KSL Outdoors: Backcountry Horsemen of Utah

(Adam) Coming up tonight on KSL Outdoors, we are trading the ball cap for a cowboy hat as we hit the trail with the back country horsemen of Utah.

(Adam) It’s a look back to wild west and how this organization has helped us all on our public lands. I’m Adam Eakle and KSL Outdoors, starts right now.

(Intro) Welcome to KSL Outdoors and welcome to Central Utah, I’m Adam Eakle. We have a really fun show for you tonight, interesting you might say. Something I’ve never done, we are headed out with the Backcountry Horsemen of Utah. We are going all over Central Utah 80-90 miles and look who already found a pony, yeah that’s right Tonya Kieffer. How are you doing girl? Cowgirl. (tonya) I’m having a blast. (adam) you look good on that horse. (tonya) I know right. I’m ready to go for you know the next few days, so I’m ready lets go. (adam) alright saddle up, we are going to have a heck of a ride.

(Walt) “Jake, Jessie, come around.”

(Walt LeFevre, Monroe Teamster) “This is the 40th anniversary of the Back Country Horsemen of America.”

(Kim Peterson, Pres. Central Utah BCHA) “and it’s also the 20th anniversary of the Back Country Horsemen of Utah. It could be called a dual celebration.”

It’s a scene right out of the old West. Cowboys, horses. NAT? and teams of mules getting hitched up to a wagon. For a ride over the rugged backcountry of Utah.

Backcountry Horsemen of America is a non-profit, national organization dedicated to preserving the right of using horses in the backcountry. The Utah chapters teamed up with Western Wagons to put together this nine day, one hundred mile, horse and wagon trek to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Backcountry Horsemen of America.

(paul) hup (jeff) Let’s go! Woo…

(Jeff Nichols, Organized trek) “We try to cover between 10-12 miles per day. That’s about what the wagons can do comfortably and then the outriders can go anywhere they want, have a great time. And we all end up at camp at the end of the day.”

(Kim Peterson, President Central Utah BCHA) “Our main objective is to help keep the trails open for public use, not only for horsemen but for hikers, bikers. It’s getting harder for the government agencies to keep the trails open with budget cuts.”

(Joel Murphy, Pleasant Grove member of BCHU) “In the last 20 years alone we have donated over three million hours of volunteer trail work to the Forest Service which equates to ninety seven million dollars in savings to the tax payer. so it’s substantial and a lot of people don’t even know about us.”

Over the nine day trek, volunteers donated over a hundred hours bagging up noxious weeds, and taking down old corrals and fencing. It was their way to make this ride meaningful.

(Allen Rowley, Forest Supervisor; Manti-LaSal National Forest) “In some cases, the club, the BCHA has more technical skill of packing saddle stock than some agency people, so tremendous help in service work.”

Allen is the Forest Supervisor in the area, but also an avid horseman. He says the organization helps keep the importance of equestrian use on public lands fresh in the minds of public land managers.

(Allen Rowley) “It’s a historic and legitimate use of national forest system lands. Here’s a group that can keep that in front of us. Particularly in cases where we may have managers where we aren’t familiar with it. Here’s a group that can educate them. Here’s what it means, here’s the experience, here’s the kind of trails we are looking for and it is a use that is compatible with almost all others.”

(Allen Rowley) “One of the things that I admire about this organization. Is they represent all spectrums of political interests on public land management.”

(Allen Rowley) “It’s probably the one place you can go to hear the complete range of opinions on something we want to do on National Forest system lands. It’s just a pleasure being around these folks.”

(Tag, toss to quiz) “You looked pretty comfortable on that horse. But he did give you a little run for your money?” (tonya) “Yeah Tennessee walkers are known for their smooth gate, like a cadillac but he wanted to be boss and I wouldn’t let him.” (adam) “Yeah imagine that. Hey we are taking a break from the wagon trek, here in a moment we are going to get back in the saddle and head on down the trail. We’ll have that here in just a second.” (tonya) “but first let’s dive into tonights quiz question.”


(Intro) Welcome back to KSL Outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle. Well the teams are hitched back up to the wagons, the cowboys are in the saddle and we are back on the trail.

(music) “an old cowboy went riding out one dark and windy day.”

These replica wooden wagons pitched and rolled over every rock we came upon. It gave the rider and even this reporter a good idea of what our ancestors dealt when they settled the West.

We’ve jumped aboard with Paul Bliss. Who’s leading his two mules, Bob and Bill.

(Paul Bliss, Utah Western Heritage Foundation) “On the right we have Sir Robert and on the left we have Sir William. They are from the royal line and like any royal family their dad was kind of an ass.”

Paul is youngest teamster in Utah where the average age is about 60. He also help form the Utah Western Heritage Foundation. An organization that looks to preserve our unique Western culture. Paul and many others on the ride are concerned that their way of life is slowly dying.

(Paul Bliss, Utah Western Heritage Foundation) “We need to perpetuate our youth in this so the skills and working with animals is not lost.”

(Jeff Nichols) “It’s hard to compete with fast cars and video games when you are going five miles per hour. Until you get them out here. And if you can get them out here and get them on a trek like this they light up and understand why we do it and what it’s all about.”

(Walt LeFevre, Monroe Utah Teamster) “Most of the people, the old timers of the West are gone. I’m about to the age now where I’ll fade off into the sunset before too many years.”

(Walt) “But there are a few that show some interest and we are glad of that.”

(Adam) “Most 15 year olds are watching tv, playing video games or chasing girls.” (stetson) “Well, I’m chasing women, but no tv or computer games.”

Stetson is just the kind of hard working young man these folks are very proud of. You see, just two days into the ride, a driver lost control of the reins, was thrown from his wagon and his eleven year old grandson was left alone as the wagon careened out of control. Stetson, along with other cowboys leapt to their feet and were able to grab the reins and bring the horses under control. Everyone, including Stetson’s grandfather Dennis, couldn’t have been more proud.

(Dennis MacDonald MacDonald Ranch) “We would like to keep the kids and the grandkids how to work and how to provide for themselves and respect other people. That’s what we are working towards.”

(stetson) Well organized, good food, just lot of fun to be around these people, good time.”

(Joel Murphy) “That’s why we really encourage families and youth to get involved. Because they catch the spirit and think this is what I want to do with my kids when I grow up and I’ve got children, grandkids now who like to do this with me to. They’ll be joining us later in the week and that’s what we hope is that the next generation will want to do the same thing.”

(Paul Bliss telling team to stop) Woo..

(Jeff Nichols) “We try to be in camp about 3 o’clock so everybody can take care of their stock, get everybody water and fed, and then we have dinner. We have a caterer, chuck wagon type dutch oven dinner and then we have entertainment lined up every night.

(Music) Ghost riders in the sky…

More on the ride, even some cowboy poetry just ahead, but first back to the guys at Fish Tech for tonights fishing report.

(music finishes…”Thank you.”


(Paul Bliss, Cowboy Poet) Back in 1999 we run a hundred head of horses from our place to Salem.

Every night.

Around the campfire.

(Paul) turned them out of Cove Fort and trailed them on down through Johnson’s Canyon. Had a lot of experiences on the way down.

Stories are told and cowboy poetry goes in motion.

(Paul) “When we went down there we had two empty saddles. For those of you that don’t know what that means. When there is some good cowboys that pass away, we honor them with throwing their saddle on a horse and they rode with us. And it was funny, there was Faye Hamblin and Tob MacDonald and they cowboy together and we threw their saddles on horses every morning and them two horses would ride together. They would just trail together. I don’t know what it was but we always said, well there’s Tob and Faye riding along with us.”

(Paul) “But this is the poem that come out of that.”

(Paul) the morning starts at 5 a.m. The cookie rings the bell.”

(Paul) come on get up you cowboys. Comes the loud persistent yell. Come on shake out the coffee is hot, don’t lay there in your soggins, roll them tight and get them up. All bedrolls to the wagon.

(Paul) “The jingler brings your horses in while the night hawk grabs some chuck. And you ponder about the last few weeks how you all got by on luck. The mountains that you trailed across, the rivers, streams and swells. The thunderstorms, the dust and sweat. Some days it fell like hell and you muscles sore and tender from the colt that bucked you down, and knowing today is the last day and you’ll arrive in town. 290 miles wrangling horses all the way, there’s an emotion that can’t be denied when you call positions for the day and two empty saddles travel with us as they rode their side by side. In memory of those two cowboys and how they lived and died. The team is almost harnessed up the leaders start to paw. Make a circle boys and start them slow, head them up that draw!. In the East, the stars they disappear, a blue grey takes it place and the pink cliffs are standing out where before there is not trace. The herd busts and thunders towards the draw, ears alert, noses flared and cowboys racing for the pass with hard determined stares.”

(Paul) Mains and tails flying, spurs ringing out of tune, it’s an elusion watching horse and man race towards the fading moon. Down through the pines and cedars where the scrub oak slaps your chaps. Well you memorize this picture boys for time has seemed to lapse. With cowboys in position, the herd now in control and you watch the horses all line out, a single file they go. And the sun it tops a ragged ridge and the rays come busting through. You watch the herd snake down the trail in solemn overview. Well it’s a picture and can’t be described by just anybody’s notion. Cause partner it’s a feeling…Cowboy poetry in motion. (applause)

Time now to a page in this weeks Utah Field Guide.

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