Horsemen take to the trail

Saturday, April 9, 2022
Todd Johnson, Russell Goines and Abigail Floyd, Ezra Sprouse and Laura Johnson loaded up in a buckboard wagon to take part in the March 19 trail cleanup at Flag Springs Conservation Area near Washburn. Contributed photo

Organization takes part in cleanup efforts at Flag Springs

Flag Springs Conservation Area near Washburn, a favorite spot of horseback riders, hikers, bikes and hunters, was the site of a major cleanup the weekend of March 19.

Tornado Ridge Chapter of Back Country Horsemen in southwest Missouri organized the event, offering local high school students the opportunity to earn some volunteer service hours, along with the chapter and friends in the community, while taking care of the area’s beautiful trails.

“Members Todd and Laura Johnson brought their majestic mule team to pull a beautiful one-of-a-kind wagon through the old logging roads at Flag Springs,” said Jodi Hess-Schlup, trail boss of Tornado Ridge Chapter of Back Country Horsemen. “We also had a couple of local students from Southwest High School, Abigail Floyd and Ezra Sprouse, hustling up and down to clear trash from the area.”

Roxi and Russell Goines and their daughter, Cecilia, joined in the fun on horseback. Mom and daughter took the horses out on the trails with Kirsten Scott while Russell helped jump in and out of a small vehicle to gather trash.

“Our Tornado Ridge is a small chapter, but we have done several things already in the riding community,” Hess-Schlup said. “Two beautiful memorial hitching rails have been installed at Compton Hollow and Wire Road, both of which Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) lands. We now have an “unofficial” map with trail colors of Flag Springs that can be found on our Facebook page for printing. Members that log hours for American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC,) BCH and MDC are turned in to the appropriate organizations and help lobbyists to keep trails open for all. Many trail users are already helping to keep trails open and cleared without being involved in an organization, which is great, but if they want their hours to count, they should consider joining BCH.”

Flag Springs Conservation Area has also been the site of the annual endurance ride “Jo Tate Memorial,” held every Memorial weekend since 1993. The event finds riders from all over the country competing on the area’s challenging trails.

“Many of the local endurance riders are also members of Back Country Horsemen and will help to keep not only these local trails in good shape but wherever they ride,” Hess-Schlup said.

Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA) is a nation-wide organization that is committed to protecting the access of equestrians to public lands. We are devoted equestrians who love to ride and explore new trails. Members assist with trail maintenance and improvement projects, keeping trails clear for all user groups. They welcome riders of all types, ages, and interests into local chapters.

“Other goals include educating riders and non-riders to promote and follow the Leave No Trace Principles, basic trail courtesy and ethics, and best methods in trail building and maintenance,” Hess-Schlup said. “We volunteer our time and energies to keep equestrian trails open and enjoyable to horsemen. We clear deadfall, prune low hanging branches, clear brush, pick up trash, improve trail heads and work on erosion control projects on Missouri’s public lands. We would like to thank everyone who helps in various ways.”

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