Back Country Horsemen of America

A nation-wide organization committed to protecting access of equestrians to public lands

Picture this: You’re comfortably astride your favorite horse or mule finishing up a long day of riding up a mountain trail. You’ve ridden past tumbling waterfalls and climbed past lakes with
spectacular shorelines. Even though you’re with a pack group, you’ve found genuine solitude on the trail and witnessed breathtaking views that can only be seen from the back of a horse. You’ve reached the highest lake by early evening and your group is deciding whether to cast a line for mountain trout or stay in the saddle and climb to a higher alpine campsite. Over the campfire and tasty trout or mouth-watering Dutch oven BBQ ribs, you and your back country riding friends start to dream about the next trip. With thousands of miles of trails across the country to explore, the only thing limiting you is time.

If you like this picture, you can thank a Back Country Horseman for helping to make it possible. For over 45 years, the volunteer efforts of the Back Country Horsemen of America have resulted in tens of millions of dollars in trail maintenance and repairs.

If not for the work of BCHA, many of those trails you dream of riding would go uncleared and unusable – not only for horses and mules, but also for other trail users.

BCHA members ensure that our public lands remain open and accessible to everyone. We are devoted equestrians who love to ride and explore new trails. We assist with trail maintenance and improvement projects, keeping trails clear for all user groups.

BCHA was founded by people like you who cared about the opportunity to explore the Wilderness on horseback. In 1971, an outfitter, a forester, a wrangler and packer were horse packing in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. The nights are long in the Bob and the founders had plenty of time to talk about righting the many signs of neglect they saw along the trail – cigarette butts, candy wrappers, and beat up barb wire corrals. They surmised that if the Wilderness was to stay open for their children and grandchildren, something must be done. Horsemen had to clean up their act. The back country was being loved to death. Piles of garbage, dying trees due to stock tying, and human waste were polluting the Wilderness BCHA’s founders enjoyed. The United State Forest Service was talking about closing many areas to camping and horse use. In a wall tent next to the wood stove and a hissing Coleman lantern, a recipe was concocted.

This recipe of proactive measures to protect and preserve the land was presented to the USFS and the general public. BCHA grew from those humble beginnings in the Bob to an organization that operates in 31 states from coast to coast. Today, BCHA has nearly 12,000 members. The BCHA founders’ first recipe and vision for environmentally sound stock use and camping led to well-known programs like Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace.

Do you want to be part of this picture, too? You can carry on the legacy of BCHA and its founders. BCHA offers you many opportunities to protect, preserve, and support sustainable practices in the back country and Wilderness areas. You can volunteer for the fulfilling and rewarding work on America’s vast and scenic trails. Repairing and maintaining trails allows you to see the difference you’re making. Your opportunities to do some good and have some fun with BCHA don’t stop there. BCHA chapters ride to collect food and toys for local families who might otherwise go without during the holidays. Some chapters fight hunger in America by supporting food collections booths at local events.

You have opportunities to give a lot, but you get a lot back too. You find like-minded friends and plenty of occasions to enjoy their camaraderie. Friendships and fun keep people like you in the picture. You have the opportunity to tap into the knowledge, skills, and expertise of trail-wise BCHA members. You’ll find expert BCHA members who arrange and lead fun rides, as well as back country packing trips. If you aren’t quite ready for trail riding (but would like to be involved and learn more), no problem! Most BCHA chapters won’t pass up the chance to help out with a parade celebrating horses or mules or the history of pack stock in America. And who doesn’t like food? Oh boy, the food! BCHA members are always up for a good potluck or a Dutch oven cooking competition. The creativity and ingenuity of what can be cooked up over a campfire will never cease to amaze.

BCHA plays a crucial role in keeping America’s trails open and accessible for you and your equine partners. Put yourself in the picture. You can be part of the legend and the legacy that started in 1971 and continues as a vibrant and growing organization. You can make all the difference just by joining! So, go visit a BCHA chapter or state organization. Spread the word about the good work BCHA is doing. Take the time to get to know the local BCHA members in your area. You’ll make friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

Find us at www.BCHA .org

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