Back Country Horsemen of America

Keeping Trails Open For All

aka BCHA   |   Columbia Falls, MT   |


To perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America's Back Country and Wilderness areas, and to work to ensure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use.

Ruling year info



Ms. Sherry Copeland

Vice Chairman

Mark Himmel

Main address

PO Box 1182

Columbia Falls, MT 59912-1182 USA

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NTEE code info

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (N01)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Service-Education-Advocacy We work to maintain our saddle and pack stock (horses and mules) access to our public lands. What folks today find enjoyable is different than 50 years ago. To stay relevant we need: Technology, to maintain our advocacy nationally, to gain exposure so BCHA doesn't remain “the best kept secret.” Service - Assisting land managers (Forest Service, BLM, National Parks, USFWS, etc.) with maintaining access to our public lands through trailwork, volunteerism and training. Education - Chapters, states need access to information, education and tailored services to remain relevant and serve our local and regional trail system; chainsaw and crosscut certifications, trail tread and maintenance, Leave No Trace, youth development, to name a few. Our outreach needs to improve, better including our youth, helping them appreciate public lands and the importance of our access to them. Advocacy – Presence nationally needs to continue to ensure our right to ride remains.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Keeping Trails Open For Future Generations -- Keeping Public Lands in Public Hands

Service - In 2019, Back Country Horsemen of America volunteers spent just under 300,000 hours working to maintain trails on public lands. That equates to a value of over $10 million in trail work donated to local and federal land managing agencies.

Education - Our education resources library is available to all state and chapter organizations with tips on Leave No Trace, webinars and trainings for officers, pack and saddle stock know hows, and gentle backcountry stock use.

We invest in active participation by our members in the wise and sustainable use of wilderness and backcountry resources. We coordinate with conservation corps and youth groups, United States Forest Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management to ensure tomorrow’s leaders have outdoor and wilderness experiences. As youth groups work with us and our partners, they learn about themselves and about stewardship of our most treasured resources. BCHA, its youth partners and other volunteers leverage funds many times over in delivering projects to clear and maintain trails.

Are you a hiker, biker, or horseback rider who gets out and enjoys trails? We do much of the work that goes unseen to clear and preserve the safety and continued enjoyment of your outdoor experience. Much of our work does involve “horsepower” as well as human power. We go where four-wheeled vehicles cannot go.

Population(s) Served

Our presence nationally is unparalleled. We have a voice and a seat at the table on important legislation regarding trails funding, conservation and pack and saddle stock access.

Supporting Solutions that Augment Forest Service Trails Budget -- As a result of BCHA members’ efforts to secure the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (Public Land 114-245, Nov. 2016), 2020 will represent the third year in which the Forest Service will offer matching grants to partners solely for the purpose of reducing the trail maintenance backlog.

Ensuring Forest Service Trails Budget Remains Intact -- Throughout 2019, BCHA’s Director for Public Lands & Recreation worked closely with leaders of national hiking, bicycling, motorcycling and other organizations to develop and demonstrate widespread public support for our joint request to Congress to enhance recreation- and trails-related budgets of the federal land management agencies. 2020 represents the third year in a row when the efforts of our national trails coalition resulted in minor increases (not decreases) in the Forest Service trails budget.

Supporting Permanent Authorization of the LWCF -- In March of 2019, we cheered on Congress when they acted to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF has been used to support local parks and trails and to fund strategic federal land acquisition that served to fill in gaps in both the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide national scenic trails.

Keeping Motorized Uses on Motorized Trails -- BCHA became a national leader in the effort to prevent the authorization of electric bikes (e-Bikes) on non-motorized trails.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of Facebook followers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Academics, Farmers, Self-employed people, Retired people

Related Program

Keeping Trails Open For Future Generations -- Keeping Public Lands in Public Hands

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success


Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Adults

Related Program

Keeping Trails Open For Future Generations -- Keeping Public Lands in Public Hands

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

These volunteer hours encompass many categories: Basic & skilled trail work,Leave No Trace training, advocacy, education, outreach-$8.46 million plus for 2021-determined by the Independent Sector.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

1) Maintain access of all Americans to the national saddle and pack stock trails in front country, backcountry and Wilderness areas, including local and state trails; to teach and educate the public about the value of volunteer service toward public land stewardship, including related preservation, maintenance, conservation and environmental issues. Leave No Trace (LNT) is a constant guiding principle.
2) Provide models for states and chapters to implement successful youth programs and subsidize new programs that show great promise.
3) Increase our national presence – beyond 32 states – by developing more state organizations. The expansion of our “national footprint” will enhance our reputation as a preeminent service and volunteer organization.
4) Expand our Education Architecture – our educational resources library - that can be used by all members, states and chapters. They can use these resources to educate others in their area on who we are, what we do, why we do it and how to best go about doing it. Free webinars and how-to videos will be created and offered to our members. Members, states and chapters will have access to this information and tailored services to increase capacity to serve local and regional trails and public lands.
5) Increasing membership and fundraising will help support and finance our need to "be at the table" with agencies, land managers, legislators, regulators, public officials and like-minded organizations (other partners and stakeholders) to support our right to ride on public lands and assist our regional leaders. There will be coordinated efforts to reduce reliance on dues as a primary source of annual funding, expand success in grant writing, and take advantage of various new social media channels, including but not limited to, mobile, digital, virtual fundraising, etc.
6) Providing another reliable source of funding via establishment of the BCHA Legacy Fund has been a focus. Once big enough, earned income can provide further financial stability and security for BCHA’s continuing programs in the future – Service, Education, Advocacy.

1) Leveraging partnerships through our national advocacy work; better partnerships equals a larger impact and voice when it comes to maintaining our access. By leveraging partnerships with other trail use organizations, the recreating public will have widespread participation in fair and safe trail use for all ages, abilities and skill levels. Americans who own horses for recreational use will have the benefit of trail use nationwide.
2) Educating and involving our youth is paramount; many states and chapters have successful models in place; we will draw on their models and make their successes available nationally.
3) Drawing on the success of states that have been active for over 40 years, we will find likeminded individuals in states where BCHA organizations are needed to form additional chapter and state organizations.
4) Provide education on Leave No Trace, saw certification and safety, membership renewal, promotion, advocacy, legislative and other programs vital to energetic BCHA programs. Technical and educational assistance is needed through training and webinars. Established and newly formed national committees will continue to be the backbone of operations at BCHA.
5) Membership Recruitment and Retention -- In order to be a robust, viable organization BCHA needs to continually retain and recruit new members of all age groups. They day a new member joins is the day member retention begins. Recruiting new members in states where no state organization exists or where recruitment is not a strength of the state organization is vital. Some established state organizations may also need assistance with retention.
6) Operational Fundraising -- A team approach to fundraising must be implemented in order to meet our strategic objectives.
7) BCHA committees are key to the development and execution of the Action Plans to accomplish their committee’s goals and strategies. Each national committee will have an action plan with individual target dates for completion and an assigned responsible person.

1) BCHA will continue to encourage the service through volunteer trail work performed by our members, which is our core competency and strength. However, BCHA realizes that we have to support other key work projects in our states by subsidizing some of their costs through our internal grant and incentive programs. Further, we promote National Trails Day, National Public Lands Day and other key days with like-minded partners.
2) National advocacy, legislation and partnerships are key missions and three of the primary responsibilities of BCHA. The public liaison is a key part in this. These activities are carried out by paid staff, but involve other BCHA members, specially elected officers and committee chairs, all of whom are volunteers. When challenges involve federal agencies, national legislation or when they require involvement by national or regional partner organizations, it becomes the responsibility and role of BCHA to assist the state or local chapter to resolve the issue.
3) Committees have access nationally to not only BCHA programs but programs of other organizations. Our partnerships with other organizations can help us achieve youth development and outreach.
4) Volunteers members - from established states - will visit states in need of assistance and help set up sustainable state and/or chapter programs. Multi-state BCHA regional committees will be used to further this goal where effective.
5) Many of our members are established experts and can communicate best practices, assist with emerging issues and provide direct outreach. Members on committees – national, state and chapter - have the knowledge and know-how to develop education tools and resources to train others to be successful.
6) Membership -- Direct efforts by committees, development of state expertise manuals and offering incentives. Operational Fundraising -- There are several funds that members and supporters can donate to within BCHA. These funds need to be further promoted. Volunteers need to be committed, make status reports and coordinate with the fundraising committee. Long-term funding sources are established and are being invested for future growth and gain as well as earned income.

National representation, regional and national partnerships. Visit to better track our progress and outreach.
2) Leave No Trace, pack and saddle stock training, along with responsible backcountry and low impact use is available. Increasing our exposure and visibility will be worked on – visit for more information.
3) In 2019 we welcomed South Carolina into the BCHA family. We need to work on a couple states not yet in the fold. Visit to see where we are.
4) The education resources library is formed – previously known as the Education Architecture. On the BCHA website, a spreadsheet is available with links to documents, videos, trainings and webinars. There is information on best practices of officers and directors. Trainings and webinars will continue to be developed and promoted. Beginner chainsaw training is in the works. All education resources are provided free of charge to members. Visit for more information.
5) The Membership and Fundraising Committees are working around the clock to increase numbers. The Fundraising Committee is working on exposure through social media, digital and mobile devices.
6) The Membership Committee has released a webinar on successful ways to increase membership at the local levels.
7) In our goal to adopt technology that can help us, the Fundraising committee has been evaluating software programs that would provide us with a modern Donor Management System (DMS). A DMS would not only support the annual fundraising initiatives, but also support the BCHA Legacy Fund. We are hopeful to implement something for 2021.
8) The BCHA Vice Chairman has a new initiative whereby there is a monthly call via ZOOM for all National Board Members (2 per state x 32 states = 64). This new initiative was designed to improve the two-way flow of communication between the Executive Committee and National Board to the BCHA states. The early results are very promising.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection


Back Country Horsemen of America

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Back Country Horsemen of America

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Sherry Copeland

Board co-chair

Mark Himmel

Back Country Horsemen of America

Term: 2021 - 2022

Darrell Wallace

BCH Washington

Latifia Rodriguez

BCH Colorado

Dennis Serpa

BCH California

Brad Pollman

BCH Montana

Craig Allen

BCH Utah

Tom Thomas

BCH North Carolina

Jim Allen

BCH South Dakota

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/3/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


No data

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

No data

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/05/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.