What We Do

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EPIC is one voice unifying the equestrian community and joining with farmers, conservation and outdoor groups. There exists a powerful connection and interdependency between horses on the one hand, and the survival of Montgomery County Agriculture and farmland on the other. According to the County Department of Economic Development, there are 233 horse farms and 192 farms producing hay out of a total of 577 farms in the County.

Considering the popularity of horse dependent activities: Competitive riding (including Pony Club games, show jumping, eventing, dressage, driving, western riding events, polo, fox hunting, flat racing and steeple chasing, endurance riding), trail riding, therapeutic riding — it’s understandable that the issues of most concern to equestrians in Montgomery County are the loss of land for horse facilities and access to public and private lands for trail and competitive riding. By a wide margin, respondents of a county survey ranked “loss of open space to development” as a critical issue for the equine community. The second critical issue, also by a wide margin was “loss of access to public lands.”

Loss of open space and farmland to development is an issue important not just for equestrians but for all county residents who enjoy hiking, biking, bird-watching, or just enjoying local produce and the overall environmental benefits of open space.

The same land that is intended for preservation for agricultural purposes (like the Agricultural Reserve) also sustains Montgomery County’s horse population and is under constant threat of development.

• Horses are the primary consumers of the hay produced in the area, and also are a substantial market for grain and straw. They are vital to the survival of agriculture in Montgomery County.

• The horse community contributes almost $200 million annually to Montgomery County and the surrounding area.

• Montgomery County is home to the largest number of “equine places” (2600)–more than any other county in Maryland. Horsekeeping is big business in Montgomery County, where approximately 100 properties board or train other people’s horses. In total, the county has more than 1,000 horse properties.

Activities

Increase access to public and private lands
EPIC works with landowners, developers, and county government to establish trail agreements, easements, and other legal means toward the establishment of a well mapped and well maintained county-wide equestrian trail system.

Promote land acquisition
EPIC identifies land available for conservation acquisition by private individuals, organizations, and through county, state, and federal acquisition programs.

Protect the Ag Reserve
EPIC seeks to educate the community about the value of Montgomery County’s 93,000 acre Agricultural Reserve. We also provide careful oversight of county programs and zoning.