MDC Comment request 2017
In accordance with Gov. Eric Greitens’ executive order issued in January, MDC is undergoing a thorough review of all of their rules, and they want your input. As taxpayers and MDC constituents, your feedback is valuable.You can comment by going to https://mdc.mo.gov/about-regulations/wildlife-code-missouri/comment-existing-regulations ; click on Chapter 11 to expand the selection; scroll down to 3CSR10-11.130, and click on “Comment on this regulation.” The following are thoughts for comments concerning the MDC regulations as they pertain to trail use.
Paragraph 3CSR10-11.130 (5A)
This paragraph lists the trails that are open to bicycles only or equestrians only. User conflict is manageable through education and signage; no user group should be excluded from the people’s trails. MDC should open the 15 trails that are bicycle only to all users, and likewise, the 2 trails listed as equestrians only should be opened to all users.
Paragraph 3CSR10-11.130 (6)
This paragraph deals with the closing of trails during hunting seasons. These seasons take up about 84 days per year, and this closure includes prime weather for trail users. Presumed reasons for this closure are safety and disruption of hunting. Both reasons are of questionable validity when it is considered that the trails remain open to pedestrian use (hiking) during these periods. If safety is a true concern then all trail users should be required to wear the same hunter orange apparel (headgear and outer upper garment) that is required of firearms deer hunters. Hunters, outdoorsmen, and equestrians all know that nothing has greater disruptive effect on wildlife than a human on foot; a rider on horseback is seen as less of a threat. All multi-use trails should be open to all trail users, especially on those areas and during those times when hunting pressure is light. After assessing hunting pressure this regulation change was implemented on Three Creeks Conservation Area; it should be applied statewide.
Paragraph 3CSR10-11.130 (7)
This paragraph discusses the need to obtain a special use permit from the local land manager for the single equestrian or bicycling user. This issue creates a significant burden on these trail users, a burden not placed on the pedestrian. The requirement discourages equestrians and bicyclists from using the multi-use trails and creates the impression that the trail user is not welcome on land owned by the people and managed by MDC. Many conservation areas do not require the use of this permit except for groups of 10 or more; if avoiding overcrowding is the purpose this requirement is sufficient for that. It would be more consistent to have the same rule apply to all conservation areas, using the 10 or more threshold for needing the special use permit.
Regulations pertinent to equestrian use are on pages 4 and 5 of Chapter 11: Special Regulations for Department Areas, section 3 CSR 10-11.130: Vehicles, Bicycles, Horses and Horseback Riding.