Welcome to SMMBCH


SMMBCH’s mission is to insure that public lands remain open to equestrian use.  It is also SMMBCH’s mission to work with federal, state, and private agencies in their maintenance and management of land resources.  If the Upper Current River trails are going to be open for horseback use it will have to be with the designated trail system.  Remember, it is a federal law that ALL National Parks in the nation allow horseback riding only on designated trails.  It is time to end the controversy and get trails designated for horseback riders and SMMBCH offers the following:

 1. ONSR is required by federal law to develop a GMP periodically to guide the ways to “manage” the Park for the next twenty years.

 2.  ONSR is required by law to develop management options which have been termed Alternatives A, B, & C.  The “No Action” Alternative is the status quo and a measure to compare to the Alternatives.

 3.  The GMP is a broad umbrella without the details. Once the GMP is completed, the detailed Horse Management Plan will be developed setting forth details such as number of miles of trails, location of trails and horse camps, if/any permitting system, etc.

 4.  Federal law is that in ALL National Parks, horses are only allowed on “designated trails.”  The ONSR currently only has “designated trails” in the Eminence area:  Broadfoot Trail, Shawnee Trail, Two Rivers Trail, and Jerktail Trail. The Park manages these trails and the GMP plans for no closures and for improvements to these designated trails.

 5.  The Upper Current River portion of ONSR has lacked proper management or been ignored since the inception of the Park.  While horseback riding has been going on before the Park came into existence and continues to this day, these trails do not appear in the legal documents that govern the Park and are unauthorized.  The Park, in preparation to manage the Upper Current River portion, has inventoried the number of unauthorized trails that weave in and out of the narrow corridor of the Park.  These unauthorized trails will be declared “Closed,” however, many of these same trails will change designation from unauthorized to “designated trail.”  Once designated the trails will be maintained and managed permanently.

 6.  Once the GMP is in place, ONSR, SMMBCH, local commercial trail ride Owners, and local trail riders will be tasked to worked together to develop the Horse Management Plan and the applicable details.


Eldon Kreisel, President.

In regard to the question, “What is being done related to Ozark National Scenic Riverways?”

Since the very beginning this organization has worked for the betterment of trail riding community in trying to maintain and preserve our heritage of trail riding on public lands.

This has been done through the initiating and passage of a Missouri legislation that sometimes has been dubbed “Right to Ride”.  This sets guidelines allowing for equine usage of state public lands and establishes legitimate procedures for maintenance and closure of trails.

This is being done by promoting personal relationships with all public land managers in the state of Missouri.  SMMBCH currently has Memorandums of Understanding with every public land management organization in this state.

SMMBCH has testified before government legislative committees to advocate for equine trail usage.

SMMBCH has worked along-side of public personnel to maintain and build trails.

SMMBCH has established and manned many information and educational booths.

SMMBCH has hosted a National Back Country Horsemen meeting.

SMMBCH has enlisted the National Public Policy Director to comment.

SMMBCH has worked to train not only our membership but government land managers in the principles of Leave No Trace.

As early as 2005 SMMBCH has been in contact with the National Park Service in relation to Public Park Lands in Missouri.  We have continually advocated for scientific validation of need for trail closures and have worked for increased trail mileage.

In 2005 and before, your board and officers were in constant contact with Supt. Reed Detring concerning the upcoming GMP, management plan.  This has been ongoing with the various new interim and new superintendents.  Not only have various board members and officers gone to the public meetings but have met face to face with Park Personnel. They have expressed the concerns of the trail riding public related to closures and changes in existing conditions.

Our members have been encouraged to attend the meetings and to respond to the comment period.

In 2009 SMMBCH was able to have sent a letter of support from the National Back Country Horsemen by Dennis Daily, Executive Director of Issues and Policy.  He stated in part……..”I am alarmed to hear that none of the alternatives in your proposed GMP (except the no action, which rarely emerges as a truly viable alternative) will allow equestrian use in the primitive/wilderness zone.  This would appear to be a decision without benefit of analysis, and a decision intended to accommodate a small minority who simply prefer not to share our wild places—…..”

In a 2005 letter to Supt Detring from our Board and Officers we stated, “The Land-based Zones as referenced on page seven (7) confine horse use to resource-based recreation  and natural zones only.  It understandable and reasonable for horses not to be in high levels of development; however, to deny horseback riders to more wild and natural character of the primitive zone is questionable and troubling…………

SMMBCH further stated:

“The Recreational Activities by Management Zone chart (A) p.7 reflect horseback Riding being restricted to “designated trails.”  Designated trails throughout the Park are inevitable.  SMMBCH does not object to a designated trail system if well designed, managed and adequately meets the needs of the equestrian users.  SMMBCH has traditionally been of the understanding that Federal Lands have been administered under a policy of “Open unless declared closed”.  We are somewhat naturally concerned that a new GMP may somewhat indicate a subtle change in that policy.

This may not be the case but we are concerned that some of the areas may contain Traditionally used country roads that might be closed bust which could be left open to equestrian use without creating harmful environment impact.  The plan should address staging areas of adequate size for today’s trucks and trailers throughout the Park.  The number of trails available is critical.  With too few trails, the likelihood of overuse is  high.  With overuse come degradation and loss of resources.  A good trial system will take into account and provide adequate number of trails and crossover links…….”

“SMMBCH would also support an alternative blend that recognizes the historical and cultural Significance of horses/mules in the part of the Missouri Ozarks.  Horses and mules belong to the fabric of the Park in the same way as john boats, springs, caves and old settlements.”

HAVING PRESENTED ALL THIS:  SMMBCH has been working for the interests of the equine community since before 2005 and has been actively involved in equine issues through-out the entire state since its beginning.  This has been done sometimes behind the scenes, at other times in open forum.  We have gained a working relationship and respect from those with whom we agree and disagree but rest assured your board and officers are hard at work.

Much of what I have quoted is still a work in progress and we are continually commenting and working to stay up to date.

Having said all this:

In the development of National Park Service General Management Plans, Show-Me Missouri Backcountry Horsemen advocate for protection of natural resources while providing access to recreational activities and specifically horseback riding.  We believe in a blend of activities that allow for protection and restoration of degraded biological communities without denying equine access.  Through a well planned designated trail system with maximum mileage developed, with maintenance and a guarantee for use by future generations, over use should not occur.  The trail system needs to have enough trail mileage so that over use does not occur.  Designated trails and a large enough trail system of greater mileage along with allowance for adequate numbers of staging areas and trail heads to park trucks and trailers would help prevent over use, degradation of natural resources and development of undesignated trails.  We approve of well managed and planned trails to protect and restore the natural resources while still providing maximum access.  Education and promotion of such outdoor ethics such as Leave No Trace Stock program are paramount to the process.

This last paragraph encompasses the position of your SMMBCH board and officers in relation to all public lands and specifically to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Eldon Kreisel

SMMBCH State President.


Keeping Missouri’s Public Trails Open to Horsemen

Show-Me Missouri Back Country Horsemen (SMMBCH) is a non-profit volunteer service organization working on and for Missouri’s public trails.  Our mission is ensuring continued equestrian access to Missouri’s public trails so future generations can enjoy riding in some of Missouri’s most scenic areas and preserve historic skills connecting America’s past to the future.  We work towards our goals by:

  • Providing volunteer services to the:
    • Missouri Department of Natural Resources
    • Missouri Department of Conservation
    • Missouri Department of Transportation
    • U.S. Forest Service
    • Army Corps of Engineers
    • County and city parks in Missouri
    • National Park Service
  • Educating government officials and the public on issues related to equestrian use of public lands.
  • Advocating for continued trail access for equestrians with local, state and federal officials