Back Country Horsemen of America defends our right to ride horses on public lands, and they also believe strongly in recreating responsibly, whether we ride horses, mountain bikes, or ATVs, or simply use our own two feet. Sadly, there are some folks who don’t feel the same respect for our wild lands. When they leave behind trash and discarded items, it tarnishes the pristine countryside and can create hazards for people, domestic animals and wildlife. BCHA members from coast to coast spend many hours every year cleaning up after litterbugs.
A Long-Term Commitment
Members of the Uintah Basin Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Utah recently spent a day cleaning up trash at Doc’s Beach. This Bureau of Land Management property in the northeast corner of Utah is a popular recreation site for horseback riders, ATV riders, hikers and shotgun shooters. But because it’s only a 15-minute drive from the city of Vernal, irresponsible people find it a convenient place to leave their garbage and other unwanted items.
Chapter members pulled on work gloves and in no time had loaded a refrigerator, kitchen stove, two recliners, and numerous smaller items into a borrowed trailer for proper disposal at the dump.
The BLM’s Vernal District has upgraded the Doc’s Beach site by installing a proper trailhead and bathrooms, and by improving the parking area. They’re currently in the process of designating trails on public land in and around Utah’s Uintah Basin, including the Doc’s Beach area.
Projects like this benefit all users who enjoy recreating there. As member Don Connolly said, “If everyone would leave the area a little better than they found it, we could all enjoy it more.” The Uintah Basin Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Utah is committed to helping keep Doc’s Beach clean, with an even more ambitious cleanup planned for National Public Lands Day in September.
Keeping Trails Beautiful for All to Enjoy
Five members of the Northeast Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Washington volunteered to help clean up discarded items in a large hobo camp near the Centennial Trail, which follows the Spokane River in Spokane, Washington.
City crews had bagged old camping gear, clothes and miscellaneous junk into 80-pound feed sacks donated by Justin Bag Company. The Northeast Chapter members loaded them onto four pack mules and hauled them up the steep riverbank trail. After one full day of many round trips, they had hauled a total of around 1,500 pounds of bagged garbage.
This project was completed in association with the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the City of Spokane Park and Recreation Department, the City of Spokane Valley, and Spokane County Park and Recreation Department.
The Northeast Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Washington was pleased to assist in this project, which focused on an area where equestrian recreation isn’t allowed. Their involvement demonstrates a desire to improve trails for all users and the value of pack animals in accomplishing that goal.
Whatever the Mess, They Clean it Up
The Canyon Country Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Utah picked up trash from over 38 miles of trail in the Dixie National Forest, packing out 450 pounds of rubbish. This work was completed for the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
This ambitious BCH chapter also cleaned up the ashes and debris that remained after a fire had destroyed the historic Cowpuncher Cabin and outbuildings in the Dixie National Forest. In coordination with the US Forest Service, a dozen members armed with shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, trash cans and numerous extra heavy-duty trash bags volunteered several hours of their time cleaning the area.
The Cowpuncher Cabin site is just off Hells Backbone Road 20 miles northeast of the town of Escalante in southern Utah. It’s surrounded by trails, including the Great Western Trail, which offer abundant opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. After the vicinity was cleaned by the Canyon Country Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Utah, the US Forest Service was able to replace the cabin with a 20-foot diameter yurt.
BCHA is dedicated to the responsible use of public lands, which means leaving no trace of your visit–unless you leave it cleaner than you found it, that is! Back Country Horsemen of America encourages all trail users to pack out everything they bring in, keeping our countryside beautiful for all to enjoy. BCHA is a non-profit corporation made up of state organizations, affiliates, and at-large members. Their efforts have brought about positive changes regarding the use of horses and stock in wilderness and public lands. If you want to know more about Back Country Horsemen of America or become a member, visit their website at www.backcountryhorse.com; call 888-893-5161; or write PO Box 1367, Graham, WA 98338-1367. The future of horse use on public lands is in our hands!