Adventure Tourism Part Deux: KRC Critical Of Horse Council Letter to Fish and Wildlife Over Cranks Creek Trail Ride Posted: April 9, 2009
April 9, 2009
Dear Ms. Grulke:
During a review of Fish and Wildlife records as part of my ongoing monitoring of the "Adventure Tourism" initiative, I came across a March 12, 2009 e-mail from your office to Mark Cramer at KFDWR. I was taken aback by your email, in which your office sought to have the Special Permit for the Cranks Creek WMA Trail Ride issued "immediately[.]"
It would behoove your office to understand that the Cranks Creek Wildlife Management Area, and indeed all of the areas under the management of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, are literally "bought and paid for" not with taxpayer money, but by those purchasing hunting and fishing licenses. Those individuals have a reasonable expectation that any special use permit granted for a use that is not within the core management objectives for a WMA will be approved only after the agency is comfortable that the special use will be properly bounded and managed so as not to interfere with the primary management objectives.
The grant of a special use permit for the Cranks Creek WMA, where horseback riding is not generally permitted, is a privilege, not a right, and such a permit is granted at the discretion of the agency only after taking into account a number of legitimate ecological and management concerns. In this particular case, the Cranks Creek WMA borders a state nature preserve, and the possibility to damage to the ecological resources of that area is a significant concern not only to KDFWR, but to other agencies and to organizations such as KRC.
It might also be advisable in the future, to acquire a special use permit before you schedule a trail ride, so that the KDFWR is not placed in a position of having to consider approval or denial of a permit for an activity that has already been advertised and to which high-profile political officials or their spouses have been invited. Irrespective of the stature of any trail ride participant, it is a little much for your office or local officials to advertise a trail ride for which you have not yet received permission, and to then complain that the agency with management responsibility is not moving fast enough to approve the permit request to suit your agency.
KRC will continue, as it has since this initiative was launched, to work to assure that any expansion of the uses for which state lands are managed, whether for pedestrian, equine, or motorized use, is done carefully, thoughtfully, and in accordance with sound management principles and governing laws and regulations. I assume that your office would expect no less than that of any agency reviewing a special use permit request.
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.