Thursday, May 5, 2011

Master Educator Stock Frontcountry Pilot Course

The USDA Forest Service Ninemile Wildlands Training Center and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics jointly hosted the second of two pilot Master Educator Courses focusing on frontcountry-specific equestrian issues and impacts. The course was held in mid-April on the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois.

The Johnson Creek Campground was the primary course location, and was a perfect setting to again pilot the supplemental course curriculum, which focused specifically on frontcountry stock impacts. There were 10 participants on the course, representing the USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Backcountry Horsemen of America, the Illinois Trail Riders, Wisconsin Horse Council and the Backcountry Horsemen of Kentucky. Initial feedback from the course was excellent, and all participants and instructors were pleased with the format, location and content.

Stock-specific impacts and issues in frontcountry include – trash, vehicle impacts, manure, trailhead congestion, parking issues, campfire impacts, grey water disposal, spread of invasive species, safety concerns, muddy trail conditions, water quality issues and potential conflict with other user groups. Throughout the week-long course these issues, as well as the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace, were covered in depth, and the group worked to sort out the issues and impacts.

Moving forward, staff from the Center will work through the remainder of 2011 to finalize this emerging curriculum, which will likely become a supplement to the existing stock/equestrian Master Educator Course curriculum. The intent of both the Center and its agency partners is to begin offering a broader spectrum of Master Educator Courses for equestrians in both frontcountry and backcountry environments that meet their specific needs and riding styles.

This project is the result of a challenge cost share agreement with the USDA Forest Service.

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