BCHC Mid Valley Unit
President's Monthly Message
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(Left) Michael King, and friend.
Hello, once again, to all of you.
Well, I'm a little tardy in getting this column written this month. Those 16- hour workdays, five to six days a week, finally caught up with me. Thankfully, there was a brief respite, and we are off this Saturday. That day off is like a gift, and I hope to be able to catch up with myself a bit. Just getting a full night's sleep was a start.
Before I get into the subject for this month, I want to send my heart-felt condolences and support to Mid Valley members Craig and Stephanie Stott, co-owners of Crescent Work and Outdoor in Modesto. Late last week I learned of a fire that involved their business. From the video I saw, it was a huge fire that eventually consumed their entire store. It was a total loss. The Stotts have been longtime supporters of Mid Valley Unit, where Stephanie currently serves on the board of directors. Please keep them in your prayers as they piece things back together.
I wish this was a more entertaining column this month, but I have something very serious to discuss with you all. Each month at our Mid Valley board of directors meeting, we receive a current unit membership report. I had been noting over the course of 2018, that we were experiencing a membership decline. I mistakenly attributed it to the normal ebb and flow of renewals. It was slowly dawning on me, however, that it wasn't.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the midsummer meeting of the Backcountry Horsemen of California executive committee. There I got another look at the membership statistics, and it wasn't good.
Right now, we are NO LONGER the largest unit in the nation. As I remember it, our 2013 membership was approximately 435 members. Mid Valley was within striking range of getting a coveted and prestigious fourth delegate to the state board meetings (450 members or more). No unit has ever achieved or come close to that. Even today.
Our Mid Valley membership is now down by some 120 members from that 2013 peak. The 2018 year-to-date membership decline alone stands at 64.
We are dangerously close to LOSING one of our three state delegates. That will happen should we fall below 300 members. Current membership right now is 319. Have I got your attention yet? The situation has certainly got my own.
So, what to do? In response, at the September meeting, our board of directors immediately formed a "Membership Recruitment and Retention Committee." This committee will explore the decrease in membership and seek ways and ideas to reverse it.
The first goal will be to re-enlist members who have recently not renewed. I know they believe in Backcountry Horsemen and all we do. We need to reconnect and reaffirm with them how valuable their membership is to BCH. Sometimes in our zeal to accomplish things, we simply fail to say, "Thank you, we appreciate you."
Then we will look at our unit operations to see that we have a proper balance of work vs. fun/social events that keep our membership interested. We have a primary goal to be mindful of, but all work and no fun makes Jack a dull boy.
Backcountry Horsemen and Mid Valley Unit work hard on a variety of fronts for the benefit of our members. We do this through physical work clearing downed trees and rocks from the trails. We also work to educate equine users as to proper horsemanship etiquette to prevent resource damage. We serve as camp hosts at Clark Fork USFS camp to make a nice place to camp with your stock. We also maintain the Pine Valley Horse Camp, another great camping/equine resource. We have been instrumental in hosting a youth camp to attract a new generation of equine enthusiasts who will eventually pick up the mantle from us older folks.
Mid Valley was also very instrumental in creating and funding a paid internship position for a young person with the US Forest Service. That person will have a guaranteed position with the Forest Service when they graduate college. She, in this case, will be a future advocate for the stock users of the national forests. A win all around.
Mid Valley unit is doing all this and more, but we need your help. Renewing your own membership is a great start. Getting others to join our group, and cause, is another.
I am a member of this new committee, and we want your input. Call me at
209-606-8323 or email me at
We want and need your ideas, feedback and input. Help us to reinvigorate
Mid Valley Unit. A final note, this committee is being watched by BCHC. They
are hoping to use it as a model for other units that are also experiencing
membership declines. Let's show them once again what we can do!
(Our President writes a message every month for the newsletter.)