ARKANSAS BACK COUNTRY HORSEMEN OF AMERICA
Arkansas Back Country Horsemen of America (ARBCHA) is an official state chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA), a non-profit service organization dedicated to keeping trails open to everyone on our public lands and to protecting our heritage of responsible equine use in the back country. Currently Arkansas State BCHA oversees and proudly supports three local chapters: Buffalo River Chapter BCHA, Lower Buffalo River Arkansas BCHA, and AR-Ozark Back Country Horsemen. Each local chapter unit has its own area of focus, but each share this common goal of keeping trails open.
If you enjoy horseback riding, hiking, or backpacking the trails of north central or northwest Arkansas, you have likely benefited from the volunteer work provided quietly behind the scenes by our members. Through regularly scheduled work days, members of our local chapters meet to clear and maintain trails and campgrounds within the Buffalo National River, the Ozark National Forest, and several Wildlife Management Areas, often working in collaboration with the National Park Service and other land management agencies. Because of their declining budgets, most public land management agencies understand that cooperation with volunteer groups is increasingly important. In fact, in 2016 Congress acknowledged the severity of the trail maintenance backlog (less than 30% of Forest Service trails are currently maintained to standard), and the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act was signed into law. The intention of the legislation was to keep more trails open and accessible by expanding the use of volunteer and partner organizations like BCHA.
Along with BCHA, Arkansas Back Country Horsemen of America strives to build good working relationships with state and national agencies in order to ensure that public lands remain open for all of us to enjoy.
Its board of directors and elected officers also work to keep local chapters informed on issues that affect equine use on public lands and to promote their interests at the state and national levels.
All of our members, along with their equine partners, are committed to being good stewards of our treasured wilderness and back country resources while riding some of the most beautiful trails in the country. In addition to our trail work, we train members in back country first aid and Leave No Trace skills and encourage young riders as they learn to camp responsively with their horses. Perhaps our Mission Statement, which we share with the national BCHA, says it best:
BCHA MISSION STATEMENT
- To promote the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country and wilderness.
- To work to ensure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use.
- To assist the various government and private agencies in their maintenance and management of said resources.
- To educate, encourage, and solicit active participation in the wise use of the back country resource by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage.
- To foster and encourage the formation of new state (and local) Back Country Horsemen organizations.
If you share our mission and would like to join Arkansas Back Country Horsemen of America or one of our local chapters, please contact us. We are always happy to welcome new members.
Arkansas Back Country Horsemen of America
Buffalo River Chapter BCHA
Primary service area is the upper Buffalo National River from Boxley to Mt. Hersey, as well as portions of the Upper Buffalo Wilderness. Holds quarterly membership meetings and trail work days are generally scheduled one or two days each month.
Harrison, Arkansas 72601
Berryville, Arkansas 72616
Harrison, Arkansas 72601
Lower Buffalo River Arkansas BCHA
Primary service area is the lower Buffalo National River from Mt. Hersey to the White River, with a current focus on the Hathaway area of the lower Buffalo. Meetings are held quarterly and work days are regularly scheduled.
AR-Ozark Back Country Horsemen
Primary service area is the Ozark-St Francis National Forest with a special focus on the beautiful Sylamore district.