Friday, January 29, 2016

New Mexico: Public access to Sabinoso Wilderness closer to reality - Full Article

By Charles B. Brunt / Journal Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, January 28th, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. — Public access to New Mexico’s 16,000-acre Sabinoso Wilderness – entirely “landlocked” by private land – moved closer to reality Thursday on news the nonprofit Wilderness Land Trust bought adjacent property that could soon allow hikers, hunters, backpackers and others access to it.

c01_jd_29jan_Sabinoso-WildernessThe purchase of the non-contiguous 4,176-acre Rimrock Rose Ranch properties, made possible by a $3.1 million contribution from the Wyss Foundation, could allow public access to the Sabinoso by summer, said Reid Haughey, president of The Wilderness Land Trust.

Although the BLM, which manages the Sabinoso, has tried for years to get landowners to allow public access through their properties by road or trail, that hasn’t happened...

Read more here:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado Restores State’s Flood and Fire-Damaged Trails - Full Article

From Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado

First came the forest fires. Then the floods. As if Colorado’s worst-ever wildfires in 2012 weren’t enough, on September 9, 2013, there was no way to know a 200-mile stretch of Colorado was in the early hours of what experts would ultimately call a 1,000-year rain and a 100-year flood. After a week of rare and relentless rains, an estimated 10 people were killed, 2,000 homes were destroyed, another 18,000 homes were damaged, 30 bridges were lost, and 230 miles of trail were affected.

Though the floods heavily impacted 18 counties in Colorado, Boulder County was hit the hardest; in fact, the area picked up almost nine times its average September monthly rainfall in almost four days. In total, there was about $1.7 million in damages to Boulder County's trails and trailheads.

Jefferson County, another hard-hit area, sustained damage to its 14 of 28 Open Space Parks. Devastatingly, four of their top 10 most visited parks— totaling 1,090 acres— closed in their entirety.

Responding to the need to help restore these damaged— and closed— trails so that eager recreationalists could resume their outdoor activities as soon as possible, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, a statewide volunteer stewardship organization, dedicated a hefty portion of its volunteer projects to recovery efforts last year. Working closely with land managers along the Front Range, VOC was able to mobilize thousands of volunteers (that’s 12,480 hours!) who were eager to see their beloved trails re-opened and their majestic hillsides re-greened post-fire.

One major way in which VOC engaged volunteers last year was through its six fire rehabilitation projects at Waldo Canyon, near Colorado Springs. Following the Waldo Canyon Fire in June 2012 that blackened over 18,000 acres and left a left a chilling path of destruction in its wake...

Read more here:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Comments Needed on Yosemite Wilderness Plan

January 23 2016

Do you desire to one day ride your horse or mule in Yosemite National Park along the park's many Wilderness trails or even the Pacific Crest Trail? Have you been one of the lucky persons who already has visited Yosemite Wilderness, but wants to continue to enjoy the same freedoms that you did during your last trip?
Then please submit public scoping comments for the park's Wilderness Stewardship Plan by January 29th, 2016 (details below). Your voice is needed to ensure that Yosemite Wilderness remains accessible and enjoyable for recreational stock users.


The National Park Service is in the early phases of developing a 10- to 15-year management plan for Wilderness in Yosemite National Park. Located in the Sierra Nevada Range in central California, the park's designated Wilderness encompasses over 704,000 acres and comprises over 94% of Yosemite National Park. As such, there are few trails that don't venture into park Wilderness.

During recent public scoping meetings for the Yosemite Wilderness Stewardship Plan (WSP), the Park Service made clear that the plan must include a comprehensive look at recreational stock use in order "to allow stock use to continue with minimal impact." That's okay, because we at BCHA want the Park Service to do a thorough job, including learning from us about ways to incorporate Leave No Trace techniques and exploring options to better accommodate access for private users of horses and mules. 

Take Action

You can submit scoping comments by January 29th via either email, U.S. Mail or through the Park Service's online planning portal, which is here, then by clicking on the "Comment Now" button. The park email address is or mail can be sent to: Superintendent, Yosemite National Park, Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan, P.O. Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389

The park's online planning portal is easy to use. BCHA has included at the end of this Action Alert recommended talking points that you might consider adding to your personal comments to Yosemite National Park. It's important to use your own words and add your own personal story among BCHA's suggested talking points. 

Thank you for taking action to ensure the continued access and enjoyment of Yosemite Wilderness by pack and saddle stock users! 
Donald Saner, Chairman
Back Country Horsemen of America

Recommended Talking Points

Please note that the Yosemite comment website prompts comments in response to two key topics listed on the webpage. Feel free to enter your comments any way you choose. As always, comments that are courteous and include examples and recommendations for improving wilderness management increase the chance that your comments will be greeted with receptivity.

BCHA's talking points below are arranged to respond to the two key topics and, as such, should be entered separately on the Park's services online portal in response to Question 1 and Question 2.

Question 1

What do you value about the way in which the National Park Service currently manages the Yosemite Wilderness?
• I am a stock owner and trail rider. I look forward to the day I can explore Yosemite Wilderness in the time-honored tradition of traveling with pack and saddle stock.

• I value the long-established tradition of use of pack and saddle stock in Yosemite National Park and throughout the West, and I wish to see this important historical use carried on into the future.

• Seeing Yosemite on horseback is an experience that cannot be replicated by other means. For visitors that are either aged, mobility impaired, or otherwise unable to venture into park Wilderness on their own, the only opportunity to visit the park's Wilderness may be via horseback or mule.

• I place great value in the use of pack stock as a management tool that enables federal land management agencies to maintain and enhance wilderness character. For example, use of pack stock, a primitive mode of travel, in lieu of the use of helicopters for routine maintenance in Wilderness is one means by which the Park Service can maintain historic uses and achieve greater alignment with the agency's recently-adopted "Keeping it Wild" management philosophy.

• I value the relatively primitive and unconfined recreational experience associated with current management of Yosemite Wilderness. The unconfined nature of that experience currently affords pack stock users a modest amount of freedom, in the absence of onerous regulations, to travel, camp and graze my pack stock in park Wilderness.

Question 2

What are the most important issues facing the Yosemite Wilderness today and how should they be addressed?

• I understand that the rate of reported conflict between hikers/ backpackers and pack stock users is low in Yosemite Wilderness. As Back Country Horsemen, we work to minimize visitor conflict in Wilderness through education and the practice of Leave No Trace® techniques. The WSP should avoid the false choice that visitor conflict can be addressed primarily by placing limits on pack stock use or limiting stock use on currently shared trails, in designated camping areas, or via restrictions on open meadow grazing.

• In forming WSP alternatives or measures that might further restrict, reduce or curtail horse/stock use in Wilderness, the Park Service should not be unduly swayed by a lack of tolerance voiced by a subset of Wilderness visitors who object to viewing either pack stock or signs of pack stock use where such use is in keeping with widely-accepted Leave No Trace® principles.

• In order to reduce the potential for visitor conflict, the WSP should include proactive methods of visitor education, including the use of interpretive materials available at Wilderness trailheads, to convey to hikers and backpackers to expect encounters with parties with pack stock. The WSP also should detail methods by which visitors traveling via foot and with pack stock could enhance communication and work toward minimizing "conflict" between user groups. Changing the expectations of individuals prior to their embarking from the trailhead appears to represent a first step in doing so.

• In areas of known or documented stock-related resource damage, the WSP should consider alternatives beyond simply limiting pack stock use. Such alternatives could include reroutes of trails, hardening of trail surfaces, separation of designated camping areas, and the use of portable electrical fencing or other means to contain pack stock in open meadows.

• Proposed regulations should meet scientific rigor and necessity. The WSP must cite current peer-reviewed studies, and those studies must be made readily accessible for public review, if science is used to justify proposed limits upon trail use, overnight camping, or open meadow grazing.

• Science applied in the WSP must discern between the effects of pack stock use by private users versus the effects of parties using commercial pack stock outfitters versus the park's own administrative use of pack stock. In the absence of such science, the WSP should not seek to disproportionately burden private stock users, who comprise a small percentage of overnight Wilderness visitation.

• The opinion of pack stock users is not adequately reflected in current studies and surveys of Yosemite Wilderness visitors. The WSP should include documentation of the preferences and desired experiences of recreational stock users, whose views might or might not align with views expressed by other Wilderness visitors as documented in existing social science literature.

• Access to the Yosemite Wilderness at present by private horsemen is very difficult. The WSP should consider, and make efforts to accommodate, the logistical needs of pack stock users who do not enter park Wilderness via adjacent national forests or private land. For example, the WSP should address the need for adequate trailer parking at park trailheads and front country camping areas for person who haul their own horses and mules.

• The Park Service may soon find that it has insufficient resources to maintain trails in Yosemite Wilderness to standards that are necessary to maintain visitor safety and resource protection. Given that the WSP represents a long-range (10- to 15-year) plan, it would be prudent to consider in the WSP the option of enlisting additional qualified partners in routine trail maintenance. For example, establishing formal agreements with qualified non-profit organizations, such as Backcountry Horsemen of California and its partner, the Pacific Crest Trail Association, would serve to augment the agency's beleaguered trail maintenance budget and could preclude the need to either close trails or reclassify some trails as either "unmaintained" or minimally maintained.

• Park personnel should work in partnership with Backcountry Horsemen of California (BCHC) to develop a park-wide equine Leave No Trace® (LNT) program that is included in the WSP. BCHC is the sole authorized equine LNT Master Educator trainer for the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region (California). As such, park personnel and the WSP should consider entering into a formal partnership with BCHC for the development of a visitor education and LNT program for equine visitors to Yosemite National Park.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Equestrian Focus Meeting in Boise Regarding Ridge To Rivers Trail

January 19 2016

As a result of the amount of input received from equestrians during the Ridge to Rivers 10-year Master Plan workshops held in November, an Equestrian Focus Meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 9th from 6 - 7:30 PM at the Foothills Learning Center.

The meeting will consist of an open dialogue between equestrians, land managers (including Tom Bobo from the Grossman Company) and a few mountain bikers from the Trail Plan Committee who we have asked to attend. The hope is to discuss and address the primary concerns of equestrians with respect to using the Ridge to Rivers trail system.

The goal of the meeting is to arrive at a handful of strategies that land managers and trail users can implement, to allow for more comfortable horse/biker interaction and improved parking for equestrians - the latter being a challenge that may need to include ACHD officials.

This is an open meeting targeted for equestrians - please feel free to let your constituents know of this opportunity. Please also stress the need to come with a positive attitude toward the process as that always leads to better results.

For more in formation see

Friday, January 15, 2016

All National Parks Are Free On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - Full Article

Michael McLaughlin
Reporter, The Huffington Post

Jan. 18 is the first of 16 admission-free days at national parks this year.

Admission to all national parks will be free on Jan. 18 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the park service has announced.

The discount gives visitors a chance to skirt the $25 fee for entering sites likes the Grand Canyon in Arizona or Yellowstone in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

The MLK Day promotion is part of events commemorating the National Park Service's centennial. There will be 16 days in all this year in which admission is free to parks and historical sites run by the NPS...

Read more here:

Oil company wants to drill in Utah’s popular Uinta Mountains - Full Article

By BRIAN MAFFLY | The Salt Lake Tribune
Jan 14 2016

A Texas company proposes drilling an exploratory well 18,000 feet into the Uinta Mountains' north slope in the hopes of discovering oil in high-elevation terrain long enjoyed by sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest (UWC) is soliciting public comment through Jan. 21 on its environmental assessment of the exploration plan pursued by Burnett Oil Co., of Fort Worth, Texas. Environmental advocates are angered the Forest Service is poised to conclude that the project poses no significant environmental impact when this delicate alpine region is so important to wildlife, scenery and recreation.

Burnett owns eight leases spanning 16,000 acres surrounding its proposed well. Some of the land has been heavily logged, and some is intact and roadless.

"If this well finds oil or natural gas, then this becomes an oil field a half-mile from the High Uintas Wilderness. This country then becomes an industrial development. It's no longer a natural environment," said Dick Carter, who unsuccessfully fought leasing the North Slope a decade ago as director of the now-disbanded High Uintas Preservation Council. "There is a future for that land. With development, there isn't any future. The most disturbing part is if they don't find anything, these leases will be there as long as they want and they can come back when prices go back up..."

Read more here:

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Larger, but Quieter Than Bundy, Push to Take Over Federal Land - Full Article

JAN. 10, 2016

DENVER — Ken Ivory, a Republican state representative from Utah, has been roaming the West with an alluring pitch to cattle ranchers, farmers and conservatives upset with how Washington controls the wide-open public spaces out here: This land is your land, he says, and not the federal government’s.

Mr. Ivory, a business lawyer from suburban Salt Lake City, does not fit the profile of a sun-scoured sagebrush rebel. But he is part of a growing Republican-led movement pushing the federal government to hand over to the states millions of acres of Western public lands — as well as their rich stores of coal, timber and grazing grass.

“It’s like having your hands on the lever of a modern-day Louisiana Purchase,” said Mr. Ivory, who founded the American Lands Council and until recently was its president. The Utah-based group is funded mostly by donations from county governments, but has received support from Americans for Prosperity, the group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers.

The idea, which would radically reshape the West, is one that resonates with the armed group of ranchers and antigovernment activists who seized control of a wildlife refuge in Oregon more than a week ago. Ammon Bundy, the crew’s leader and the scion of a Nevada ranching family steeped in disputes with the federal government, said he and his sympathizers had gone to Oregon to give the refuge back to local ranchers...

Read more here:

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sample the Salmonberry River Railroad Trail on coast - Full Article

William L. Sullivan, Special to the Statesman Journal
November 11, 2015

Steel rails hang in the air above the raging Salmonberry River. Floods damaged this railroad line northeast of Tillamook beyond repair, but the historic track may live again as Oregon’s next spectacular rails-to-trails conversion project.

Already hikers can follow the historic line 4.8 miles upriver, over abandoned trestles and steel bridges, to a water tank where steam locomotives once stocked up before tackling the Coast Range grade.

The fires and waters that mark its history

Built in 1906-1911 by the Pacific Railway & Navigation Company, the line had initials (PN&R) that soon inspired the nickname “Punk, Nasty & Rotten” because of the area’s rainy climate. Even before the Southern Pacific took over in 1916, excursion trains were hauling Portlanders to vacations at Rockway Beach and Bayocean...

Read more here:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"Why Resolve Conflict When You Can Prevent It?" Trails Webinar

Presented by American Trails

Conflict has come into focus in the trail world during the past few years. New and different ideas have been tried, but the best resolution for conflicts is a tried and true method. During this webinar, we will describe the ways in which most conflicts can be avoided before they ever start. The presentation will focus on motorized and non-motorized trail use conflicts, but the principles can be applied to any type of trail conflict. This webinar is presented by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) and Back Country Horsemen of Montana.

Key Learning Points:

1. Conflict 101
◦ The causes of conflict
◦ Conflict in society
◦ Removing and preventing conflict in society

2. The Essentials of Preventing Conflict

3. Lewis and Clark National Forest
◦ Backcountry Horsemen and Great Falls trail bike riders work things out
◦ Partnership within the forest
◦ The ingredients for success

4. Lessons learned

• Karen Umphress, NOHVCC Project Manager
• Russ Ehnes, NOHVCC Executive Director
• Mark Himmel, Back Country Horsemen of Montana past President

Thursday, January 28, 2016
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. PACIFIC
 (1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EASTERN)  

$35 members / $55 nonmembers
(CEUs $20 additional fee)

Purchase now by clicking here:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Fight Over Control Of Western Lands Heats Up In Congress - Listen

A Utah legislative commission has voted to move forward with suing the federal government in an attempt to seize control of millions of acres of federal land.

December 31 2015

There's an old political movement in the American West that appears to be gaining new ground. Its members want to put vast tracts of federal land in the hands of states. One of the movement's leaders is Utah Republican Congressman Rob Bishop. He controls the top environmental committee in the U.S. House. He's part of a controversial effort to transfer ownership of federal land to states like his. NPR's Kirk Siegler went to Bishop's home district and sent this report...


Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund


RTC launched a new grant program in 2015 to support organizations and local governments that are implementing projects to build and improve rail-trails. Under the Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund, RTC will award a total of $85,000 per year for the next five years to qualifying projects through a competitive process. The fund was established with an $80,000 grant from Jeff Doppelt of Great Neck, New York, a long-time supporter of RTC and development of rail-trails in the United States, and an additional $20,000 donation from an anonymous donor.

Applications Now Being Accepted for 2016

For more information, and to see 2015 recipients, click here: