Meet Carole Polasek – Back Country horseman and mule lady through and through! Carole has been packing in the back country for nearly 36 years with her husband, Darrel, and their beautiful string of mules. She is one of those rare behind-the-scenes folks who can get more done in less time than it takes for most people to describe what they are going to do!
Although she may be the quiet type, what she accomplishes cannot be ignored. As President of the Redwood Unit of Back Country Horsemen of California, Carole has been a backbone founding member of the group since 1992. Her behind-the-scenes work with letters, meetings, organizational skills and a multitude of other tasks has resulted in very real trail access for horsemen and trail riders everywhere.
Carole, for those of us who don’t know, what is Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA) and what makes it different from other horse clubs?
Rather than a regular horse club, Back Country Horsemen of America is more of a service organization to help our public agencies with work on the trails. The Philosophy and Purpose is:
1. To perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country and wilderness areas.
2. To work to ensure 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 resources.
4. To educate, encourage and solicit active participation in the wise and sustaining use of the back country resources by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage.
5. To foster and encourage the formation on new units of the organization.
How did you come to be involved with BCHA?
Several concerned horsemen learned about Back Country Horsemen of California and an informational meeting was held at the Freshwater School on December 16, 1991. The first official meeting was held on January 24, 1992 and Darrel and I became founding members at that time.
You've been at this for a long time. What’s the most satisfying thing that you've seen accomplished through BCHA?
BCHA was instrumental in getting the Forest Service to change their Trail Classification revamping. The proposed changes to the designations and maintenance of trails in the forests would have eliminated pack and saddle stock from miles of trails. We challenged the Forest Service to allow for public input on this serious issue, and they listened. It was a major milestone!
Most recently, Back Country Horsemen of California, and Back Country Horsemen of America, were instrumental in convincing a judge to allow commercial and recreational pack and saddle stock in the Yosemite wilderness areas until a complete survey is done to determine the levels of use the areas will support. A hiking group had sued to stop stock use in the wilderness areas because they felt the items packed in by stock offended their “sense of the wilderness.”
It's a ridiculous lawsuit given the fact that packers follow the 'leave no trace behind' rule, perhaps even better than hikers because they have the ability to haul out garbage that others leave behind. Your group deserves a standing ovation for the work you are doing for horsemen everywhere!
I have great memories of ‘work camp trips’ doing horse trail head improvements and such. Lots of work, lots of laughs, lots of food and good people, but it’s not all work and no play. What do you guys do for fun?
We still camp and ride with our friends and stock lovers. As long as we are able to go to the mountains we are happy! I doesn't matter what we are doing, we're just having a lot of fun.
Carole, it’s been wonderful catching up with you! One more question before you go. How can horsemen become involved with BCHA in their area?
If you want to get involved you can go to the BCHA website. There you can get information to join Back Country Horseman in your state. Or you can help out by making a tax deductible donation to BCHA to help preserve our trail rights.
BCHA/BCHC Redwood Unit in Humboldt County California meeting times - 1st Wed of the month at Freshwater School, Eureka 7:00 pm.