Discover the Purpose Behind Equine Land Conservation Resource
by Jennifer M. Keeler
The Equine Land Conservation Resource (ELCR) is becoming an increasingly familiar name to horse lovers across the country who are interested in conserving land for equestrian use. But what does our name really mean?
E = EQUINE
Whether an equestrian is involved in miniatures or Clydesdales, the horse is what brings everyone together on a common ground. At ELCR, we are concerned about the broad range of land issues that affect horse owners regardless of size, breed, and discipline. We ask the question, “Where will you ride, drive, compete, race, raise foals, and grow hay in the future?” The efforts and decisions made today can have a dramatic impact on the future of the horse pursuits we love. In order to help ensure that this future looks bright, we invite all horsemen to become aware of and active in land conservation activities in their local community. Each person’s involvement is an essential element in conserving equine hobby, sport, and industry.
L = LAND
Even as many horsemen today grow accustomed to mini-farms and fields surrounded by houses, there is no denying that the availability of open land is an essential resource for our hobby, sport, and industry. Quite simply, the loss of land for horse-related activities is the greatest threat to horse sport, industry and recreation in the United States. There is a serious need to take action to preserve land for equestrian use. In order to feed our nation’s nine million horses, it is estimated that at least 36 million acres of land are needed to support them, but across the country 6,000 acres of agricultural, forest and other lands are lost every single day. From its inception, ELCR has recognized that if equestrians are to be successful in the effort to stem the loss of open space, they must take two important steps: embrace a land conservation focus by educating themselves with regard to key issues and processes related to land conservation and make land conservation part of the mission of equestrian organizations.
C = CONSERVATION
Land is not a renewable resource, so conserving space for equine use is of critical importance. ELCR developed the “Conservation Partners” program, which provides concerned equine and equestrian organizations with a regular program of educational information, news, and advocacy alerts. ELCR’s Conservation Partners are comprised of conservation-minded organizations from various sectors of the horse world. A few include breeding, media, competition and discipline, equestrian parks and facilities, and land conservation and stewardship. In the past four years, ELCR has been instrumental in the conservation of 60,500 acres of farmland and 2,000 miles of trails. ELCR has begun development of a nationwide education and training program and host national and regional conferences, with the ultimate goal of placing an equine land conservation expert in every state.
R = RESOURCE
When a historic horse farm, open range, trail system, or hay fields are threatened by development, friends and neighbors may feel powerless and unsure of what to do or where to turn in order to preserve the equine land they treasure. This is where we can help. ELCR is an educational and networking resource for horsemen and communities which are facing encroaching development, trail closures, or property loss by helping them find the ways and means to be effective in their fight to preserve equine land. However, horsemen must realize that when the bulldozers appear it may already be too late, so the best strategy for conservation efforts is to be educated and proactive. ELCR has published several helpful guides to assist with specific circumstances. Our office staff is always available to answer questions, offer advice, and provide networking assistance. We maintain our website (www.elcr.org) and Facebook page with news updates and educational information of national, state and regional interest as well as share success stories from around the country.
Land loss, particularly for equine use, is a nationwide problem: without places to ride and keep horses, there will be no equestrian sport, recreation, or industry. There is hope, but solutions must involve individual action – no one is going to look out for the interests of horsemen except horsemen. Please help us save equestrian land. Our horses are counting on us.
For more information visit www.elcr.org
Published August 2012 Issue