*Please read and spread the word on this important issue that effects all Missouri trail users -z
A bad trails bill is working its way through the Missouri house and is about to pass--unless we speak up.
This bill will come to a vote of the full House of Representatives within the next few days--so it's very important you email or call your representative now.
Short message: "Please oppose HB 250. It is poorly worded, will discourage trails from being built, and favors equestrians at the expense of other trail and public land users."
Look up your Missouri (state) House member here:
Horse owners want more access to trails and public land across the state--a cause we sympathize with!
However the way they have written this bill it is just bad, bad, bad.
Points you can make:
1. HB 250 is poorly thought out, ambiguously worded, will have unintended consequences, and will lead to lawsuits over trails and access. All this will discourage the building of new trails.
2. Equestrian groups are claiming the bill will give them complete access to the Katy Trail. Bicycling, hiking, and equestrians can work well together in some areas, but where there is high use, there is just too much conflict. And you know how badly horse hooves damage the Katy Trail surface for bicycling! Sometimes different users simply are not compatible--and land managers should have the flexibility to work out solutions in those situations. Whether equestrians can coexist with other trail users depends on use, trail surface, and a hundred other variables.
HB 250 takes away needed flexibility and just says, "Equestrians will be allowed everywhere."
3. The bill favors equestrians over other trail users--even though equestrians are the smallest group of trail users (there are fewer equestrians than either hikers or mountain bikers).
4. The bill will make it illegal to implement simple trail management options like creating separate trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. Once equestrians are allowed, they have to be allowed forever--with only very, very narrow exceptions.
5. The bill doesn't allow closing or moving equestrian trails for sound land management reasons like erosion problems, destruction of habitat, or conflicting land uses. Equestrian use always takes precedence over all other uses and users.
6. The bill short circuits commonsense local policies for creating and managing trails and trail users.
7. The bill will have the unintended consequence of discouraging new equestrian access on public lands or trails--because once the equestrian access has been given, it can't be revoked even for very sensible reasons.
8. All major mountain biking organizations in Missouri oppose HB 250.
Again, we would like to encourage development of trails for all users, including equestrians. But encouraging development of trails has to be done in a sensible way, not in a heavy-handed, ill-thought-out, and forced way.
The bill's online page:
Full bill text:
Section A. Chapter 8, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 8.890, to read as follows:
8.890. No individual shall be denied access to any public land owned, managed, or funded by the state of Missouri for the purpose of riding horses or mules, when such individual has the lawful authority to use the public land. Such access also shall not be denied to trails and roads that are currently in use by the state as land upon which horses or mules are ridden, except that access can be denied where conditions are not suitable because of public safety concerns, necessary maintenance, or for reasons related to the missions of the department of conservation or the department of natural resources so long as a written statement is posted at the trailhead stating the cause and estimated duration of the closure.
Nothing in this section shall cause horses or mules to be excluded from inclusion in the development of new trails on Missouri public lands.