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: