Gordon Murrow AERC Alabama State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
No State Trail Advocate
Bill Bohannan AERC Arizona State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Russell Broussard AERC Arkansas State Trail Advocate
On April 7, 2018 Shawn McCarthy is sponsoring the “Over the Hill & Dale” Endurance Ride on the 20 miles of trails that he and other riders have cleared during the past 12 months. This all started on January 20 & 21, 2017 with the gathering of 15 AERC Members hosted by Shawn and Holly McCarthy.
I have been talking to Bill Kinter with the Buffalo River Back Country Horsemen. This group concentrates on trails in the Ozark National Forest and especially along the Buffalo River in Northern Arkansas.
I plan on attending a meeting with this group of BCHA on March 17, 2018 in Marshall, Arkansas.
In the Center of the State I have contacted Al Gathright with the Group called the “Traildogs”. This group concentrates on trails in the Quachita National Forest and currently have a trail improvement project North of Lake Quachita. In 2017 the “Traildogs” reported 489 volunteer hours on trails.
There are 192 miles of trails in the Quachita National Forest. Of the 192 miles there are 71 miles for Equestrians at the following locations: 30 miles at Cedar Lake, 26 miles at Viles Branch and 14 miles at Caney Creek Trail.
On the State level I have contacted Mike Sprague, Head of the “Arkansas Trails Council”. I plan on attending the next quarterly meeting of the “Arkansas Trail Council” meeting to be held in April.
Robert Sydnor AERC California State Trail Advocate
AERC National Convention
Both the 2017 AERC convention in Dallas, Texas, and the 2018 AERC convention in Reno, Nevada were attended. Committees were attended for the State Trails Advocates and the Trails and Land-Use.
California Horse Trailhead Reports
86+ reports have been prepared (to date) for horse trailheads in central and northern California. One new horse trailhead report is prepared each month, and these new reports are widely circulated between AERC, Backcountry Horsemen of California, and three local equestrian groups. These reports are typically 3 to 4 pages long and contain road-maps to the trailhead, photographs of the horse assembly area, and logistical information (gates, horse water, out-houses, day-use or horse camping, etc.).
Several of them are directly applicable to AERC endurance rides (such as the Tevis Cup, Wild West, Camp Far West, American River Classic, and the Cache Creek Ridge rides), but many of them are simply horse trailheads that AERC members use for conditioning horses in preparation for 50-mile endurance rides. Note that these year-around trailhead reports are different in scope from the websites of specific sanctioned AERC rides that are held only once per year. Because of seasonal weather changes, AERC riders like riding at high altitudes in the hot summertime, and riding at lower elevations in the wintertime (below the snow-line). That is why a large number of horse trailhead reports are needed, depending on the seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) and the weather.
A secondary use for the trailhead reports is that they can be used to reliably answer questions that abruptly appear on the AERC Facebook page: “What is a certain horse trailhead like?”
(Some of these questions come from out-of-state endurance riders, and others from non-AERC riders. This way, new prospective members may be enticed to actually join AERC and become one of us.) With just a few clicks, the hyperlink to a specific horse trailhead can be provided.
It is planned to add additional reports for horse trailheads in Southern California. Other AERC members are encouraged to prepare their own reports (site-specific road maps, site photographs).
These horse trailhead reports are in a stable .pdf format, so they can be easily downloaded by AERC members and the general equestrian user. The Adobe Acrobat format is distilled to a much smaller file-size (typically 2 or 3 MB), compared to the original file (typically 8 to 12 MB due to robust digital photographs and maps) that is often prepared using Microsoft Publisher or Microsoft Word.
These 86+ reports are conveniently posted on a free and accessible Google Groups website. There is no advertising, no cookies, no spam, and no blogging is allowed. This is a sterile “bulletin-board format” that is entirely free. Here is the hyperlink: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/horsetrails
Collateral suggestion to other AERC State Trail Advocates: It is recommended that you prepare similar comprehensive reports for horse trailheads in your state. Anyone can create a free Google Groups website and be your own webmaster. Yes, it is a lot of initial work, but in the long-run, a wonderful album of reliable equestrian trailhead reports will be published that will help our own AERC riders, and will foster the growth of our AERC memberships.
Use of AERC State Trails Advocate Business Cards
It was very useful that AERC Editor Troy Smith supplied us with custom business cards showcasing that we are AERC State Trails Advocates. During dozens of meetings with California State Park Superintendents, U.S. Forest Service District Rangers, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management rangers, it is very effective to showcase who we are, and that we represent AERC on complex and diplomatic situation. Much better than writing your name and e-mail address on a scrap of paper. Several boxes of these AERC business cards have been effectively used. I always carry a supply of AERC business cards in both my horse truck, and my sedan.
District Rangers and Park Superintendents often get promoted upward or there is an abrupt retirement, and suddenly we AERC Trail Masters are dealing with an entirely new government official who does not know us. That is when an AERC business card can be adroitly used in a timely manner for effective diplomacy about horse trails.
Special Reports as an AERC Trail Master
- In Tahoe National Forest, Yuba River Ranger District,a very dangerous high-speed trail(called the Hoot Trail) was constructed by a mountain-biker. High-speed means 20 to 30 miles per hour, with airborne bikes on banked and blind-turns suddenly facing an equestrian and a spooky horse. Dr. Melissa Ribley, AERC Veterinarian, asked me to prepare a confidential report as an AERC Trail Master. I surveyed the unsafe trail with GPS-tagged digital photographs taken every 20 or 30 feet. The unsafe trail was then visited a week later by a concerned group led by the USFS District Ranger (who herself is an equestrian), a Nevada County Supervisor, five equestrians, three hikers, and two mountain-bikers. They were shocked at the unsafe trail with airborne high-speed banked turns. The USFS District Ranger ordered the jumps and banked turns to be removed to meet USFS safety standards for a multi-use trail. This trail system is used by the AERC Wild West Ride, a large 3-day event held each May.
- Abike-jump park was advocated by management of the Auburn Recreation District over to two-year period, 2016-2017. This bike-jump park bisects the historic Pioneer Express Trail that is used by the AERC American River Classic. Dozens of AERC equestrians testified in public hearings against this bike-jump park. An AERC Trail Master report was prepared to advocate trail-safety for horses, and it was recommended to locate the bike-jump park elsewhere. (This is an on-going situation that is not presently resolved.)
- The Center Trail in the Granite Bay area of Folsom Lake State Recreation Area was an unsafe and high-maintenance trail that is multi-use. A new and safer reroute was laid-out. Equestrians, hikers, and mountain-bikers worked successfully together to brush-out the new alignment, and carry branches to the oldtrail whichwill then be properly abandoned using this cut brush.
A progress report was prepared, and this was showcased in the March issue of AERC Endurance News (written by Alex Uspenski, with a trail-map prepared by Robert Sydnor).
After the final earthwork is completed by a trail machine in late Spring 2018, a final complete trail report will be prepared. It is a win-win situation that needs to be showcased: how an unsafe multiuse trail was entirely realigned and redesigned with full support of AERC riders, hikers, and mountain-bikers working together. A teachable future trail-report.
- Thehistoric Pony Express Trail in Eldorado National Forest was damaged in February 2017 by a severe landslide near the village of Kyburz, along the Highway 50 corridor. A small wooden horse bridge was destroyed by fast-moving landslide that carried hundreds of trees down a steep mountain gorge. A detailed report was prepared for use by the U.S. Forest Service and the National Pony Express Association. This is a developing situation, very complicated geologically, and a final report will be prepared after the bridge is rebuilt. Much depends on funding, because any horse bridge replacement will be expensive.
- Ajoint training session was held by the Backcountry Horsemen of California, Mother Lode Unit, on “Working with Packers and Packstock.” This seminar was for trail-crew leaders who might have one or two dozen maintenance crews in the wilderness, far from a trailhead. It was jointly for the Pacific Crest Trail Association, but also for the Tevis Trail Crew for AERC rides, and other equestrian groups. A report was written and sent to the AERC Trails and Land-Use Committee. We hope that this is eventually published in AERC “Extra” , our digital newsletter.
- The Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA), a heavily-used California State Park is the finish-line for the 100-mileTevisCup, and also the finish-line for the 50-mile AERC American River Classic. Thousands of equestrians use horse trails within ASRA on a weekly basis all year-long. The California State Park planners and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are in the midst of preparing an entirely new ASRA General Plan. This new General Plan will be the guiding policy for the next decade, so it is a one-time opportunity for equestrians to advocate for trail-maintenance and trail-safety (with no fast-moving mountain bikes on blind-turns with single-track trails coming into direct accidents with horses). If equestrians do not weigh-in at the General Plan, then safety hazards on trails will result.
In 2017, there were several public planning meeting held in the Auburn area that included hundreds of hikers, equestrians, river-rafters, and mountain bikers. Serving as the California State Trails Advocate, a five-page detailed report with 14 numbered paragraphs was prepared and submitted to California State Park and USBR planners. They were pleasantly surprised at the supportive written comments for equestrian safety, increased budgets for trail maintenance, and increased budgets for park ranger staff, in stark comparison with emotive verbal opinions from unhappy day-users of trails (that are entirely useless, since the annual trail-maintenance budgets are determined by the California State Legislature).
Some California State Parks in southern California appear to be charging AERC Ride Managers higher usage fees than in northern California. We will learn about these possible discrepancies, and hope to resolve the matter diplomatically. State park superintendents do not necessarily talk to each other about equestrian usage fees. We will have a follow-up report on this for AERC management.
Respectfully submitted, Robert H. Sydnor,
AERC Trail Master
AERC California State Trails Advocate
AERC national committee on Trails & Land Management
Backcountry Horsemen of California, Mother Lode Unit
Western States Trail Foundation, Tevis Ride Committee
Phylicia Mann AERC Colorado State Trail Advocate
Colorado is home to some of the most breathtaking multi-use trails.
We have National Parks, Wildlife Preserves, State Parks and local trails.
There are extensive interconnected trails that are maintained by multiple agencies and the cooperation levels seem to be above average.
Colorado is a very active outdoor use community. Most of the trails are multi-use where mountain bikes, hikers and equestrians use the same trail systems. My experience has been very positive with the trail etiquette being mostly observed. There may be opportunities for continued education as trails here can get busy.
The trails are generally well marked on state, or federally controlled lands. Maps are generally available on State and National Parks lands as well as Wilderness Preserves. Online access is also available for map viewing and any closures that may be in effect.
Roxanne Winslow AERC Connecticut State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
No State Trail Advocate
Truman Prevatt AERC Florida State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Meredith Evans AERC Georgia State Trail Advocate
I informed SE and members at large of the AERC of trail workdays and opportunities to make our voices heard on various local trail issues, including workdays and meetings for proposed trail development and use. I networked via email and in person with members of the Friends of Garland Mountain and the Backcountry Horseman chapter in my area to promote the use of horse friendly trails.
In April, I attended the Georgia Trail Summit and attended workshops on topics of trail maintenance and multi-use trail development and management.
Throughout the year, I volunteered at trail work days in my area.
In 2018, I hope to continue to provide information to the AERC community by keeping in touch with local trail issues and opportunities to increase the amount of trails available, not just for endurance riders, but for all equine trail enthusiasts.
No State Trail Advocate
Jill Haunold AERC Idaho State Trail Advocate
My first official “act” as an advocate was rather daunting. I received an email, not from my local club, but a forward from another area, regarding a request for volunteers to join a committee for an area specifically on the development of new equestrian trails that happens to be adjacent to my property. I responded and CCed the club president and volunteered as the new AERC Idaho Trails Advocate. I was told by the person who put out the original email, a long time AERC member, that essentially this was none of my or the AERC’s business. I did not respond. However, the club president, the original person who posted the email, and others have subsequently apologized. I was not invited on the committee and I have received no other correspondence on this particular issue. Although, I am following.
I have reached out and given my AERC Trails Advocate card to the head of over 200 miles of the local multi-use trails, Ridge to Rivers, Dave Gordon. He knows me from being on the Ridge to Rivers strategic plan committee two years ago.
I have attended the fundraiser for and donated to the Idaho Conservation Voters and the Public Lands Rally at the Idaho State Capital last spring.
On another note, my husband invited Randy Rasmussen to speak at our national specialty outdoor retailers buying consortium, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. He was well received in a group of approximately 1100.
I attended an all day meeting for the Idaho BLM RAC meeting in November. This meeting was for all of Idaho but mostly discussed Southern Idaho trails that in part have been used for AERC sanctioned events including National Distance Championships. They also discussed the burns in that area, trail closures and re-opening and the Wild horses. AERC member Karen Steenhoff was the meeting chair for this committee meeting.
I have written my Congressmen on Public Lands and trails issues including not opening Wilderness to bicycles.
I believe I am personally more effective on a larger Statewide lobbying advocate scale rather than at the trail builder scale.
I hope to continue to learn how to be the most effective as an AERC Trails Advocate in 2018.
Kathy Torgesen AERC Illinois State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Sue Keith AERC Indiana State Trail Advocate
Once again, Indiana volunteers from Horse Trails Advocacy groups, AERC members, Daniel Boone Distance Riders, Friends of Clark & Deam Horse Trails, Indiana Trail Riders Association and Hoosier Back Country Horsemen were hard at work in 2017 cleaning, cutting out, repairing and ,building sustainable horse trails, creek crossing, and cleaning horse campgrounds.
These groups have been building good working relationships with the property managers for many years. The groups not only do the talk, they walk the walk with donated funds and volunteering as helpful partners on trail maintenance.
The work done by AERC members , Daniel Boone Distance Riders and with funding from an AERC Trails Grant on the Dry Fork loop in Deam Lake Recreational Area have two phases completed with two switch back hills sustainably repaired, and work on another hill to be used to harden the last creek crossing this spring. This project has so far taken over 900 volunteer hours . AERC riders used this trail last fall riding Spook Run Endurance Ride. All the feed back was so positive, riders enjoyed riding this very technical beautiful trail and they were thankful for all the work done on that trail.
Friends of Clark/Deam Horse Trails, this group is dedicated to maintenance and restoration of the 100 mile trail system. Volunteers from this group also worked on the Dry Fork Loop Project and donated some funding. The group has 390 members on its Facebook page. The 3rd annual fall fundraiser pitch-in and silent auction once again was a big success. Over 100 people attended with $3,640.00 raised going into the trails fund.
Indiana Trail Riders Association is the oldest trail group in Indiana. It has 500 family memberships with the purpose to promote trail riding and is involved on the local ,state and national levels to improve horse trails and campgrounds.
This spring ITRA purchased a skid steer. It has been used for draining mud holes and filling in around culverts at the work days in Brown County State Park. Spring 2017 brought a heavy rain storm with 85 mile hour winds to Brown County State Park. The campground was covered with tree limbs and all the horse trails were impassable with large trees blocking them. ITRA had many work days helping the DNR to clear the trails and clean the campground. Not all the trails are cleared to this day. The number of trees down and damage to the trails is overwhelming. On one work day in August volunteers got trails 2 and 5 open with 5 chainsaws, 11 tanks of fuel and 7 hours of work. The same day Trail 17 had a draft horse team working with 4 chain saws to open it, but with 6 hours work there were just too many trees. This was just one work day. There were others in September and November.
I want to give you comments from the DNR. “ITRA members are a greatly effective and dedicated trail group. This has to be one of the best and largest efforts I’ve seen yet. Thank you to all involved. We greatly appreciate all you have done. “Kevin Snyder, Assistant Property Manager, Brown Country State Park. “We definitely appreciated the work of the ITRA members, not only on their big work weekends, but throughout the year, you can sure pull together a good team of folks!” Doug Baird, Property Manager, Brown County State Park. “ Impressive…thanks!! Many thanks for the passion and commitment of your membership! It is humbling to see how these folks give of their time, talent and resources!” Terry Coleman, Assistant Director, State Parks.
ITRA also has spring and fall fundraisers in O’Bannon Woods State Park and these weekends are also work days along with work days throughout the year. I wanted to give Ranger Bob Sawtelle, Park Manager comments working with ITRA members for some 20 years. “ ITRA continues to have a great impact on “getting the job done” at O’Bannon Woods State Park and Harrison Crawford State Forest. The volunteers are making real improvements to our campgrounds and horse trails. I personally and professionally look forward to each work session. It does make a difference. 30,000 acres of recreational space seems like a lot, but when you count the different users groups competing for their distinct use of the resource, the space available shrinks pretty fast. User groups include horse riders, wagon drivers, mountain bikers, backpackers, day hikers, exercisers, trail runners and hunters. It is true we give more of our attention to those that volunteer and physically help at the Park and Forest. Volunteers are truly appreciated.”
Hoosier Back County Horsemen help maintain trails in the Hoosier National Forest and the Charles Deam Wilderness. They held work days working with the Forest Service on trail maintenance on German Ridge trails, Hickory Ridge trail system ending at Young’s Creek, rerouted a trail out of Shirley Creek Campgrounds and hauling gravel with HNF mules in Charles Deam Wilderness trails.
With all the great volunteer work being done on Indiana horse trails , I want to put in perspective how old the volunteers are — most all are 60 + years with a few under in age and how important it is for the future of our trails to get the next generation involved. I would think this would come through educating them about sustainable use of trails and taking the time to come up with creative ideas to get them excited about the beauty of nature and the great outdoors on our trails.
Connie Hoge AERC Iowa State Trail Advocate
My first year back in my home state has been busy, but I’ve now faced the fact that trails are next to non-existent within any distance less than 50-miles from our home. There are no AERC rides within the state. There are maybe a handful of riders who belong to the AERC & I have only met & ridden with my friend from WA, who lives closest. Endurance is not a sport that is well recognized, in a state that’s predominately agricultural. The interest isn’t here, nor the miles of trails needed for conditioning.
Riders belong to a variety of small organizations, “friends” of State Parks, or groups of riders from a certain locale. Winters are too cold, spring wet, trails are closed & summers very hot. Fall is the best riding season, so riders plan long vacations in other states. The parks with horse camping are usually full on weekends, riding is more of a social activity. Young riders compete at local horse shows.
I gave up my position as President of the SW Chapter of BCHIA, I wasn’t familiar enough with the state, the parks or the people to feel comfortable with that responsibility. I did accept the position of Chapter liaison for Waubonsie State Park, to coordinate trail-clearing days with the park Rangers. We had a very successful day cleaning the campground & clearing trail there in Aug.
Another huge difference in mind-set – is in how manure is managed. In WA, we prescribed to the “Leave-No-Trace” motto & hauled all manure home. Here – Equestrians arrive at a park & empty their trailers in the manure pits. It becomes the parks responsibility to haul it away. It’s an eyesore, smelly & contributes to the fly population. This seems an unnecessary expense, dollars that could be put to better use maintaining or expanding the parks.
In September, I met with the Ranger at Pierce Creek Recreation Area, near Essex, to hike through the stand of timber & lay out a new trail. In November, our Chapter of BCH spent a day following the ribbons we’d put in & cutting the trail through. We felt that this was a huge accomplishment – the trail will be about a mile long.
My husband took a position with the Mills County Trails Board & we attend those monthly meetings, where I keep informed on our few local bike & pedestrian trails. Equestrian access on the Wabash Trail is frowned upon. The volunteer Board that supervises the maintenance on that trail is dominated by bike users. When we visited their meeting early in the year, our presence was not welcome & we were not invited back. I do believe that the original master plan for the trail included a ten-mile section from Council Bluffs to Mineola.
Since this is the closest trail-head to my home, I park in the public parking area with my small horse trailer & have ridden the north end six-miles SW to a rest area at Margaritaville. There are hitching posts, though bike racks have severely limited the space to tie a horse. My husband & I have walked further south & there was originally a horse trail the rest of 4-miles to Mineola, but it’s been abandoned & would need many man-hours of work to re-open. The side trail for Equestrians is to be shared with mountain bike users. With blind hills & corners, it becomes unsafe for any but the most bomb proof horses. This trail too is only open seasonally – when the limestone surface is dry enough for the bikes.
The other excuse I’ve heard often is that the soils in the Loess Hills area of Iowa, are so erosive that they are not conducive to horse trails. Though there has recently been a huge tract of land purchased by a consortium that includes the Nature Conservancy – all possibility of horse trails there has been defeated.
I’m attending the Loess Hills Missouri River Parks to People Region Announcement tomorrow in Council Bluffs. The state Governor will address the future of the three-county region. Introducing the community led comprehensive plan for three of our counties. It will include parks, trails & cultural assets available to enhance economic & community vitality. This truly seems like too little too late.
To ride 400-miles this season, I drove 4,000 on the road. I’ve found this disheartening. Equestrian trail advocacy here is geared more toward keeping existing horse trails in the state parks from being overrun by other, growing user groups. Volunteering hours for trail-clearing & park upkeep is the most successful option available.
Erin Glassman AERC Kansas State Trail Advocate
2017 Kansas State Trail Advocacy report
I assumed the position of Kansas State trail advocate this fall. Currently in Kansas we are working to get horse access to the Rails to Trails areas that are being developed. I am working on finding out more on that situation. I attended the fall Back Country Horsemen of Kansas meeting in the capacity of Vice Chair and South Central representative although I have done a majority of my trail work hours at Kanopolis. Discussion is being held about re-dividing the regions or restructuring the organization to better obtain and work with membership. It is very likely unless another person steps up that I will run for the Chair position in the upcoming spring elections within the organization. I have forwarded emails that were passed on to the KS membership regarding trail hours and also information regarding working relationships with our state parks. I am planning on meeting with the head of Kansas State Wildlife and Parks and possibly some trail representatives from different parks on January 18th and will try to do a write up of the results of that meeting. I am hoping it will be the first of many. I will be working on learning further issues, both good and areas that need work in the upcoming year for my state.
Greg Jones AERC Kentucky State Trail Advocate
Trail efforts in Kentucky continue to be primarily managed by Back Country Horsemen Chapters. KY-BCH has seen some growth in some areas. There has also been some expansion of private enterprises in Kentucky serving the equine trail community.
Most of the efforts in the State have been small local maintenance projects. The kind of efforts that are the backbone of keeping trails open.
There is an ongoing conflict between horsemen and Carter Caves State Park over their reservation system which has been exploited to exclude people with horses from the designated horse camp area. Although an agreement had been reached which should have resolved the problem, the State Park did not deliver on the agreement. This problem has escalated to the State government level and to involving a wider segment of the equine industry. It is expected to be a major part of our 2018 efforts as we seek to have the State direct that all State Parks follow the existing policy that some Parks have used for years and which have worked fine with no complaints from from equestrians, non-equestrians or Park management.
Maranda Bibb AERC Louisiana State Trail Advocate
I contacted a local park agency BREC to further discuss the new equestrian trails located near my home. There are safety concerns that I wanted to help get resolved. Communication is difficult at best with them. Nothing has been resolved as of yet.
We are trying to get a local wildlife management area to allow us to mark trails for better equestrian usage. Also a government agency so that’s slow.
I’ve again sent my business card and letter out to local areas with trails access. Nothing has come of that as of yet.
We do have interest in holding a ride at a local Forest, but it is in Mississippi and I am unable to get very far with getting a permit. I plan to discuss this with another RM in MS.
We did lose some riding land which is unfortunate, as revenue for hunting leases seems more lucrative.
Here’s to a better year.
No State Trail Advocate
No State Trail Advocate
Christie Lawyer AERC Massachusetts State Trail Advocate
Last April I attended the AERC sponsored trail master clinic hosted by Tina Zinatto in PA. IT WAS AMAZING! And it was true what Mike Riter of Trail Design Specialists told us at the beginning of our 4 dayseminar, I can never look at a trail again and not see it as a project to improve for sustainability and function! I highly recommend this course! I look forward to helping others who ask for guidance in maintaining,improving or designing new trails and trail structures:))))
I attended meetings of the Friends of Myles Standish State Forest, Carver MA for two years as a board member to pave the way with good will for a new endurance ride. The ride was success and is now scheduled again for this April and will be a yearly event.
Many hours were spent clearing trails for this event as 10 years had elapsed since the state ended its trail maintenance program. I did not keep an official tally of time but several individuals, including myself, trimmed overhanging tree limbs, brushed back scrub and removed a lot of deadfall for quite a few weekends! It made a huge improvement to the most popular horse trails.
Becca Grams AERC Michigan State Trail Advocate
Not much has been happening here. DNR people are changing places so have to get used to new people.
That being said, going to a Back Country Horse Meeting with someone who is dealing with trails in Michigan. Will learn more and see how to deal with state and federal
Candi Barbo AERC Minnesota State Trail Advocate
Finally, after 7 years of organizing, planning, fundraising, our trail organization, Duluth Area Horse Trail Alliance was able to break ground in September. We were able to start with an almost 5 mile stretch of trail that will be designated for horses during the summer/fall months. The trail is located in the city of Duluth Mn in the Magney/Snively State Park. We are now working on our next phase which will connect to Jay Cooke State Park and a horse campground between the two parks. It will be a very beautiful, scenic trail.
Melissa Woicek AERC Mississippi State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Lisa Guiffrida AERC Missouri State Trail Advocate
I forwarded emails to other trail riders in the state of work days and other information, helped on trails local to the barn where I board, and tried to take a trail master class but it was cancelled.
Julie Muscutt AERC Montana State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
No State Trail Advocate
Tami Rougeau AERC Nevada State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Ruth Ferland AERC New Hampshire State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Donna Smith Curtin AERC New Jersey State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Deirdre Monroe AERC New Mexico State Trail Advocate
(2017) I have (below) provided some info on what has been happening in New Mexico on trails. Please select what you think best fits the annual report.
- (Synopsis) This last year (2017) I donated 377 hours and drove 2188 miles for volunteer (trail) work, primarily for the San Pedro Parks Wilderness project. I initiated and lead AERC and BCH volunteers, the NM Mounted SAR, Los Alamos SAR, and others in conducting trail validation, mapping, trail clearing, and new sign installation efforts in the San Pedro Wilderness. This work was coordinated with and approved by the USFS Española Ranger Office. Work will continue this next summer and should be largely completed in 2018. The USFS has said that more has been accomplished in the San Pedro Wilderness this summer than in the past 20 years. I will be getting a Forest Service recognition award (presumably for this work) on January 20, 2018. The Forest Service has (and this was awfully nice) called me a “power volunteer.”
- San Pedro Parks Wilderness (USFS)
◦ (Crowd-sourced mapping and trail work) In 2016 I initiated a project with the USFS, local BCH chapters, AERC, other horse groups, and seach-and-rescue organizations to conduct a trail validation and mapping effort in the San Pedro Wilderness (in Northern NM). Trail maps in this area have been notoriously inaccurate and it is more than a little easy to get thoroughly lost. I have led this effort as far as coordinating with the USFS, volunteer organization, gathering GPX trail files, trail recon, generating draft maps and sharing this information with both the volunteers and the Española Ranger District. The FS has been delighted that we could assist in this effort. I have built draft, working maps that have been used in coordinating volunteers, trail clearing, and (by the USFS) in prioritizing trail work for 2018. Our initial deliverable has been to provide updated gpx files for the Forest Service, which has been completed. Details follow.
▪ A spring 2017 GPX class was taught by Karen Dennison, President of the Northern NM Horseman’s Association. This summer we then not only validated trails (which required both work on the ground, mapping analysis, and resolution of various mapping mysteries) but also worked with the BCH to clear trail and to direct BCH trail clearing crews.
▪ I worked with the USFS to provide five new trail signs for the San Pedro Wilderness; these have been installed by the BCH. Another sign was placed by AERC members Debbie and Bob Bulcock.
▪ I maintain a “San Pedro Trail Validation and Mapping” Facebook page to disseminate information and coordinate volunteer activities in the San Pedro Wilderness. https://www.facebook.com/groups/116480335533734/requests/
▪ Additional work is required for trail clearing, recon on motorized access roads (some of which are good trails), and location of perennial water sources. I may well produce a commercial map of the wilderness; this will require coordination wth the Forest Service and discussion of proper distribution of profits (as to a non-profit) so as to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest.
- Caja del Rio (USFS)
◦ I maintain a “Friends of the Caja del Rio” Facebook page to disseminate information and build participation in the Caja portion of the Santa Fe National Forest. https://www.facebook.com/groups/CajaFriends/
◦ Our 2017 work in the Caja del Rio included installation of seven new gates through a 3K AERC grant. This work was part of a trails update that appeared in Endurance News.
◦ As of late 2016, portions of the Caja del Rio (trails and trailhead) have been incorporated into the El Camino Real de Tierra de Adentro National Historical Trail. This trail will connect Santa Fe with the Rio Grande along the historical Camino Real. The Caja trailhead was developed through a 2007 RTP grant and with AERC volunteer participation.
- (Santa Fe County and State of NM) I keep abreast of and post information about local issues, draft RTP grant proposals, and participate in trail planning. I interact with SF County planners, especially with respect to the Caja and trail opportunities on County Land.
◦ My name was solicited for the Santa Fe County Open Space Land and Trails Committee, an advisory group on planning and building local Santa Fe trails. Although not selected, this has led to better connection with multiple other local horse groups, such as the Santa fe Horse Council.
◦ Since 2018 I have been a member of the Rio Grande Trail Commission’s “Alignment Working Group.” The Rio Grande Commission has been funded by New Mexico to begin planning and identification of portions of a State-wide Rio Grande Trail. An RFP has been released. There is good local support for Caja del Rio trails to become a segment of this trail in the Santa Fe area. Potential contractors are required to assess different potential trail locations; I have supplied a map of Caja del Rio trails to ensure contractors are aware of the trail network that is already established and that is located on Federally-managed lands. I believe that our trail mapping efforts (Caja del Rio map, 2014) will be key in ensuring that the Caja becomes a portion of this trail.
(2016) I was selected September 9, 2016 as the NM State Trails Advocate. Since that time, I have attended multiple meetings with the Forest Service (Española Ranger District), BLM, Santa Fe County Trail Advisory group, local mountain bike riders, New Mexico Horse Council, Back Country Horsemen, and Northern New Mexico Horsemen. I also participate in the Los Alamos National Laboratory Trails Working Group. At those meetings I provide information about AERC, endurance riders and their involvement in trails (as well as competition), and build bridges with other trail user groups.
Info from the BCH Santa Fe Chapter President, Joan Lattner
Mapping San Pedro Parks Wilderness Project
San Pedro Parks lies within the westernmost part of Santa Fe National Forest, just a few miles northeast of Cuba, NM. It occupies approximately 64 sq. mi. as a rough rectangle seven miles (east-west) by ten miles (north-south). The middle Wilderness (about 5 x 6 miles) is a large plateau of rolling trees and meadows, but trails leading up to the plateau can be steep and rough. Elevations range between 8300 feet – 10,200 feet.
San Pedro Parks was declared a Forest Service Primitive Area in 1931 and adopted by Congress as a Wilderness in 1965.
Access points: There are about a dozen access trails from each side of the Wilderness, but by far the easiest entrances are from the south (San Gregorio Trailhead) and east (Resumidero and Rio Puerco Trailheads). Trailheads elsewhere involve steep hikes to reach the Wilderness boundary, and trailhead roads may be very difficult.
There are about 120 miles of official, designated trails within or leading into SPPW. Santa Fe National Forest is required to maintain an accurate inventory of trails, yet they don’t have the resources to do that well. Trails were last verified by a SFNF ranger using GPS about 10 years ago (2005?). Prior to that the official Wilderness map was 25 years old (published in 1976). Deadfall, erosion, and use by wildlife, cattle and humans has lead to possible trail “drift” or blockage of trails to recreation use.
Back Country Horsemen of America-Santa Fe is proposing to spearhead a project to validate the existing, official trails in San Pedro Parks Wilderness using volunteers. This is in coordination and cooperation with Santa Fe National Forest. The proposal has been made to SFNF and has been received very well; steps are being taken to make it a formal agreement.
Because access points are rough and/or limited, equestrians may be best positioned to cover the mileage required for GPS verification. It will still require considerable time and effort. Packing in may be the most efficient approach for some trail areas. For reliability, multiple GPS traces are preferable to single traces. Because of the project’s scope, this will need to be a coalition effort–not only Back Country Horsemen, butmembers of other groups.
Deirdre Monroe, BCHA project manager, will coordinate volunteer efforts and compile the data collected. As she will have the overview of gaps in the data, she will need to assign trail sections, etc. to be validated. Matching personnel to needs will be a challenge for her. Volunteers can make it easier for her by becoming competent with recording tools, honoring availability commitments, and keeping the mapping goal as top priority (not trail clearing, or recreational riding).
Thank you Karen and Deidra for your dedication and willingness to see us through this meaningful project.
Remember, it takes a village!
President, Santa Fe Chapter Back Country Horseman
Holly Menino Bailey AERC New York State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Stith Gower AERC North Carolina State Trail Advocate
Angie Mikkelson AERC North Dakota State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Mollie Krumlaw-Smith AERC Ohio State Trail Advocate
This year, focus on trails has been made in conjunction with the Ohio Horseman’s Council (OHC), Southern Ohio Trail Association (SOTA), and the Elkins Creek Horse Camp.
Areas of particular interest received the most attention:
- Wayne National Forest, Ironton District. Two endurance rides are held here every year. They are Black Sheep Boogie and Gobble ‘Till You Wobble. Two AERC grants have been awarded to shore the trail system to a sustainable trail system capable of 100-mile events. An award of $5000 on 09.14.15 was granted and fulfilled. Another award of $3000 was granted on 09.11.17. The work planned for this includes the Kimble Loop Trail. This work is important in that it will open the current trail system to a good location for an away hold. It will enable access to an entire trail system (Lake Vesuvius) whichwould open us up to an interesting 100-mile event. This work closely aligns the Forest Service with AERC for this project.
- East Fork State Park, Clermont County. A new ride, The Twisted Witch, was started here this year. It included a 75! Having a ride there pointed out the trail sections that should be addressed. AERC riders also use this place for conditioning. It is around a lake, and there is lots of water management in order. AERC in conjunction with SOTA and the park system are in the discussion phase of a multi-purposetrail whichwould greatly benefit several user groups. There are a couple of muddytwo mile stretches which would link dry sections to other dry sections. If the focus is to start with these areas, it would be a strategy to build off of for future work. This place has a lot of potential.
- Alum Creek State Park. AERC members work regularly here in conjunction with OHC, Delaware Chapter. Although it is not a trail system hosting a ride, AERC members do condition there, and give back in helping with trail maintenance in this park.
- Caesar Creek State Park. A trail revamping is underway for this system. AERC members are involved here as well, as this is the site of a CTR sponsored by distance affiliate group Ohio Arab and All Breed Trail Society (OAATS).
This year we have also become acquainted with OHC, Geauga Chapter. This is also early in the discussion phase, but key connectors joining various trail systems in the area would greatly expand trail available from two or three 3-7 mile areas to well north of 25 miles. The trail system used in Metropark Express near Ann Arbor, MI is a model for this.
Semi-related: Geauga OHC is also interested in an intro to endurance presentation, which will be done before May 2018.
Ann McFarland AERC Oklahoma State Trail Advocate
As the AERC Oklahoma State Trail Advocate I have worked closely with my local trail groups to help maintain our equestrian trails. Early in the year I helped the OETRA Trail Ambassador for Sportsman Lake, Deanna Hamilton, to reroute sections of trail at Sportsman Lake due to erosion.
As the current OETRA Trail Ambassador for Prague Lake, I have coordinated with the Ranger and the City of Prague to improve trails at Prague Lake. I have added directional trail markings for better navigation of the trails.
Due to my interest in Rails to Trails I have been researching possible abandoned railroad tracks in Oklahoma for possible use for equestrians. I have made contact with Jim Hatt of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, he directed me to the Union Pacific Railroad regarding a specific area of track that I am requesting information on and I have been waiting on a response back.
I am still hoping to help coordinate a Oklahoma Back Country Horseman chapter sometime soon
Jeff Tyrens AERC Oregon State Trail Advocate
Jeff Tryens was named the Oregon State Trails Advocate in late December. As someone relatively new to endurance, his first task will be to find out from Oregon AERC members what their most pressing trail issues are through conducting a statewide e-survey of members. Also, he has organized a trails panel at the Pacific Northwest Endurance Rides (PNER) annual convention in January to explore avenues for putting Oregon’s equine trails on better footing, both literally and figuratively. Jeff intends to work closely with trail advocates from other organizations to provide additional opportunities for AERC members to become more involved in equine trail maintenance and advocacy.
Jim Theurer AERC Pennsylvania State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Roxanne Winslow AERC Rhode Island State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Vance Stine AERC South Carolina State Trail Advocate
We have a new (opened in 2017) 17 mile CCC Loop Trail at Kings Mountain State Park in Blacksburg, SC. This trail was built and paid for by volunteers and members of the Friends of Kings Mountain State Park. The trail was made possible by preserving entrance markers to the CCC Camps that built Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park in the late 1930s. This trail addition made it possible to host an endurance ride and ride and tie event, Take No Prisoners. The volunteer group, Friends of Kings Mountain State Park, also hopes to enlarge the equestrian campground and put in power and water, with the participation of the State of South Carolina. There has also been equestrian trail work done at Woods Ferry Recreation Area in Union, SC. Woods Ferry is part of the Sumter National Forest, located along the Broad River, and is a great place to ride. Currently there are 6 endurance rides per year held in South Carolina. We hope to have continued conversations with the National Park Service about more mixed use on existing trails to provide more equestrian use of trails.
Kerry Greear AERC South Dakota State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Patty Bass AERC Tennessee State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted (just took the position last week)
Kristen Fisher AERC Texas State Trail Advocate
Since the City of Corinth decided not to renew their agreement with the USACE for the ‘Elm Fork’ portion of trail around Lake Lewisville, it has been being maintained to an extent by local citizens who took a personal interest. As Vice President of the non-profit trails organization Cross Timbers Equestrian Trails Association [CTETA], I have been trying to coordinate these citizens with the group. CTETA continues to donate funding to several trail maintenance and improvement efforts around Corps properties [Lake Lewisville, Lay Ray Roberts, Lake Grapevine] and LBJ National Grasslands in Decatur, TX.
Anna Marie McNamer AERC Utah State Trail Advocate
Accumulate contact information and contact local organizations, contacts within the AERC, and individuals who may be helpful; create a mailing list to introduce myself; and, record developments and projects for future AERC Trail advocates to use as a template. Make contact with groups and divide my helpers by their area/location and expertise. Use the MRER Facebook page and an email chain to reach out to all Utah Endurance Riders. Send letter to AERC RM’s requesting projects ideas. Calendar a list of needs and dates. Post “Free Park Days” posters for 2018 on Facebook and in Email chains. Complete a GoogleSurvey of all AERC Members in my state regarding projects. Contact appropriate local, state, and federal officials to inform them of the positive contribution by the AERC. Plan plan a trail work and ride day, horse/bike interaction day, and trail etiquette education day. Work with BCHM to put in more signs regarding trail etiquette at Antelope Island and reach out to various organizations to discuss how to better mediate equine/canine encounters.
Chelle Grald AERC Vermont State Trail Advocate
Mary Howell AERC Virginia State Trail Advocate
2017 Virginia Trail report – information provided by AERC member Nancy Sluys who manages the Iron Mountain ride held each August on portions of the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail:
Several AERC members, including Tom & Gina Hagis, Nancy Sluys and Holly Schenk (whose main residence in AERC’s Southeast Region) belong to the Virginia Highlands chapter of the Back Country Horsemen. This chapter logged 1,074 hours with the U.S. Forest Service in 2017. Mary Howell note: I reminded the AERC members in this group to log trail maintenance (not trail marking) hours on the AERC site as well.
Nancy writes: “We had a number of trail work days improving conditions on trails used for the Iron Mountain Jubilee endurance ride in August, as well as several trails not currently used for the ride.”
She adds “The Iron Mountain Jubilee raised over $1000.00 in 2017 for the BCHVH Trail Fund through the personal donations slot on the entry form and from proceeds from the ride.
The Mount Rogers Natural Resource Area in Virginia gained a new Ranger last year, and the before-named AERC members have met with him several times to cultivate a relationship.
Writes Nancy, “We feel he is receptive to our needs and our willingness to be part of the solution and look forward to what we can hopefully accomplish in the future. Sometime in the future we will be participating in a collaboration with other forest users on a project proposed by the new ranger. More on this later.”
Final comment from Nancy: “A number of years ago we initiated a project to improve a trailhead parking lot that is finally on the schedule of proposed acts due to be implemented during the winter of 2017-2018, although bad weather has delayed implementation. This area could be used as a future AERC vet check if needed.”
At this point we do not have a project planned that needs funds but we will be discussing that with the new Area Ranger this year since in addition to the possibility of AERC and SERA grants we also have a sizable trail fund we have been building with the help of the Iron Mountain Jubilee.
The Valley Divide Trail that we participated in the construction of is completed and in use. I have not had a chance to ride it yet but i hear it is nice.
That’s all I can think of right now. It is my intent to keep it public knowledge that endurance riders work on the trails in the Mt Rogers NRA.
Thanks and happy trails, Nancy Sluys
Joan Fleming AERC Washington State Trail Advocate
We (a group of non-motorized users) are building a new trail in the very popular DNR Capitol Forest trail system near the state Capitol of Olympia. This trail will be part of a non-motorized trail system that will bypass a section of trail popular with downhill mountain bikers. Many horseback riders avoid the trails in this area due to the speed of the mountain bikers. DNR gave us the go ahead to develop a bypass trail that will be off limits to downhill mountain bikers who will continue to use the existing section of trail. The trail will be open to all non-motorized users except the downhill mountain bikers who will be allowed to use the new trail for uphill riding. We hope to have the trail completed and in use by this summer.
Jenny Poling AERC West Virginia State Trail Advocate
No Report Submitted
Jon Wagner AERC Wisconsin State Trail Advocate
– This was my first year as a state trail advocate and as such I began the year by informing the numerous state horse groups, clubs and organizations of my appointment to the position and my availability to assist them.
– I have made contact with both local and regional organizations throughout the state including the Wisconsin Horse Council.
– In early summer I met with and helped the Waupaca County Forestry Dept. apply for a grant which was approved and used to re-furbish some old trail and trail amenities. In addition, while working with the county and a local horse group, we were able to secure a portion of trail that helped to increase available mileage to both trail riders and endurance riders looking for a place to condition their horses. A win-win for both groups.
– As a state trail advocate I was also able to present and encourage completion of Wisconsin’s recent ROA DNR Trails Use Survey at club meetings and at endurance rides I attended.
– I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Upper Midwest Endurance/Competitive Rides Association and as a State Trails advocate for AERC I have been able to renew interest and highlight our organizations need to support trail maintenance, protection and acquisition of new trail.
– For 2018 I will continue to make myself available to assist and support trail advocacy throughout the state. Work is scheduled for both the Southern and Northern Kettle Moraine Trails (access, trail maintenance and horse confinement are the major issues for 2018)
– Thank you to all of the Trail Advocates for the work you do. It is a privilege to be associated with you and AERC.
Vickie Hogen AERC Wyoming State Trail Advocate
January 2017 was spent attending Backcountry horseman meetings, Boy scout troop meetings and asking for help in clearing trails for the Big Horn 100 before our July 2017 ride.
February: I attended a Park County Peddlers meeting to ask about working with their group to help with their events if they would be willing to help us. Not much interest from the group.
Attended BCHM meeting and group said they would be happy to offer support and clear a section of trail for us.
Boy scout member agreed to take on a section of trail to clear as his Eagle Scout project. I coordinated with member to get all necessary maps, permit copies and anything else he needed to get his project approved.
March: Began contact with Sara Evans the FS trails manager for Big Horns. She offered to have a trail crew go thru a section and do some trail maintenance on a section that needed footing work done.
April /May were minimal in trails department.
June: Finalized all of Boy Scout project with Dallin Allred who was in charge of trail clearing project.
June 23 and 24th were our trail clearing day with Boy scouts. I went up and spent the night and we headed out at 6 am for a full 10 hours of trail clearing.
Back Country Horseman were unable to get into the area they needed due to mud and inaccessible roads.
I met with The Big Horn 100 trail run group out of Sheridan Wy. After running the 32 mile trail run I started communicating with that group. We have overlapping trail sections. This is a group who we really need to work well with. The trail run in July at Antelope Butte is the week after our Big Horn 100 ride and a week before our Antelope Butte ride. They use some of the same trails which makes flagging difficult if we don’t remove our flags or they don’t have theirs down. This is a really neat group of people who I wish our ride manager would work closely with. They also utilize a lot of local groups to help them with their trail run and if we could work with them I think they would be very open to helping us by volunteering at vet checks and so forth. As trail advocate I can only do so much. But this is a pretty neat group who is very open to helping us. They removed flags for us before their event because they had not been removed.