BCHA and BCH Oregon received positive news last week that the National Park Service (NPS) will encourage horseback use on the National Preserve portion of Oregon Caves National Monument. The Monument was expanded by Congress in 2014 to include the entire watershed that encompasses the famed Oregon Caves. In doing so, lands formerly part of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest were transferred to NPS management. This raised concern among horsemen who enjoyed trails on the former national forest lands and who used them to reach Bigelow Lakes and the backcountry portions of the national forest.
After nearly three years of a public planning process that including addressing camping and trail use, BCHA/BCHO remained unsure as to the degree that horseback use and overnight camping would be allowed to continue in the new Preserve. The office of Oregon Senator Ron Wyden stepped in to facilitate dialogue between NPS staff and BCHA/BCHO. It was broadly understood that the Senator, when introducing in 2014 the legislation to expand the Preserve, intended to preserve existing recreational uses on the former forest lands. The facilitated dialogue also helped to ensure a smooth transition between outgoing, interim and new Oregon Caves superintendents who sought to expand their partnership with BCHO’s Sourdough Chapter in the development and ongoing maintenance of trails. BCHA and BCHO wish to express their appreciate to these successive park superintendents and to the office of Senator Ron Wyden for his vision and action to preserve the unique landscape that surrounds and comprises Oregon Caves while, at the same time, working to ensure that existing recreational uses within the watershed are allowed to continue into the future.