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Tue, Dec. 10

Public can request access gate for equine riding, hiking

People who enjoy horseback riding or hiking on natural trails can request one of 10 hiker/equestrian access gates available for installation onto open land. The requests need to be received by June 30 to the Back Country Horsemen of Central Arizona, a local chapter of the national organization that recently received two RAC grants administrated through the Prescott National Forest.

The gates are designed to allow access for hikers and equestrians while preventing access by motorized vehicles. These gates are available to be installed within Yavapai County to provide access to open space, for purposes of riding or hiking, whether it is on the Prescott National Forest, state land, BLM or private land.

One grant is $5,000 for the 10 access gates, each of which require land management agency or land owner approval of placement that will allow non-motorized access, including equestrian, to their land.

Anyone can request a gate. There's no form, just email or letter; requests should be directed to Back Country Horsemen of Central Arizona, P.O. Box 4486, Chino Valley, AZ 86323, or email President@bchcaz.org.

The second grant is $3,425 to buy and install three corrals in campsites in the Groom Creek Horse Camp. With a matching three corrals bought by the Prescott National Forest, this finalizes installation of corrals at each campsite at the horse camp. Corrals are the safest means to contain horses and mules while camping and using corrals rather than high lines tied to trees reduces possible damage to the trees in addition to minimizing injury to horses and mules.

BCHCAZ will work with the requesting party and the Prescott National Forest to validate that requests meet the criteria and oversee and advise on the installation of the gates.

Back Country Horsemen of America is a non-profit organization dedicated to perpetuating the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America's back country and wilderness; working to insure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use; assisting the various government and private agencies in their maintenance and management of said resource, educating, encouraging and soliciting active participation in the wise use of the back country resource by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage.

RAC is the Resource Advisory Committee in Yavapai County, in Arizona, under provisions of Title II of the Secure Rural Schools Act of 2008

Twelve counties in Arizona elected to receive Title II funds for over $2.8 million in 2009 and continued amounts for the next three years to be used on a variety of projects on national forests.

The legislation required the Forest Service, to work with the counties, to establish Resource Advisory Committees (RAC) made up of defined, diverse, 15-member RACs with a formal Charter.  The Charter establishing the RACs will soon be approved by the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Forest Service is now recruiting RAC members. 

Back Country Horsemen of Central Arizona also received a RAC grant for

Trail riding is the fastest-growing equestrian sport. The Groom Creek Horse Camp is the only horse camp in the Prescott National Forest and attracts equestrian campers from throughout Arizona as well as states such as California.

Those requesting a gate will be charged with installing it too. BCHCAZ will need to do a site visit before a decision to provide a gate is done, and we will review it with the Prescott National Forest for their approval as well. BCHCAZ has installed several gates and will advise and oversee. We installed several gates at the request of Game & Fish and the Nature Conservancy along the Verde River. One is located at the top of the bluff overlooking the Game & Fish Park.  The gates must allow area equestrians access. They are not intended for personal private use. The land management agency or land owner must agree to the installation of the gate. Those requesting the gate need to obtain this approval before requesting a gate.

The gates are made in Chino Valley. I'm not sure of the name of the business who fabricates them for us and the Prescott National Forest. Our Projects VP is out of town today. I can get that information to you later. Anyway, if people have a place to ride, they're more likely to get a horse or stay involved in horses which is good for the local economy. A 2006 Yavapai College study on the economic impact equine in Yavapai County found it to be $389 million excluding the Rode and the Racetrack. Most local equestrians have a backyard horse and like to trail ride. It's money spent locally at feed stores, tack shops, truck and trailer sales , barn and fences and so on.  Gates have been locked in recent years to keep out motorize use or keep in cattle. Maybe this will help keep areas open for riding.

The organization gets the gates from Troy at Western Fence in Chino Valley. BCHCAZ came up with the specifications and had been making themselves until the

past year or so, and has been installing them in the Prescott National Forest.

People can find more information on Back Country Horsemen of Central Arizona on the club's website, www.bchcaz.org, and the club welcomes new members.

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