There is much you need to know about this matter, as it will affect each of us as Top Trail Riders
Did you know?
We are losing 6,000 acres of public land per day to Federal or State Governments? That’s 250 acres per hour!
What I’m saying is that our national monuments, horse trails, parks and streams are at risk every day of being reinstated as private/government property.
To understand the issue, I first looked up some of the main players: those who make these such decisions, then I checked several organizations who’ve been creating new trails and maintaining those we’ve still got.
But, Dawn, Who do I call to help? How do I know they’re legit?
Simple — Top Trail will only promote those associations whose reputations precede them as being among the best in the biz. We DO do our due diligence! 😀
Alrighty then! Who’s on deck?
Well, up first is the Bureau of Land Management!
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
The BLM seems to be a major keeper of our National Parks, as well as other specific lands which can and cannot be used for recreation. The map below shows the western half of the country, including color coded trails and gates to keep you out of trouble 😊 (I say that because I ended up going thru a green gate, when I’m only permitted to go thru the yellow ones 😮😄)
The United States Forest Service (USFS)
As with the BLM in the west, the east coast’s US Forest Service is a big “keeper of their public spaces and trails included within them. They are an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation’s 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres (780,000 km2). Major divisions of the agency include the National Forest System. Riders in those areas need to keep an eye on public notices regarding their respective area of these public lands.
The Back Country Horseman of America (BCHA)
The BCHA is a non-profit organization committed to the perpetuation of the common sensical use and enjoyment of recreational equine riding space still available in America’s back country and wilderness. Service is a key component of this most-worthy organization’s philosophy. Trained professionals who run the local chapters are currently located in 31 states, and boast over p13,000 members! You won’t believe the projects these folks have volunteered to clean and/or create trails! The photos on their site blew my mind! I decided I must join our very small area’s chapter 😀
Check out the opportunities available with the Back Country Horseman of America chapter nearest you! Visit them at www.bcha.org.
The Great American Rail-Trail
The Great American Rail-Trail is an awesome organization. They’ve actually converted over 3,700 miles of old railroad tracks into recreational trails. It doesn’t go everywhere in the country, but it DOES go from one ocean to the other! I would LOVE to ride that sometime before I’m too darn old to ride 😀
The Nature Conservancy
This organization works along with several others, including, the USDA, the Landscape Regeneration Society, and many more organizations who come together to regenerate old trails into new, once-again usable trails. The map below shows a bit of the Rio Grande River they cleaned up for riders and other recreation.
The Equine Land Conservation Resource (ECLR)
The Equine Land Conservation Resource‘s main mission is to advance the conservation of land for horse related activities. Their site is a wealth of information, including many opportunities for involvement and action.
Find maps of trails which have already been prepped on the ECLR website (Equine Access to Public Lands). They’re at www.eclr.org. Same as above: start with the main site, then Locate your nearest chapter.
No Horse.Equine Access to Public Lands’ slogan
Nebraska Horse Trails Committee
This group of committed, horseback riding volunteers have been clearing trails, building fences and corrals in the Cornhusker state with an effort to make and keep trails accessible to trail riders. They’re fully self-funded, as they hold various activities to keep those donations coming in so their volunteers can keep clearing! (They’re holding a fundraiser in September, for those of you interested.) The greatest part? They publish a booklet of Nebraska trails, including maps, levels of difficulty, and more! Great resource!
The American Horse Council
These are the great folks who lobby our Congress to keep land open to equine access to public lands. You can find their main site at www.horsecouncil.org. Once there, sign up! It’ll show you what to do.
Now, this list is by no means all-inclusive. There are many trail organizations out there: all of whom need our help. We, as riders and users of America’s public trails, have a duty to do our part to conserve the space necessary to continue enjoying our country by horseback; not just for our generation, but those who follow, as well.
So, how exactly can I help?
I’m SO glad you asked! 😄 There are MANY ways you can get involved — not all of which involve sending cash, either! (Although, I’m certain none would turn it down a cash contribution 😀). Check out the many possibilities below to see some options:
- You can volunteer for an organization which concentrates on the preservation of our public lands, (such as one of those worthy organizations mentioned above.)
- Educate yourself on the public and private lands near you. Keep abreast of their issues. Seek ways to assist thru your local chapter.
- You could decide to start your own trail conservation group if there’s not already one in your area to join. You’ll see resources below for starting your own volunteer group. (www.eclr.org).
- You can use our legislative system to either help conserve or add specific lands. See the American Horse Council website, as well as BCHA for ways you can contact those members of your state’s representatives, and voice our need to preserve our ability to use these paths and trails to enjoy many national treasures on horseback.
- Or, you can ALWAYS donate cash. If nothing else, pick an organization and keep a note in your budget to send a few bucks every months
- Keep a note pad or even use your phone to pinpoint areas of land and trails in need. Report them to your local conservationist.
- Sign up for email notices in your area by visiting The BLM or State and Private Forestry Service in your area. There are usually links to get auto emails whenever things are happening.. and SEND THOSE COMMENTS IN! Whew.. make noise guys.. tell ’em what we want & tell them how YOU can be part of the solution! Dismounting from soap box!
We use these trails, don’t we?
Many of us do, yes! So, why not take a hint from the Back Country Horseman, and make a conscious effort to leave no trace of your having been on any trail behind, and be certain to tread lightly while you’re on it.
For further trail riding, mileage tracking articles, and horse-related stories YOU can use, see our Top Trail blog. We’ve got a great article posted on Trail Etiquette, which has usuable info regarding the utilization of trails in harmony with other (non-equine) patrons on America’s, as yet still public, lands. Read up at:
Challenge from Dawn:
I’ve actually decided to volunteer with our area’s BLM volunteer group. 😀 Now, I challenge thee fellow riders to sign up for any volunteer org that helps keeps lands free for humans and horses alike.
So? Where are YOU gonna sign up? I would love to hear from you on this in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
A few quick notes:
🌸 A quick shout to Ms. Deirdre Perot for giving me the idea on this article. (I’m told she is actually a pro on this topic, so I hope I did her well!)
🌸 Drawing of trail at title of article, courtesy of the Great American Rail-Trail site.
🌸 Thanks for reading, as always, and I’ll see ya next time ❤️
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