Kricket Jewett has had a love for horses for most of her life. When the opportunity to serve as the equine representative on the State Trails Council came up, Jewett decided it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
The previous representative, Ken Carpenter, moved away a few years ago, leaving the vacant spot.
“Ken had been the equine representative on the State Trails Council for several terms and was extremely knowledgeable on all things trail,” Jewett said. Jewett, applied and interviewed for the council and, after a long wait, was appointed to the role in July of this year.
“I have been attending the State Trail Council meetings as Ken’s representative, but have been unable to vote on changes or issues. But on July 10, I received the official appointment,” Jewett said.
The State Trails Council was created in 1989 to provide advice to the Department of Natural Resources on the planning, acquisition, development and management of trails in Wisconsin. With more than half of Wisconsin’s residents using the trails in the state, the council serves as the voice of those people.
Jewett said the council is a place to find solutions to trail problems and help tailor them to the needs of the users.
“The State Trails Council is an avenue for each of it’s user groups to pass information up to the DNR and return information to your user group,” Jewett said. “Wisconsin is a national leader in creating partnerships that provide for state ownership coupled with county management of trails.”
The Council consists of 11 voting members appointed by the governor to four-year terms. Jewett said she really enjoys working with the other representatives.
“There are 11 members on the board as well as the DNR staff who are all passionate about the outdoors and trails. Working together to find a workable solution for all of these activities is more often a challenge but is something that can be done,” Jewett said. “I respect what each of the members brings to the table as a need or want for their activity.”
Jewett said it has been a challenge to get up-to-speed on the history of the Council as well as to learn what she can do to help equestrians, but a challenge that she has enjoyed.
“All Council members must be knowledgeable in various recreational uses of trails and serve as an advocate for trails,” Jewett said. “The job ahead is daunting and varied with everything going on within the state and nationally.”
Jewett said finding solutions that work for all parts of the state is also a challenge that the Council works to overcome.
“What works in the southeast corner of the state for trails and the usage, does not directly apply to the northwoods. I have been working on building my contacts, not only within the organizations that I work with, but trying to reach all types of equestrians and trail users to learn what it is that each envisions their trails look like,” Jewett said.
The council is not Jewett’s first experience with horse organizations, having been involved in the Wisconsin Walking Horse Association for nearly 20 years. She also was a part of the Whitewater Area Mounted Search Team and Rescue.
According to Jewett, she started advocating for trails by accident when a local trail was in danger of closing. She worked with the Rock County Multi Use Trail group to prevent this from happening.
“Since 2005, I’ve been the president of the group, working with the county to help improve and maintain the parks within the county,” Jewett said. “That later led to becoming involved with the Wisconsin Horse Council, where I am currently the level three director for the WWHA, co-chair of the trails committee and chair of the sponsorship committee.”
She said all the groups she is involved with and the great resources they provide wouldn’t be possible without volunteers.
“So much of the small maintenance work that is done in parks depends on volunteers and finding and appreciating the work that is done by each of these groups, organizations or groups of friends who take pride in their local trail system is critical to ensuring that we as an equestrian community keep the parks and trails open for use,” Jewett said. “If we want to see trails in the future we need to step up now and be active.”