Back Country Horsemen of America Stands Up for Land Issues That Affect Horseback Riders
RELEASE: July 29, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Sarah Wynne Jackson
Did you know that some wilderness management agencies are trying to restrict the use of horses on public lands? Or that the U.S. Forest Service is planning new trail classifications, which might limit our activities? Did you hear about the new bill that could eliminate the current fees for accessing undeveloped federal land?
The outcome of these kinds of concerns can have far-reaching consequences, yet they often come and go with little public awareness. But Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA) knows, and has been taking a stand right from the start.
BCHA is a strong voice for continued, responsible horse use on public lands. Its founding members and present officers have specialized experience with stock and the back country. They meet today’s issues armed with that knowledge, extensive research, careful planning, and appropriate action.
Through their Wilderness Committee, BCHA advises state organizations in their dealings with public lands managers to keep the back country open to stock use. There have been, and currently are, several plans that attempt to block stock and horse users for one reason or another from public lands.
To maintain visibility with our legislators and ensure the position of stock users is heard on “the Hill,” representatives from BCHA’s Public Liaison Committee make several trips to Washington, D.C., annually.
It was always the intention of BCHA to be a part of the answer, instead of simply pointing out the problem. As a service club, many of BCHA’s 16,000 members spend countless hours each year maintaining and improving trails for public and private agencies. In many cases, this is the only way to keep these trails open for the use of stock.
BCHA recognizes that some of the complaints against back country horse use are justified. In response, they created programs to educate horse and stock owners about the importance of treading lightly on the land. They provide practical ways to achieve the goal of a minimum impact.
This responsible approach has assured BCHA of valid consideration of their input regarding regulations and planning. It has also gained them the support of other conservation groups and lends them credibility when they become involved in criticisms of agency management.
Back Country Horsemen of America is a non-profit corporation made up of state organizations, affiliates, and at large members. Their efforts have brought about positive changes in regards to the use of horses and stock in the wilderness and public lands.
It all began in 1973, in Montana’s Flathead Valley, with a group of individuals determined to perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country. In time, additional Back Country Horsemen clubs formed in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and California.
In 1986, these groups merged into Back Country Horsemen of America. Since then, member organizations and affiliates have been established across the nation, representing 23 states from coast to coast, plus clubs in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada.
If you want to know more about this crucial issue or become a member of Back Country Horsemen of America, visit their website at www.backcountryhorse.org
, call toll free (888) 893-5161, or write PO Box 1367, Graham, WA 98338-1367.