The purpose of Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA) and therefore Back Country Horsemen of West Virginia (BCHWV) shall be:
1. To perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country and wilderness.
2. To work to insure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use.
3. To assist the various government and private agencies in their maintenance and management of said resource.
4. To educate, encourage and solicit active participation in the wise use of the back country resource by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage.
5. To foster and encourage the formation of new state Back Country Horsemen’s organizations.
Back Country Horsemen of America has been around since 1973 working to perpetuate the historic use of recreational stock in the back country.
It was the original assumption that Back Country Horsemen would be a different type of organization, not the usual special interest one, normally operating as a protest group. It was felt that a service organization, doing work in the back country, would lend credibility to the group when it became involved with agency management.
It was also recognized that some of the complaints against back country horse use were justified. Consequently, it was determined that an educational program should be a fundamental principle of the group.
So, service and education joined a determination to protect our heritage of back country stock use as composites of the “purpose” printed above. Our name was chosen because it signified an interest in much more than just wilderness. Back Country Horsemen are interested in perpetuating recreational stock use.
The actual formation of BCH took place in Montana’s Flathead Valley in January of 1973, to help plan one of America’s first Wilderness Areas. Since then, our progress is a matter of record, a record of which we are very proud. We have used our specialized knowledge of stock and the back country to bring about changes and modifications of restrictive management. We have participated in many agency meetings and land use planning and regulations and have become a strong voice for continued, responsible horse use. We have arrived at our position through extensive research and discussion. This responsible approach has assured us of valid consideration regarding regulations and planning and has given us the support of other conservation groups.
Members of Back Country Horsemen also spend countless hours annually working on the trails as volunteers for public agencies. In many cases this is the only way to keep some of the trails open for the use of stock.
BCHA has organizations in 22 states and in Canada: Arizona, Arkansas, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
There are about 158 Chapters, with a combined membership of approximately 16,000.