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Hoosier Back Country Horsemen Celebrate A Year of Accomplishments in 2007

Graham WA: Members of the Hoosier Back Country Horsemen (HBCH) have a lot to celebrate as they look back on a year of enormous accomplishments in 2007. Not only did they become an official chapter of Back Country Horsemen of America complete with a new website, many individuals within the newly formed group went the extra mile to become certified in the use of chainsaws, CPR, AED, trail design and maintenance, and crew leadership. These skills were put to good use as the group hit the back country to take on a variety of trail projects beginning in the early spring of 2007 in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness area located within the Hoosier National Forest.

HBCH picked this particular site to begin its work because it was in immediate need of repair from erosion caused by water damage from a nearby spring. Since the Hoosier Hikers Council had identified this part of the trail as particularly vulnerable to damage from horse traffic, HBCH decided that, with its expertise in trail design and maintenance, it was just the group to resolve the problem. They began work a few days before the May 4thTake Pride in America Day by removing muddy soil and digging drainage channels to move flowing water away from the trail. The Forest Service also pitched in by providing large rocks and road mat that would provide a solid base for the trail.

On May 4th, volunteers both young and old, along with a handful of pack horses, mules, and several canine assistants, arrived to offer their help with the project knowing that hard work lay ahead as the section of trail is located on a switchback. Undeterred, the group used a bucket brigade to haul stone up to the trailhead and installed two French drains to permanently allow the spring water to flow under and through the trail without creating a bog of mud. Another section of the trail had a drop-off of two feet, making it necessary to create a series of grids that could be filled in, thus allowing the workers to build re-build the trail back up the hill and smoothly connect it to where the drop off had begun. The entire project actually took a week to compete, and was finished on National Trails Day 2007 with the results being a dry, evenly surfaced trail that equestrians and hikers alike can enjoy in the Deam Wilderness.

HBCH also made a great deal of progress at the Hoosier National Forest’s Young’s Creek, a 10.5 mile multi use trail with a primitive campground that wends its way along shady, diverse terrain among scenic hardwood trees. In August, one of the hottest and most humid months of the year in Indiana, volunteers spent a long day clearing the trail of brush and weeds and installing several new hitching posts and environmentally friendly high lines. These projects highlight just two of the many successful work days members of HBCH completed in 2007. They have an even more ambitious schedule for 2008 and beyond so, if you enjoy horseback riding in the Hoosier National Forest, consider joining forces with HBCH and help to ensure the continued enjoyment of equestrian use in the forest.

The Hoosier Back Country Horsemen are men and women from all walks of life, from all over the state of Indiana with a common goal – to preserve and maintain the multi use trail system within the Hoosier National Forest. They schedule six work weekends per year in various parts of the forest and, under the supervision of a ranger, have cleared trails of fallen limbs, trimmed brush, removed trash, cleaned water bars, and constructed hitching rails and handicapped accessible ramps. Recognizing that equestrian access to the forest can be amended or even eliminated, members also promote responsible use and help to educate all trail riders about “Leave No Trace” ethics. HBCH believes that by working in partnership with other trail users and the managers of public lands, much can be accomplished towards keeping horse trails open for recreational trail use. To join them, visit http://www.hoosierbackcountryhorsemen.org.

Founded in 1973, Back Country Horsemen of America is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historical use of recreational stock on all public lands commensurate with this country’s heritage. The group works to do this by assisting various government and private agencies in their maintenance and management of said resource as well as by educating, encouraging, and soliciting active participation in the wise use of the back country resource by horsemen and the general public. BCHA’s membership is made up of individuals and organized chapters across the country. Membership is open to all. BCHA can be found online at http://www.backcountryhorse.com. You can also contact toll free at 888-893-5161 for further information.


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