On behalf of Oregon equestrians, the Oregon Horse Council requests you stop current legislation and rethink all current plans to introduce motorized vehicles to non-motorized trails.
Based on the 2017 Equine Industry Economic Impact Study conducted by the American Horse Council and American Horse Council Foundation, we found that the horse industry contributes $122 billion a year to the U.S. economy annually on the backs of 7.2 million horses. 85% of those horses are used for recreational purposes, most notably trail riding. Additionally, the industry employs 1.5 million Americans and a third of all U.S. households has a member that is a horse enthusiast. Horses play a vital role in equine assisted therapies, with programs becoming increasingly popular with physically and emotionally challenged Americans, especially veterans.
The equine industry, along with many other recreational users, are universally opposed to e-bikes on non-motorized trails and are speaking out in unison against any changes which would open trials to higher-speed, machine powered transport. Every equine group nationwide stands in opposition to the risks posed by introducing these vehicles to our nation’s non-motorized trails. These safety, economic and environmental threats are recognized by every group submitting comments to your agency, and echoed by millions of equestrian stakeholders.
Equestrians seek out non-motorized trails on BLM public lands in order to get away from fast-moving vehicles and enjoy a peaceful, natural environment. We often will choose to avoid trails where there is a potential for encounters with fast-moving bicycles. Most equestrians would find the specter of sharing trails with fast-moving E-bikes unappealing, if not frightening. The result would likely be the loss of these traditional users on non-motorized trails should the BLM authorize shared use by E-bikes.
The Oregon Horse Council would be more than willing to discuss this with your leadership who is representing equine trail users. We are concerned that stakeholder outreach was disregarded prior to the development of recent e-bike policies, and we would be more than willing to be part of that conversation along with our partners at Oregon Equestrian Trails and Back Country Horsemen of Oregon. Additionally, if we can provide any further information before your decision is made please contact us.
Brandi Ebner, IOM
Executive Director, Oregon Horse Council
The Oregon Horse Council is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit that works to strengthen, connect, and represent Oregon’s equine industry.