Volunteer Service Reporting

Just one of many work parties completed by BCHA Volunteers

Volunteerism is one of the most important activities Back Country Horsemen can use in our effort to perpetuate enjoyable common sense use of pack and saddle stock in the backcountry. A central point of our mission statement is to assist government agencies in the maintenance and management of public lands.

By using our time and resources, we help ensure that public land remains open to recreational stock use by earning a seat at the table where we can influence the decisions concerning access to public lands by pack and saddle stock users. The value of being able to speak with public lands managers from the position of having provided volunteer service cannot be overstated.

The hours and value of volunteer service by Back Country Horsemen are consistently under-reported. It seems that while our members are more than willing to volunteer their time and energy to maintain trails all across the country, many are reluctant to report the hours and expenses incurred in that effort.

Collecting Volunteer & Education Hours: Why and How

It is important to understand that the value of the volunteer service goes beyond trail work hours. It also includes time members devote to engagement in the management planning process. Other reported expenses like travel time, stock use, stock and equipment hauling, and in-kind donations add to the value of our volunteer service.

The 21 year total of BCHA volunteer service of $139,805,692 million is a value that gives BCHA national representatives significant leverage when engaging with the Public Land management agencies and other user groups in policy discussions about trail access and maintenance. It is much harder for trails to be closed to pack and saddle stock use when we are providing a large portion of the effort to keep them open.

What Hours Are Needed

A snapshot of the BCHA Volunteer Reporting Form

Even when members report their basic work hours on projects, they often fail to report the associated contributions like travel time, mileage, and stock use. Each of these categories adds considerable value to the volunteer effort of the individual member.

The BCHA Board in conjunction with multiple land managers has asked for the following to be reported:

  • All volunteer trail work is done on public land
    • Included are any work or meetings held in preparation that will lead to trail work or trail preservation;
    • Any meetings with agencies where recreational trail usage or maintenance is discussed;
    • Phone calls discussing trail preservation or maintenance with managers;
    • It does not include private lands such as private timberlands unless they will eventually become public lands.
  • Stock and equipment usage
  • Vehicle mileage and travel time
  • All LNT Education hours and preparation hours
    • Planning and hosting clinics that provide LNT education.

How to Report Volunteer Efforts

Each chapter and State organization should appoint a Volunteer Hours Coordinator (VHC) or committee responsible for reporting the hours that members work and other expenses they incur during their service.

BCHA provides a Microsoft Excel Workbook to aid in the reporting of Volunteer efforts by the BCH chapters and States.

Detailed guidelines for reporting the Volunteer effort are provided along with a PowerPoint presentation. These guidelines are designed to help the VHC set up a program for reporting in their chapter.

While using this workbook greatly facilitates compiling the national report, it doesn’t matter in what format the hours are reported. What matters is that the effort is reported.

Chapters should complete and submit their reports to their BCH State organization. The State should compile a State report and submit it to the BCHA Volunteer Hours Committee by March 1st so a report can be presented at the National Board Meeting in April. Submit reports to the BCHA Volunteer Hour Chairman, VolunteerHours@bcha.org.

Here are a few things the volunteers in each chapter need to remember:

  • Travel time is the time spent getting to a project and back. All participants on the project can report this time.
  • The driver should report his mileage as well. Report as stock hauling vehicle mileage if you are pulling a loaded trailer.
  • Volunteers should report hours spent riding a trail in preparation for a trail project as Recon hours. These are the hours needed for the project planners to determine the resources and level of effort required to successfully undertake a project.
  • Always report all pack and saddle stock use. This is a valuable contribution by volunteers. Remember that using an animal for any part of a day constitutes a Stock Day even if it is only used for a short period.
  • Report the time members to spend participating in planning meetings with public land agencies as well as the travel time getting to them.
  • Report the time preparing and presenting educational events.

Locally, each chapter should be reporting their hours into the land managers in the Fall on the land manager’s time schedule. Ideally, within BCH the hours should go to somebody identified in the state or affiliate to collect these hours, but if no one has been identified, then the National Director is ultimately responsible for getting these hours to the National Board of BCHA.

The value of Volunteer time is determined annually at the National Board Meeting from the report on the Independent Sector website https://www.independentsector.org/volunteer_time. For 2022 the value of unskilled work is $29.95. Skilled labor is valued at $44.93.

Please feel free to contact me (Doug Stewart, Volunteer@bcha.com) at any time if you have questions concerning reporting volunteer service.