by Sarah Wynne Jackson
Back Country Horsemen of America leads our quest to protect our right to ride horses on public lands with a lifestyle of volunteerism. Across the country, on any given day, Back Country Horsemen are donating their time, effort, skill, and resources to trail maintenance, responsible recreation education, community outreach, being our voice in public lands planning meetings, and so much more. It’s not surprising that others take notice.
Well Earned Praise
The hard-working Uinta Basin Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Utah was recently recognized by the state of Utah for their commitment to this standard of getting things done.
In July, UServeUtah of the Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism (UCSV) presented the Uinta Basin Chapter of Back Country Horseman of Utah the Power of Service Award, presented by Lieutenant Governor Spencer J Cox, Chris Bray of the Utah Nonprofits Association, and LaDawn Stoddard of UServeUtah. This award rewards exceptional dedication to on-going volunteer service, which is evident in Uinta Basin BCH’s recent history.
A Habit of Service
In February, 21 members of the Uinta Basin Chapter received UServeUtah Volunteer Recognition Certificates for their work in 2014. The UCSV awards Volunteer Recognition Certificates to Utah residents who demonstrate exemplary volunteer service to their community. Throughout the year, Uinta Basin BCH members cleared and maintained 43 miles of trails, donating 782 hours of service with a monetary value of $30,742. Even more remarkable is that this contribution is similar to the level of volunteerism of larger BCHU chapters.
The Uinta Chapter also received Volunteer Recognition Certificates in 2013 for their 883 volunteer hours with a monetary value of $36,763. Throughout the year, they worked with the Bureau of Land Management’s Vernal Office, the US Forest Service, managers at Ashley National Forest, and managers at Dinosaur National Monument.
Nominees for the Volunteer Recognition Certificate are automatically considered for the Power of Service Award, given three times a year to a volunteer who shows significant commitment to the overall well-being of the populations for which they serve.
Another Productive Year
This year, the Uinta Basin Back Country Horsemen have been busy with a variety of projects. They teamed up with the Canyonlands Chapter and Utah’s Department of Natural Resources to pick up and pack out camp trash left by careless recreationists in the majestic Book Cliffs Roadless Area.
Named for the cliffs of Cretaceous sandstones that appear similar to a shelf of books, this wild land is part of a mountain range nearly 200 miles long. The core of the region, a 48,000-acre tract of roadless land, is one of the largest unprotected back country areas in the west, and provides essential habitat to a variety of wildlife. The four-day, three-night cleanup trip featured heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and driving hail, but the Uinta Basin Chapter got the job done and left the stunning landscape cleaner and more pristine.
Seven Uinta Basin Chapter riders braved the heat to work near John Jarvie Ranch on the Bureau of Land Management’s Home Mountain Trail, to which the chapter donated over 200 hours re-opening in 2013. This year, they built rock cairns and added equestrian stickers and arrows to trail signs to help horseback riders enjoy their visit to the historic ranch. This 35-acre property with four original structures built in 1880, provides a glimpse of turn-of-the-century frontier life.
The Uinta Basin Back Country Horsemen adopted the overgrown Highline Trail in Ashley National Forest, from highway 191 to the Leidy Peak Trailhead in 2013. Since then, they have cleared from East Park Reservoir westward to Soldier Peak, Lost Park, and beyond. Horsemen removed 90 trees that were blocking this trail, rebuilt an erosion fence, and installed two water bars that had been diverted and washed out a portion of the trail. In one five mile section, they cut out 30 trees that had fallen across the trail. This challenge resulted in over 500 volunteer hours in 2013 alone.
The Highline Trail is the main east-west corridor across the High Uinta Mountains and stretches nearly 100 miles through Ashley National Forest. Much of the trail is above 10,000 feet elevation and has more above-the-tree-line terrain than any other range in the lower 48 states. Keeping the Highline Trail open is essential to maintaining recreation access to this unique land.
About Back Country Horsemen of America
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: www.bcha.org; 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!