SAN JUAN BACK COUNTRY HORSEMAN
Working hard to help keep our Wilderness Trails open!
Submitted by SJBCH members, JoAnn Senzig & Kristie Hefling
Providing recreation opportunities is one of the Forest Service’s highest priorities, but budget limitations make it difficult for Forest Service staff to maintain trails for the ever-increasing number of visitors.
Donating time to trail maintenance is one of the most important solutions to inadequate funding. San Juan Back Country Horsemen is one organization dedicated to helping clear trails in the Pagosa Springs area. SJBCH has adopted two trails, Anderson and Archuleta, in an effort to keep them safe and keep them open to hikers and horses. Over the last several years this has become a huge challenge in southwest Colorado, with beetle kill taking over so much of the area mountain forests.
The club scheduled two trail work days on August 29th and 31st , 2017, on the Anderson Trail, in the Weminuche wilderness. The first of the 7 trees to be cleared was located at 4+ miles in at over 8,500 feet of elevation, through some very difficult trails! Ten club members carried in cross cut saws, hand saws, pole saws and pruners and worked a combined total of more than 65 hours clearing fallen debris, rocks and overhanging branches. Seven downed trees that were blocking the trail were completely cleared. As of August 31st, the trail is open to the tree line! 5 stock horses were ridden in and several people that hiked in to work on some very tough brushing and rocky areas and cutting downed trees!
Sincere thanks to Donna Fait, Lee Pierce, Nancy Seay, Kristie Hefling, Annie Pack, Chuck Wanner, Dennis Gallegos, Kim Mason, Randy Senzig and Jo Ann Senzig for their commitment, devotion and hard work.
“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”
Below section is still under constructions
Click the button below for a printable Map of Turkey Springs trails with the Big Red arrow pointing to the area of the 8th grade service project.
June 1st 2017 - 8th GRADE SERVICE PROJECT
*For the 3rd year, the Pagosa Springs 8th Grade class has participated in a Service Project which has enhanced our trail system in many ways.
*In 2016 the San Juan Back Country Horsemen were invited to take part in helping with the project for the first time and those SJBCH members involved, Pat & Mike Moffitt (Pat rode her horse and talked with the kids about how to approach horses & mules on the trail), Bob Volger and Kristie Hefling. The SJBCH members loved the interaction with the kids and sharing our knowledge and guidance about how to approach horses & mules when you are on the trail system, plus we helped keep an eye on the kids while they were using the equipment, to create and clear a new trail, to keep them safe. In 2016 it was hard for some of use to watch as 8th graders carried large Igloo water coolers for almost a mile to the work site, so we mentioned that we could sure help them out next year by bringing stock animals to do the heavy carrying.
* So this year, Donna Fait who was representing Search & Rescue, brought one of her riding/pack horses, Cielo, with a pack saddle designed for carrying such things as salt blocks or large Igloo water coolers. Bob Volger got the specially designed pack saddle to Donna to use with her horse. Donna, Bob Volger, Lisa and John Nelson, and Kristie Kristie Hefling volunteered and helped with this years 8th Grade Service Project by carrying their water, keeping an eye out for safety issues while they used trail tools and explaining how and when to approach horses & mules on the trails, where to stand to be safe, also very important is to talk to the animals as they approach and as they pass, and about what Wilderness is.
*Again this year the 8th graders worked on creating a new piece of trail in the Turkey Springs Trail System, in the San Juan National Forest, located just northwest of the city of Pagosa Springs, CO..
With all the prep work done by Tyler Albers, in charge of Trails and Wilderness for the Forest Service, San Juan National Forest, Pagosa Ranger District and some of his Forest Service work crew, the kids made fantastic time creating this new trail. What is so important about these types of projects is, the kids are being introduced to the trail systems, National Forest, learning how to use tools and create trails. They are interacting with Forest Service personnel, Back Country Horsemen, Search and Rescue personnel like Donna Fait and her horse!
* Several kids, after meeting Donna and her horse and upon hearing about how many miles she has ridden Cielo into the back country, were heard to say, they were interested in that and they wanted to do that! I am sure there were some kids that were inspired by the Forest Service crew as many of them are young and in their 20's. So I would say this yearly project is a win - win for everyone involved. The more our young people are introduced to the National Forests, trail systems, Back Country Horsemen, Search & Rescue and outdoor activities, the more likely they will be to care about the future of all of these.
2017 - Ranch Sorting
Ranch Sorting has turned into a very popular event in the Pagosa area, open to the public there is always a large group of members and non-members that show up at the Rodeo Grounds at the Archuleta County Fair grounds every other Saturday (except during the 4th of July week during the Red Rider Rodeo)
Organized by Rodney Pepper with help from other SJBCH members, Tom Roberts and Randy Van Zant and Gary Staplekamp. Pictures below from Aurora Peters, Chris Bowden