Monday, March 30, 2015

The Methow Valley chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Washington 30th Anniversary

The 30th anniversary of both the first meeting of the Methow Valley Chapter of BCHW and the Chapter's first Spring Ride fall within a two-week period in 2015 and will be proudly celebrated.

Ken Wilcox reported the formation of the Methow Valley Chapter in the April and May 1985 issues of the Trailhead News:
“Another Chapter of BCH of WA is being formed in the Twisp area as an outcome of the Horsemen-agency meeting held on April 11.  Dave Reynaud, Twisp, is the temporary chairman...
They will hold another meeting on May 9th, 7:30 P.M. at the Twisp Senior Center. This new Chapter will be promoted a little more at the Sun Country Spring Trail Ride at Pateros on April 28...April 28th dawned nice and clear; a beautiful day for the ride...and there were 115 riders out for it...On the ride there were quite a number of riders from the Okanogan Valley who indicated an interest in a chapter in their area...We sure have to thank Betty Wagoner for setting up the ride and getting these horsemen together”

Members of the new Chapter were dedicated, enthusiastic and energetic. They immediately got to work on trails and trail heads, bridges and on developing a new horse camp on the Twisp River at South Creek. In 1986, 150 hours were spent on “construction and politics”. Most of the projects were, and continue to be, in association with the Forest Service, the main land manager in the area.

The horse camp was dedicated in 1988 and the South Creek Bridge, giving access to the trails from the horse camp, was completed in 1989.  Since those early days, voluntary work has continued apace. We have helped to build several other bridges; replacement of the South Creek Bridge was a large undertaking (619 recorded volunteer hours in 2009/10). 
Volunteers who contributed to the South Creek Bridge replacement!

Dedication plaque for the South Creek Bridge replacement
We have also assisted other organizations to pack in equipment and provisions, and taken part in LNT and youth projects.  

Some of our members have managed to keep up with current technology in order to meet the demands of communicating, running the Spring Ride, accounting, and the legal requirements of reporting. Our newsletter “Horse Tales” has developed into an informative and entertaining monthly publication, and a Facebook page, webpage, and blog are regularly updated.

For the last 30 years members have ridden the vast network of trails in the Methow Valley and appreciated the ready access to the Pasayten and Chelan/Sawtooth wilderness areas. Work parties have been interspersed with enjoyable social rides and potlucks. Monthly business meetings are still held in the Twisp Senior Center (now Methow Valley Senior Center), and the 30th Anniversary Spring Ride (31st Ride) will be on April 25th 2015.

And what of the fourth decade? A top priority is completion of another horse camp.  
Design drawing of North Summit Horse Camp
While still in the planning stage (over three years), MVBCH has already committed many volunteer hours and substantial funding to complete a camp at Loup Loup North Summit. Increasing challenges (not specific to MVBCH) include aging membership, reduced funding for trails, unwieldy bureaucracies, increasing demands for recording and reporting.

Hopefully, with good will, increased co-operation with all stake holders and continued enthusiasm, MVBCH can continue contributing to the BCH Mission.

(Thank you to our President Cathy Upper and our Chapter Historian Jan Ford for compiling this history to celebrate our 30th Anniversary!)

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