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 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:

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 randy@wildernessalliance.org. 

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: 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:

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


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


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:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Trail Riding Destination – Washington's Pasayten Wilderness

Trailmeister.com - 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

SMDailyjournal.com - 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: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2017-01-09/100-acre-horse-ranch-in-pacifica-seeking-new-nonprofit-partners/1776425173980.html#sthash.93OdgjJ7.dpuf

Saturday, January 7, 2017

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

HCN.org - 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

NPR.org - 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

Codyenterprise.com - 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

Santamariasun.com - 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 https://americanhiking.org/hike-the-hill/hth2017/

Sunday, January 1, 2017

What You Can Do to Keep Horse Trails Open

Trailmeister.com - 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...

Read more here: