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Equine Issues Impact Wyo Horse Industry

Written by Candice Frome Carden

If you are a horse owner or enthusiast, whether it’s your job, your passion or both, or if you just plain love horses, keep on reading! Knowledge is power, my friends, and I think you should know what you can do to help protect the equine industry in Wyoming, no matter what aspect you’re involved in!

Because they’ve been given lots of screen and advertising time, you’ve probably heard about the debates regarding the slaughter of horses in the U.S. and what to do with all of the wild horses on public lands, but have you heard about the National Forest Trail Stewardship Act? No? If you are a recreational trail rider, this is something that could affect you much more than either of those other issues.

The Act was re-introduced to Congress in the spring of 2015 by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), along with lawmakers from Colorado and Minnesota. This is a bill that would direct the Forest Service to take several actions to help address the current trail maintenance backlog that adversely impacts all trail users on many national forests, including equestrians.

This Act would also direct the Forest Service to develop a comprehensive strategy to more effectively utilize volunteers and partners to assist in maintaining national forest trails and increase the use of volunteers by 100 percent in the next five years. The bill would also address a liability issue that has discouraged some national forests from utilizing volunteers and partner organizations to help perform trail maintenance. Additionally, it creates a pilot program to allow outfitters and guides the ability to perform trail maintenance activities in lieu of permit fees. Lastly, it would direct the Forest Service to identify and prioritize specific areas with the greatest need for trail maintenance in the national forest system.

Sound like a good idea? A bad idea? Is this something that you’d like to support or provide comments about? If so, do you know how to most effectively show your support? Hint – it’s not just by raising your fist and shouting loudly at folks with different opinions. There are actually several relatively easy ways to voice your opinion and stay informed regarding this and many other issues. First, you can contact your state’s representatives in Washington, D.C. directly. See congress.gov/members to find contact information for our delegation. Second, you can become a member of the American Horse Council at horsecouncil.org and the Wyoming Horse Council at wyominghorsecouncil.com to be kept up-to-date on issues that can potentially affect the equine industry nationwide and also closer to home.

The Wyoming Horse Council is a grass-roots affiliate of the American Horse Council, which was organized in 1969 by a group of horsemen who were concerned about federal legislation affecting their industry. The American Horse Council is a non-profit corporation that promotes and protects all horse breeds, disciplines and interests by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry itself on a daily basis.

The purposes of the Wyoming Horse Council are to promote and protect Wyoming’s equine industry; to monitor legislation and administrative decisions that would have an impact on the equine industry and/or horsemen; to provide an association of persons having a common interest in promoting the equine industry in Wyoming; and to serve as a means of communication within the industry and spokesmen to those outside the industry.

We invite you to become involved in our organization! We would love to see you at our next meeting February 2016 in Cheyenne or for you to join our Board of Directors and learn more about the legislative process that affects our industry. The information about the February meeting will be available in the Roundup.

Joining the Wyoming Horse Council is a great way to network and meet new people. We come from all corners of the state and have different areas of equine interest, but we share the same goal – to promote and protect Wyoming’s horse industry.

For more information on the Wyoming Horse Council, visit wyominghorsecouncil.com.