The thread about Back Country Horsemen made me think about trails advocacy and how we as horsemen (and women) can help to keep trails open to stock use. I wrote the attached piece for my monthly column in Western Mule Magazine. It talks about exactly this topic. Here's the link.
you should submit that to other magazines,ACTHA, and to ETI .
"If we don’t exercise our voices, we’ll be overlooked and our legacy will be forgotten." I love this sentence and your article Trails!
Especially liked you encouraging riders to form and participate in work parties!
Our area has some excellent trails, but due to the ATV's tearing up multi-use trails the NFS is closing them down left and right trapping us riders. We aren't allowed on the Ozark Highland's Trail or on the ATV only trails!
We've been working on a three mile section of trail for years repairing damage done by ATV's. Fixing erosion problems, installing RR ties, clearing debris, etc. Right now it's a hiking only trail, in the past few years we've had our efforts destroyed by them using certain areas of it as a climbing obstacle. Eventually we will have it horse ready for our trail riding guests, but the ATV's keep setting us back. In addition to that we have free leased land to the NFS to set up informational kiosks next to scenic views. We also allow them free access to service roads from our properties, and a multitude of other neighborly benefits.
Unfortunately all I hear about is budgeting problems and further closings due to them logging... Something has to be done. So I will be looking into the BCH in Arkansas.
Again, great article!
I think it's a problem with the forest service itself. Or rather, those in control who make policy.
On the way home from work yesterday I was listening to one of the talking heads on the radio....the topic was jobs and it soon turned to energy, and then to the policy to not allow drilling on public land.
One of the things this guy mentioned was exactly what I've thought for some time now. He said the environmentalist want to eliminate most public use of public land and limit access to only walking.
We've seen the elimination of many, many ATV trails. Horse trails are also being limited although I have seen some expansion of horse trails by the forest service in the Cherokee National Forest.
Have you ever seen what a tornado does to a forest? Or, a forest fire? These forces do far more environmental damage than an ATV could do in a thousand years. Because the forces are nature they seem to be okay but let a horse leave a hoof print and the forest is forever damaged...
It's the political winds, constantly blowing, that sets public use policy.
We have to have the right people in place that set public land use policy. Ask yourself if the land is being used the way you want to use it.
One person, one vote. Use it wisely.
My sister works with the National Forest Service near Gainsville, Georgia. They actually have been getting trail riders to help them with mapping the forest. The horsemen keep the trails cleaned up and they provide needed data to the forest service. She actually went on a long trail ride with the group that is working on the project as one of her work days. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.....
Well James, heavy logging equipment does worse.
My beloved southern Appalachian Mountains, as late as the 1920's were literately raped, clear and clean cut, devoid of trees. 80 years later and it's hard to tell it ever happened.
The land repairs itself.
Being good stewards of the land is one thing and I fully support that. However, banning one group often leads to banning other groups.
Public land use policy should work to include all rather than exclude many.
My point is, if we ban everything that leaves tracks the public land won't be used and will become worthless to all but a few.
Or maybe we could look at what actually does harm the land. Around here ATVs indisputably do. Could be different where you live.
We could also look at whether various groups are willing to make efforts to share the land. I'd argue that ATV riders, on the whole, simply aren't willing to make efforts to share with others. There is, for instance, no reason in the world why their engines can't be fitted with decent mufflers & emission controls, or why they can't ride in a courteous fashion. Yet I can't even count the times when ATV & dirt bike riders have come up on me at high speed, unmuffled engines roaring & belching clouds of blue smoke. Then they'll deliberately skid around in circles, tearing up the track and throwing dirt everywhere...
If you keep that up long enough, the land does become worthless to all but a few - the ATV riders.
ATV, do leave marks in the ground, no doubt.
So do logging crews. The forest is a renewable resource. The management of the National Forest has always been to provide the timber resources the nation needs. How many years did it take to form the grand canyon, and is that worthless land?
Personally I don't care for the loud roar of ATV, nor the rude behavior that some riders demonstrate. On the other hand, many hikers also don't like the tracks a horse leaves nor the manure in the middle of the trail.
I'm not saying there shouldn't be any rules on public land, but I think we've gone past the center, and everyday we see more and more restrictions on public land use. Needless to say there are some sensitive areas that require prohibition.
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