BLM to give 1280 acres to Equestrians to create ‘Equestrian Only’ Trails known as the Fredenburg Trails

In the fall of 2023 Butte Falls held public meetings asking for input on what trail user groups wanted regarding the 400 acres that was purchased around Butte Falls. All user groups were in attendance. This acreage was purchased as a protective barrier from future fires, as the town barely escaped the Obenchain fire which came within a quarter mile. Although the 400 acres could not accommodate the needs of all three users, the BLM was listening.
Because we showed up and made our voices heard, equestrians were given two square miles (1280 acres). Thank you Birte Ferguson, for showing up and speaking up for yourself and for all of us! Mountain bikers were given one square mile (640 acres). The Head Resource Manager for BLM in Southern Oregon had her trails guy draw out what he thought might work for equestrians (even though he himself is a mountain biker). Nick loves maps and figuring out trail layouts based on topography. He was able to create approximately ten miles of new trails connecting with logging roads to create approximately 14 miles of trails in total.
I was then invited to give my feedback on the trails system design as I have known the Resource Manager since the 1990’s. As an equestrian and distance rider, I have worked with the BLM for about twenty five years, whether it be clearing trails, creating re-routes around protected habitat, requesting Rec Permits for Equestrian distance events for the Rogue Riders Endurance Club or as Public Lands Director for the Sourdough Chapter of the BCHO, equestrian trails mean a lot to me, especially creating ones safe for our use.
The knowledge used to lay out these trails was evident.

  • There are five different loop combinations.
  • These trails allow for the possibility of two creek crossings and a ditch crossing, which means a chance for stock to get a drink during summer months. I was told these creeks and the ditch run all year long.
  • These trails will be closed during the winter season, as this area is very wet and often under snow that time of year.
  • There are views of Mt Thielsen from the proposed ridge trail and a logging road.
  • The staging area is for equestrians only which will be a blessing. It was previously a staging area for loggers, very wide and just off the Butte Falls Highway. It is fairly flat and needs regraded, gravel brought in and one tree removed.
  • The staging area should be able to accommodate eight or more rigs.
  • There will be no overnight camping but it is less than ten miles from Willow Prairie Horse camp.
  • As this area is about thirty minutes from the Rogue Valley and the Klamath Falls area, those seeking cooler temperatures for a summer riding experience can easily enjoy the Fredenburg trails once they are built.
  • These trails will include hikers, but their access point is from another area and is furthest away from our stag-(Continued on page 11)
    BLM to give 1280 acres to Equestrians to create ‘Equestrian Only’ Trails known as the Fredenburg Trails
    ing area. Unless we ride to the farthest loop available we shant even see a hiker.
  • The square mile given to mountain bikers is also located a square mile away and allows for a different access point. The access point for bikes is below ours, so they will not see where it is we turn off for our staging area.
  • Designating new trails that separate users by speed of travel will be essential in the future and this is what we are seeing here.
  • The only thing that would give away our trails are horsemen using their GPS apps ‘set to Public’. This allows any mountain biker with the same app to see where you have ridden.
  • The BLM is now doing the Environmental Assessment needed, which includes a botanist, hydrologist and a wildlife biologist. We are about a year out in needing the Grant to build the trails.
  • BLM will assist in a presentation for southern Oregon equestrian groups after the Environmental As-sessment is completed.
    I cannot think of a recent opportunity where equestrians were given trails specific to our needs.
    The fact that the BLM had the foresight to separate users by speed was exactly what was needed here, as this affects the enjoyment potential for each user and whether equestrians and hikers become displaced, as we have in so many other areas.
    I believe belonging to equestrian trails groups which work with Government agencies to save and maintain trails is essential for us as they see that our trails matter to us. We can make a difference if we are willing to show up for the things that matter most, our future trails. I am thrilled to share this future opportunity with you and will keep you updated along the way.

Article by Joy Trevey Lowell, Back Country Horsemen of Oregon

Join our E-Newsletter