Benefit at state park to improve equine trails, campgrounds
by Carolyn Kaberline
With gas prices heading to new heights, many people will be taking advantage of the wide variety of activities available at area lakes this summer. Because of this, those who use the horse trails around Perry Lake are invited to join the Friends of Wild Horse Campground in Perry State Park for a fundraiser to help improve both the trails and the campground itself.
The fundraiser, which will be held Saturday, March 31, will coincide with the State Park open house the same day.
According to Dewayne Burgess, one of the organizers of the fundraiser, with the State Wildlife and Parks being “woefully underfunded,” those who like to ride the trails have found that putting together a friends group is one of the best ways to get resources designated specifically for their areas of interest. Modeled on other friends groups in the state, most notably the one at Eisenhower State Park, the fundraiser will feature trail rides, a covered dish dinner, and a silent auction.
“Not only will this event raise funds for equine related improvements, it will also provide another great excuse to get together with family and friends to ride, eat, laugh and support a good cause with positive long-term benefits for the folks who helped raise the money,” Burgess said.
While those attending the March 31st event are welcome to ride the trails on their own, there will be two guided group rides that day also. The first guided trail ride will leave Wild Horse Campgrounds for an approximately three hour ride on both the Perry Lake Trails and the federal trails. A second shorter ride will leave the campgrounds for a ride of approximately an hour and a half on the Lake Perry Trails West Loop.
“Part of the purpose of the event is to allow people who may have been intimidated by the trails to try a guided ride,” Burgess said, noting that since the trails do a lot of winding, it’s easy to get turned around in unfamiliar areas.
Following the trail rides, a covered dish dinner will take place beginning at about 5 p.m. Hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, condiments, chips, paper plates, napkins, plastic ware, tea and water will be provided by Roy Frey Western, but those participating are encouraged to bring a covered dish. Participants will also need to bring lawn chairs.
As part of the day’s activities, Michelle Campbell, Perry State Park Ranger, will welcome the group. The event will end with a live auction.
“Everyone is encouraged to bring any item they’d like to donate to the auction,” Burgess said, adding that cash donations will also be accepted with all funds going for trail and campground improvements.
“We also plan to survey those in attendance on the 31st for a ‘wish list’ of improvements they’d like to see,” Burgess said. “Right now there’s an endless list of priorities. We want to put together a committee to determine what improvements would give the most bang for the buck.”
Among the items already mentioned are pit toilets in the campground area, trail markers, pens in the primitive camping area, improved camp sites, and more water lines and hydrants in the primitive area as well as basic trail maintenance.
Burgess noted that while the fundraiser will cost $10 per rider and $5 for non-riders, there will be free entrance to Perry State Park on March 31st with maps of the horse trails available. Those planning to camp for the event are encouraged to use primitive camping; those desiring one of the eight pull-through sites with water and electricity should contact the park office at (785) 246-3449 for reservations.
While Burgess noted that much work has been done on the trails in the past by others, including members of MOTRA (Middle of the Trail Distance Riders), Tricia and Dave Merritt, and the Brushbusters group, there’s still a lot to do.
“We want to build consensus between the groups and get everyone who uses the trails involved,” he said.
For more information, contact Burgess at Roy Frey Western, (785) 232-0579.
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