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Save our trails- proposals to limit or ban riding on North Tract Patuxent, Laurel, MD

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  • Save our trails- proposals to limit or ban riding on North Tract Patuxent, Laurel, MD

    Heads up all- pls weigh in to preserve our ability to enjoy open spaces!!!

    Proposals to restrict or eliminate horseback riding at Fish and Wild Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:30 pm (PDT) . Posted by: "Ronald MacNab" ronaldmacnab The Fish and Wildlife Surface is seeking public comments on three
    alternative proposals that will affect riding at North Track for the
    next fifteen years. One alternative would eliminate horseback riding at
    North Track in Laurel (near Fort Meade). The other would require use
    of a horse diaper or dismounting and removing manure from the trail. It
    also prohibits trotting and cantering.

    Fish and Wildlife is seeking public input. Two public meetings are
    scheduled for this Monday and Tuesday.

    > Monday, October 22, 2012
    > Time: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
    > Location: National Wildlife Visitor Center
    > 10901 Scarlet Tanger Loop
    > Laurel, MD 20708
    > Tuesday, October 23, 2012
    > Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
    > Location: Chesapeake Bay Field Office
    > 177 Admiral Cochrane Drive
    > Annapolis, MD 21401
    It is important that trail riders attend in numbers to present a unified
    point of view. I do not believe that Fish and Wildlife is anti-horse.
    I do believe they do not understand the burden of these requirements nor
    the miniscule benefits to be obtained.
    **Comments can be sent* to Bill Perry, Natural Resource Planner, U.S.
    Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035;
    413-253-8688; fax 413-253-8468; northeastplanning@fws.gov
    <mailto:northeastplanning@fws.gov> (write "Patuxent CCP" in the subject

    For details on the alternative plans, visit the following links:


    Chapter 3 page 97
    Appendix C pages 48-56

    I look forward to seeing you at these meetings.
    Appy Trails,
    Kathy, Cadet & CCS Silinde
    member VADANoVA www.vadanova.org

  • #2
    I sent this in via email. Be persistent, don't take no for an answer, fight the good fight, and good luck!

    * * *

    Bill Perry, Natural Resource Planner
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    300 Westgate Center Drive
    Hadley, MA 01035

    Re: Patuxent CCP

    Dear Mr. Perry,

    Thank you for allowing me to comment on the proposed changes to recreational use at North Track.

    In reviewing Alternative B, the preferred alternative, it is clear that equestrians were overlooked as stakeholders when seeking public input on the formation of the alternatives, otherwise the suggestion found in Objective 5.4 to “Allow horseback riding with cleanup or horse-diaper [emphasis added] at the North Tract” would have generated more realistic and feasible solutions to any issues with manure on the trail. “Horse diapers” (as found on carriage horses) are not a viable solution for containing manure on a trail ride because there does not exist, to my knowledge, a device designed for trail horses to contain manure. If it does exist, in my 50 years of trail riding I have never seen one being used. Instantaneous clean up is problematic as well given the fact that many, if not most, equestrians are elderly and may not be able to dismount and remount their horses while on the trail. Then the problem of where to put the manure while riding arises. Would the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service place receptacles for manure at intervals along trails? Were equestrian groups consulted for their opinions on how best to effect the clean up of manure or maintenance of trails?

    Next, at 3-11, wildlife observation and photography are listed as priority public uses of the Refuge System. As a lifelong hiker and equestrian, I have seen more wild animals, including birds, while on horseback than while hiking. The reason for this is because wild animals differentiate between two-legged and four-legged footfalls and will avoid humans on foot but not recognize equestrians as human until the the wild animal and the equestrian are very close together. I have had the opportunity to see, up close, and photograph, wild animals while on horseback that I would've never been able to see while hiking. Furthermore, being atop a horse provides a higher vantage point, perfect for wildlife observation. It is my opinion that equestrians are less intrusive to wild animals than humans on foot.

    Finally, the mandate of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to “Promote accessibility and availability to a broad spectrum of the American people. . . .Provide reliable and reasonable opportunities to experience wildlife” and to “Promote a stewardship ethic and instill a sense of wonder and appreciation of natural resources wildlife, and research in visitors by providing engaging interpretive programs and activities for visitors of all abilities, ages [emphasis added], and community groups. ” (at Objective 5.2) and for the older and/or disabled population, the only way to access the Refuge is on horseback. To eliminate equestrian use, or effectively eliminate it through onerous requirements, would bar the rightful enjoyment of this Refuge by a growing segment of the population of the United States. On behalf of older citizens, I implore you to reconsider accepting Alternative B with its unworkable and discriminatory constraints on equestrians.

    In sum, because of the negative, detrimental and possibly irreversible impact on equestrian use, which is an historic use, and by extension the negative impact on access to the Refuge for older and/or disabled citizens, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must include equestrians as stakeholders in this process before arriving at any decision on Alternatives B and C.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.


    M. W.


    • #3
      do they say anywhere why they are opposed to horses in the first place? it sounds like someone complained about seeing manure and that lead to the whole problem, or is more a real concern about trail erosion from horses?


      • #4
        There is nowhere in the 600 page document a statement about why they are questioning the inclusion of horses. I was in attendence at the meeting Monday night. They loosely suggest the refuge is for "natural wildlife", but were at a loss when I asked how horses and manure at this refuge were any different than horses at Chincoteague or Assateague refuges.

        Trail erosion from horses is not a problem because the roads that horses are allowed on are gravel roads built for tanks and trucks (the area was previously a military site, and a calvary site before that).
        There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Bank of Dad View Post
          but were at a loss when I asked how horses and manure at this refuge were any different than horses at Chincoteague or Assateague refuges.
          might have been a poor example as on Chincoteaque....Horseback riding is allowed along the beach in the Over Sand Vehicle zone. The OSV zone may be closed due to hazardous conditions or wildlife management practices, and horses will not be permitted in this area during such closures. Horses are not permitted elsewhere on the refuge, including the trails or on Beach Road



          • #6
            Though obviously not the same in the UK as in the USA, it is always useful to have examples of multi-user paths and how other authorities deal with horses in busy places. Epping Forest is just on the east edge of London and is ancient grazed woodland that is considered to be of European significance. Being so close to London it is incredibly busy and Horses are part of the mix. It is not always an easy relationship but both sides work to maintain the access. The south end has defined routes - though very few stables left as it is very built up - but the north is open for horses to go anywhere in the summer and has marked routes in the winter.


            Bushey Park is one of the many 'Royal Parks' that have been enclosed and preserved since medieval times. Though not apparent from the webiste, there are horses using the park daily. The park managers move the horse according to the ground conditions and what is happening with the deer etc. It is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) a legal status that ensure particularly close protection.

            "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


            • #7
              What I meant in my example was not riding, but if they felt the horses and manure were a problem, there is manure at the other locations, as well as plant destruction by the wild horses.

              Of course they could still complain the rider's horses leave manure that contaminates the local area.
              There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


              • #8
                The reason it makes no sense BOD, is because the Chincoteague ponies are considered wildlife, and as such enjoy different protection than the ridden horse. It would be better to address the problem of manure on the trails, as that could be an issue if the area is heavily utilized, by that it could be tons for them to have to clean up. I don't know, but perhaps there could be a usage fee that is designated for the specific purpose of cleanup, or a trail organization where there is a specific group that is able to be approached and can organize trail maintenance. You have to offer a solution and find out what the real issue is, not by being confrontational. As a result of the austerity and mentality of budget cuts, we are at each others' throats and by not coming off as a "special interest" group, you might find a different reception and find out what might be the real problem, maybe fear of litigation, or whatever it might be and they are using some minor issues as the so called sticking point. Is the area a hiking area, are dogs allowed, has there been a cross conflict between groups like motorized, hikers, bikers? Find out, ask them as someone who really wants to know. To argue this as historic horseback use is not really relevant either. The United States government is under intense pressure to cut back and they are trying to find ways without compromising more endangered areas such as human health. I don't mean the autocrats in the Obama administration, those hard nosed types are hard to communicate with, but you do have to realize how difficult the economy is right now and what might be pressing on them to cut back by not allowing as much use. Horses do make a big mess, and they do add to maintenance costs.
                "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                • Original Poster

                  The historic part probably that holds the most water is that the land was ceded to to Dpet of Interior in the early 1990s complete with a military horse stable on it, which meant that it inferred the ability to continue to ride there. I bet if I dug up the transfer paperwork, it is probably stipulated therein, and if push comes to shove, that may be a course of action. The base stables have since been closed down due to choices in the department of the Army to use the resources elsewhere, however that was over a decade after the land transfer and I highly doubt it in any way nullified the original agreement.

                  On another note, I bet that FWS would consider the Chincoteague ponies to be an "invasive/non-native species."

                  The costs of allowing the horses to use this facility/venue are decimal dust in terms of their budget, and furthermore the numbers presented in the documentation are suspect (I state this as someone who has previously done oversight & analysis of over $10B+ per year portfolio).

                  Bottom line is that while the majority of the report is well constructed, these areas are poorly developed, presented and documented with no logic train therein.
                  Appy Trails,
                  Kathy, Cadet & CCS Silinde
                  member VADANoVA www.vadanova.org


                  • #10
                    Probably Fish and Wildlife does, but I think those are the yo yos who released the fallow deer, much later than the ponies were "released". They are not the worlds most rational people with the infusion of the intense Greenie pseudo science. Out here, the city folk come to look at the white headed vultures, also known as American Eagles, which they think are so rare and unique, until they come during one of the salmon run and see about 50 of the buzzards out there picking in the inlet.
                    Last edited by Calamber; Oct. 26, 2012, 11:38 AM.
                    "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                    • Original Poster

                      lol- here ib the East Coast I have observed them on the ground in corn fields, weird!
                      Appy Trails,
                      Kathy, Cadet & CCS Silinde
                      member VADANoVA www.vadanova.org