We are committed to getting you on your horse and to places the two of you may not know even exist in Alaska. Eager to encourage and assist new riders and packers, we are always looking for more trail riders! Although it may seem like trail riding is only seasonal in Alaska, we are an active, year-round group.
Our group's objectives are to promote multi-use trail systems, map existing trails, encourage horse use on public lands, notify horse owners of regulations or law changes that affect their use and keeping of horses, and lobby legislators for protection of the rights of horse owners. We depend on our member's involvement to meet our objectives.
The Trail Riders have an interesting history dating back almost 40 years. We would like to express our thanks to Bev Nester who supplied information on the following brief history of the Trail Riders.
The Interior Alaska Trail Riders Association (IATRA) started in 1976/1977 when a group of active trail riders found out 250,000 acres would be closed to horse use by the State Parks Dept. When the land became the "Chena River State Recreation Area". At the first meeting, IATRA discussed the need to protect the use of trails and access to public lands for horsemen and to protect the loss of trails due to land disposals by the State and the Federal Government. IATRA notified as many people as they could of the formation of their group and got going.
Bev Nester, Barbara Buck, Dorothy Wilde, and Rocky Rhoads, as core members representing IATRA, successfully campaigned for a FNSB trails commission. These four people were members of the original 10 member FNSB trails commission. During this time, IATRA wrote and received grants for multi-use trail projects in the Interior. The main grant was for the Circle Fairbanks trail (part of this grant was used to fund a trails planner position in the FNSB). Other grants involved the Chena Hot Springs to Gilmore trail, Skyline Ridge trail (above Farmers Loop), and Glacier State trail (running from Curry's Corner to the Chena River State Recreation Area). These were grants of either $100,000 or $150,000 each, and the money was overseen by FNSB.
When Bev was president of IATRA, she ensured horse and livestock owners would be heard during the rewrite of a particular Zoning Ordinance for the FNSB. The FNSB tried to pass an ordinance that all farm stock would have to have a minimum of 100 sq. feet per animal, plus an additional 100 sq. ft for each 100 lbs. of animals weighing over 100 lbs. This meant that each bunny had to be in a cage no smaller that 10X10 ft. and each 1000 lb. horse had to have a separate corral of 20X50 ft. Animal control would enforce this ordinance by eyeballing what your animal weighed. IATRA helped to successfully keep this ordinance from passing.
In the late 1970's, Bev Nester served on a BLM Citizens advisory board, providing a voice for IATRA and other horse users to ensure the use of Federal trails. She helped IATRA receive a permit to travel the Alaska Pipeline corridor. The IATRA members that participated on this ride of the pipeline corridor went from the Arctic Circle to the Tolavana River (1982) to raise money for the Morris Animal Foundation (about $14,000). Money raised on the pipeline ride, and subsequent rides, was used for interior projects such as: a portable stock for use by all the local vets, money for the Large Animal Surgery at UAF, donations to groups conducting research on horse and large animal diseases, bringing speakers up for workshops, etc.
IATRA members have served on the Alaska State Parks Advisory board for many years to help keep horse use an allowed use in the Chena River State Recreation Area overseen by the State Park Service. IATRA has set up a system to sponsor trail rides - both long and short. The long ones have included the Circle Fairbanks trail, Fielding Lake, and Clear Water Creek - Rosevelt Lake, Windy Creek, Jack River,and Yanert River rides and many more. IATRA sponsored rides have also included Ride and Tie races (held at Moving Free Farm), Endurance Rides (held at Jan Bowen's), a Treasure Hunt (held at Barbara Bucks), and assorted Adopt a Novice training rides held at Jan Bowen's and Moving Free Farms.