Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2018 is the National Trails System's 50th Anniversary

Trails50.org

It's the National Trails System's 50th Anniversary

And you're invited to the party!

In 2018, America will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our National Trails System but the party is already underway! Join the celebration by sharing your stories, photos, or favorite memories, or by simply getting out on the trail – and maybe bringing along a friend.

With the passage of the National Trails System Act in 1968, America was given a gift – the creation and protection of some of Americans’ favorite places to discover the great outdoors. Trails that celebrate outdoor adventure such as the Appalachian Trail and trails that allow us to walk through history, such as the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail.

So, join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or right here on our website dedicated to this tremendous nationwide celebration of trails and all the places they allow us to explore. Share your love of trails and the outdoors. Go ahead – wear your heart on your sleeve – or on your backpack: this is a time of celebration.

While you're here, please take a moment and sign up to get email updates to find out what's going on in your neck of the woods as well as get key updates to the 50th.

Share your favorite trail photos, sign up, and more, at:
https://www.trails50.org/

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Horsepower: where it all started

Americantrails.org - Full Article

Horsepower. The term oozes petroleum, big diesel pickups, Harley’s and cut-off flannel shirts in the garage. In an age where television is riddled with ads for vehicles boasting “the most” and “the strongest,” we often forget where it all start- ed from; the horse.

By definition, horsepower is what it takes to lift 33,000 lbs one foot in height over the course of one minute. A healthy human can sustainably produce approximately one tenth of one hp, not very much by any standard when the big trucks on television tout 300-500 horsepower.

Now contrast that to designated Wilderness areas where motors are no longer allowed and the options for accomplishing work and moving equipment are limited to either human power or horsepower. Moving downfall off the trail, digging new tread, and building turnpikes are examples of work that must be done without the assistance of motors.

In order to accomplish many of these tasks, backcountry managers use horses and mules. While livestock can’t pull a crosscut or swing an axe, they can provide the needed torque to move heavy objects around in the backcountry.

The majority of the gear necessary to work and recreate in the Wilderness is packed in on the backs of horses and mules. However, what most people don’t see is the work that was done and still continues to occur using mule teams to drag and skid objects...

Read more here:
http://www.americantrails.org/resources/horse/horsepower-mule-trail-plow.html

A Public Land Manager on How Americans and Their Federal Government Can Work Together

Outdoorlife.com - Full Article

Tim Love was a Forest Service District Ranger for 20 years. This is his perspective on our public lands

By Alex Robinson
June 8, 2017

In January, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz introduced a bill that would eliminate the jobs of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management rangers. The idea behind the bill is that local law enforcement could do a better job policing than the feds. The sentiment that federal agencies are overreaching their responsibilities on massive tracts of public land in the West played out in a dramatic standoff the previous year when an armed militia seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and demanded the federal government relinquish control of the 187,000-acre refuge.

Chaffetz’s bill and the Malheur takeover captured national media attention, painting a picture of stark conflict between local westerners and federal land managers.

But as Tim Love tells it, this sort of heated contention is the exception, not the rule.

Love was the U.S. Forest Service district ranger for the Seeley Lake area of the Lolo National Forest in northwestern Montana for 20 years. He was in charge of managing 400,000 acres for outdoor recreation, wildfire management, wildlife habitat, and timber harvest until he retired in November 2014. Because he is retired, Love can speak freely about the Forest Service.

Love admits there are real problems facing federal land and challenges for those trying to manage it. But according to Love, the solutions to those problems include simplifying regulations and working closely with the community—not extreme measures like transferring lands to the states or stripping away agency budgets...

Read more here:
http://www.outdoorlife.com/public-federal-land-manager-on-how-to-work-together?6coBlJK7RWMkDTYW.03

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

ELCR and USDF Launch the Equine Land Conservation Achievement Award

Lexington, KY – June 5, 2017 – Equine Land Conservation Resource (ELCR), in partnership with the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), is pleased to announce the inaugural Equine Land Conservation Achievement Award. Nominations for the award, which recognizes an individual or organization for outstanding achievement in protecting land or access to land for equine use, will be due by August 31, 2017. Nomination forms may be found on the USDF website at: https://www.usdf.org/awards/service/. Winners will be notified by October 1, 2017.

“USDF is very pleased to partner with ELCR on this award to help increase awareness of the importance of land conservation in the dressage community and to serve as inspiration to others within our discipline,” said USDF Executive Director, Stephan Hienzsch.

USDF’s Regional Group Membership Organizations (GMO) have been asked to consider individuals, organizations and agencies familiar to them, which are related to dressage and their communities, and to nominate those persons or entities which have accomplished exceptional achievements in the area of equine land or facilities protection or enhancement, especially at the local level, along with those activities that may have nationwide impacts.

The award will be presented at the Adequan/USDF Annual Convention awards ceremony on Saturday, December 2, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Convention and awards ceremony information may be found at: www.usdf.org/Convention.

“We are delighted to present the Equine Land Conservation Achievement Award in partnership with USDF, one of our long standing Conservation Partners. We look forward to recognizing and celebrating many future conservation achievements with the dressage community,” said ELCR Executive Director, Holley Groshek.

For additional information, contact:
Denise Y. O’Meara, Director of Education
Equine Land Conservation Resource
Phone: 859-455-8383
Email: domeara@elcr.org
www.ELCR.org

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Smart Growth Strategies and Partnership Key to Land Preservation in the Bluegrass

Kentucky Equine Networking Meeting Focused on Land Conservation in Kentucky
 
Lexington, KY (May 22, 2017) - A varied group of equine enthusiasts gathered at Fasig-Tipton for the spring session of the Kentucky Equine Networking Association (KENA). Presented by the Equine Law Group of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, the evening was intended to educate equine professionals, horse owners and recreational riders on the issue of land loss in the Kentucky's infamous horse country.

The stellar set of panelists included Holley Groshek, Executive Director of the Equine Land Conservation Resource (ELCR), Susan Speckert, Executive Director of the Fayette Alliance, Ashley Greathouse of Bluegrass Land Conservancy and Roy Cornett, currently serving as the Treasurer for the Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA). 
 
Groshek, who represents a nationwide organization, spoke of the creation of the ELCR to "sound the alarm" about land loss to equestrians. As most horseback riders are now aware that land loss is an issue, the focus of the organization has shifted to a more-local level and partnership with local entities also seeking to preserve land. "We're losing 6,000 acres of land a day to development," Groshek said. Much of the land that is being developed is being developed poorly, she noted.
 
The concern over "urban sprawl" was reiterated by Susan Speckert oftheFayette Alliance, a land-use advocacy organization in Fayette County, Ky., that is not a focused solely on equines. "People understand what makes our community [of Lexington] great," Speckert said. In addition to the active, engaged community members, the history and heritage of agriculture are what make Lexington, Lexington. The Fayette Alliance strives to preserve farmland and promote innovative development-which means limiting urban sprawl.
 
Kentucky has what is deemed "prime farmland soils and soils of statewide importance," in its Bluegrass Region. The farmland that makes the area renowned for its Thoroughbred racehorses is what Speckert dubs the "factory floor" - this economic engine drives 1 out of 9 jobs in Fayette County and brings in $2.4 billion each year.  Speckert reiterated that the Fayette Alliance is not against growth, but it does advocate for smart growth strategies that minimize sprawl.
 
Ashley Greathouse of the Bluegrass Land Conservancy detailed options available to landowners in the Bluegrass Region wishing to permanently protect their land from development. Designed to protect both land and heritage, the Conservancy focuses on protecting lands that are used as habitat, that are historic, and those that are used for equine and cattle farms in the region. The organization also focuses on preserving fresh water.
 
Roy Cornett, an active member of the Back Country Horsemen of America, spoke of the need for riders to have access to public lands on which they can ride. He feels that partnership is the key to keeping lands open and rideable, whether that is partnering with other organizations that use the land (like hikers and bikers) or partnering with those tasked with caring for the land.
 
"This was one of the most diverse crowds KENA has had to date," said Kentucky Horse Council Executive Director Katy Ross. "The depth of the topics covered was impressive, informing the audience on everything from the amount of money farmland brings to the table in the Kentucky economy to how land owners can protect their lands from development. It's refreshing to see this vast and varied group of people focus on working together to help solve issues that ultimately affect us all."
 
Each of the panelists spoke of the need for equestrians to be active in their local communities; for them to have a unified voice to ensure that land is preserved from urban sprawl; and for them to be educated about the issues that face them as equine enthusiasts.
 
The next KENA meeting will take place on August 15 at Fasig-Tipton.
 
 ABOUT THE KENTUCKY HORSE COUNCIL - The Kentucky Horse Council is a 501©3 non-profit organization dedicated, through education and leadership, to the protection and development of the Kentucky equine community. The Kentucky Horse Council provides educational programs and information, outreach and communication to Kentucky horse owners and enthusiasts, equine professional networking opportunities, trail riding advocacy, health and welfare programs, and personal liability insurance and other membership benefits.  The specialty Kentucky Horse Council license plate, featuring a foal lying in the grass, provides the primary source of revenue for KHC programs.

CONTACT: 
Kentucky Horse Council
Katy Ross
Executive Director
(859) 367-0509

Sunday, May 14, 2017

AERC Signs MOU with USFS

We are happy to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between AERC and the U.S. Forest Service. This document confirms the coordination between our two organizations and encourage mutually beneficial programs, projects, training and other activities on National Forest lands by the USFS and AERC.

Many thanks to Trails and Land Management Chair Monica Chapman who spearheaded this project. She is pictured here with Jamie Schmidt, USFS National Program Manager for Trails (left) and Jeff Mast, USFS Assistant National Program Manager for Trails (right).

To view the MOU, go to https://aerc.org/static/TrailsNews.aspx (toward the bottom of the page).

Friday, May 5, 2017

Uphold the Integrity of the Wilderness Act: Voice Your Opposition to H.R. 1349

Mountain bikes in designated Wilderness?


For over 50 years it’s been prohibited by the landmark Wilderness Act. But a new group, the Sustainable Trails Coalition (STC), intends to change that. The STC’s president proclaimed that legalizing mountain bikes in wilderness is inevitable.


We need your help to ensure that this won’t happen. Please contact your member of Congress today to say they should not support H.R. 1349.


Importantly, the International Mountain Bicycling Association does not support the STC’s goals or tactics.  That makes the cries of the STC sound very isolated within the mountain biking community. The STC currently is “shopping” among Congress for support for H.R. 1349. They claim that bikes were always intended to be included in the Wilderness vision.

Backcountry horsemen, we need your help! Please educate your member of Congress on why mountain bikes in Wilderness is a bad idea.

The infant STC organization, formed in 2015, thinks they can dictate the terms of how people access and enjoy Wilderness. Yet Section 4(c) of the 1964 Wilderness Act states: “...there shall be…no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment”..and “no other form of mechanical transport...” Clearly, bikes are mechanical transport.



The STC claims that the Wilderness Act has become the victim of outdated thinking and bureaucratic “lethargy and inertia.” That’s far from the truth. It just doesn’t fit with the STC’s wishful thinking. The vision behind this celebrated act of Congress is just as relevant today—if not more so—than it was over 50 years ago.



Why oppose mountain bikes in Wilderness? In the continental U.S., less than 3% of the land is designated wilderness. That’s just 3% of the landscape to which horseman can escape and be assured of a relatively primitive recreational experience. Further, according to the U.S. Forest Service, 98 percent of all the trails on land it manages outside of designated wilderness are open to bicycles. It and other agencies continue to create and open new mountain biking trails across the country. So it's hard for folks to argue that not allowing bikes in wilderness is restricting or harming public access.



Other reasons bike use would be problematic include:


• The rapid speeds at which mountain bikes are capable of traveling, combined with their often silent approach, would create significant safety hazards for horsemen on steep, narrow or winding trails.
• Worse still would be safety hazards for persons leading a pack string, where a bike startling the least-trained horse or mule among the pack string could bolt and/or endanger the entire party.
• Solitude or a primitive and unconfined recreational experience would be lost if horsemen were forced to constantly scan the trail ahead and over their shoulder for rapidly approaching bikes.
Please join BCHA in voicing opposition to H.R. 1349, which would authorize bikes in Wilderness. Call your member of Congress today.

You can locate the phone number of your representative in Washington DC by entering your zip code HERE.



Or the Capitol Switchboard can connect you to your legislator in Washington DC.


Call: (202) 224-3121. But please call today!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

GB: Horse riders in Protest Parade at failure to complete the Pennine Bridleway at Glossop

Everythinghorse.co.uk - Full Article

POSTED BY: EHUKNEWS
MAY 1, 2017

At noon on Saturday May 6th, horse riders, who will be joined by runners and cyclists, will meet at Hargate Hill Equestrian Centre near Glossop to ride along the dangerous roads they are expected to use because of the failure of Derbyshire County Council (DCC) and Natural England (NE) to complete the Pennine Bridleway. Local horse riders have identified a potentially much cheaper alternative route for the gap but DCC are failing to take the initiative and work with partners to consider this or other solutions which means that horse riders, cyclists and walkers continue to be put at risk.

Since the launch of the BHS’s Horse Accident web site in November 2010:

There has been 2,510 reported road incidents involving horses
38 riders have died
222 horses died at the scene, or were put to sleep as a result of their injuries

The Pennine Bridleway (PBW) is one of 15 long-distance National Trails in England and Wales only 2 of which are accessible to horse riders and cyclists. The PBW stretches from Ravenstone Dale in Cumbria to Middleton Top in Derbyshire. The National Trails website says that “The Pennine Bridleway offers horse riders, cyclists and walkers the opportunity to explore 205 miles of the Pennines’ ancient packhorse routes, drovers roads and newly created bridleways”. Although it was officially opened in 2012, around Glossop and Charlesworth, horse riders, walkers and cyclists still have to take to dangerous roads for five to six miles. It also means that the Pennine Bridleway is not being used as much as it could be despite having cost taxpayers many millions of pounds since it was started almost 20 years ago in 1999...

Read more here:
http://everythinghorseuk.co.uk/horse-riders-in-protest-parade-at-failure-to-complete-the-pennine-bridleway-at-glossop/

Monday, May 1, 2017

Land & Water Conservation Fund Legislation in the 115th Congress

4/29/2017

The Fiscal Year 2018 “skinny budget” released by the Trump Administration this spring implies the intention to drastically decrease funding of the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) compared to the $450 million Congress appropriated for Fiscal Year 2016. It also implies the intent to cut the overall budgets of the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and US Fish & Wildlife Service from 12 to 25 percent.

Three bills—H.R. 502, S. 569, and S. 896—have been introduced to permanently re-authorize the Land & Water Conservation Fund. While these bills are receiving bi-partisan support with many members of Congress co-sponsoring them, more co-sponsors are needed to demonstrate the overwhelming support for and value of the Land & Water Conservation Fund.

For details on the current legislation, see:
http://pnts.org/new/land-and-water-conservation-fund/

Saturday, April 29, 2017

California: Backbone Trail celebrates grand opening

Americantrails.org

The 67-mile designated National Recreation Trail spans the Santa Monica Mountains, an east-west trending mountain range that bifurcates Los Angeles and tumbles down to the Pacific Ocean.


By Melanie Beck National Park Service

With just two days to go before the Backbone Trail grand opening event, National Park Service staff at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area were anxious. Finishing up the last acquisitions for the trail and getting the final section built in time for the June 4th celebration had kept park staff fighting against time all year.

What a delight it would be to be able to announce the National Recreation Trail designation! Then, Superintendent David Szymanski got the good word: An email popped up from Helen Scully, National Recreation Trails Coordinator at National Park Service, announcing: “Congrats on your new NRT! The Backbone Trail was signed off today.”

In that moment, a long-held vision to have the Backbone Trail as a National Recreation Trail became reality. Staff exhaled a sigh of relief and then whooped for joy. The 50-year effort could be summed up as “The simple act of walking on a trail is anything but simple to create.”

With some 180 parcels to acquire on the direct alignment, many more for viewshed, and miles of trail to build, nothing short of a harmonic convergence among citizens, park agencies, and legislators created what we have today.

The 67-mile trail spans the Santa Monica Mountains, an east-west trending transverse mountain range that bifurcates Los Angeles and tumbles down to the Pacific Ocean. You only have to go a short distance from the coast, though, before the Mediterranean-type climate can get hot...

Read more here:
http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/trailNRT/Backbone-Trail-Santa-Monica-Mountains-NRT-CA.html

Friday, April 28, 2017

A tussle in Oregon raises concerns about handing land to states

Economist.com - Full Article

What happens when trust forests no longer make money

Apr 12th 2017
SCOTTSBURG, OREGON

DEEP in Oregon’s Elliott State Forest, past groves of 200-foot Douglas firs and bigleaf maple trees dripping with emerald green Spanish moss, Joe Metzler pulls over his Toyota truck and peeks over a precipitous slope covered in tree stumps for signs of elk. Mr Metzler, a retired coastguard rescue swimmer who looks a good deal younger than his 49 years, frequently hunts in the area. To make a clean kill with his bow and arrow, he sometimes camps out in the forest for a week. Then comes the really tough part: hauling 300lb of meat to his car, which is sometimes parked miles away. “It is not old man’s hunting,” he says gleefully.

Soon Oregon may sell 82,500 acres, or most of what remains of the dense forest, to a timber company and a Native American tribe. The proposal would allow public access on half the land. But sportsmen, who can currently roam the forest mostly as they please, worry it will be hard to reach or unsuitable for hunting. Environmentalists fret protections for threatened species would be relaxed.

The Elliott State Forest is not directly owned by the state; it is state trust land, which is required by Oregon’s constitution to produce profit for public schools. The Elliott does that through logging. State trust lands are common in the American West. They trace their roots to 1803, when Ohio joined the union and was given a grant of land to support public education. The practice was replicated throughout the process of state accession, and today there are approximately 46m acres of such lands, 85% of which lie west of the Rocky Mountains.

Recently the Elliott State Forest has struggled to meet its financial responsibilities...

Read more here:
http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21720662-what-happens-when-trust-forests-no-longer-make-money-tussle-oregon-raises-concerns

Friday, April 21, 2017

Virginia: Horse Riding in the George Washington National Forest

Equitrekking.com - Full Article

April 18, 2017
Riding Down the Rabbit Trail and Memory Lane in Shenandoah County!

by Susan St. Amand

Recently, members of the Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horseman's Association enjoyed a beautiful spring day trail riding in Shenandoah County through a portion of the George Washington National Forest. Splashes of purple painted the forested landscape from Virginia's designated state tree, the Dogwood.

While this day happened to be Easter Sunday, it did not stop the “Easter Bunny” from taking a break and joining the ride down the rabbit trail with a bedecked purple cowgal hat!

The George Washington National Forest covers a large area along the Appalachian Mountains situated along the western part of Virginia and into West Virginia as well as connecting to the Jefferson National Forest on the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley. This mountain range is also found between the Allegheny Mountains to the west and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east, running along the Interstate 81 corridor. Needless to say, the area has very many beautiful and scenic mountain vistas, and STRHA riders frequent the numerous trails that the GWNF has to offer...

Read more here:
http://www.equitrekking.com/articles/entry/horse-riding-in-the-george-washington-national-forest/?mc_cid=304da4a568&mc_eid=290b655fe3

Senate and House Outdoor Recreation Caucuses Announced

Outdoorindustry.org - Full Article

We are pleased to let you know that for the first time ever, the United States Congress now has a bicameral, bipartisan caucus dedicated to the outdoor recreation industry. In the past few weeks, the Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucus (SORC) was established by Co-Chairs Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and for the first time, a House Outdoor Recreation Caucus (HORC) has been established by Co-Chairs Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID02) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO02).

“The House and Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucuses will provide a critical forum to highlight the growing impact of the outdoor recreation economy and how outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes can come together to support healthy communities and healthy economies,” said OIA’s Executive Director Amy Roberts. “As we work to preserve our public lands and waters as the backbone of outdoor recreation businesses and support the growth and success of manufacturers, retailers and outfitters, I know we can count on the leadership and support of Representatives Simpson and Polis and Senators Risch and Heinrich.”

Both the House and Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucus are a forum for members to support the outdoor recreation sector and industry businesses of all types, while encouraging Americans to engage in, understand and reap the benefits of outdoor recreation...

Read more here:
https://outdoorindustry.org/article/senate-and-house-outdoor-recreation-caucuses-announced/

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Free Trails 50th Anniversary Webinar

Date and Time: Wednesday, April 19th at 3PM EST
Title: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act
Presenters:  Gary Werner (PNTS), Pete Olsen (American Hiking Society), Chelsea Bodamer (PNTS)
Cost: Free 

Webinar Overview: In his 1965 “Natural Beauty Message” to Congress, President Lyndon B. Johnson inspired a national “system of trails” for the American people. Congress passed the National Trails System Act, signed into law by President Johnson on October 2, 1968. Join us for our upcoming webinar and learn how you can take part in the commemoration of this historic act while encouraging a new generation of trail users and stewards. Capacity is limited to 100 attendees. Register early to ensure your spot. 

Topics include:

• The importance of the 50th Anniversary
• Partners and opportunties
• How you can take part
• Available resources and toolkit items

For more information and to register see:
http://pnts.org/new/webinars/

National Forest System Trail Stewardship Grants Available for Field Season 2017

BCHA.org

As a result of Back Country Horsemen of America's recent collaborative efforts with national partners, The National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance announced this week the creation of a new trails granting program. “National Forest Trail Stewardship Grants” are supported by the U.S. Forest Service and are intended to address the trail maintenance backlog on National Forest System trails. 

Current nonprofit organizations (e.g., 501 (c)(3), 501 (c)(7)) in good standing with the IRS may apply for these Grants. Organizations must have a sponsored volunteer or other agreement with their local Forest Service office for work performed under these grants.

Approximately $230,000 is available during this round of Trail Stewardship Grants for work to be performed from June through December 2017.

Details of the grant program including a Fact Sheet, Application Form, and Budget Form, are available at:  www.wildernessalliance.org.

The Trail Stewardship Grant application period will run from April 14 to June 2, 2017.  Applications should be emailed to:  TrailGrants@wildernessalliance.org.

Questions about the Trail Stewardship Grant program should be addressed to the Grant Manager, Randy Welsh, Executive Director, National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance at 801-808-2167 or randy@wildernessalliance.org.

Good luck! We hope to see this grant program continue to grow, both in terms of its size (dollar amount available) and its availability year after year. It’s another good indication that our friends at the U.S. Forest Service are serious about making trails a high priority.

Sincerely,

Donald Saner, 
BCHA Chairman

Friday, April 14, 2017

Oregon: Equestrians, long-time stewards, vie for trails

BendBulletin.com - Full Article

Equestrians, long-time stewards of local trails, vie for their use

By Peter Madsen, The Bulletin, @OutdoorsyInBend
Published Apr 13, 2017

When Kim McCarrel recently saddled up Bella, her chestnut-colored Tennessee walker, and set out on a group ride at Maston Trailhead in the Cline Buttes Recreation Area, a mountain biker darted into the periphery. Ears pricked, Bella slowed her trot and trained her attention toward the juniper trees through which the cyclist disappeared. Because cyclists and horseback riders use distinct trails at Maston, however, the encounter was little more than a fleeting annoyance for the mare.

Thanks to a 2009 plan the Bureau of Land Management drafted with the input of land users, including the Central Oregon Trail Alliance and the local chapter of the nonprofit Oregon Equestrian Trails, horse riders and mountain bikers at Maston Trailhead northeast of Tumalo enjoy separate — if sometimes parallel — singletrack trails. Seventeen miles of horse trails and more than 12 miles of mountain bike trails loop through homesteader ruins, located 15 miles northeast of Bend. Tailoring such trails to particular uses enriches Central Oregon’s recreational offerings, McCarrel said.

“We are so lucky because we have so many trails. We have such a variety of riding opportunities,” said McCarrel, rattling off pine forests, juniper groves and rocky badlands as potential backdrops. “Trail riding is a wonderful way to be in nature with my horse.”

The Deschutes National Forest features 13 horse camps — campsites with corrals, water guzzlers and other horse amenities — some whose maintenance Oregon Equestrian Trails and other equestrian groups and activists have assumed. The local Oregon Equestrian Trails chapter, which counts 100 members, adopted Sisters Cow Camp and Swamp Wells Horse Camp, both of which, due to volunteer maintenance, remain no-fee campgrounds. McCarrel, who has authored five Pacific Northwest equestrian guidebooks and is also the Central Oregon chapter chair of the OET, knows that if she and her peers intend to enjoy Central Oregon’s wealth of trails that allow equestrians — minority users among hikers and mountain bikers — they must help lead as stewards of the land...

Read more here:
http://www.bendbulletin.com/outdoors/5207509-151/equestrians-long-time-stewards-vie-for-trails

Friday, April 7, 2017

ELCR Launches "Frequently Asked Questions" Section Online

April 7 2017

The Equine Land Conservation Resource Library is a robust resource of articles, tools, templates, videos and "how-to" tutorials to help horsemen and women experiencing local land related issues.

To help the public navigate these vast resources, we have developed a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" to guide users through the Resource Library to the appropriate resources relating to a particular issue. Users can simply look for the question that best represents their issue, and be directed to the resources most pertinent to their issue.

The FAQ Section can be found accessed right on our homepage. 

Click here to check out this recently added feature.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Oregon: New trailheads under construction outside Redmond

BendBulletin.com - Full Article

Trails to add cycling, equestrian access at Cline Buttes Recreation Area


By Stephen Hamway, The Bulletin, @Shamway1
Published Apr 2, 2017

A hilly, juniper-laden stretch of land to the west of Redmond will soon be home to two new trailheads that aim to provide recreation opportunities for cyclists, equestrians and more.

In March, construction crews broke ground on the Buckhorn Staging Area and Cascade View trailheads on the north side of the Cline Buttes Recreation Area, a 32,000-acre section of land about seven miles outside of Redmond.

The area, which also contains Eagle Crest Resort and other privately held lands, is divided into several sections based on terrain and usage. However, Lisa Clark, public affairs officer for the Prineville District of the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees and develops the land, said the trails that originate from the new trailheads will be designed to accommodate a variety of uses.

“We look to provide a diverse set of opportunities with our trails,” Clark said.

The recreation area could host a mix of users, including off-highway vehicle riders, pedestrians, mountain bicyclists and equestrians...

Read more here:
http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/5193683-151/new-trailheads-under-construction-outside-redmond

Monday, March 27, 2017

North Carolina: New parking lot at Havelock horse trail offers easy access for riders

Havenews.com - Full Article

March 25 2017
By Bill Hand

Thirteen miles of horse trails now have four acres of parking at the Pine Cliff Recreation Area.

Following a year of grading and gravelling the Back Country Horsemen of the Croatan (BCHC) – a nonprofit group that maintains the horse trails in the Croatan National Forest celebrated the opening of their new parking lot with a day of riding by horsemen and women who finally have a good place to park their occasionally very large trailers.

The new parking lot was opened Saturday morning with a ribbon cutting by Jeff Kincaid, recreation director at the Croatan National Forest, followed by a celebratory ride of the trails by roughly 20 horsemen.

“We are very excited to have our parking lot done,” Katherine Taylor, a member and rider said.

President Edward Lloyd added, “It’s been a long time coming...”

Read more here:
http://www.havenews.com/news/20170325/new-parking-lot-at-havelock-horse-trail-offers-easy-access-for-riders

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Oregon may sell a state forest that’s no longer profitable

HCN.org - Full Article

Elliott State Forest shows the difficult balance between profit and conservation.

Anna V. Smith
March 23, 2017

Last month on Valentine’s Day, the members of Oregon’s State Land Board sat side-by-side at a table under fluorescent lights, facing an expectant crowd. They were about to take a consequential vote on whether to sell 82,500 acres of public land. It was the culmination of a decades-long fight over how the state should manage the Elliott State Forest’s lush, emerald stands of old fir and western hemlock, and more specifically, how it should balance its mandate to make money off the forest with conservation goals, like protecting threatened birds and salmon.

The three members of the land board represented three schools of thought on the matter: Gov. Kate Brown wanted the state to keep the forest in public hands. Secretary of State Dennis Richardson thought the state should sell because it needed the money. That left state Treasurer Tobias Read with the tie-breaking vote. A conservation-friendly Democrat, Read felt stuck.

The Elliott State Forest is a special type of state land, which is managed to earn money for public schools. The land board has an obligation under the state constitution to make sure the forest turns a profit — and the Elliott was losing money. And so on Feb. 14, Read cast a loveless vote to move forward with selling the Elliott. “I certainly care about this place,” Read says of Oregon’s oldest state forest. “But I also take seriously the responsibility that we have to the Common School Fund. That’s the oath I took.”

Oregon’s once-booming timber economies have flagged since the 1990s because of housing busts and weak export markets, as well as a shift in how Oregonians value forests. The public at large no longer sees its forests merely as timber farms, but as ecological havens for imperiled wildlife and as places to recreate. The Elliott, for instance, is laced with cold rivers filled with coho salmon, and occupied by elusive marbled murrelets, which nest in its old-growth trees. It’s also a place where people hike, fish and hunt. The loss of public access if the forest is sold has been raised by groups like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, who cast the fight over the future of the Elliott as part of a larger struggle over public lands...

Read more here:
http://www.hcn.org/articles/oregon-looks-to-sell-a-state-forest-thats-no-longer-profitable?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email

Friday, March 24, 2017

Representatives, senators from Utah lead charge in Congress to repeal Obama-era BLM planning rule

Moabtimes.com - Full Article

by Molly Marcello
The Times-Independent
March 24 2017

Congress has passed a resolution to repeal “Planning 2.0” — a resource management planning rule for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) developed during the Obama administration. Proponents of the rule, which had not yet been fully implemented, said it allowed additional opportunity for public input in planning efforts and considered more reasonable multiple-use objectives. Those in favor of its repeal argue the opposite, saying Planning 2.0 would have “devalued” local input and threatened to further restrict traditional western industries.

All members of Utah’s congressional delegation lent their support to the repeal, which currently awaits President Donald Trump’s signature. The bill was co-sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Utah Reps. Jason Chaffetz, Rob Bishop, Mia Love and Chris Stewart.

“The rule centralizes the resource management plan process in Washington, D.C., which devalues input from state and local governments as well as their stakeholders who know our lands and have expertise in managing them,” said Jennifer Scott, communications director for Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

But that viewpoint is confounding to many proponents of Planning 2.0, especially as its language mandated earlier and more frequent public involvement in planning efforts as well as ensured opportunities for other federal agencies, local governments, and stakeholders to be involved in decisions on land use...

Read more at:
http://www.moabtimes.com/view/full_story/27386239/article-Representatives--senators-from-Utah--lead-charge-in--Congress-to-repeal-Obama-era-BLM-planning-rule?instance=secondary_three_leftcolumn

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trail Runners Join the Fight for Public Lands

Outsideonline.com - Full Article

A new initiative called Run Wild wants to give runners a platform to make their voices heard

By: Martin Fritz Huber
Mar 20, 2017

Last week the Trump administration presented a budget proposal for 2018 that featured significant cutbacks to a number of government agencies. Among a host of other reductions, one proposed cut would give the Environmental Protection Agency its smallest operating budget since its inception in 1970. Against this backdrop of shifting national priorities, a new grassroots initiative called Run Wild is hoping to engage the trail-running community in the fight to protect public lands.

Run Wild's website went live earlier this month, and the founders are still figuring out what the specifics of the fledgling project’s activism will look like. At present, the emphasis is on getting the word out, growing its network, and advocating for increased appreciation of the roughly 640 million acres of national heritage that all Americans collectively own. The organization, which has ten cofounders, has partnered with the Wilderness Society, a nonprofit that has been on the front lines of the conservation movement since 1935. The collaboration with the Wilderness Society gives Run Wild access to a network of experts keeping a vigilant eye on legislation related to public lands.

“I think for a lot of trail runners, the connection between protected land and their sport is rather obvious, and there is an innate appreciation for that land,” says Emily Peterson, a Run Wild cofounder, environmental philanthropy consultant, and Salomon brand ambassador who lives in the Bay Area...

Read more here:
https://www.outsideonline.com/2166796/trail-runners-join-fight-public-lands

Monday, March 20, 2017

Just Say “WHOAA” to Park Closures

ELCR.org - Full Article

June 11, 2013, by ELCR
By Jennifer M. Keeler for ELCR

As the nation’s economy continues to struggle, cities across the country face unprecedented budget woes and difficult decisions as to how limited public funds will be spent. But a recent budget proposal in St. Louis County, Missouri laid the groundwork for nothing less than a political soap opera worthy of its own afternoon television time slot. Amidst public outrage, the organized and efficient mobilization of a local horseman’s group played a vital role in preserving the very venues all local citizens depend upon and treasure.

The Wildwood Horse Owners and Acreage Association (WHOAA) was organized in 2005 with a mission to preserve the agricultural lifestyle in Wildwood, a city located on the western edge of St. Louis County, through public education and land conservation. With an area of about 66 square miles (2nd largest city in Missouri by land area) and a population of close to 35,000 people, Wildwood has traditionally been an area for horse lovers and was originally established with an eye towards preserving farms and green space as city sprawl approached. But since 1980, agricultural land has been disappearing in Wildwood at the rate of four acres a day, and WHOAA’s vision is for Wildwood to remain a haven for equestrians and those with a love of the land. As of December 2008, WHOAA was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in Missouri and joined the Equine Land Conservation Resource as a Conservation Partner.

An Idea is Born

The idea for the forming of WHOAA originated from a dispute over construction of an indoor arena. A local horsewoman purchased several lots in a horse-friendly community in Wildwood and proceeded to build an arena for her personal use. Suddenly, once-cordial neighbors objected. As tensions escalated, the city council proposed a new ordinance to place dramatic limits on the building of equine barns and related structures. Paula Sewell, owner of a small farm in Wildwood with her husband David, was caught by surprise. “We had no idea this was going on. One of our neighbors just happened to overhear this during a meeting,” Sewell explained. “We couldn’t let this happen! So I began contacting other area horsemen asking them for support, attended city and council meetings, and even coordinated protests which attracted widespread media coverage. At first the city council didn’t want to listen to us but ultimately we were able to work with the council for a more reasonable solution regarding restrictions on new construction of agricultural buildings. We were darn lucky that we caught this...”

Read more here:
https://elcr.org/just-say-whoaa-to-park-closures/

Sunday, March 19, 2017

How Congress Is Rolling Back Public Input On Public Lands

MensJournal.com - Full Article

by Emily J. Gertz

A congressional move to rescind the Bureau of Land Management’s “Planning 2.0” rule is on its way to President Trump’s desk. The Senate voted on March 7 to approve H.J. Res. 44, which passed in February, to overturn the rule.

Developed by the BLM over the past four years, Planning 2.0 updates the agency’s 24-year-old process for planning and approving mining, drilling, grazing, and other business activities on nearly 250 million acres of public lands in 12 western states, including Alaska. The revamped planning process gave the public — including hikers, fishermen, hunters, and other outdoors sports enthusiasts — an earlier opportunity to comment on how a parcel of public land should be used. But not for long.

The $650 billion outdoor recreation sector needs healthy wilderness, wetlands, and waterways to prosper, but “won’t have the say at the front of the process that we were hoping for” if President Trump signs away Planning 2.0, says Jessica Wahl, spokesperson for the Outdoor Industry Association. “It really matters at the front end. It avoids litigation. It helps land managers understand all the stakeholders and where our assets are...”

Read more here:
http://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/articles/how-congress-is-rolling-back-public-input-on-public-lands-w472369

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Three Words Every Equestrian Should Know…

ELCR.org - Full Article

June 6, 2013, by ELCR
by Deb Balliet, CEO

“Land Use Planning”

We see it everywhere we go. On a road you drive every day for work, it may happen so gradually that it’s not even noticed at first. Other times its appearance can be shocking, perhaps noticed when visiting an area you haven’t seen for some time. A cluster of houses suddenly sprouts from land where you remember horses grazing, or a cross-country course where you once competed has been bulldozed to make way for a shopping plaza.

There was a time when equestrians did not need to be concerned about development, but as the U.S. population has grown and cities and towns expand, most regions of the country are experiencing “sprawl”. In many communities, the rate of sprawl even exceeds the rate of population growth. This expansion consumes staggering amounts of acreage, which directly threatens the land equestrians need for growing hay, raising and training horses, competition sites, boarding stables, youth riding camps and academies, trails, and recreational riding spaces. Protecting these spaces for equine use requires horse lovers to be not only aware of the issues, but knowledgeable about how expansion and development works, as well as actively involved in the decision-making processes about how land will be used in the future.
What exactly is “Land Use Planning”?

Land use planning is an important activity that assists a community grow and function in the manner that is needed and desired by its residents. As the population in a community changes, there is a need to plan for future land uses. For instance, your hometown’s population may have doubled in the last ten years. These residents need places to live and shop, and traffic snarls on narrow roads have become commonplace. Public health, safety, and education are also key planning issues. Through land use planning, your town’s leaders will try to address current needs (such as through construction of a new bypass, fire station, or water treatment plant) while also looking to the future to plan the direction the community is going (e.g. will the population continue to grow? Where could new houses and businesses be built? Will a larger school be needed? What land should be preserved as open space? etc. etc.). The outcome of these plans is typically articulated through a series of planning guidelines and zoning regulations...

Read more here:
https://elcr.org/three-words-every-equestrian-should-know/

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Giving Our Trails a Voice in Washington, D.C.

PNTS.org - Full Article

February 28, 2017
We Hike the Hill

Over 100 individuals representing over 40 trail organizations from throughout the country traveled to Washington, D.C. this February to “Hike the Hill”. Now in its 20th year, Hike the Hill® is a joint effort between the Partnership for the National Trails System and the American Hiking Society aimed at increasing congressional and Federal agency leader awareness of funding and authorities needed to sustain the National Trails System (NTS).

During our week in D.C., we met with agency partners, congressional staff, and members of Congress to discuss the opportunities for and the threats facing our NTS.
Congressional Support

There are many pieces of legislation that aid or threaten our national trails. The year ahead will prove critical to our NTS. Some of main issues or pieces of legislation we discussed while in Washington are as follows:

• Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) (HR 502):
This is one of the most well-known bi-partisan issues that relates to the NTS. The LWCF provides funding that allows for protection and completion of crucial sections of trails. Revenue from offshore drilling for oil and gas helps to fund various conservation projects with no cost to tax-payers. The LWCF is only authorized until September 30, 2018 and will expire then unless Congress re-authorizes the program. We believe, however, that LWCF should be permanently authorized and fully funded at $900 million annually. There is currently a bill (HR 502) in support of the LWCF in the house, but no similar bill in the Senate.

• Wildfire Disaster Funding:
We believe that the federal government should budget for the suppression of wildfire disasters by treating wildfires like other U.S. disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Currently, more than 50% of the US Forest Service budget is being spent to fight unprecedented wildfires. This takes money away from other important functions such as maintaining national forests and trails.

• Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA)
This bi-partisan act would restore the authority to facilitate the sale of unneeded federal land by the Bureau of Land Management in order to provide funding to purchase high-priority land for conservation and outdoor recreation.

• BLM 2.0
BLM Planning 2.0 makes land use planning more accessible to the public, more responsive to the changing conditions on public lands, and more efficient. Despite its benefits, Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions were introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to prohibit its use moving forward.

• North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment
These bipartisan bills authorize the relocation of the North Country National Scenic Trail along the north shore of Lake Superior and across the Arrowhead of Minnesota to rejoin the existing trail in the Chippewa National Forest. They also authorize extending the trail from the New York-Vermont border to connect with the Long Trail and Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Vermont. These bills repeat bills introduced, but not passed, in the previous Congress.

• National Scenic Trails Parity Act
We expect bills to be introduced that repeat bills introduced, but not passed, in the previous Congress to designate the Ice Age, New England, and North Country National Scenic Trails as units of the National Park System. The other three national scenic trails—Appalachian, Natchez Trace, and Potomac Heritage Trails—administered by the National Park Service (NPS) are units of the National Park System. These bills would instruct the NPS to treat all six of these trails the same within the structure of the National Park System.

Increased Funding

Furthermore, we believe that greater federal funding for the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and USDA Forest Service’s trails programs will help leverage our ability to care for, connect, and protect our NTS.

In 2016 alone, for every federal dollar provided the return on investment equaled 1.5:1—thanks to volunteer stewardship of the trails. In total, over 1,000,000 hours of volunteer service were documented within the NTS, which equates to a value of over $24,256,000.

Additionally, private contributions from the national trails organizations for the NTS totaled over $13,184,000. However, as incredible as these contributions are, they are not enough to fully develop and sustain our trails. Full funding of the LWCF and greater funding for the agencies’ trail programs by Congress will help to provide means to close missing links, protect high-priority recreational and historic areas, and fund additional maintenance and necessary resources to already existing trails...

Read more here:
http://pnts.org/new/hike-the-hill-2017/

Thursday, March 9, 2017

ELCR to Conduct National Survey of Local Advocacy and Horse Land Conservation Organizations

ELCR.org

Equine Land Conservation Resource is pleased to announce that we will be conducting a national survey of local organizations working on equine advocacy and land related issues, in partnership with the University of Kentucky's Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK), as part of our ambitious three-year strategic plan.

But we can't do this without you!

In order to ensure we receive comprehensive feedback from across the country, we need your assistance to make certain we have included a wide range of local equine advocacy and horse land conservation organizations. You can help: click here to review the list of organizations already identified to be included in the survey. If you know of other local equine or conservation related organizations that would be appropriate to include in this survey, please send us a message here or email agates@elcr.org.

The ground breaking comprehensive survey will reveal important information about survey respondents such as mission, existing partnerships, historical activities, model organizations, best practices, successes and failures as well as common issues and challenges shared among respondents. ELCR will also utilize the results of the survey to inform and fine-tune our educational programming and resources and technical assistance services in order to better support local advocacy and conservation efforts.

"Recognizing that conservation is a local issue, we couldn't be more excited about the national survey," says ELCR Executive Director, Holley Groshek. "We know there are many outstanding local efforts across the country with regard to equine advocacy and the conservation and protection of horse lands. We look forward to identifying these success stories and best practices to share within our national network while developing a better understanding of how ELCR can best use its resources to support local equine advocacy and land conservation efforts."

Any local equine or conservation organizations working on equine advocacy or land related issues that would like to be included in the national survey should contact Abby Gates at agates@elcr.org no later than March 24, 2017. The list of organizations already identified for inclusion in the survey can be viewed here.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Day One: Secretary Zinke expands access to public lands

Wyominbusinessreport.com - Full Article

WBR Staff
Mar 2, 2017

WASHINGTON – Today, on his first day on duty, Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (pronounced ZINK-ee) issued two secretarial orders which expand access to public lands and increase hunting, fishing, and recreation opportunities nationwide. These orders deliver on promises made by both President Donald J. Trump and Secretary Zinke to expand access to America’s public lands. The action was hailed by representatives from sportsmen, conservation, and recreation organizations.

"Outdoor recreation is about both our heritage and our economy. Between hunting, fishing, motorized recreation, camping and more, the industry generates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity,” said Zinke. “Over the past eight years however, hunting, and recreation enthusiasts have seen trails closed and dramatic decreases in access to public lands across the board. It worries me to think about hunting and fishing becoming activities for the land-owning elite. This package of secretarial orders will expand access for outdoor enthusiasts and also make sure the community's voice is heard..."

Read more here:
http://www.wyomingbusinessreport.com/newsletter_pm/day-one-secretary-zinke-expands-access-to-public-lands/article_11a2f01a-ff90-11e6-93b1-33bef91f50f4.html

'No trespassing'? No thanks. Idaho rallygoers hope public lands stay in public hands

IdahoStatesman.com - Full Article

March 4 2017
By Nicole Blanchard
nblanchard@idahostatesman.com

Sean Jones wasn’t planning on bringing his elk bugle call to the public lands rally at the Idaho statehouse on Saturday. But its trumpeting sound rang out across Jefferson Street and the south steps of the capitol building in harmony with the raucous applause and cheers of the more than 2,000 Idahoans gathered in the chilly morning drizzle.

Jones, like so many other outdoor lovers, was at the rally because he’s an avid hunter, rafter and hiker. Like he does on most outdoor adventures, he brought his gear bag, an elk antler strapped to the bungee cord on the back of the pack and the triumphant-sounding elk call conveniently at hand.

“I want to have access,” said Jones, echoing a theme that dominated the rally. “I’ve seen far too many ‘no trespassing’ signs when I’m out hunting.”

Jones said he has emailed and called Idaho legislators to let them know he opposes the potential transfer of public lands to the state or private hands. He wasn’t impressed with their responses.

“Particularly Raul Labrador,” said Jones. (Rep. Labrador has led pushes for pilot programs that would give states control over federal lands.)

How did the lawmakers respond?

“The typical argument that lands are mismanaged,” said Jones. “But we know the forest managers, the BLM, the people making decisions (about Idaho lands) actually live here.”

Some attendees said they felt the current political climate led to the massive turnout, one of the largest in the West on the issue. (Though, speaker Yvette Tuell, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe pointed out, it’s not a new fight.) Some attendees carried signs that alluded to the Trump administration — one warning the government to “keep your (tiny) hands off my public lands,” and others calling out members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, like newly confirmed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and head of the EPA Scott Pruitt.

Though Zinke, a former Montana congressman, has said he opposes the transfer of federal lands, some at the rally said they take little comfort in the politician’s words.

“I don’t trust anybody in office right now,” said Carolyn Blackhurst, who was at the gathering with her husband, an avid angler.

Closer to home, Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz drew the ire of outdoorsmen when he introduced a bill asking the Interior Secretary to sell or dispose of more than 3.3 million acres of public land, legislation that Boise hunter Kevin Braley called “disturbing.” After public outcry, Chaffetz withdrew the proposal.

“I think politicians don’t fully understand the groundswell of opposition (to transferring public lands),” said Braley, who attended a similar rally at the statehouse several years ago. At that time, Braley said, the gathering was mostly made up of hunters.

Hunters, anglers, hikers, rafters and more are not optimistic about what would happen to their ability to recreate if Idaho had control of lands, either. They say it’s not worth the risk to hope the state keeps their interests in mind.

Many protesters said the state simply doesn’t have the money to maintain Idaho’s land — 62 percent of the state is federally owned. One major wildfire or lawsuit, protesters said, and the most attractive option to Idaho could be to sell off their beloved lands...

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/environment/article136492703.html#storylink=cpy

Public Lands Advisor for BCHA to Speak at AERC Convention

Randy Rasmussen the Public Lands Advisor for Back Country Horsemen of America and co-author of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (HR845 & S1110) will be speaking on Friday, March 10, 2017, at 9am at the AERC National Convention in Grapevine (Dallas), Tx.  

Randy has worked many years in trails advocacy and is a wealth of knowledge.  He will also be attending the Trail Advocacy Meeting at 1pm on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at the convention.  This meeting is for all AERC State Trail Advocates, AERC Trail Masters, and all attendees with an interest in trail advocacy.  Please attend.

Monica Chapman
AERC Trails and Land Management Committee Chair

Thursday, March 2, 2017

ELCR to Conduct National Survey of Local Advocacy and Horse Land Conservation Organizations

March 2 2017

Lexington, Ky. – March 2, 2017 – Equine Land Conservation Resource (ELCR) is pleased to announce that it will be conducting a national survey of local organizations working on equine advocacy and land related issues, in partnership with the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK), as part of its ambitious three-year strategic plan. The strategic plan is available at www.elcr.org/strategic-plan/.

The ground breaking comprehensive survey will reveal important information about survey respondents such as mission, existing partnerships, historical activities, model organizations, best practices, successes and failures as well as common issues and challenges shared among respondents.

“Recognizing that conservation is a local issue, we couldn’t be more excited about the national survey,” said ELCR Executive Director, Holley Groshek. “We know there are many outstanding local efforts across the country with regard to equine advocacy and the conservation and protection of horse lands. We look forward to identifying these success stories and best practices to share within our national network while developing a better understanding of how ELCR can best use its resources to support local equine advocacy and land conservation efforts.”

ELCR will also utilize the results of the survey to inform and fine-tune its educational programing and resources and technical assistance services in order to better support local advocacy and conservation efforts. Any local equine or conservation organization working on equine advocacy or land related issues that would like to be included in the national survey should contact Abby Gates at agates@elcr.org no later than February 24, 2017. Anyone interested in exploring opportunities to sponsor the national survey should contact Holley Groshek at hgroshek@elcr.org.

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 preservation 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, liability and equine economic development. For more information about the ELCR visit www.elcr.org or call (859) 455-8383


For additional information, contact:
Holley Groshek, Executive Director
Equine Land Conservation Resource
Phone: 859-455-8383 /Email: hgroshek@elcr.org
www.ELCR.org

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hunters fear loss of access if public lands sold, transferred

Statesmanjournal.com - Full Article

Zach Urness , Statesman Journal
Feb. 16, 2017

In the coalition of groups opposed to the sale or transfer of federal public lands in the West, no one plays a more important role than hunters, say experts.

A crucial demographic for Republicans in the West, hunters have made it difficult for conservative lawmakers to advance legislation disposing of public lands, said Jim Moore, a political science professor at Pacific University.

“It’s not a group that Republicans want to piss off,” Moore said. “They are a core group — NRA members and more Teddy Roosevelt-style Republicans. Their opinion matters a lot.”

One reason hunters have bucked the Republican platform and opposed public land transfers is a fear of losing access to hunting grounds.

“(We) adamantly oppose the transfer of our public lands out of public hands,” said Duane Dungannon, state coordinator for the Oregon Hunters Association. “We also oppose the transfer or federal lands to the state. These are the public’s lands, not the government’s lands...”

Read more here:
http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2017/02/16/hunters-fear-loss-access-if-public-lands-sold-transferred/98016532/

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oregon takes big step toward privatizing Elliott State Forest

Oregonlive.com - Full Article

By Rob Davis | The Oregonian/OregonLive

The Elliott State Forest took another big step toward being sold Tuesday.

Gov. Kate Brown had made a last-minute proposal to maintain public ownership of the 82,500-acre forest in the Coast Range northeast of Coos Bay. But Oregon's newly elected treasurer and secretary of state broke their silence about the forest's future, opposing Brown at a meeting of the three-member State Land Board.

State Treasurer Tobias Read, a Democrat, and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, a Republican, both supported the ongoing effort to privatize the land and sell it to a logging company, which bid in conjunction with several Native American tribes and The Conservation Fund...

Read more here:
http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2017/02/oregon_takes_big_step_toward_p.html

Considering Trail Closures on Public Agency Lands: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ELCR.org - Full Article

November 24, 2015, by ELCR

By Denise O’Meara

Equestrians on Public Land

Our public lands provide some of the most remarkable miles of horseback trails and open space in the country. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is one of the federal agencies that manage these sensitive lands. Other agencies include the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the Army Corps of Engineers and others. States have many similar agencies that also manage publicly accessible lands. The purpose and responsibilities of these agencies may sometimes conflict with recreational use, and may necessitate removal of certain trail systems from use. Riders often don’t know why this happens or where to turn when it does.

US Fish & Wildlife’s function is to work with others to “conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.” While helping people to conserve and enjoy the outdoors, they must also provide protection of the species and their ecosystems. Their extensive responsibilities can be seen on their website at http://www.fws.gov/info/function.html.

Conflict and misunderstanding on each side occurs due to lack Trail closed no creditof communication and information. Fish & Wildlife managers don’t know what horseback riders need because riders don’t give make their needs known. The horse community doesn’t know the agency’s purpose, function and reason for doing certain things. It’s up to equestrians to help public land managers understand both the impacts and the advantages of horse and rider as trail and open land users.

ELCR Board President Ken Haddad, retired Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, reminds us how important it is for equestrians to participate in agency planning processes. In eight years of managing over 5 million acres of conservation lands, not one horse person stepped up or came to meetings to advocate for equine access. Ken found that he was the singular advocate for horse interests.

Fish & Wildlife Particulars

The Service performs many functions, including management of wildlife refuges, determination of sensitive lands and critical habitats (home to threatened and endangered species) and assessing damage to habitat by human activities and natural phenomena.

Fish & Wildlife periodically carries out habitat assessments. An Environmental Impact Statement and a Comprehensive Conservation Plan will be formulated. In addition, Determination of Compatibility studies are done for recreational and other activities on sensitive lands and Reserves. It’s critical for equestrians to be aware of when assessments and planning are being carried out, and to become involved in the public input process. Once an activity is deemed (or thought) to be responsible for damage to sensitive land, action will be taken to remove the cause and fix the problem (restoration).

When the Horse Community Participates-An Example

The Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Comprehensive Conservation Plan is an example. The draft includes 88 comments about equestrian trails. (See pp. 205-208, section 7.1.3.11. Horseback Riding/Equestrian Trails). Interestingly, unfavorable comments come from non-equestrian participants. The Service addresses misconceptions about horses in an often positive way, though they may not translate into the actions and access that equestrians may most desire. (http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/craborchard/FinalEIS/Chapter7.pdf)...

Read more here:
https://elcr.org/trail-closures-on-public-agency-lands/

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

House votes to kill BLM “Planning 2.0” rule aimed at giving residents of Colorado and the West greater control over public land

Denverpost.com - Full Article

By Bruce Finley | bfinley@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: February 7, 2017

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to kill a federal rule that gives Americans more of a voice in large-scale planning for projects using public land, including 8.4 million acres in Colorado.

The action launched by House Republicans, including sponsors Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, would nullify the Bureau of Land Management’s “Planning 2.0” rule that took effect in December. That rule governs all planning for future uses of 250 million acres of federal public land that is concentrated in the West.

It was the third time in a week that lawmakers invoked the Congressional Review Act to strike at Obama administration environmental rules.The act lets them roll back executive action taken during the past 60 legislative work days — if the rule imposes excessive costs, exceeds agency authority or is redundant. On Friday, House lawmakers voted to zap the federal methane rule that requires oil and gas companies using public lands to control air pollution.

The BLM and methane-flaring measures now move to the Senate. If the rollbacks are approved, the rules would be eliminated and the BLM banned indefinitely from developing similar rules.

Last week, Congress killed the Stream Protection Act that required efforts to protect waterways near coal mines.

For Colorado, the impact of a rollback of the BLM planning rule is potentially huge. BLM officials developed the rule saying it would increase public involvement and incorporate the most current data and technology to decide whether and where drilling, mining and logging will happen on public land...

Read more here:
http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/07/blm-planning-20-rule-public-lands-colorado/

Saturday, February 4, 2017

California: Marin bicycle activists demand better trail access, threaten disruptions

Marinij.com - Full Article

A new mountain bike activist group is advocating for expanded access to Marin trails.


By Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal
POSTED: 02/02/17

A new mountain bike activist group advocating for expanded access is sounding off about the pace in which new trails are opening under the county’s roads and trails management plan.

The group, called New Paradigm Trail Group, flexed its muscle at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, as more than a dozen cyclists used open time to express themselves on the topic not on the supervisors’ agenda.

“We represent 40 percent to 45 percent of the users out there, but we’re relegated to less than 10 percent of the trails,” said David Carbonell, co-founder of New Paradigm Trail Group. “I don’t want to be 65 years old before I see my vision for trail access sharing in Marin County implemented.”

Adopted in 2014, the roads and trails management plan calls for authorizing the use of some currently unsanctioned trails and roads and the decommissioning of other trails. As the plan is implemented, trails once open only to hikers and horseback riders are being opened to bicycles.

Cyclists also voiced their opposition to the open space district’s decision to enforce a 15 mph speed limit using light detection and ranging devices, known as LIDAR, and to use surveillance cameras to ensure people aren’t using decommissioned trails.

In a statement of intent posted on its Facebook page, the New Paradigm Trail Group stated, “The RTMP is a failure, and its implementation must be modified or destroyed. We stand alongside Marin County Bicycle Coalition and Access4Bikes in demanding more trail access, but do not think the current tactics have gotten us the access that we need. We will be as disruptive as possible, acting within the guidelines of the law...”

Read more here:
http://www.marinij.com/environment-and-nature/20170202/marin-bicycle-activists-demand-better-trail-access-threaten-disruptions

Friday, February 3, 2017

Utah’s Chaffetz backs off on plan to sell off ‘excess’ public lands

SLTrib.com - Full Article

By COURTNEY TANNER | The Salt Lake Tribune
February 2 2017

‘I hear you’ » Republican congressman’s move is lauded by conservationist groups.

Over "fear it sends the wrong message," Rep. Jason Chaffetz will abandon his bill that called on the Interior Department to dispose of or sell 3.3 million acres of "excess" public lands.

Chaffetz, R-Utah, had reintroduced the legislation in January, saying the disposal was "long overdue." He's backed off the plan since then, seemingly in response to the many conservationist groups that protested the plan on social media.

With the note "I hear you," the congressman vowed to withdraw the bill Wednesday evening on Instagram.

"I'm a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands," Chaffetz posted. "The bill would have disposed of small parcels of lands Pres. Clinton identified as serving no public purpose but groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message..."

Read more here:
http://www.sltrib.com/news/4895033-155/utahs-chaffetz-backs-off-on-plan

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wyoming: Another Public Land Transfer Bill Filed At 11th Hour

Wyomingpublicmedia.org - Full Story

By Melodie Edwards • Jan 31, 2017

A new public land transfer bill was filed this week by House Majority Floor Leader David Miller. The bill would allow the state to take over management of federal lands, and comes hard on the heels of a recently failed constitutional amendment that would also have given the state control over federal lands, an idea that’s been opposed by many sporting and outdoor recreation groups.

House Bill 293 revises an old law that has allowed such take overs for decades. Wyoming Wildlife Federation public lands coordinator Jessi Johnson said the old law is broad, and doesn’t specify things like whether those lands could then be turned around and sold...

Read more here:
http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/another-public-land-transfer-bill-filed-11th-hour

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Republicans move to sell off 3.3m acres of national land, sparking rallies

TheGuardian.com - Full Article

Land totaling the size of Connecticut has been targeted in a new bill in the Republican House, uniting hunters and conservationists in opposition

January 31 2017
Caty Enders

Now that Republicans have quietly drawn a path to give away much of Americans’ public land, US representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah has introduced what the Wilderness Society is calling “step two” in the GOP’s plan to offload federal property.

The new piece of legislation would direct the interior secretary to immediately sell off an area of public land the size of Connecticut. In a press release for House Bill 621, Chaffetz, a Tea Party Republican, claimed that the 3.3m acres of national land, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), served “no purpose for taxpayers”.

But many in the 10 states that would lose federal land in the bill disagree, and public land rallies in opposition are bringing together environmentalists and sportsmen across the west.

Set aside for mixed use, BLM land is leased for oil, gas and timber, but is also open to campers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts...

Read more here:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/31/public-lands-sell-congress-bureau-management-chaffetz?CMP=share_btn_tw

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

NWSA Presents: A Webinar - The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016

Wildernessalliance.org

Congress passed the National Forest System Trail Stewardship Act in November 2016.  NWSA is proud to present this webinar about this new Act and its implications for the wilderness stewardship community. This Act has important ramifications for wilderness stewardship groups as it addresses volunteer liability, encourages increased volunteer and partner cooperation and coordination, and has the potential for increases in trail maintenance work on National Forest System trails.

Come learn about the Act, it's key components, deliverables, and deadlines.  Learn how you can influence decisions on where trail maintenance is prioritized. A short survey will be administered to collect feedback to deliver to the Forest Service about the creation of trail maintenance priority areas.

This webinar will be held Tuesday, February 7th, at 2:00 pm Mountain Time. Space is limited so sign up today. First come-first served with a limit of 100 seats. Access information will be forwarded by Monday, February 6th.
To sign up: Send an email to randy@wildernessalliance.org with your interest to attend.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Big Freeze: What Trump's Hiring Suspension Means for Public Lands

MensJournal.com - Full Article

By Ben Radding

Widespread hiring freezes hit most federal agencies on Monday (excepting the military). The stated goal of the order is to "reduce the size of the Federal Government's workforce through attrition." In other words? It may be here to stay.

For the Department of Interior, which oversees most public lands, this likely means there will be no new employees to aid in the $12.5 billion maintenance backlog that Ryan Zinke said he'd make a priority when he took control. And while National Parks have never been more popular (with some 300 million visitors in 2015), resources allocated for conservation and land management are at record lows — meaning the new hiring freeze could have the unintended consequences when it comes to camping and hiking, mountain-biking, and paddling on public lands. Even hunting and fishing may be affected.

"There's a sense that government is bloated and inefficient, and we can save money and reduce government interference on everyday Americans' lives," says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "Now, there may be bloated agencies out there, but if you look at conservation funding in this country, the exact opposite is true. In the late '70s, conservation funding was about 2.5 percent of the federal budget, and today it’s about 1 percent."

Will Rogers, president and CEO of the Trust for Public Lands agrees: "Congress has not stepped up with what I would say are the expectations of the public when it comes to maintaining and taking care of our public lands. So that’s where we’re starting. A hiring freeze is only going to make it worse."

Our 500 million-plus acres of public lands, about one-fifth of the landmass of the United States, are managed by federal employees and contractors who manage grazing permits, trail maintenance, recreational visitation, oil and gas permits, fire suppression, timber issues, road building, and wilderness management, among many, many other tasks. The Bureau of Land Management, a department inside the DOI, is itself in charge of roughly 300 million acres. It has about 30,000 employees. That's around 50 square miles to manage per employee...

Read more here:
http://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/articles/what-trumps-hiring-freeze-means-for-the-department-of-interior-w463163

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Summer 2017 WSP Grant Program Applications now available

Wildernessalliance.org

WSP Grant Info

The National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance is pleased to announce a continuation of the partnership with the Forest Service to bring our partner members the Wilderness Stewardship Performance (WSP) activity grants for the Summer 2017.

What is the WSP Grant Program

Wilderness Stewardship Performance is the suite of activities which the Forest Service uses to measure their wilderness stewardship accomplishment. This grant program is for wilderness stewardship volunteer organizations to support wilderness stewardship activities that contribute to overall improvement in wilderness stewardship performance scores for individual wilderness areas.

NWSA and the Forest Service are pleased to offer this opportunity for wilderness stewardship groups to assist the Forest Service in meeting their wilderness stewardship performance goals.  We are hoping that the success of this grant program will lead to its further expansion in the future.

Summer WSP 2017 Grant Program Details

The application period for Summer 2017 WSP Grants is now open.  Approximately $180,000 is available to be granted during the Summer 2017, for work completed May 2017 through September 2017.   Grants will be in the $2,000 - 20,000 dollar range.  
Information about this session of the WSP Grant Award program can be found in the NWSA Summer 2017 WSP Grant FAQ's.
The application period ends March 10th, 2017.  Click here for the application.

Also included in the application package is a Budget Form.  A letter of support from the affected Forest Service Office is also required.

All applicants must be members in good standing of NWSA.
 
Any additional questions can be addressed to randy@wildernessalliance.org. 

Good luck to all that apply.

For more information, see:
http://www.wildernessalliance.org/wsp_grant_info

Texas billionaire brothers reach out to Idaho leaders; one sale for access in the works

Idahostatesman.com

January 23 2017
By Rocky Barker
rbarker@idahostatesman.com

Representatives for two Texas billionaires who have purchased more than 200,000 acres of land in Idaho have reached out to state and county leaders to improve relations.

Representatives for DF Development, the Cisco, Texas, company owned by Farris and Dan Wilks, met with House Speaker Scott Bedke and Idaho Department of Lands Director Tom Schultz in November.

And Valley County is about to complete the purchase of a 4.2-acre parking lot and trailhead owned by DF Development.

The parking lot will serve snowmobilers, four-wheelers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and others using the public trail system between Smith’s Ferry and Cascade. The purchase is expected to close in February...

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/letters-from-the-west/article128240494.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wyoming Senate president kills public lands transfer bill

Trib.com - Full Article

Laura Hancock 307-266-0581, Laura.Hancock@trib.com
Jan 20, 2017

CHEYENNE — Wyoming Senate President Eli Bebout said Friday that he is killing a public lands transfer constitutional amendment bill that rattled sportsmen who warned the resolution would have led to eventual privatization and blocked access to the terrain.

“I’ve given a lot of thought to the public lands initiative,” said Bebout, a Riverton Republican said. “And what I’m going to do is, I’m going to not assign that bill (to a committee.) I’m going to kill it. But there’s a lot of moving parts in that. I think the message that a lot of people believe out there... really isn’t what it’s about. I think we’ve lost that message.”

The senator made the announcement hours after President Donald Trump was inaugurated. The state will work with the administration to more collaboratively manage the land, Bebout said.

“Starting today, from day one, leadership of the Wyoming Legislature is committed to working with the Trump administration and our congressional delegation to develop a solution that will ensure public lands are managed for multiple use and available to benefit all Wyoming residents,” Bebout said...

Read more here:
http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/wyoming-senate-president-kills-public-lands-transfer-bill/article_88bfb04b-6449-539d-8e70-081d781da35d.html

Friday, January 20, 2017

House opens door for transfer of federal lands: Will Trump play ball?

Mcclathyde.com - Full Article

January 12 2017

By Stuart Leavenworth
sleavenworth@mcclatchydc.com

WASHINGTON

Emboldened by the change of administration, GOP lawmakers are quietly making moves that would permit a potentially vast transfer of federal land to states and other entities.

On a party line vote last week, the House of Representatives approved rule changes that would expedite such transfers, alarming environmental and recreation groups that have long called for “public lands to stay in public hands.”

President-elect Donald Trump and his pick for Interior secretary, Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Montana Republican, have both said they oppose turning federal lands over to states or localities. Even so, Zinke joined his party in approving the Jan. 3 rules package, raising questions about how Trump might act if lands transfer legislation were to reach his desk.

“I’m not very confident. I am very worried,” said Sharon Buccino, a lawyer who directs the land and wildlife program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “Both Trump and Zinke say they oppose the transfer of federal land, but when it came to vote last week, Zinke voted to make it easier to do land transfers...”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article126237899.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, January 19, 2017

ELCR: Working together to save our horse lands

ELCR.org

Become a Conservation Member today

As members of the equine community, the future of the equestrian landscape is in our hands. 

Land is saved locally, so it's imperative that horsemen and horse enthusiasts act as stewards of horse lands in their own communities. Being aware of threats and knowing how to address them allows us to ensure that future generations can enjoy access to the equestrian landscapes and lifestyle that we enjoy. Participation in our Conservation Member Program allows you to actively demonstrate your support for equine land conservation.

Join or renew your membership for 2017 today!

ELCR Conservation Membership dues help support educational program and one-on-one technical assistance that help individuals and organizations keep land open for horses in their communities. Specifically, your membership dues help support programs and services such as: 

• Articles, videos and other educational resources in six equine land conservation topic areas made available free to the public on our website, www.elcr.org
• Development of templates, sample letters, guides, and other tactical tools to help groups effectively engage in local land use planning
• Access to best practices and guidance for managing conversations and relationships with private landowners and public land stakeholders in order to create or support access for horses and horse-related use
• Access to one-on-one counseling and technical assistance for specific local equine land loss issues
• Access to webinars covering issues such as building and maintaining sustainable trails, conservation easements, planning and zoning issues and best management practices and more!

It will take many voices to save our cherished equine places and spaces - won't you add yours today!

2017 National Park Service Fee Free Days

Explore your National Parks!  Thanks to the National Park Service, all national parks across the country will waive admission fees on the following days throughout 2017:

• January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
• February 20: Presidents Day
• April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
• August 25: National Park Service Birthday
• September 30: National Public Lands Day
• November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

More information at:
https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/11-14-2016-fee-free-days.htm