Thursday, May 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

AERC Signs MOU with USFS

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

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

To view the MOU, go to (toward the bottom of the page).

Friday, May 5, 2017

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

Mountain bikes in designated Wilderness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other reasons bike use would be problematic include:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

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

MAY 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

Read more here:

Monday, May 1, 2017

Land & Water Conservation Fund Legislation in the 115th Congress


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

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

For details on the current legislation, see: