Wednesday, March 30, 2016

California: Land deal locks down popular mountain trail access - Full Article

Benjamin Spillman,
March 29, 2016

Property surrounding one of the most popular unofficial trailheads in the northern Sierra Nevada is now in the public’s hands.

The decision by the U.S. Forest Service to acquire the Truckee-area property means the land won’t be subject to private development.

That’s a relief for everyone from backcountry skiers to mountain bikers to Pacific Crest Trail hikers who use the trailhead to access backcountry in the area around Castle Peak.

“I think everyone has been looking at this as a critical part of the public land puzzle for decades,” said Markley Bavinger, project manager for the Trust for Public Land.

The Trust for Public Land and the Truckee Donner Land Trust bought the 412-acre property from the longtime owners for $2.1 million.

Then the two land conservation non-profits immediately sold it to the Forest Service for the same price.

The Forest Service got the money to cover the purchase price from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

That fund is mostly derived from a fees companies pay for offshore oil and gas drilling. The fees are set aside in order to purchase property at fair market value in order to preserve wildlife habitat, provide recreation opportunities, preserve scenic vistas or ensure clean water...

Read more here:

Monday, March 28, 2016

ONE WEEK left to nominate an RTP-funded trail project for a Coalition for Recreational Trails award! (DEADLINE: April 4)

Has your trail received funding through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP)?

Here is a great opportunity for national recognition that also advocates continued funding for trails!


The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT), a nationwide federation of trail-related organizations (of which American Trails is an active member), sponsors the Annual Achievement Awards to recognize outstanding trail projects funded by the RTP. The awards will be presented in Washington, D.C. in June during Great Outdoors Month™ as part of the Coalition's ongoing efforts to build awareness and appreciation of this highly successful program. CRT will hold the awards ceremony on Capitol Hill and will encourage members of Congress to attend to help honor the outstanding achievements of their constituents.
What projects are eligible?
Award winners will be selected from projects nominated by public agencies, trail administrators, or other project sponsors. All projects completed after 2007 are eligible. 
The 2016 award categories are: 
• Maintenance and Rehabilitation
• Construction and Design
• Public-Private Partnerships and Access to/Use of Public Lands
• Community Linkage
• Education and Communication
• Multiple-Use Management and Corridor Sharing
• Accessibility Enhancement
• Youth Conservation/Service Corps and Community Outreach
• Engaging Public Sector Partners (new category for 2016)
Return the nomination form by April 4, 2016 to
If you have questions, contact Duane Taylor, CRT Awards Committee Chair, at  
Winners should be notified by May 6, 2016. 
Learn more about outstanding projects funded by the RTP:

To further get a sense of the types of outstanding projects funded by the RTP, we encourage you to download and read the Federal Highway Administration's 2014 Annual RTP Report. The 2015 RTP Report will be released by the Federal Highway Administration in the near future. 
Access FHWA's online Recreational Trails Program Database to find projects that have received RTP funding in your State. Additionally, American Trails makes a webpage for each winning project. Visit the 2015 awards webpage for examples!
Please note: data collection is an ongoing effort and data is regularly being entered into the Database as it is received from the States, District of Columbia, and other sources. 
Help spread the word:
American Trails encourages you to join the Coalition for Recreational Trails in this effort to recognize the significant contributions that the Recreational Trails Program provides to nationwide trails and greenways. 
Please help spread the word on this opportunity to help the Recreational Trails Program shine! 

For more information and to download the nomination form, see

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Southampton Trails Preservation Society Celebrates 30 Years, 300 Miles Of Trails - Full Article

Mar 25, 2016 5:10 PM
By Alisha Steindecker

As Dai Dayton trekked a winding, wooded hiking trail in Sag Harbor on a warm March day, twigs crunching beneath her feet, she absentmindedly cleared the path as she went, throwing loose branches to the side—pausing to breathe in the serenity.“Do you hear that?” she asks as she gestures toward a kettlehole a few feet away. “Those are the peepers.”

Ms. Dayton’s singular appreciation for the natural environment, her dedication to it, and how she has inspired others have enabled the Southampton Trails Preservation Society, of which she is a founding member, to continue to flourish in its 30th year. It is why the peepers, tiny frogs that are a key part of a South Fork spring, remain safe from harm, their peeps audible despite the loud sounds of skeet shooting or hunting just a few miles away.

For its 30th anniversary, the volunteer organization is celebrating 300 miles of trails—spread literally throughout North Sea, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, Hampton Bays, Noyac, Sagaponack and elsewhere in Southampton Town and beyond—the accumulation of which its more than 300 members have worked tirelessly to achieve. They have saved wildlife, prevented development, fought the influx of all-terrain vehicles and, of course, preserved more and more land.

“Towns don’t do this for us—that is what is so amazing,” said founding member Pingree Louchheim, a Sagaponack resident. “All of that is done by private people, and I don’t think there are many places that they can say they have a trails system 100-percent maintained and created by private people.”

The Southampton Trails Preservation Society was actually founded by a group of equestrians who realized that they were losing the trails they rode in the Long Pond Greenbelt to rapid development. The existence of the trails goes back to colonial times, and they are historic features, Ms. Dayton explained, adding that they need to be preserved in their natural state.

Indeed they have, and members have led hikes on South Fork trails every weekend for the past three decades.

A program within the organization, called Horses On Trails, or HOT, is flourishing. Board member Leslie Lowery, who leads the program, along with trail rides once every month, explained that horses have historically been a natural part of the environment. “We try to maintain a horse presence in the trail system, otherwise people forget that horses are permitted and encouraged, and not detrimental to the environment,” she said. “It is a passive use of the environment and it’s beautiful...”

Read more here:

Friday, March 25, 2016

American Trails Webinar: "The FAST Act: Advancing Trails with the New Federal Transportation Bill"

Hosted by

American Trails presents "The FAST Act: Advancing Trails with the New Federal Transportation Bill" on April 21, 2016 as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series"

This webinar is presented by Marianne Fowler, Kevin Mills, and Leeann Sinpatanasakul of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Cost: $35 American Trails members / $55 nonmembers


This webinar will take a look at the FAST Act legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in December 2015 (Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act or "FAST Act"). The presenters will explain what the legislation means for trail funding of future projects. The presenters will go over changes to the Transportation Alternatives Program that funds walking and bicycling projects, and review the Recreational Trails Program, which remains the same since the last legislation. The webinar will also touch on new provisions to a low-interest loan program (TIFIA), which could help communities—in urban, suburban, or rural areas—more quickly build a complete trail or active transportation network. Join us to hear from experts on what the new legislation says and how the changes can benefit current and future trail work.

Key Learning Points – The FAST Act: Advancing Trails with the New Federal Transportation Act

Participants will be able to...

• Describe the changes to the Transportation Alternatives Program between MAP-21 and the FAST Act.
• Understand how the Recreational Trails Program works with respect to: funding allocations for different trail types, requirements to receive funding (i.e. advisory group must meet once a year), and the governor opt-out provision.
• Explain what the TIFIA program is, generally, and know that bike/ped work is eligible for TIFIA.
• Identify the five major changes to the TIFIA provisions in the FAST Act.
• Understand that collectively, these provisions could make it easier to finance (take out a low-interest loan) to complete a bike/ped/trail network.

For more information and to register, see:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Great Britain: New 70-mile route around area's trails developed by horse riders - Full Article

By Ashbourne News Telegraph | Posted: March 22, 2016

New 70-mile route around area's trails developed by horse riders
By Ashbourne News Telegraph | Posted: March 22, 2016

A NEW 70-mile route for riders, cyclists and walkers that takes in parts of the countryside surrounding Ashbourne is being launched.

The South Peak Loop takes in bridleways, old railway trails such as the Tissington Trail and quiet country lanes in the southern part of the Peak District National Park.

Scenic highlights of the loop, which is being launched officially next month, include the Chatsworth Estate, the Manifold valley and Carsington reservoir.

National park authority chief executive Sarah Fowler has been invited to officially open the loop, which has been put together by bridleway watchdog group Peak Horsepower next month...

Read more:

5 fun Utah horse trails to ride this summer - Full Article

By Sean Stoker, Contributor | Posted Mar 22nd, 2016

THE GREAT OUTDOORS — With winter finally thawing into spring, the season of outdoor recreation is at last upon us. With countless people flocking to the Utah wilderness to spend time in Mother Nature, many focus on hiking, camping and the mountain biking side of things. But one of Utah's outdoor assets that often goes overlooked is the abundance of equestrian trails dotting the state.

Have a look at some fun locales across the state of Utah where you can hang with your hoofed friend.

Cassidy Trail, Garfield County

It's believed that the legendary old West outlaw Butch Cassidy used this trail many a time to escape the law. Running about 8 miles from the Red Canyon trailhead to Casto Canyon, this trail features beautiful red rock formations and native flora and fauna dot the view.

Directions: From Panguitch, take Highway 89 southeast. Exit onto Utah 12 and travel east for about 4 miles to reach Red Canyon trailhead...

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Multiple Use Trail: Discovery Hill Community Trails (Idaho)

Multiple-Use Management and Corridor Sharing

Sponsor/Partners: Bureau of Land Management
Congressional District: Blaine Luetkemeyer (ID-3)
Senators: Michael Crapo (R-ID) and James Risch (R-ID)

The Discovery Hill Community Trails Project is a community-driven trail-development project located approximately 2 miles north of Salmon, Idaho. Discovery Hill had a long history of user-created conflicts and vandalism which were impacting important keystone wildlife species such as sage grouse.

Approximately 35 miles of non-motorized trails were developed, a 1.4 mile podcast trail was built, the designated travel route system was clearly signed and mapped, and a frisbee golf course was built. The trail system is immensely popular with mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers, and horseback riders. Additionally, motorized trail users now safely and accurately navigate the motorized road and trail system and Sacajawea Motorsports park.

For more information:

Liz Townley
Bureau of Land Management
1206 S. Challis Street
Salmon, ID 83467
Phone: (208) 756-5431

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Nebraska: Trail Blazed - Full Article

Posted: Friday, March 18, 2016 3:00 am
By Kamie Stephen

NCORPE to open acreage south of North Platte for recreation

One of the goals of NCORPE’s grassland restoration program is to provide recreational activities to the public. Last September, they opened up several thousand acres on a 15,500-acre property south of North Platte for hunting. In April, even more will be opened up for the public to enjoy in the form of a trail system.

“There’s not a lot of public land access for hiking around here,” said Lisa Burke, executive director of the North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau.

After speaking with members of organizations like the Visitors Bureau, the NCORPE team decided to devote approximately 2,000 acres to a trail. Two trails have been mowed into the grass to form an eight-mile loop.

“[The Visitors Bureau] felt there’s a large need in this area for public access hiking, biking and horseback riding,” said Kyle Shepherd, general manager of NCORPE...

Read more here:

Public lands bills come to head in Idaho Legislature - Full Article

"For those that think the state wouldn’t sell the land, the 1.5 million acres of state land that has already been sold speaks for itself." Brad Brooks, The Wilderness Society

March 14, 2016 11:56 PM

By Rocky Barker

Idaho lawmakers who want to force or convince the federal government to transfer public lands ran into a surly crowd of hunters and anglers dressed in camouflage, hunting vests and fishing shirts in February.

The outdoors lovers had come to a Feb. 29 presentation by Utah lawmakers and an attorney, and their presence sent the message they want the public lands left in federal hands. Sporting groups like the Idaho Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and others had quickly organized the crowd to challenge the argument from the Utah lawmakers that Idaho should join the legal fight to give Western states “equal rights” with Eastern, Midwestern and Southern states...

Read more here:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Equine Land Conservation Resource Releases Three Year Strategic Plan

Lexington, Ky. – March 17, 2016

For the past 15 years, with the support of its donors and conservation partners, ELCR has sounded the alarm and made the horse community more aware of the importance of land conservation for the future of horses. The organization’s educational campaigns, resource materials and technical assistance services have aided in the protection of more than 200,000 acres of land and more than 1,200 miles of trails.

“While much has been accomplished, through our educational programs, a series of community based town hall meetings and feedback from partners, organizations and individuals requesting our assistance, it has become clear that ELCR must do more and do it now,” said ELCR Board President, Ken Haddad. “We have greatly underestimated the severity of the land loss issue even in the most recognizable horse communities.” In response the ELCR Board of Directors has formulated a three year plan to identify and assist communities stay ahead of land loss issues.

The Plan lays out how ELCR will enhance its existing capacity to be more actively engaged at the local level. ELCR will expand its existing network of equine and land conservation organizations to include more local organizations. Giving these groups the opportunity to learn from one another, be united by a shared commitment and share successes and failures will strengthen local equine land conservation efforts. The expanded network will act as a unified voice on behalf of the horse both in response to crisis and in shaping public support and local policies. Network members will help inform ELCR and shape its programs and services and will disseminate educational materials, expertise and other resources to support horse land conservation activities at the grass root level.

“We are excited to begin this new phase of our work here at ELCR,” said ELCR Executive Director, Holley Groshek. “Working more closely in partnership with local community based organizations will help accelerate the conservation of local horse lands in order to protect the future of the horse in America.” The ELCR 2016-2018 Strategic Plan is available at

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

Great Britain: Crewkerne filmmaker taking on national trails challenge - Full Article

Wednesday 16 March 2016 / News

A CREWKERNE filmmaker and photographer has started her latest project and is hoping to raise awareness of the beauty of the countryside at the same time.

Abbie Barnes, 19, will be walking all of the UK’s designated National Trails while producing a documentary film for each of the journeys.

The challenge consists of 15 routes and more than 2,500 miles, which Abbie is aiming to have completed by the time she heads off to university in September.

Abbie is a semi-professional filmmaker, presenter and photographer, as well the owner of company Song Thrush Productions.

Of her latest challenge, Abbie said: “As an avid long-distance backpacker, I am constantly planning my next big adventure. In September 2016 I will begin university.

"Between now and then I have set myself the goal of walking all of the UK’s designated National Trails. My aim is to produce a documentary-style film for each of the trails, in hope that I can install a curiosity in my viewers to witness such landscapes for themselves.

“Having twice walked across the country, and explored some of the highest, most remote regions in the UK, I have become eager to share the hidden beauty of our countryside and wilderness areas.”

National Trails are long distance walking, cycling and horse riding routes through the best landscapes in England and Wales...

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Idaho House Committee Clears 2 Controversial Fed Lands Bills - Full Article

March 16 2016

BOISE • Two controversial bills on federal land management passed a House committee on mostly party-line votes Tuesday.

One bill, which has already passed the Senate, would let counties declare a “catastrophic public nuisance” if county officials fear the way federal lands are being managed is increasing the risk of wildfire or other safety risks, and it lets the counties demand abatement from the federal government. The other states that Idaho would manage federal lands for multiple use if the state gains ownership of them in the future.

The state management bill cleared the House Resources and Conservation Committee on a party-line vote, while Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, joined Reps. Donna Pence, D-Gooding and Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, to oppose the “catastrophic public nuisance” bill.

The state management bill, sponsored by Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, was getting its first full hearing Tuesday and drew the most testimony. As often happens during debates on federal vs. state land ownership, land transfer opponents expressed fears that state ownership could mean some land being sold off or closed to public access. Supporters said they would oppose selling the land and that the states would manage it better than the federal government...

Read more here:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

USE IT OR LOSE IT: California's Skillman Horse Camp

March 12 2016

Many of you know Skillman Horse Camp as the location of the annual GCTC (Gold Country Trails Council) poker ride or as the site of the Wild West Endurance Ride. (Each allowed by special use permit from the Tahoe National Forest). It is one of the few camps in the TNF designated as a horse camp, thanks to the efforts of GCTC.

Historically the Skillman area was home to the Maidu. When the gold rush hit, miners and settlers moved into the area and later a logging camp was established near by.  Eventually, GCTC suggested a new use to the Forest Service for the camp.... a campground where equestrians could stay with their horses and ride the developing Pioneer Trail as well as the other surrounding trails. Skillman Horse Camp took shape with corrals, water troughs, fire rings, picnic tables and restrooms, and has been enjoyed by horse campers through the years.

Now, the Tahoe National Forest has concerns that the camp is not being fully utilized, and therefore cannot sustain itself for its annual cost of operation. Skillman is in jeopardy of being eventually closed.

GCTC is working with the Tahoe National Forest to determine the future of Skillman Horse Camp. 2016 will be a trial year of that decision with continuation of the camp available to individual as well as group campers by reservations and "walk ins". One of the options for future use will be by reservation only for groups (no individual camp sites).

This is one of those "use it or lose it” situations for equestrians. It is imperative that Skillman Horse Camp have increased use this summer!! Tell your out of area friends about this beautiful camp, and camp at Skillman yourself. It has lots to offer: 16 camp sites, several with corrals, all with picnic tables and fire rings; also vault rest rooms, and horse water, in a lovely setting with miles of signed riding trails. Up to date maps to be available soon!

What else can you do? Volunteer at the Skillman workdays in May. Write letters to The Tahoe National Forest supporting continued use of Skillman as a horse camp. (USFS, 631 Coyote Street, Nevada City, CA 95959) Help GCTC with ideas to share with TNF on ways to reduce the costs of running Skillman. Contact GCTC president Laura Duncan or any board member with suggestions or any ideas.

Remember: USE IT OR LOSE IT.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bluff, Utah locals seek to connect town to San Juan River with trails - Full Article

By BRIAN MAFFLY | The Salt Lake Tribune
Mar 09 2016 07:36PM

The plan involves arranging easements across private properties to develop an 8-mile network of nonmotorized trails along the San Juan’s north bank.

The San Juan River runs through a broad flood plain a half-mile south of Bluff, the southeastern Utah town that boasts its founding in the year A.D. 650 — a good 12 centuries before the arrival of Mormon settlers.

That's the time Ancestral Puebloan culture took off, when American Indians began crafting dwellings from rock, mud and juniper in the cliffs along the San Juan and tributaries that flow off Cedar Mesa and McCracken Mesa.

While the ancients lived and worked beside this vital water, the modern town is cut off, access blocked by tracts of private land given to homesteaders who settled the valley in the 1880s.

Now local historic preservationists are seeking to tie the town with the river by arranging easements across various private properties to develop an 8-mile network of nonmotorized trails that would run along the San Juan's north bank downstream to the Sand Island recreation site...

Read more here:

Saturday, March 5, 2016

National Trails Day® Quickly Approaching

The American Hiking Society’s 2016 National Trails Day ® will take place on June 4th. It's the country’s largest celebration of trails.  National Trails Day events will take place in every state across the country and will include hikes, biking and horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, geocaching, gear demonstrations, stewardship projects and more. 

Last year more than 2,300 activities took place across the United States. As always, this national day of recognition provides an opportunity to showcase our National Trails whether it be through stewardship, recreational activities, or trail dedications.

American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® (NTD) is a celebration of America’s magnificent Trail System, occurring annually on the first Saturday in June. NTD features a series of outdoor activities, designed to promote and celebrate the importance of trails in the United States. Individuals, clubs and organizations from around the country host National Trails Day® events to share their love of trails with friends, family, and their communities. NTD introduces thousands of Americans to a wide array of trail activities: hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding, trail running, and bird watching and more. For public and private land managers alike, National Trails Day® is a great time to showcase beautiful landscapes and special or threatened locales as thousands of people will be outside looking to participate in NTD events.

National Trails Day® evolved during the late ‘80s and ‘90s from a popular ethos among trail advocates, outdoor industry leaders and political bodies who wanted to unlock the vast potential in America’s National Trails System, transforming it from a collection of local paths into a true network of interconnected trails and vested trail organizations. This collective mindset hatched the idea of a singular day where the greater trail community could band together behind the NTD moniker to show their pride and dedication to the National Trails System.

To host or attend a National Trails Day event, see:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Back Country Horsemen of Washington Surpasses Project Goals

February 29, 2016

By Sarah Wynne Jackson

Back Country Horsemen of America makes huge strides every year in their effort to keep trails open for horse use. One secret to their success is their habit of doing more than the job requires. If they’re fixing a trail tread, they’ll pick up the litter they find along the way. If they’re installing a bridge, they’ll trim that low-hanging branch, too. If they’re teaching youth how to pack, they’ll also give them a hot lunch and cool t-shirts.

Back Country Horsemen of Washington recently went above and beyond in honoring their mission statement “to assist government agencies in their maintenance of public lands.”

A Win-Win Solution

BBQ Flats, an open, level pine forest in the Wenas area south of Ellensburg, provides trail users access to higher country, where canyons, ranges, and rolling slopes offer stunning views of several mountain ranges. These lands, with popular multi-use trails, are managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The entrance road to BBQ Flats crossed private property, resulting in intermittent access. To ensure recreation opportunities, DNR recently traded 80 acres with private land owners and purchased an additional 560 acres with plans to develop dispersed camping in the flats. The land swap included provision for an access road with fencing on both sides to protect private property rights.

Exceeding Expectations

Under the direction of DNR land managers, the Wenas Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Washington supervised 30 volunteers from five BCHW chapters - Wenas, Yakima, Pierce, Lewis, and Tahoma – in a three-day work party. They planned to tear out and dispose of 1500 feet of old fencing on one side of the road.

Not surprisingly, these Back Country Horsemen showed up with more than enough equipment and enthusiasm to match. Using a tractor with a backhoe, two tractors with front-end loaders, two quads with trailers, plus every tool imaginable to dig post holes in rocky terrain, not only did they accomplish that goal in short order, they also installed 1000 feet of new fence.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

After DNR personnel completed the 1500-foot boundary fence, Back Country Horsemen of Washington volunteers returned to construct an 8000-foot long elk fence on the other side of the 80-foot wide access and property boundary. Five BCHW chapters - Wenas, Pierce, Lewis, Tahoma, and Traildusters – attached fencing to the 800 metal posts previously set in place by a private company.

During the two-day work party, 35 volunteers installed 1½ miles of woven field fence, completing the lower four foot span first, then the upper four feet to create the 8-foot high wildlife barrier fence.

More Improvements

Determined to help DNR get the project completed, the Wenas Chapter organized a work party on National Trails Day. In scorching temperatures, 13 volunteers finished the elk fence and a wildlife migratory gate. They also made improvements to the dispersed camping area, including a graveled access road with metal entry gates, an improved loop road in the flats itself, and three vault toilets.

Celebrating Accomplishment

In recognition of the 1,406 volunteer hours Back Country Horsemen of Washington contributed to this project, DNR is planning a special appreciation and dedication lunch at BBQ Flats. The gathering will be reminiscent of the days when cattlemen met in the flats for a barbeque after fall roundup, resulting in the unusual name of this unique wild 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 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

We “Hike the Hill” to Give a Voice to Our National Trails - Full Article

Written February 16, 2016

Our National Trails System

Our National Trails System (NTS) spans 55,000 miles and connects with 70 National Wildlife refuges, 80 National Parks, 90 Bureau of Land Management areas, 90 National Forests, 123 Wilderness Areas, and 100 major metropolitan areas. This incredible system provides access to our country’s diverse landscapes, cultural heritage, and biodiversity.

Whether it be a jaunt in the woods, a visit to a historical landmark, or a road trip across the country there is no denying that many if not most American’s have stepped foot on or traveled along at least one of our national trails.

As we continue to work towards the preservation and completion of this trails system, it is important to know that there is still a great deal of work to be done. This is why we head to Washington each year with the American Hiking Society and fellow partners to “Hike the Hill.”
A Week in Washington

Hike the Hill ® is a week-long event that provides opportunities for participants to advocate for the protection, completion, and funding of our NTS.

Throughout the week citizen advocates speak with members of Congress, congressional staff, and leaders of the federal land managing agencies. Through these conversations we learn how to better work together, continue to provide education and advocate for important issues and legislation, and plan for the future of our NTS.

The Big Picture

One of the ways we use our voice in Washington is by speaking with Congress about legislation that positively affects the NTS. Some of the key legislation currently being considered is as follows:...

Read more here:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Back Country Horsemen of California Gets It Done, and Then Some

February 29, 2016
By Sarah Wynne Jackson

Spring, summer, fall, and winter, Back Country Horsemen of America works throughout the year to keep trails open for horse use. One of the original states to form BCHA, Back Country Horsemen of California donate their time and personal resources to creating and improving horseback riding opportunities across the state.

Now You Can Lead a Horse to Water...

Several years ago, the Lake-Mendo Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of California built a horse camp on a level site at the intersection of three forest roads in the Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest (BMDSF). Since then, they’ve added more facilities, including a highline, vault toilet, and fire pit.

Because a working horse can drink 10 or more gallons of water each day, adding a stock water trough was a priority. The challenge was finding an economical, low impact design. After much research and discussion with Friends of Boggs Mountain, the chapter decided on a 2,500 gallon water tank placed above a water trough. Gravity fills the trough from the tank, with a float valve to regulate the level. They covered the trough to minimize water loss through evaporation and to keep the water clean of forest debris.

A grant from the Cobb Geothermal Mitigation Fund Committee covered the cost of materials, and the Lake-Mendo Chapter installed the water system in two weekends. Friends of Boggs Mountain committed to pay for the next two tank refills, and the chapter is hoping for donations from equestrians who use the camp to help fund future water deliveries.

BMDSF is managed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and was established for the purpose of showing the productive and economic possibilities of good forestry practices toward maintaining forest land through harvesting. With the exception of areas undergoing active timber operations, all of the 3,493-acre forest is open for public recreation, including camping, biking, horseback riding, hiking, hunting and target shooting. The property includes 25 miles of unimproved roads and over 21 miles of non-motorized use trails.

Short Term Projects Lead to Long Term Accomplishments

The Mother Lode Unit of Back Country Horsemen of California recently placed the official entrance sign to the Caples Creek Equestrian Trailhead, which they built and opened for use in June 2014. Seven volunteers worked a full day, hurrying to finish before the forecasted thunderstorm arrived.

The team used their professional equipment, including a tractor with auger. They drilled 3-foot-deep holes for the posts, set them in concrete, and mounted the sign on the posts. They also installed four steel hitching posts at the day-use parking area, spaced wide enough to be used for a highline for hitching multiple horses, and two hitching posts at the hikers’ trailhead.

Located at 6000 feet elevation about 9 miles south of Kyburz, the Caples Creek Equestrian Trailhead provides access to the Caples Creek Trail. From there, riders can connect to multiple trails within the Eldorado National Forest, including those leading to Schneider's Cow Camp, Sayles Canyon, and the Kirkwood area.

Setting the official sign was only the latest of many improvements made here by Back Country Horsemen of California, who donated a total of 1,284 volunteer hours in partnership with the US Forest Service and the Elegant Ears Mule Association. The trailhead project began in 2011. Since then, they’ve repaired a bridge, made several day-use parking areas large enough for big rigs, and built a 1/4-mile long connector trail so equestrians don’t have to ride the asphalt road to access the trail.

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