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There is a definite art to packing and loading camping and work project equipment on the back of a horse or mule in a way that assures safety for the animal, the gear and the person doing the packing.

Members of the Salmon River Backcountry Horsemen organization are willing to share their expertise during a free of charge, hands-on Safe Packing Clinic that will take place at the Lemhi County Fairgrounds Friday, April 11, from 11AM to 1PM during this year’s annual Salmon Select Horse and Mule Sale. The Back Country Horsemen will also be on hand at their Select Horse Sale booth throughout the April 10-12 sale where they will be answering questions about the local back country, as well as the organization, and inviting people to join the membership.

The Salmon River Backcountry Horsemen group is the reason there are so many well maintained trails that are available in this area for all to enjoy. Joining the organization is a good way to become familiar with where all those trails are located as well as each trail’s degree of difficulty which helps prevent walkers, riders and their animals from getting into situations beyond their abilities.

The Salmon River Backcountry Horsemen became an official organization on March 14, 1978 and was the first Backcountry Horsemen Chapter in Idaho. This chapter concentrates on opening and maintaining trails for safe passage by saddle and pack stock. That involves cutting fallen logs or trees, pruning branches and cutting back encroaching brush. The Horsemen also take on packing jobs for weed control projects and for the Forest Service when the agency’s stock is in use on other jobs.

The group has maintained the popular Wagonhammer Trail for many years and maintains the Buster Light Trail behind the airport. This year the Backcountry Horsemen will be doing cost share projects on the Continental Divide Trail, the Sheep Creek Connecting Trail, the Thunder Mountain Trail, the Hornet-Moose-Brushy-Webfoot group, the Cruikshank-Frank Hall-Deadman network and the Rabbits Foot-Singhiser-Black Mountain Lakes trails. Last year the organization logged 825 volunteer hours. Under a cost share program the Forest Service reimburses direct expenses such as mileage and stock use. The member’s time and labor is donated.

Horsemen Chapter members meet monthly and every year gather for Christmas dinner. An Easter Morning Ride and Breakfast opens each riding season. Twice a year the Backcountry Horsemen dismount to clean up litter along Highway 93 North in the Big Flat area as part of the Adopt-a-Highway program. Members also enjoy assisting with the Salmon Marathon by stationing one or two riders at each intersection along the route to answer questions or provide assistance and they participate in the Heritage Days Celebration at the Sacajawea Center.

Membership in the Salmon River Backcountry Horsemen is a great way for newcomers and young people to meet people who really know the country and to become acquainted with this area’s totally unique backcountry opportunities.

To learn more about the organization go to the Salmon River Backcountry Horsemen Facebook page or call Susan Dudasik at 940-1186. The Horsemen invite Salmon Select Horse and Mule Sale visitors to stop by their booth at the Fairgrounds and say ‘hello.’

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