Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back Country Horseman of America (BCHA)

Back Country Horsemen of America is an organization whose purpose is to: 1 - perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country and wilderness; 2 - Work to insure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use; 3 - Assist the various government and private agencies in their maintenance and management of said resource; 4 - Educate, encourage and solicit active participation in the wise use of the back country resource by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage; and, 5 - Foster and encourage the formation of new state Back Country Horsemen's organizations.

The actual formation of BCH took place in Montana’s Flathead Valley in January of 1973. Since then, BCHA progress is a matter of record. They have used their specialized knowledge of stock and the back country to bring about changes and modifications of restrictive management, and have participated in many agency meetings and land use planning and regulations and have become a strong voice for continued, responsible horse use.

Go to their website here:

Growth of the Back Country Horsemen organization continued with formation of additional chapters in Montana . In 1979, these chapters and one from Salmon, Idaho formed the Back Country Horsemen of America. Three more Montana chapters and one from Idaho were added in the next few years.

The Back Country Horsemen of Washington was incorporated in 1977 and developed an informal liaison with the Montana and Idaho Back Country Horsemen. In 1981, a California organization was formed known as the High Sierra Stock Users. After several years of discussion, the four groups decided to merge, using the Back Country Horsemen of America name. A constitution was drafted in 1985 and adopted in 1986. It provided that the governing body of this new organization would be a board of directors elected from each state. Montana , Idaho , California and Washington Back Country Horsemen units became the BCHA. Since that time, there has been steady growth within the four founding state organizations and in other states.

There are approximately 13,300 members in 47 states with Back Country Horseman organizations in 25 states including: Alabama , Alaska , Arizona , Arkansas , California , Colorado , Florida , Georgia , Idaho , Illinois , Indiana , Kentucky , Michigan , Missouri , Montana , Nevada , New Mexico , North Carolina , Oregon , South Carolina , Tennessee , Utah , Virginia , Washington , and Wyoming , with 174 Chapters.

BCHA is highly successful in establishing trails and maintaining good rapport with governmental agencies through use of their Leave No Trace Principles. BHA are well known for their stewardship of remote areas and riding trails. Their Leave No Trace Principles are:  Plan and prepare, Travel and camp on durable surfaces, Dispose of waste properly, Leave what you find, Minimize campfire impacts, Respect wildlife, and
Be considerate of other visitors.

I have met some of the BCHA horseman and they are an organization worthy to join. If you can find an Chapter near you, this is a good way to enhance your knowledge while contributing to the overall group effort to maintain places to ride in this country.

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