Friday, April 21, 2017

Virginia: Horse Riding in the George Washington National Forest - 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:

Senate and House Outdoor Recreation Caucuses Announced - 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:

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:

National Forest System Trail Stewardship Grants Available for Field Season 2017

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:

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

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

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.


Donald Saner, 
BCHA Chairman

Friday, April 14, 2017

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

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 - 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:

Monday, March 27, 2017

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trail Runners Join the Fight for Public Lands - 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:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Just Say “WHOAA” to Park Closures - 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:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

How Congress Is Rolling Back Public Input On Public Lands - 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:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Three Words Every Equestrian Should Know… - 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:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

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

Thursday, March 9, 2017

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

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

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 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 - 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:

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

March 4 2017
By Nicole Blanchard

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:

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

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 no later than February 24, 2017. Anyone interested in exploring opportunities to sponsor the national survey should contact Holley Groshek 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 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 or call (859) 455-8383

For additional information, contact:
Holley Groshek, Executive Director
Equine Land Conservation Resource
Phone: 859-455-8383 /Email:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hunters fear loss of access if public lands sold, transferred - 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:

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oregon takes big step toward privatizing Elliott State Forest - 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:

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

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 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. (

Read more here:

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 - Full Article

By Bruce Finley | | 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:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

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

Friday, February 3, 2017

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

Thursday, February 2, 2017

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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

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 with your interest to attend.

Friday, January 27, 2017

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Summer 2017 WSP Grant Program Applications now available

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 

Good luck to all that apply.

For more information, see:

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

January 23 2017
By Rocky Barker

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:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wyoming Senate president kills public lands transfer bill - Full Article

Laura Hancock 307-266-0581,
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:

Friday, January 20, 2017

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

January 12 2017

By Stuart Leavenworth


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:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

ELCR: Working together to save our horse lands

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,
• 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:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Trail Riding Destination – Washington's Pasayten Wilderness - Full Article

by Robert Eversole

January is here! It’s the start of a new year of trail riding and adventures with our horses. I have a feeling that it’s going to be fabulous. I use the post-holiday period to start planning my summer trips. There’s something powerful about seeing an area’s name in blocks on the calendar and knowing that in a few months I’ll be there. For me the process of planning helps me to be intentional in my trip choices.

This year I’ll be heading back into the Pasayten Wilderness. It’s become a favorite summer destination point for me and it could be for you too. If you’ve never experienced a true wilderness, the Pasayten is a great place to start.

Here’s a mental picture to warm your soul during the damp dark days of winter. A glorious high mountain meadow on a warm summers eve. A stream gurgling quietly as it passes near horses contentedly grazing on the lush grasses of your meadow home. A few scattered tents provide quick pops of color against the dark green of the surrounding forest which is in turn dwarfed by rocky cliffs above.

A welcoming campfire provides a bit of warmth under the darkening sky. If you’ve picked mid August for this mental trip the evening’s entertainment will be spectacular. The Perseid meteor shower will light the sky with fire as the remains of the comet Swift-Tuttle burn. It’s a great light show and I’ve already blocked off the dates and put an X on the map. Here’s more that you’ll want to know about this area before you add it to your ride calendar...

Read more here:

Monday, January 9, 2017

100-acre horse ranch in Pacifica seeking new nonprofit partners - Full Article

January 09, 2017, 05:00 AM By Austin Walsh Daily

Proprietors of an expansive equestrian ranch in Pacifica are availing more than 100 acres of open space to nonprofit organizations interested in offering unique community enrichment programs.

Sweeney Ridge Equestrian, at 650 Cape Breton Drive, is a horse boarding facility adjacent to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with access to a sweeping network of trails for riding horses, hiking or a variety of other outdoor activities.

An equestrian company previously occupying the stables has relocated, opening the opportunity for the ranch to broaden its horizons, said property manager Brenda Davis.

“We have the space, we have access to the trails as well as covered arenas … and we are hoping to draw in a couple of nonprofits to expand that part of the facility,” said Davis. “We want something that can give back in that manner...”

- See more at:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

U.S. House changes its rules to ease federal land transfers - Full Article

The Western movement to transfer federal lands scores an early victory in the new Congress.

Elizabeth Shogren
DC DISPATCH Jan. 4, 2017
Web Exclusive

On the first day of its new session, the U.S. House passed a new rule designed to make it easier to transfer federal lands to states, local communities or Indian tribes by assuming that these transfers would not cost the federal government anything.

The change was approved Tuesday 233 to 190 as part of a broader collection of rules which will govern how the House will operate during the 115th Congress ranging from budget guidelines to ethics standards. The lands transfer provision didn’t figure in the debate. Previously, when Congress wanted to transfer public lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or other federal agency, the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’ research arm, calculated the cost to the U.S. Treasury by computing what revenues the lands provide over 10 years, such as grazing fees or oil and gas royalties. Under House rules, before a bill approving a transfer could be adopted, budget cuts would have to be made in other federal programs equal to the value of that land. The rules change eliminates that budgetary barrier to land transfer bills...

Read more here:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Push To Transfer Federal Lands To States Has Sportsmen On Edge - read of listen

January 5, 20175:00 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition

Wyoming has become a flash point in the debate over whether hundreds of millions of acres of federal public lands should be turned over to state hands.

From Buzz Hettick's place on the edge of the windswept college town of Laramie, it's a short drive into the heart of these remote lands, vast tracts run by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

On a recent, blustery morning, Hettick was scouting out an elk hunt in the Laramie range, a patchwork of private and public BLM land north of his home.

"A lot of wildlife uses public lands," he says.

So do big game hunters like Hettick. Hunting is big business in the rural West and Wyoming is no exception. A recent study estimated it brings in roughly $25 million into Albany County's economy alone.

Hettick is eager to show off this land — and talk about protecting access to it — to anyone who will make the trip.

"I just don't see how people can look at this out here ... and all they see is a dollar sign attached to it; there's a lot more than that," Hettick says.

When it comes to politics, those dollar signs and federal lands are inextricably linked in the West. There's always pressure to lease more land to private producers of oil, gas, coal and, lately, wind...

Read more here:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Wyoming: Proposals could restrict riding access in Shoshone NF - Full Article

January 5 2017

Proposals that would restrict or close selected riding access for mountain bikers in the Shoshone National Forest have stirred angst amongst regional riders.

They are banding together to question the plans before the public comment period ends Jan. 12.

Riders claim the Forest is poised to take unnecessary action under its Land Management Plan, while Forest officials say they are merely balancing the needs of all trail users, including mountain bikers, horseback riders and ATV travelers.

One part of the plan would add 35 miles of approved biking trails, while another would subtract what some say is 28 miles of existing trails.

Mountain bikers say they could well lose access to places they are long used to riding.

John Gallagher of the Park County Pedalers said the Shoshone non-motorized trail plan is really responding to issues that have occurred elsewhere, in Utah and Colorado, where participants in the different activities have overlapped...

Read more here:

California: When trails end: Nipomo landowners and equestrians battle over horseback riding routes on the Mesa - Full Article

January 4 2017

Like countless hikers and horsemen, dog walkers and joggers, Doreen Lopez has been riding and hiking the trails through Nipomo’s eucalyptus groves and along its sandy bluffs for decades. Like untold numbers of property owners, Jim Harrington hoped to enjoy the peace and quiet of country living in the privacy of his own home. Today, the pair embodies the battle over public access to private property that increasingly repeats itself as communities develop.

As rural areas build out and open spaces are fenced, walled, and paved, property owners assert their rights to use their space, while longtime residents mourn the loss of land they have walked, hiked, biked, and ridden for years, even decades.

“These people come from the city and want a place in the country, then they fence it off and complain about the smells and sounds of country life,” Lopez said.

In October, Harrington fenced portions of his property after run-ins with equestrian users.

“I’m a nice guy, but I can only be stepped on, walked around, kicked so much,” Harrington said. “I love horses. I ride horses. The whole thing got out of control when one lady wouldn’t listen to me. All I want to do is be legal about it. If they’re going to be snooty and sniping and act like this is their land, I’m old enough to know better. I spent my life working my ass off. Now I want to hide out, be left alone, have peace and quiet.”

In November, representatives of Ride Nipomo Equestrian Trails Alliance met with county staff to discuss options for re-opening the trail, potential easements, and other actions that might return the trail to public service.

“It’s not just for equestrians,” Ride Nipomo President Shelia Patterson said. “We can deal with hikers and bikers, just like we do when we ride MontaƱa de Oro [State Park]. We can all work together, but we have to have this one vision that we need trails for everyone. It’s about people and health and the kindness people show each other on trails. I’ve never met a mean person on the trail.”

Since 2001, Ride Nipomo Equestrian Trails Alliance has promoted the establishment, conservation, and maintenance of equestrian trails in southern San Luis Obispo County. They adopt trails and perform cleanups along the trails in parks and on private properties where public access is granted.

“We’re not out there to spy on the neighborhood or to trespass. We’re their eyes and ears. We find dump spots and report what we find, we clean it up, and we’ve paid to take thousands of pounds of trash away,” the alliance’s unofficial historian, Barbara Verlengiere, told the Sun.

Alliance members would like to see the preservation of established trails like those along Nipomo’s southwestern bluff, and long-term planning like that used in Norco. That Southern California community, also known as Horsetown, U.S.A, maintains narrow streets, slow speed limits, and 74 miles of trails to promote travel on horseback and horse-drawn carriage.

“That’s what we’re looking for,” said Verlengiere, who left Southern California 35 years ago to settle in then-very-rural Nipomo. “The problem is all these people who come from LA who want it to be like where they came from. They complained about Nipomo Park, the charro arena, horses, cattle, smells. This is the problem. We lost our arena. We’re losing our trails. You live in the country now. Get used to it.”..

Read more here:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Register for Hike the Hill 2017

January 4 2017

Hike the Hill 2017 will be held February 12-15 at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Now in its 19th year, Hike the Hill® is a joint effort between the Partnership for the National Trail System and the American Hiking Society aimed at increasing congressional and federal agency leader awareness of funding and other needs that sustain the National Trails System. Each February, trail partners and organizations from across the nation head to Washington, D.C. to discuss current initiatives, legislation, and goals for the future with federal partners, congressmen or their staff, and fellow trail organizations.

Learn more and register at

Sunday, January 1, 2017

What You Can Do to Keep Horse Trails Open - Full Article

December 27 2016
by Robert Eversole

Keeping Paradise Possible

Paradise. For some that’s an image of a tropical beach, for me it’s a dirt trail that twists and meanders to a backcountry camp deep in the wilderness. It’s a quiet solitude punctuated by the peaceful clip clop of hooves and the far scream of an eagle aloft. It’s the sweet perfume of pine on a warm summer day. It’s the companionship of a trusted horse who will faithfully take you home.

Unfortunately, in a growing number of cases paradise is padlocked.

In only a few short generations we’ve “improved” a lot of backcountry and rural areas into suburbia and shopping malls. Trail Closed signs are both dreaded and unfortunately frequently encountered. Lest we lose them, we’d better take care of the equine friendly country that remains. Paradise needs protecting.

You don’t have to be a trail rider, or even have your own horse, to recognize the importance of conserving horse trails. There are many things that each of us can do to preserve equine trails. The following are three easy ways that I have found to help.


It’s not forest elves that are magically keeping your trails open. Budget cuts have slashed maintenance efforts on public lands. Most trail maintenance is done by volunteer organizations such as your state’s Horse Council, or your local Back Country Horsemen chapter...

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