Starting Saturday, horses will no longer be allowed on trails in Haw Ridge Park in Oak Ridge.
Horses have significantly damaged trails, especially the small, narrow ones common in the park, a city press release said. The animals have eroded trails, left manure piles, and damaged bridge and boardwalk structures, the release said.
The decision to ban horses followed a comprehensive evaluation by the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, the release said. The board concluded that horse riding is inconsistent with the overall goals of the park, and earlier this year, the board recommended that horses be banned from Haw Ridge Park for now.
The release said the park’s bridge and boardwalk structures were built by volunteers to withstand foot and bicycle traffic, but they have not held up to horse traffic.
“Attempts have been made to manage horses by restricting their traffic to wider trails,” the release said. “However, these repeated efforts have been unsuccessful.”
It also said that most trail maintenance in Haw Ridge Park is performed by volunteers, but horse riders have not routinely participated in the work in recent years, “despite the adverse impacts of horse travel on the trails.”
The release said Haw Ridge Park will continue to serve hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and wildlife viewing.
Horse riders can continue to use the Norris Watershed, Frozen Head State Park, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wildlife management areas, the release said.
For more information, contact the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department at (865) 425-3450.
Sounds like a good idea. I’m sure erosion and subsequent stream and lake pollution will be reduced. I wish the same concern was shown for our area mountains by appropriate governing bodies and that ATVs were disallowed, for the same reasons – and t help protect wildlife.
Ellen Smith says
In case anyone is confused, ATVs are not allowed at Haw Ridge. With the ban on horses, the trails will now be open only to walking and biking.
I’m aware that ATV’s are not allowed in Haw Ridge. I wish the same was true of the hills and mountains west of Oak Ridge. How can so much pollution and damage to wildlife, trails, and streams be permitted ? Why aren’t environmentalists involved in this ?
Ellen Smith says
Environmentalists are concerned about pollution and damage to natural resources, but members of the public have little say over how private landowners use their own lands. Most of the ATV activity in places like Windrock is on private land.
On the other hand, Haw Ridge Park is city park land that belongs to the public, and the trails there are maintained by unpaid volunteers. It’s the city’s responsibility to make rules that protect the park area for the benefit of the public.