Models for Equine-Based Use of State Fish & Wildlife Lands

Prepared by Cynthia Higgs, Equestrian Partners Coordinator

In June of 2009 the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource examined three models—New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New Mexico—for equine-based use and enjoyment of state game lands (commonly known as Wildlife Management Areas or WMAs) and formulated general recommendations for horsemen in other states seeking access to the same.

by Equine Land Conservation Resource


Equine Use of Fish Wildlife Lands


The Equestrian Land Conservation Resource was approached by one of its member organizations for assistance in finding ways to improve and formalize the relationship between the equestrian trail community and the fish and game agency in that state. In that particular state, equine-based activities are excluded from most fish and game lands (commonly known as Wildlife Management Areas or WMAs) and precariously allowed on certain WMAs under terms that are not well defined. As a result, horsemen feel the agency does not recognize them as being legitimate users of game lands. The organization asked ELCR for examples of ways in which state fish and game agencies may formally permit equine-based use of WMAs and ways in which equestrians may, in turn, offer something of value to the agencies.

ELCR invited member organizations from across the country to help identify models for equine-based use and enjoyment of game lands. Prior research had established that in at least some states equines are summarily excluded from WMAs as a matter of policy. Three programs stood out as particularly interesting models: 1) New Jersey, where the game agency sells horseback riding permits for use on designated WMAs; 2) Pennsylvania, where there are designated trails for non-motorized use, including horse use, on game lands and where the game agency accepts applications to add trails to the existing system; and 3) New Mexico, where access to wildlife on game lands by horseback riders is not only tolerated but encouraged through a legislative initiative.

The detailed findings from research and interviews of officials at fish and game agencies in these three states is provided in this document.

Published July 08, 2009

More Articles in this Category

Equestrian Etiquette - Protecting Trees and Park Structures

Responsible equestrians should actively protect trees and other park structures when out on the trail. Equine expert Lora Goerlich gives her take on this topic.

Rail Trail Development: A Best Practices Report

This report focuses on the issues surrounding the proposed development of the Palouse to Cascades Rail-Trail.

The Emergence of “Fat Bikes” in the USA; Trends, potential consequences and management implications

In the USA, sales and use of “fat bikes” (bicycles with 75–120 mm-wide tires) have increased dramatically in the past five years. These bikes are designed to open new terrain to cyclists, including snow-covered trails and softer ground surfaces impossible to ride with a standard mountain bike. In this paper, we discuss the extent and possible trends of fat bike use, potential impacts, conflicts and land management approaches.

Facts and Myths About Snowmobiling and Winter Trails

Did you know that the majority of the 135,0000 miles of snowmobile trails are open for multiple use? Read about the facts and myths of multiple use winter recreation!