On May 16, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Rep. George Radanovich’s Right-to-Ride Bill (H.R. 586), a bill intended to protect the use of pack and saddle stock animals on public lands, wilderness areas, national monuments, and other areas administered by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the U.S. Forest Service where there is a historical tradition of equine use.
“Congressman Radanovich has been a great champion of preserving recreational riders’ access to public lands,” said AHC President Jay Hickey. “We appreciate his steadfastness in introducing this legislation and pushing it through the House.”
The legislation would require that federal agencies manage the public lands to preserve and facilitate the traditional and continued access of horses to these areas. The legislation provides that “as a general rule, all trails, routes and areas used by pack and saddle stock shall remain open and accessible for such use.”
During the House debate, Rep. Radanovich stated, “Perhaps no other activity is more synonymous with the exploration of our vast open lands than that of the use of pack and saddle stock. Who could forget those images of President Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir on horseback at what was to become the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks?”
In response to the argument that this bill affords pack and saddle use greater consideration than other forms of recreation or commercial use, Rep. Radanovich argued that “pack and saddle use has played a far greater historic role on our public lands, particularly in our western states, than simply recreation. What may be perceived by some today as recreation was once a vital part of everyday living.”
As Hickey’s statement suggests, the American Horse Council supports this legislation.
“Many individuals who enjoy recreational riding on public lands have experienced frustration over the reduction of trails and the closure of public lands to horses. To prevent further closures, recreational riders are working closely with their local land managers and looking for legislative solutions. We appreciate that Congressman Radanovich is taking such an active role in this effort,” said Hickey.
Next, the U.S. Senate must consider its own version of the Right-To-Ride Bill (S. 781), introduced by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID).