Category: National ATV News

ATV group encouraging riders to make Sandilands Provincial Forest their next stop for a perfect week

The Eastman ATV Association maintains 180 kilometres of designated trails in the Sandilands Provincial Forest.
by Jeff Johnson |

The Sandilands Provincial Forest.
The Sandilands Provincial Forest.
— Photo courtesy of Eastman ATV Association.

Two years ago, the Eastman ATV Association opened its trail in the heart of the Sandilands Provincial Forest.

The forest’s sand-based terrain grows all different kinds of vegetation, from shrubs all the way to tall pines. Association president David Lee said it’s a very attractive area to ride an ATV.

“There’s a lot of tight, twisty trails. Sand-based with some gravel, some interesting trails with a little bit of water on them, and it also ends up into a tight-packed trail with a clay base,” Lee said. “You’ve got a good variety of trails to ride out there.”

A popular site for ORVS

Lee said Sandilands has been popular with young riders for nearly 20 years, which pushed his group to see the area developed for ATVs.

“Due to the number of youth with ATVs in the area, there was a need to develop a designated trail system and the beginning of this started in 2009,” Lee said. “A group got together and the Eastman ATV Trail was getting redeveloped. Our vision back then was to have a designated trail on Crown land.”

Two years ago, that vision became a reality through the support of Manitoba Sustainable Development and other stakeholders.

“We were successful in securing one of the first trails on Crown land in Manitoba. There were other trails in the area before ours, but they were on rural municipality trails. They weren’t on Crown land,” Lee said. “So our trail and the Sandhogs Trail were the first to be developed on Crown land in the province of Manitoba.”

Members of the Eastman ATV Association cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the Eastman ATV Trail in Sandilands Provincial Forest.
Members of the Eastman ATV Association cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the Eastman ATV Trail in Sandilands Provincial Forest.
— Photo courtesy of Eastman ATV Association.

Looking back, Lee was amazed with the amount of work they put into getting the trail recognized by the Province.

“We never had a designated trail. Before, you weren’t allowed to maintain your trail. You could have the wheel touch the ground, but you weren’t allowed to cut a tree, move it off the path; you weren’t allowed to do any landscaping or change the ground which you ride on,” Lee said. “As a designated trail, we are able to maintain these trails and build them up to a safer standard, and one thing this has really developed is tourism. Now you got an area you can promote to tourist traffic.”

What tourists can expect

Lee feels any rider wanting to check out the trail network needs to come prepared by visiting the Eastman ATV Association’s website first.

“We strongly urge people to download the map because it is a trail and it is the responsibility of the rider to know where they are at all times,” Lee said. “The sign will show you around the trail but you need your map.”

Map of the Eastman ATV Trail from ATV Manitoba.
Map of the Eastman ATV Trail from ATV Manitoba.
— Photo courtesy of Eastman ATV Association.

Lee said there is a huge amount of land to cover in the Sandilands Provincial Forest, both on the Eastman ATV trail and the nearby Sandhog trail.

“Between the two clubs, you are looking at 180 kilometres of trail, so it’s a really good day ride,” Lee said. “You can ride our trail system which is approximately 90 kilometres. It’s set up in a loop, so you loop on out.”

Lee also encourages you to check out the trail managed by the Woodridge ATV Sandhogs.

“On the back end of our trail, there’s another trail system managed by the Sandhogs and that trail will take you into Woodridge,”  he said.

Woodridge is a small community built on the pulp and lumber industry in the 1900s. It’s also an ATV- friendly community.

“Woodridge has an ATV-friendly campground—you can take your ATV right up to the community store and buy fuel. There’s a great restaurant,” Lee said. “There’s a little hamlet where you can rent a room, so if you don’t have a camper, there are facilities available to stay overnight.”

What stands out on the Eastman ATV Trail?

Lee said there’s a lookout that can be found around the halfway point of the trail that dates back to ancient history.

“People can find a trail that will lead them to a ridge. It’ll look out to the north and you will be up higher than the rest of the area,” Lee said. “This is actually the shores of Lake Agassiz (from) back in the Ice Age. So there’s some historic value there that you are looking at ancient shores of an old lake.”

Lee added their trail network also contains a portion of the old Dawson Trail.

“It was a historic trail back in the time of the settlers, so you could actually travel through history,” Lee said. “There are remnants of an old corduroy road. You’ll see logs sticking up sideways and sticking on the ground. Settlers of our country travelled on this exact trail we are riding on today.”

For people willing to explore, Lee said you can find plenty off the beaten path.

“Another highlight is an old trappers shack. We call it the Red Roof Trappers Shack and it’s just a little bit off our trail,” Lee said. “It was a trapper’s destination point and there were people trapping out of there making a living.”

You can find a map of the Eastman ATV trail at https://eastmanatv.com/. You can also visit http://woodridgesandhogs.ca/sandhogs-trail-map-2016/ for a map of the nearby Sandhog trail.

ORV riding event supporting Cancer Care Manitoba returns for third year

Join fellow riders on June 9 in the Sandiland Provincial Forest

by Jeff Johnson |Riders West


Members of the Eastman ATV Association at the 2017 Ride for Mom.— Deborah Nicol photo

For the past two years, the Eastman ATV Association has raised funds for Cancer Care Manitoba through its Ride for Mom event.

Association president David Lee is hoping the event has another successful year on June 9, beginning at the Eastman ATV staging area in the Sandiland Provincial Forest.

“It is our third year, and we are changing the format a little bit this year,” Lee said. “We are trying to streamline it for the ridership and also make it a little easier on our volunteers.”

How it all began

Lee praised the efforts of the event’s founder, Deborah Nicol, who led the charge for the ORV event’s first two years, raising over $20,000 in the process.

“She was inspired by the Ride for Dad event for prostate cancer research for males and asked, ‘Why isn’t there a Ride for Mom?’ She did a fantastic job of bringing this event into creation and reality,” Lee said. “This year, she is taking a break. It’s a lot of work and a lot of responsibility with time constraints. She stepped back, so the club as a group decided to keep the event going in her honour.”

Lee, along with other organizers with the Eastman ATV Association, felt it was important to carry on Nicol’s legacy and keep the project going.

“She was personally affected by this, and it’s very close to her heart to see this event go on,” Lee said. “Not just her . . . people actually attend this ride for many reasons. A lot of people have family that have been affected by this disease. They may have been personally affected. It gives them a platform to raise money for the cause.”

A ride for the entire family

Lee said all money raised from this event will stay in Manitoba. He adds that everyone who takes part in the event is in for a great ride.

“You’ll be taken on a 89-kilometre (55-mile) ride on marked trails, and on this trail, there will be different types of terrain like gravel, forest trail to a little bit of road and you may have a little bit of water, depending on the type of year we get,” Lee said. “We do have a gravel space area that you can transfer a bit of water safely without having an impact on the environment.”

He said Ride for Mom is open to all ages and gives the entire family an opportunity to support the cause.

“It’s a family-oriented ride, nothing too aggressive. This is a trail ride, so we really encourage the family to come out,” Lee said. “Cancer Care Manitoba does a great job of supporting all of our community. It’s bigger than all of us and if we can do a small part to ease the pain and suffering of our fellow Manitobans and have some fun when doing it, it’s a great day for everybody all around.”

More importantly, Lee feels it gives people an opportunity to fight back in their own way.

“Cancer affects all of us, but what it does is it gets people talking about this disease, gets people out in the open and talking with each other,” Lee said. “If we can make it a little easier for them to get through this struggle and an opportunity to talk to other people with the same type of disease, we’ve accomplished our goal.”

Around 800 riders took part in last year’s event, so participants are encouraged to visit http://atvrideformom.com/ to preregister. From there, riders can start collecting pledges to support Cancer Care Manitoba until June 9.

MAINTAINING PROVINCIAL LAND

While the Eastman ATV Association is thrilled to support Cancer Care Manitoba, president David Lee said they also want to keep the trails in one piece.

“We do take a trail fee for this. We want to leave the trail in the same condition it was before we started this event,” Lee said. “A portion of our registration fee goes toward maintenance of our trail.”

Lee believes that ORV riders have a responsibility to manage their riding areas.

“I think sustainability is a key thing right now,” Lee said. “Unmanaged riding can leave a pretty dramatic footprint on our environment, and as traffic increases, so does the destruction on our environment.”

Lee said this event showcases that belief.

“When we arrive that day on the trail, we make sure the trail looks the same way after our event. We’ve actually gone in and repaired trail,” Lee said. “Every year, we build up our trail to a higher standard and it can maintain the traffic more efficiently.”

Flatlanders go to the mountains

It was a trip that inspired awe for the natural landscape and an appreciation for the work of local ATVers

by John Meed |

Members of the Queen City Quadders from Regina, Saskatchewan, revel in the beauty of the Castle area.— photo courtesy John Meed

In August of 2016, the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad, the local ATV club in the area, hosted several members of the Queen City Quadders (QCQ; Regina, Saskatchewan, area ATV club) for a week of riding in the Castle area. For the flatlanders, this was an amazing adventure, and for most, it was their first experience with mountain riding.

The scenery was breathtaking, the riding challenging and the experience memorable. QCQ members were impressed with the work and dedication of the Quad Squad and the time, money and effort their members had put in managing and grooming the trails. The Quad Squad were excellent hosts and guides.

Exploring the area offered several opportunities to view the splendour that is the Canadian Rocky Mountains, as well as the famous Frank Slide, the site of a plane mishap and an abandoned mining town, to mention a few. QCQ members took the opportunity to get off their ATVs and several went to nearby attractions, such as Waterton National Park.

Unfortunately, in recent developments, the Alberta Government has proposed a complete ban on ATVs in the Castle Provincial Park and Wildlands, which could mean that ATV riders will no longer legally be able to experience this amazing venue. The Quad Squad, along with Alberta Off Highway Vehicle Association (AOHVA) and other support groups and interested parties have mounted a campaign to convince the government of compromises that would allow ATV riders the opportunity to still ride on the already developed ATV trail system.

Clubs provide a unified voice to deal with situations that arise, such as proposed area closures.— photo courtesy John Meed

This is a classic example of how quickly situations or access rights can change for ATV users and where clubs and associations can be vital in providing a unified voice when dealing with governments and other decision-makers.

We hope the Alberta Government listens to the Quad Squad, AOHVA and those who want to continue to have this fantastic riding opportunity available to ATV riders in the future.

SATVA encourages ATVers to Ride Safe and Ride Smart

When summer rolls around, there’s nothing quite like hopping on your ATV and embarking on an epic off-roading adventure. In Saskatchewan, there is no shortage of ATV trails to explore, from the Esterhazy Trails to Narrow Hills Provincial Park to the Fort a la Corne area.

Amidst the excitement of once again facing the open road, ATV safety can sometimes get lost in the shuffle for some riders. During ATV Safety Week (June 2 to 11, 2017), the Saskatchewan All-Terrain Vehicle Association (SATVA) is unveiling a new safety campaign reminding ATVers to follow two important safety rules this season: Ride Safe. Ride Smart.

“When an ATVer rides safely and uses their head, they can ensure they get from point A to point B without any incidents,” said John Meed, general manager of SATVA. “Off-roading is one of the greatest summer activities and adopting safe practices will maximize your experience.”

According to SATVA, one of the most important safety steps any ATVer can follow to Ride Smart is wearing a helmet. The group recommends selecting a helmet that fits comfortably and is designated for “off-road” or “motocross” purposes.

“Before even hitting the ATV trail, you must ensure you have the knowledge and make the proper preparations,” Meed said.

What to wear ATVing

SATVA also has some other important tips to Ride Smart. They include wearing the proper gear beyond helmets, such as eye protection, gloves, ankle boots, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. SATVA is also reminding people that riders ages 12 to 15, or people who don’t have a driver’s license, must take an approved safety course or be supervised by someone who’s had a driver’s license for years. However, the group feels all riders can benefit from the training. SATVA’s final tip to smart riding involves designating an emergency contact and packing a cell phone or walkie talkie.

ATV riding tips

To Ride Safe, SATVA notes that drivers shouldn’t attempt tricky manoeuvres follow the speed limit and avoid roads and streets when driving, except to cross the road or go around obstacles. Unless your ATV is designed for more than one passenger, SATVA says you shouldn’t double up because adding a passenger to a quad designed for one rider can change the dynamics of the machine, especially when climbing or descending hills or when manoeuvring around obstacles. The end result can be a roll over.

One of the points SATVA can’t stress enough about safe riding is to not drink and ride. It noted that drinking reduces a rider’s reaction time and impairs their judgement—not to mention the fact that operating an ATV on public or private property while impaired is illegal.

“When it comes down to it, riding safely is all about remaining in control at all times,” Meed said. “By paying close attention to the elements, fellow drivers and pedestrians, you can truly focus on enjoying your off-roading outing.”

 

4-year-old girl dead after ATV crash south of Winnipeg

RCMP are investigating after a four-year-old girl died following an ATV crash Wednesday afternoon.

File / Global News

A four-year-old girl was killed after an ATV crash south of Winnipeg Wednesday afternoon. Around 3:30 p.m., RCMP received a report that the girl was taken to hospital by her 32-year-old father after the crash. RCMP went to the hospital and spoke with the father from Marchand, Man., who said his daughter was seated in front of him as they were driving up a hill on an ATV. That’s when the ATV flipped backwards onto both the father and daughter. It then continued to roll down the hill. The crash happened in the Marchard area, about 80 km southeast of Winnipeg. The girl later died as a result of the crash. That father was not injured.  Alcohol is not believed to be a factor. RCMP said the girl was wearing a helmet.

Off-road vehicle fees to help fund trail upgrades, enhance rural economies

Government of British Columbia

B.C.’s network of off-road vehicle-friendly backcountry trails is getting a boost, thanks to a new provincial government fund, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development Donna Barnett announced today on behalf of Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.

The ORV Trail Management Sub-Account is financed through a portion of fees ORV owners pay to ICBC when registering their vehicles. The $320,000-and-growing fund is dedicated to supporting projects that build new — and maintain existing — vehicle-friendly recreation trails in remote and rural areas throughout the province and to promoting safe and responsible ORV use.

In 2015, the Province introduced mandatory registration for off-road vehicles operated on Crown land. Since then, British Columbians have registered more than 100,000 ORVs, at a one-time fee of $48 per vehicle.

The fee is designed to support the Province’s off-road vehicle management framework, an integrated plan designed that ensures off-road vehicles – including snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles or “quads”, dirt bikes and side-by-sides – are driven in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, through its Recreation Sites and Trails branch, will administer the fund. Staff are developing formal project guidelines that will be available to First Nations and stakeholder groups for review this fall. No projects will be selected until the formal guidelines and application process are in place.

Quotes:

Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –

“The new ORV trail fund will support the construction and maintenance of vehicle-friendly recreational trails in remote and rural areas, providing local jobs and supporting our goal of enhancing a world-class trail network that provides opportunities for all users groups.”

Donna Barnett, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development –

“Many towns in rural B.C. are turning to recreation as an important way to attract and retain residents and help diversified local economies. The new fund doesn’t just mean that our off-road trails will be safer and better maintained, it represents real support for rural communities, and will help create jobs and enhance regional tourism opportunities.”

Jeremy McCall, executive director, Outdoor Recreation Council – 

“The new fund is a positive step for our outdoor recreational users and helps support the responsible use of B.C.’s outdoors while enhancing public recreation opportunities in B.C.’s back-country. We look forward to supporting the great work that is going to be done upgrading and advancing B.C.’s trail system.”

Richard Cronier, president, B.C. Snowmobile Federation –

“We are very pleased with the new fund and we look forward to working closely with government and other recreational partners to enhance our motorized off-road trail system and recreational opportunities for organized snowmobiling in B.C.”

Moira Jaatteenmaki, president, Quad Riders ATV Association –

“We are pleased to support the ORV registration and licensing process, and are happy that we now have a fund in place that will assist us to focus on connecting and maintaining trail networks and increasing the opportunities for riders to get out and responsibly enjoy the activities we love.”

Quick Facts:

  • Projects supported by the new fund will be in line with B.C.’s trails strategy, which guides the Province as it works to sustain a network of environmentally responsible backcountry trails. B.C. developed the strategy in consultation with First Nations, local and regional governments, recreational organizations and industry.
  • B.C.’s recreation sites and trails receive around 9.7 million visitors each year and contribute $112 million to the provincial GDP.
  • B.C.’s recreation sites and trails support 2,700 full-time jobs in rural and remote locations throughout B.C.

Logic for Castle Park decision, Alberta ORV Ban

posted on March 15, 2017 by Taber Times

As of March 20, 2017, the road to your home will be locked off.

Reason being, you have wrecked your road over the last 30 years of use. You have driven too fast, made potholes and tracks, and due to this, you are now locked out.

Or how about your local park, how would that be if it was locked up because somebody vandalized the equipment or has been riding on bike paths when muddy and wrecking the trail?

You might say this is crazy, I pay taxes, insurance and plates for my vehicle, this is just regular maintenance on the road and park. What is wrong here, this is insane.

Yes. It is insane, welcome to our world, the users of the Castle.

My family of children, grandchildren, have hunted, fished, hiked, ATV’d, rode horseback, random camped in forestry from the Oldman all the way to Waterton Park since 1982, and a lot of those trails are not much worse than they were then.

I laugh when I read all those comments from B.C. and wherever telling us how things are in the Castle. It’s my backyard friend, and I know better than you can even imagine of what’s going on.

We have been in business for 40 years, had a place in CNP for 13 years, paid taxes to government, CNP and all of a sudden me and my family are now weekend warriors, hell raisers, throw garbage, tear up the environment and don’t care about our area.

As I started this letter yes, we do need regular maintenance on our roads and also on our quad, hiking, horseback, mountain bike and whatever else trails we have.

We have had these trails for 30 plus years and that is what I am trying to get across, is the fact these trails need maintenance for all of us. Don’t let them pick us apart one user group at a time, or we are all doomed.

We have offered to pay the government user fees for random camping and ATVs for 20 years and also asked them to use part of the registration fees for trail maintenance, just to fall on deaf ears.

The government is on a mission in Alberta to turn all our areas into another Banff or Waterton, with paved roads so we can pay our park fee and the thousands of us can drive through daily and ooh and awe about how beautiful it is.

What they forgot is that these cars run on gasoline that pollutes our environment, but that’s OK. That’s better than the few quads or snowmobiles that are out there.

I just read a study that is there are good bridges, 90 plus per cent of ATVs use bridges.

The amount of supposed garbage been thrown around by quads and random campers is so blown out of perspective, it is unreal.

It’s always nice to hear from people who have never set foot in the forestry of how terrible it is when they are 400-600 kms away or not even from Canada.

Why the government has decided to hook up with Y2Y, a group of environmentalists with billions of dollars behind them from the States, I don’t know. They will walk over anybody or any group that get in their way.

Look at their track record; they have shut down third- and fourth-generation ranches, and whatever else they have to get their true environmental zone, where no one sets foot in.

The forestry is a place for all Alberta residents to enjoy the outdoors. To change to a park system only means another Banff or Jasper.

All I ask is for the people of Alberta to wake up before it’s too late and take a stand and say no. We, first of all, do not need all these parks and regulations.

I remember Ralph Klein said, “We don’t need any more parks in Alberta”, and he was 100 per cent right.

Please fight for all our areas across Alberta, whatever user group you are, before we lose it all.

Thank you,

LESTER JOCHEM

Volunteers Building Bridges

This article shows the dedications and commitment of the Quad Squad of Alberta. Closing these ORV trails to ORV use is just not making any sense. I do agree that all ORV riders must be aware of their footprint and must learn to manage their riding areas responsibly.

One of the most important things we can do in the backcountry is to “Steer Clear of Water!” Using existing bridges wherever and whenever possible is one of the best ways to adopt more responsible practices when recreating in the backcountry. Luckily, local volunteers and organizations, such as the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad, have invested time and money into providing these bridges for you!

On Saturday June 4, 2016, Outreach Assistants Rob, Thomas, and Ryan drove out to Blairmore for the 22nd Annual Ed Gregor Memorial Stewardship Day. They had been asked by Gary Clark, president of the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad, to come out and assist with the decking of two new OHV bridges that spanned Gold Creek near the abandoned town of Lille.

Volunteers from the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad and the finished OHV Bridge

Volunteers from the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad and the finished OHV Bridge

The Oldman Watershed Council places a priority on engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders, and the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad have proven to be terrific partners over the years. Gary Clark is a member of our newly formed Recreation Advisory Council (RAC), which is a group made up of OHV users that will help inform the OWC on how to educate OHV users on safe, appropriate, and sustainable motorized recreation.

Quad Squad Volunteers Secure Bridge Decking

Quad Squad Volunteers Secure Bridge Decking

These two new bridges will allow OHV users in the Gold Creek area to keep their machines out of the creek while exploring the area. This is particularly important since Gold Creek is critical habitat for our native, and threatened, West Slope Cutthroat Trout. In addition to the bridges, Mike Taje from Alberta Environment and Parks installed signs at the Gold Creek Crossings noting that Gold Creek is protected habitat for species at risk.

Rob Taylor, OWC Outreach Assistant (also extraordinaire), helps Mike Taje, Alberta Environment and Parks, install Species at Risk Signage at OHV crossings on Gold Creek

Rob Taylor, OWC Outreach Assistant (also extraordinaire), helps Mike Taje, Alberta Environment and Parks, install Species at Risk Signage at OHV crossings on Gold Creek

So … remember to keep those wheels out of water in order to protect our headwaters!

If you would like to donate or volunteer your time on upcoming projects like this please visit the Oldman Watershed Council’s website today!

Crush bad habits, not cans, on the trail

ATVers in B.C. can work together to make drinking and riding a thing of the past.
RIDERSWEST
by |

A group of ATVers on a trail in B.C.

ATVBC and its member clubs promote safe and responsible riding. — Kirsten Armleder photo

Spring is right around the corner, which means a new ATVing season in B.C. is about to begin. It is time then to broach a subject that’s been in hibernation for the last three or so months—drinking and riding.

Haven’t we been over this before—is it still a problem? Well, consider this: the British Columbia Coroners Service reports that from 2006 to 2015, there were 132 accidental ATV deaths in the province. Alcohol and/or drug use was determined to be a contributing factor in 56.6 per cent of these cases.

More recently, the Trauma Services team at Interior Health—which is the publicly funded health care provider for B.C.—conducted research on the nature of injuries related to ATV incidents that occurred within Interior Health’s service area between 2006 and 2016. Out of the 388 trauma admissions that were attributed to ATV injuries, there were six documented in-hospital deaths and 40 deaths at the scene. Alcohol and/or drugs were felt to a contributing factor in 55 per cent of pre-hospital deaths. The team also discovered that nearly 40 per cent of documented injuries reported no helmet used by the rider.

Facts and figures aside, no one can deny drinking slows your reaction time and impairs your ability to make decisions. Over the years, the organization that represents ATVers on a provincial level in B.C. has worked diligently to address the issue.

“On both safety training courses (the CASI ATV RiderCourse and the Canadian Safety Council ATV Rider Course), we teach how drugs and alcohol affect your judgement to make proper decisions,” said Ralph Matthews, vice-president and safety co-ordinator for ATVBC. “At all ATVBC events, we stress zero tolerance of both while riding on the trail. Save it for the end of the day.”

ATVBC also stresses the importance of wearing a helmet.

“At all ATVBC events, the wearing of an approved safety helmet is mandatory,” said Matthews.

By law, ATVers in B.C. are required to wear an approved safety helmet while operating on public land. This law applies to those riding UTVs or side-by-sides as well.

Let’s talk about side-by-sides for a moment. Equipped with car-like driving features, seatbelts and roll bars, they can give the false impression of added safety. Side-by-sides are powerful vehicles, however, and they have a high centre of gravity so rollovers and crashes can and do occur.

Speed can easily come into play, especially in the sportier models, which tout state-of-the-art suspension systems and upwards of 110-horsepower engines. It is imperative, then, for the operator to know his or her vehicle’s handling capabilities and take it easy when the conditions are not favourable. As with a car, if there are passengers present, the operator is responsible for their safety as well.

Riding a side by side in B.C.

The helmet law applies to side-by-side riders as well, and if the vehicle comes from the manufacturer with a seatbelt, it must be worn when riding on public land. — Monte Smith photo

Reaching the 10 per cent

Often, it has been said that 90 per cent of all ATVers out there are safe, responsible backcountry users. So what about the remaining 10 per cent who ruin it for the rest of the user group—how can we reach them without being labelled the fun police?

According to Matthews, being an advocate for safety takes discernment. For example, when approaching someone who isn’t wearing a helmet, Matthews said, the best way is to be as non-confrontational as possible. Inform them that is it now mandatory to wear a helmet. If a deeper discussion ensues, help them to see the bigger picture—for the decisions we make today impact the riding opportunities we’ll have tomorrow.

 

Province changes Castle Parks Draft Managment Plan after overwhelming feedback

Lethbridge News NOW
By Lara Fominoff @fomsy1 on Twitter

LETHBRIDGE – The push-back from the rallies, the protests and the letter- writing campaigns seems to have worked, at least to a certain extent.

In a stunning about-face, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says the province is changing the initial Castle Parks Draft Management Plan to include a number of new initiatives, along with a consultation process with the public and stakeholders that will begin next week.

The details of the public consultation process have not yet been announced, however Phillips says it will begin somewhere in southwestern Alberta March 8th.

“There will be a number (of sessions). Because we are looking at trail planning, in the Porcupine and Livingstone’s two areas that are going to be public land use zones, in addition to how they relate to the next five years within the Castle, it will be quite a long process. I anticipate it will take at least the summer if not longer. There will be a very frequent engagement with communtities and people who make their livelihood in the area. Landowners, ranchers, and the recreation groups.”

Many Off Highway Vehicle recreation groups have been calling for an extention to the 60- day feedback window on the draft managment plan, saying the comment period is far too short.
That window has now been extended 30 days, until April 19th.

A number of changes to the actual plan are also being implemented, including:

1) Allowing hunters access to trail networks to make sure they can safely get in and out of the area and recover game safely.
2) Working with grazing permit holders to allow them to be managed by rangelands operations staff. A meeting with ranchers in the Castle area will be held Friday, March 3rd.
3) Ensuring fish recovery strategies and protection of the Cutthroat and Bulltrout fish populations.
4) Allowing the elderly and those with disabilities access to the park with special infrastructure investments.
5) The maintenance of northern access routes into the parks from the Crowsnest Pass.
6) No changes to OHV trail access this year (2017). There will be a focus on closing illegal trails and creating proper signage in the parks. The province will work with OHV groups on planning and ensuring the existing infrastructure is EITHER moved OR maintained as the years go on.
7) Exploring the effects of summer versus winter OHV use with the Alberta Snowmobile Association and government scientists to ensure trail planning proceeds accordingly.
8) Increased enforcement and education in the parks.

Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad President Gary Clark is shocked and pleased with the announcement; something that he says his group has been asking for, since 2003.

“We were shocked at first when OHV use was disallowed, when we were told that OHV use would be allowed. But at the same time we also thought we put what we thought were very good submissions forward. This shows that we can properly control OHV use, which quite frankly, was running a little rampant …. and we can control it and have a good balance with the environment and at the same time keep tourism alive in southwestern Alberta.”

The only thing Clark says should be explored is a permit -type system; something many groups have also been advocating for decades. The important thing, he emphasizes, would be not to put the money from that kind of system into general revenue, “so that you can spend that money on maintaining the trails and building the bridges over the waters to protect the fish habitat, and move bad trails away from the waterways. It would be nice to have a steady source of funding.”

The province is investing $20 million dollars in the Castle Parks over 4 years. Phillips says in the coming weeks and months, more details on capital infrastructure and improvements will also be announced.

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