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Copyright 2011 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Boulder, Colorado, Horse Riders 

Lose Trail Use

 

June 2011 issue

  

      From the Boulder County Horse Association website: “BCHA promotes the acquisition of open space and parks, and supports an interconnected system of multiple-use trails.

      RMR is posting two letters from horse owners in the Boulder, Colorado, area who have lost a good portion of their trail usage on local public land, after the meeting of the Boulder City Council on May 17, 2011.

      Members of the Boulder County Horse Association (BCHA) have been in the forefront of the fight for the last 18 months to keep the trails open to horses, and to prove with scientific evidence that horses are not any harder on the trails, nor do they bring in more weeds, than other users. They have been fighting the illogical “horse use” prejudice of the Boulder City Council members who threw out the recommendations of their own Open Space Board of Trustees.

      BCHA President, Suzanne Webel, stated in April 2001: “Next time, it’s going to be worse for the entire horse community, ranging from banning horses from trails, to eliminating trailer parking, to more restrictive horsekeeping and zoning regulations. We are truly in danger of being marginalized out of existence.”

      Of note to RMR readers should be the difficulty of keeping trails open for horse riding use, especially in heavily-populated “urban interface” areas. (Do you live in an area where the population is expanding?)

 

Letter from Suzanne Webel, BCHA President to the horsepeople who attended the May 17 meeting.

      Thank you all for coming to the Boulder City Council meeting last night — you were awesome, and overall the horse community acquitted itself magnificently. If you stuck it out to the bitter end, you’ll know that the Council threw us a bone (off-trail access to the area east of the Mesa/Old Mesa Trail).

      However, I was disappointed that, with a couple of notable exceptions, they continued to rely on misinformation, rumors, and preconceived ideas. The off-trail boundary for equestrians is now arbitrarily different from the boundary for pedestrians; they refused to even consider the compromise we proposed for the Towhee Trail; they deliberately directed staff to not even “look” for trailer parking where it might be useful to us; and they all but warned us that “next time it’s going to be worse.”

      I think the most discouraging part was that they blew off their own Board of Trustees’ recommendations, preferring instead to rely on staff, which has been the never-ending source of all our troubles in the first place.

      It is clear to me that if y’all hadn’t spoken so eloquently we would be in a much worse predicament. At least maybe now they are on notice that we exist and are watching. Thanks again.

 

Letter from Maxine Doner, Champagne Walkers, Brighton, CO

      I arrived to sign up to speak at 5:30 p.m., arrived back at my car at 1:30 a.m. We were the last item on the agenda for the Boulder City Council. Over forty people spoke, almost all pleaded for more horse trailer parking, to no avail.

      My understanding is we are able to ride about 50% (roughly) of the trails we used to be able to ride, and there is to be no parking except in the southernmost section, Dowdy draw (2 spaces, I think) and S Boulder trail head (1 space).

      So, while there are trails we could ride, with no parking, they are, in effect, closed.

      It took 18 months of meetings and thousands of hours of person hours to work out compromises between environmentalists, conservationists, hikers, dog people, bicycle people, horse people.

      The city council told “staff” to: “Not make any such agreements ever again thinking the council would just rubberstamp that agreement.” Thus, my thought is that no agreements will be made by these committees; the Boulder City Council will decide.

      I rode the open space on a nice Saturday in January and it was like riding on a city street. At no time were other people not in sight, usually 4-5+ in sight at any given time. Dogs were with most people, and we were passed by a total of 30-50 bicycles in a 8 mile ride. Most of those bicycles were “plugged in”(earbuds/ipod) and I couldn’t even warn them of my green horse, to slow down and be careful. I will never again ride on a Saturday.

      So, in effect, guestimating by looking, we have about 20-30% of the trail miles we used to have due to no trailer parking. The council wants to re visit the “Visitors Management Plan” soon and plans (it was inferred) to again re-open this debate, where I assume from the tone, horses will be further restricted. This is a Boulder City resource and that is how they want it kept... not a resource for the “outsiders”.

      As we horse people are further marginalized and restricted, horse ownership and enjoyment are further eroded and places to ride eliminated. This is a sad day. I also got, that if we want to step off the trail and have lunch, unless it is in a designated area, it will not be allowed and tickets will be issued. Stepping off the trail for another horse to pass could be problematical... one-foot wide trail and passing horses...hmmmm....problematical.

      It was a very sad day for me and for horse people. A harbinger of what is to come due to over-use, over-population, poor horse numbers compared to other groups, and a lack of understanding of the horse world. We have to be ambassadors in order to save the places we can ride.

      Susan Webel has spearheaded the cause for the horse and you have my heartfelt thanks. I am sure she has hard numbers rather than my approximations. You can read the transcripts of the meeting on the Boulder city council web site is my understanding.  Maxine

 

      For more information about this issue, visit www.boulderhorse.org.

 

 

Copyright 2011 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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