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Hike the Hill: Trails Advocacy Week
I'm delighted to see the discussion of trails on RideCamp,
particularly since it's Trails Advocacy Week. The American
Hiking Society (AHS) sponsored Hike the Hill this week, with
training in lobbying, as well as presentations by
representatives from the federal agencies that are
responsible for our national trails, parks, forests, etc
(National Parks Service, National Forest Service, BLM, OMB
I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment, it's going to take a
little time to absorb all the information presented. The
AHS is very welcoming to those of us from the horse world
and several attended including Connie Berto and Nancy
What stands out most of all to me is that this is a
complicated issue and will not be solved overnight. There
are huge funding problems -- our government does not have
enough money to fully fund every program. We have to
compete for every dollar. Not only that, but there are some
serious management and accounting problems within the
government agencies that will take time to fix. Add to that
the disagreements between users of forest and park lands
(hikers, bikers and riders).
I believe that we can reach compromises on the trails issue.
Not every trail is appropriate for horses. But that still
leaves many that are. What we have to do is work with other
users, compromise on sharing the trails, and be willing to
work to maintain them. We need to be careful in approaching
the government agencies and only use threats as a very last
I would strongly encourage everyone to take part in the
trails advocacy process. Connie Berto is looking for more
members on the AERC Trails Committee. Find out what the
conservation groups are doing in your area. Find out what
the other horse groups are doing in your area (the largest
number of equestrian trail users are pleasure trail riders).
I came away from Hike the Hill with a good feeling that many
positive changes are taking place. Most of our congressmen
are trying to help us preserve our trails. We've got a long
way to go though, and it's going to take all of us working
to accomplish our goals.
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