One never knows what the day will bring, or the last four months! Many BCHO Chapters have had to put their projects on hold, Sourdough Chapter included. Best laid plans had us heading up to Sam Brown Horse Camp the first weekend in June to complete the rebuilding of this one-and-only horse camp in the Wild Rivers Ranger District of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Sourdough Chapter has been the caretaker of the horse camp for about 20 years.
With the advent of Covid19 Phase II in Josephine County, the Forest Service has been opening its campgrounds in this expansive Forest. Sam Brown Horse Camp is slated to open on June 18, 2020. This caused a bit of panic on our part as caretakers. With some great communication with Rangers in charge of this area, Sourdough Chapter was able to get our volunteer agreement up and running for the Horse Camp completion.
Our small, six-person crew will go up on June 26-27 to complete the one four-horse and two two-horse corrals we built last fall. They require only the top rails and chain gates. We will also remove the remaining four campsites corrals. Due to their condition they are not safe for stock. The crew will also assess placement of the new corrals. Our Covid19 protocol directives will be followed by this smaller crew. It seems like a very involved document, but in practice it is all doable and easy to follow.
On July 10-12 our larger crew of 20 will stage all materials up at the Horse Camp on the 10th and rebuild on the 11-12.This job requires tractors with post hole diggers, front forks for carrying posts and poles, and generators to run the saws and power equipment that are not battery operated. We have some very talented crew leaders to direct and work with their teams of 4 on each the corral. There are 3-4 teams depending on availability. Other persons will be the camp support team doing all those necessary jobs of keeping the paperwork straight, feeding, making sure crews have water and snacks, and keeping the camp clean and orderly. Most importantly, during our Covid19Phase II protocol requirements we have a person just in charge of our health and well being making sure we follow those protocols.
Our Sourdough Chapter Sam Brown Horse Camp/Briggs Valley committee deserves the credit for making this happen. Boots on the ground and in the saddle are necessary to keep stock users active and safe to camp up at Sam Brown Horse Camp. Good news for this area is the Wild Rivers Ranger District has hired Campground Hosts that are stationed across the FS 25 Rd. for the summer camping season. This will be a great help to stock users, as some motorized and mountain bike recreationist have been using the Horse Camp for several years. The Forest Service is dedicated to better signage and oversight to make sure that stock campers get their Horse Camp back. We’re also thankful that the Forest Service purchased all the remaining supplies for completion of the rebuild, are paying for signage to help re-educate other users, and the presence of the camp host to help with enforcement. We’re talkin’ and they’re listening – and acting.
More to come on the completion of this project and its ongoing saga in the future. Several of our members are on the Multi Use Team Group/ USFS and BLM Teams that are developing a short, mid, and long range trail plan for the Briggs Valley area. It is a huge area, with many opportunities for recreational users. We’re glad to be a part of this process. We’re looking forward to the completion of this rebuild and development of safe trails for stock users. Look for our update come mid July.
Pictures are from October 2019 Sam Brown Horse Camp start of rebuild. The 2020 work parties will do this same work on four more campsites.
Article Submitted by: Cate Bendock, President, BCHO Sourdough Chapter
Back Country Horsemen of Oregon is a nonprofit organization focused exclusively on ensuring public lands throughout Oregon remain accessible to equestrians. Through our principals we advocate for private recreational pack and saddle stock use of all public lands and the stewardship of those lands. The Back Country Horsemen of America is the only national organization that promotes the use of private recreational pack and saddle stock use on our public lands.