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Back Country Horsemen access wild areas
6/8/2007 By: Melanie B Mazur
On Tuesday, members of the Four Corners Back Country Horsemen gathered for a celebration of National Trail Day.
After members took guests out for a ride along the Hermosa Creek and Dutch Creek trails, they returned for a cookout and some cameraderie.
But this wasn’t just a gathering.
It was also a celebration that this trail and trailhead exist.
Many at the event give the credit for this happening to Biff Stransky, the president of the chapter.
The Hermosa Creek Trail, which U.S. Forest Service officials say is one of the most used in this area, came into existence 15 years ago. The trailhead, which had been private property, was purchased, then was developed into a horse-friendly area with big parking spaces for pickups and horse trailers. Great Outdoors Colorado and the Forest Service each granted $70,000 for the trailhead development.
“Biff was the main champion of putting this together,” said Rowdy Wood, a rangeland specialist with the Forest Service Columbine Ranger District.
The members of the group have joked that they want to name the trailhead after Stransky, but since he’s not dead yet, they’ll have to wait.
A visitor on the ride suggested that he could be killed off, but members decided that was a little drastic.
Stransky said he enjoys taking folks who don’t normally get to ride on trails out so they can see what the trails offer, not just to horseback riders, but to hikers, mountain cyclists, and ATV users. The Hermosa Creek Trail is open to all of these users.
“Public lands are a limited resource,” Stransky said. But they’re for everyone.” Stransky worked for years for the Forest Service, and is now a deputy in the Bayfield Marshal’s Office.
Trails are usually open for horse use, but often, the trailheads are not. A parking lot that can hold several Subarus is not large enough for a pickup and horse trailer. Stransky said one of the goals of the group is to try to get in on the planning stages of trails so members can suggest that larger parking areas, with enough room to pull a trailer, be a part of the development.
And while some hikers complain about horse droppings on trails, the back country group pointed out that several trails used by all kinds of users have been cleared with the help of horses and riders.
The Hermosa Creek Trail, north of Durango, also was a collaborative project, in partnership with Trails 2000 and other local groups.
The Four Corners group is part of the Back Country Horsemen of America, based in Graham, Wash.
They advocate for horses, mules and donkeys to have access to public trails. The local group also conducts seminars, including one this Saturday on low-impact stock use and horse packing. The clinic is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Forest Service Work Center in Vallecito.
Chuck Martino was one of three members taking visitors out on Tuesday. The other “wrangler” was Jon Sherer of Durango, and Stransky was the trail boss. Joining the ride were Wood and Ann Bond of the U.S. Forest Service, Lisa Schwantes of U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar’s office, Eve Rickert of High Country News, and myself. The event was organized by Sandy Young of the back country horsemen.
More information about the local group is available at www.4cbch.org .
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