Preserving Our Community: A Great Barrington Hills Tradition

January 22, 2013

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." - Aldo Leopold, Foreword to A Sand County Almanac (1949)

Although the word community is often thrown around lightly, it can be harder to find these days.  Busy schedules, increasingly heavy workloads and advancing technologies continue to place greater distance between us.  It is more important than ever to focus on and protect our communities – to treat them with love and respect as Leopold wrote.

For the last 75 years, the Barrington Hills Riding Club has been leading this preservation.  Formed as a volunteer organization in 1937, the Riding Club's mission is to strengthen and maintain our community thru open space, five acre minimum zoning, preservation of riding paths and the facilities to board horses.

Alexander Reichmann, the club's first President, moved to Barrington Hills in the 1920's for the "gently rolling countryside of good farm land, of meadows and timbered knolls."  According to Reichmann, this open space was "an invitation to the enjoyment of horseback riding" and neighbors quickly joined together to appreciate the beauty of the village. The tradition of visiting neighbors on horseback continues today.

Partnering with the Cook County Forest Preserve and private land owners, the Riding Club has developed and maintained an expansive network of bridal paths.  The original trail system developed by Reichmann and other early residents has increased over the years to more than 125 miles today, even with the subdivision of many large parcels of land.  

This long-held dedication to open space and the cultivation of community together make up what we know as Barrington Hills. However, without protection and preservation we face the reality of losing what we worked so hard to preserve.

The impact of sprawl is a real threat to our community and way of life.  The Village of Barrington Hills has made it a priority to preserve open space, however large developers continue to work tirelessly to destroy those traditions.  Consequently the Riding Club has been a staunch defender of Barrington Hills' 5-acre minimum zoning and the protection of the network of beautiful riding trails for the last 75 years.

The appeal and beauty of our village is shared by all that have visited these rolling hills, and preserved by generations of families and neighbors.  Over time Barrington Hills has held back the encroaching development fostering the land as a community to be proud of.  Such traditions of community are increasingly rare these days, and deserving of love and respect. 

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