Founding Fathers

Founders of Back Country Horsemen

Roland Cheek, Dennis Swift and Ken Ausk hunted together in almost the exact center of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. They all had years of experience with horses. Nights are long in the Bob in the latter part of September and their evenings weren’t filled with the usual hunting camp lies, but in trying to find a solution to the horse user problems. The situation was talked about the fall of 1971 but it was 1972 before they finally decided that their only hope was to form an organization. Roland Cheek was the Safety Director for Plum Creek Lumber, Dennis Swift, a Forester and Planer Mill Foreman for Stoltz Land and Lumber, and Ken Ausk worked for the Bonneville Power Administration. Roland became an outfitter about this time, Denny became a guide, and Ken became a wrangler and packer. They needed someone who was available during the day so they twisted the arm of Dulane Fulton, a fellow horseman who had recently retired from a school superintendent position. Wilderness was brand new and it was several years before regulations were adopted for management which caused them many problems. The Bob had been a Primitive Area and showed a lot of signs of neglect and abuse. You couldn’t ride a hundred yards without candy bar wrappers or cigarettes butts in sight. There were beat out camps and barb wire corrals which didn’t look good for horsemen. We had to clean up our act and influence land use planning form of recreational use for access to survive for our children. Many evenings were spent building the framework for an organization that would be both supportive and critical of Forest Service land management proposals, by its very nature.

Our name was chosen because it signified an interest in much more than wilderness. Members are interested in perpetuation recreational stock use on virtually all public lands.