After writing “In the Saddle” almost weekly since it first appeared on Nov. 28, 1992, this represents my final column. I consider this opportunity to have been the source of many friendships, as well as a tremendous learning experience, a privilege first offered to me by former Antelope Valley Press Editor Larry Grooms. My husband and I are planning our eventual retirement, which will continue to involve at least one horse, although I now ride very little.
As I first began looking for topics, I heard about Elaine Macdonald of Lancaster, who has a long and productive history of working to maintain trail access and open space. She is a concise, eloquent and well mannered public speaker, which makes her words well received. Elaine also became a wonderful resource for me to call upon.
She sums up her many years of continued volunteerism by saying, “I have committed my life as a volunteer for equestrian issues and an advocate for trails in the North County.”
It is for this reason I would like to publicly thank Elaine, and express my admiration.
A list of Elaine’s credentials as a trail advocate includes a lot of work for non profit organizations, as well as working with local cities.
n Appointed to Lancaster Parks, Recreation and Arts Commission by former Mayor George Root (1990s).
n Board member of the California Trails, and Greenways Foundation, a non profit organization.
n Board member of the Antelope Valley Heritage Foundation, a non profit organization which later merged with AVTREC.
n President for 15 years of the Antelope Valley Trails, Recreation & Environmental Council (now a committee of the Antelope Valley Conservancy).
n Currently serving as a member of the Support Saddleback Butte Committee, under the Poppy Reserve/Mojave Interpretive Association.
n Area Trails Coordinator for ETI National.
n Trail Coordinator for Equestrian Trails Inc Corral 138 Barrel Springs Riders.
n Trail Coordinator for High Desert Trail Riders, a gaited horse group.
n Member of the Backcountry Horsemen of CA, Antelope Valley Unit.
n Member of the Galloping Gourmets, a ladies riding group.
n Spending the last 30 years representing all these groups, Elaine has:
n Attended meetings with various agencies of the City of Lancaster, City of Palmdale, several of Antelope Valley’s Rural Town Councils, the U.S. Department of Forestry and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as private land owners and developers.
Over a 10-year period, with the help of Debbie Stevens, Marcy Watton, and Nate Krumm, Elaine has identified and GPSed equestrian trail connections in the Antelope Valley for Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation. Los Angeles County will consider these trail easements when new land development occurs in the future.
In 1991, 90 miles of trail from Leona Valley to Acton were secured and adopted into the Los Angeles County Master Plan due to Elaine’s efforts.
She spearheaded the process of establishing a 4.5-mile horse trail at Saddleback Butte State Park, participating in mapping the trail and creating a horse staging area. She continues to work with State Park staff in an endeavor to add more miles to the original equestrian trail and to add amenities to the horse staging area.
Elaine and the late Ed Skinner petitioned city of Palmdale’s Parks staff to consider building an equestrian trail from the Tejon Equestrian Park, known now as the Barrel Springs Trail. It was built with Proposition A funding acquired from L.A. County Trails Acquisition & Development Competitive Grant Program.
n Participated in a 10-year trail maintenance project on the Manzanita Trail, starting from South Fork Campground to Vincent Gap in the San Gabriel Mountains in the 1990’s.
n Organized and participated in various trail clean-ups in the Antelope Valley.
It was Elaine who contacted a number of local equestrian trail users to attend a meeting of the Palmdale Planning Commission, to provide input regarding the development of a proposed equestrian arena by Palmdale’s Parks and Recreation Department. Palmdale’s current Mayor-Elect Steve Hoffbauer sat on the Commision, and asked some great questions, and listened. So did then Director of Palmdale’s Parks, John Lasagna, who immediately set up a meeting for those who wished to work on the project.
The resulting committee of local equestrians, formed in 2007, first conducted a survey of the number of horses in the Antelope Valley, which totaled about 40,000 equines. The data convinced the Palmdale Parks staff of the need for an equestrian arena for public recreation.