Trail riders are often concerned about what our public land management agencies are doing with their time and money. This is especially true when they seem not to be giving us adequate attention, or the attention we want and feel we deserve. While I have been substantially upset with some agency offices on several occasions regarding how they were handling horse trail issues, I also know that all land management agencies face numerous natural resource concerns. Understanding these issues will help riders develop and maintain positive relationships with their land managers.
In our efforts to stimulate and enhance conservation awareness among equestrian trail riders, it will be important to call riders’ attention to natural resource management issues that the agencies are statutorily mandated to deal with at a high priority level. All of our National Forest and National Park lands were set aside first and foremost for natural and cultural resource protection. This is also true of our National Wildlife Refuges. The trend in management of Bureau of Land Management lands is in the resource protection direction and taken there either by modern federal statutes or administrative rule making.
For the most part, articles we will present will deal with emerging problems, but some will be about continuing old issues. New issues will deal mostly with emerging forest health problems with exotic plant, insect and disease introductions and spread, but also with things like federal budget issues, National Forest management planning, Wilderness and roadless area designations and timber management. All of these issues are highly pertinent to trail management programs.
Finally, unfortunately, much of the reporting we will do in these articles will have a “doom and gloom” complexion. Things are what they are, and we need to face realities. On the other hand, there will articles that should bring a smile such as when we write about the restoration of the American chestnut tree to the eastern hardwood forests, and longleaf pine ecosystem restoration. We want riders to become as familiar with the management issues inherent to the places they ride and the agencies that manage those places as they are with the communities in which they live. Our goal is to assist equestrians to be part of the solution going forward.