For the latest news regarding RTP, visit

Friday, November 20, 2015

Back Country Horsemen of America’s Rapport with Wild Lands

November 16, 2015

By Sarah Wynne Jackson

Back Country Horsemen of America believes that protecting our right to ride horses on public lands starts with taking part in maintaining those trails. Members spend countless hours doing trail and facility maintenance that public lands managers’ budgets don’t allow.

As members care for these trails and make improvements to assist recreation, their work becomes a labor of love. Returning to these wild places during different seasons, year after year, they develop an even deeper appreciation for the beautiful world we live in. They build relationships with other users and the managers of these properties, striking alliances for achieving the mutual goals of preserving and enjoying these special landscapes.

Since its founding in 1993, the Northwest Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico has been caring for a number of protected lands in the Corrales, Bernalillo, Rio Rancho, and Albuquerque Metro areas. Projects range from one-day visits to pick up trash left by careless users, to years-long efforts reclaiming abandoned trails.

Ojito Wilderness

The Northwest Chapter has been working with the Bureau of Land Management with the long term goal of building a better horse trailer parking lot and creating more defined trails in the Ojito Wilderness. This 11,823-acre desert landscape northwest of Albuquerque features steep-sided mesas, rocky terraces, retreating escarpments, box canyons, deep meandering arroyos, and austere badlands.

Several types of ruins are scattered in the Ojito Wilderness, including those of the prehistoric Puebloan, Navajo, and Hispanic cultures. The erosion process has exposed the bones of huge dinosaurs, including one of the largest dinosaur skeletons ever discovered. This property is also home to three rare plant species, birds of prey, reptiles, mule deer, elk, American antelope, and mountain lions.

Valles Caldera National Preserve

The Northwest Chapter has been building a relationship with the management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. This 89,000-acre ranch nestled within an ancient collapsed volcano crater in the Jemez Mountains provides habitat for a variety of plants and wildlife. Despite its many miles of ranch roads, livestock paths, and game trails perfect for recreation, public access has been strictly controlled.

With the consent of preserve management, the Northwest Chapter, along with other New Mexico Back Country Horsemen chapters, removed about 5 miles of old barbed wire fencing. They hope that this effort and the newly established relationship will eventually allow them to locate and create new trails and equestrian facilities, establish permanent fire rings, and possibly build shelters in the caldera with the ultimate goal of greater access to this stunning landscape.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

At the request of the Bureau of Land Management, the Northwest Chapter scouted out horseback riding trails in the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Located 55 miles northeast of Albuquerque and set on the Pajarito Plateau, this property encompasses 4,645 acres of public land. It’s known for its cone-shaped tent rock formations that are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet up to 90 feet and range from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level.

San Pedro Parks Wilderness

The Northwest Chapter is also involved in a long-term project using GPS to create detailed maps of the trails in the 41,132-acre San Pedro Parks Wilderness. Although the elevation ranges from 7,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level, this wild land is known for moist, rolling mountaintops with many meadows and large grassy "parks." Clear streams with abundant trout wander through the forest openings.

The area has nine access trails and approximately nine more internal trails. Chapter members learn more about this amazing landscape each year as they clear trails in the springtime, shore up water bars in the summer, and recreate there with their horses throughout the year.

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Citizen Input Sought at Ridge to Rivers Public Workshops

 BOISE – The Ridge to Rivers (R2R) partnership initiated a master planning process in September 2015 for the purpose of guiding development and management of the popular trail system over the next 10 years. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people use Ridge to Rivers trails annually. About 30 percent of Boise’s population are trail users.
The next step in the master plan process will be public workshops where citizens can help refine how R2R will manage the trail system over the next decade. There will be two identical public workshops. The first will be held at the Boise Depot, 2603 W. Eastover Terrace on Nov. 17, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The second will be held at Riverglen Junior High School, 6801 N Gary Lane on Nov. 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Those who are not able to attend the workshops can provide online input at the R2R website ( 
The workshop agenda will be available at the R2R website on Nov. 10. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the entire workshop, which will include “polling stations” to gather input on key questions and small group mapping exercises to suggest trail design ideas and solutions to common issues.
Ridge to Rivers is a multi-agency partnership consisting of the City of Boise, the Bureau of Land Management, Ada County Parks and Waterways, the Boise National Forest and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Existing R2R pathways cross all of these jurisdictions, as well as many private lands via revocable or permanent easements.
 “As agency partners we are thrilled with the significant level of public involvement as demonstrated by over 2,700 responses to the R2R Trails Survey,” said the Bureau of Land Management Four Rivers Field Manager Tate Fischer. “We encourage citizens to participate in the workshops to help shape management of the system in the future.” 

- BLM –

Monday, November 9, 2015

Washington's John Wayne Pioneer Trail – New Opportunities to Make Your Voice Heard - Full Article

By Blake Trask | Published November 3, 2015

Whether you support the John Wayne Pioneer Trail for its recreation opportunities, economic impact to neighboring communities, or because it is the longest rail trail in the nation, now’s the time to begin to weigh in on its future.

In September trail advocates in Tekoa learned of a legislative effort to close down a roughly 120-mile portion of Washington state’s largest rail trail, the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Following the initial news, many surrounding residents and jurisdictions — including Tekoa, Spokane and others — voiced concern over the potential for permanent closure of this long-distance trail. The stated reasons for closure have included concerns over a lack of use of the trail, worries about trespassing, and liability.

Now, future discussions – and opportunities for trail supporters to provide meaningful input — about the future of the trail are beginning to take shape.

The most immediate opportunity to lend your voice to the discussion is via a set of three listening sessions occurring in Eastern Washington in November...

- See more at:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Support for the Recreational Trails Program is Needed Now

American Horse Council

The House of Representatives will begin to debate its version of a multi-year national highway bill, called the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (STRR Act) (H.R. 3763) this week. The bill would reauthorize the Federal Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The horse industry benefits greatly from this program.

However, two amendments have be introduced by Rep. Buddy Carter
(R-GA) and by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) to eliminate the RTP program. The House could vote on these amendments this week.

The American Horse Council urges all recreational riders and trail users to call their Representative and ask them to oppose the Carter Amendment #69 and the Yoho amendment # 158 or any amendment to the STRR Act that would eliminate the Recreational Trails Program.

Since its inception RTP has provided money for thousands of state and local trail projects across the country, including many that benefit equestrians. RTP provides funding directly to the states for recreational trails and trail-related facilities for all recreational trail users. It is funded with a portion of the gas taxes paid into the Highway Trust Fund by recreational off-highway vehicle users.

You can reach your Representative by calling the Congressional switchboard at (202) 225-3121. Ask for your Representatives' office and then ask to speak to the staff person who handles transportation issues. Or by visiting their website.

Call them as soon as possible and tell them;

You support the Recreational Trails Program and it is important to trail riders in your state.

Please oppose the Carter Amendment #69 and the Yoho amendment # 158 to the STRR Act that would eliminate the RTP program.

Tell them RTP is a very effective, user-pay/user-benefit program and a proven success story. It serves as the foundation for state trail programs across the country, facilitates healthy outdoor recreation, and helps spur economic activity in countless communities.

If you have any questions please contact the American Horse Council.