The article about Glenn Ryan and the USFS Regional Specialty Pack String was a pleasure to find on the Herald's June 20 front page; the Web video was nothing short of excellent. The Herald did a solid job capturing the value of the clinic, the importance of pack stock to work projects in remote areas, and the dedication Ryan devotes to his work.
The Four Corners Back Country Horsemen took pride in co-sponsoring the clinic, as well as the five-day mountain horsemanship clinic Ryan and his wife, Alice, taught the previous week in Ignacio. While the 4CBCH appreciates the USFS for bringing Ryan in, these clinics were collaborative efforts.
Our volunteers provided support services, hospitality, advertising, record-keeping, a guest speaker, horse-transport and more.
The Herald noted that non-USFS employees took the clinic for personal motivations but neglected to add that chief among those reasons was to master skills to volunteer more effectively on the San Juan National Forest and elsewhere. Backcountry horsemen all across the United States "give back" by contributing thousands of hours annually to trail maintenance, cooperative services and education.
The article also noted that the public paid for the clinic. It was designed as a break-even educational effort, not as a money-maker. Any small amount left over supports the work of the 4CBCH on behalf of all who enjoy our public lands.
Finally, I must mention that on the Saturday between the two clinics, the 4CBCH hosted 18 participants at our "Leave No Trace" camping and packing clinic - also co-sponsored with the USFS but taught by 4CBCH members. Ryan does a superb job teaching and promoting the use of pack stock, but he is not alone in his talent and experience.
Whether by supporting excellent teachers from elsewhere, or by offering our own members as teachers and mentors, the Four Corners Back Country Horsemen is pleased to continue the tradition of educating others.
To us, packing with stock is not a "lost art" but a valuable skill that deserves preservation as part of our American heritage.
Four Corners Back Country Horsemen, Durango