ATV trail given official designation


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The director of Manitoba Conservation says the province will designate a specific ATV trail from the Trans-Canada Highway south toward Woodridge.

Blair McTavish said after a public ATV meeting in Woodridge last week an unofficial trail etched over the years through Crown land will become an official route for off-road vehicles this fall. This means the lengthy trail will now be managed by a pair of local ATV groups and insured by ATV MB, a provincial ATV body.

“By having this trail system with a map, you know you can safely get from this point to that point,” said Dave Lee, president of the Eastman ATV Association. “A family can plan a day’s event.”

Presently, an ATV rider who knows about the trail may feel unsafe taking the route since there is no organization to act as a steward for it.

Following a government announcement expected to be made shortly, Lee said his organization, as well as Woodridge Sandhogs, will become the stewards, leading management responsibilities for the trail.

“We’re basically an ambassador for the trail system,” said Lee. “Our goal is to go out and monitor and make sure these trails are safe of obstacles for riders and there in turn we report back to ATV MB whenever there’s a hazard on the trail.”

There are various benefits to publicly acknowledging the trail’s existence, aside from the safety of riders. It promotes tourism to an area that already has existing trails, and encourages those ATV riders who are illegally travelling on road surfaces or other lands to use a route labelled for them.

“I think this is a win-win for everybody,” said Lee.

Still to be determined is how that trail will cross into Woodridge, a community that understands the economic benefits ATV ridership can bring but grapples with various concerns from high speeds and impaired drivers to destruction of the environment and the riders who disobey the law.

Woodridge Sandhogs president Gary Hora was expected to ask the RM of Piney for permission to bring back a recently disposed trail through Woodridge.

According to Hora, he took down signage this May after an individual brought up liability concerns and the lack of a land-use agreement since no organization has adopted the legal responsibilities for the trail. Hora said some signs have been in place marking the trail for upwards of 30 years.

The preferred route through town runs beside Tower (or Main Market) Road, shoots south along Denis Street behind the community hall, and makes it onto Highway 203 to reach the corner store at the intersection with Highway 210.

The trail takes the same route north but this time off of Tower Road, it travels north alongside Highway 210 before heading west onto Pinewood Road, north of the fire hall, and leaving town.

An overarching theme of the public ATV meeting was to bring back the formalized trail in the community, and the various signage that went with it.

Sprague RCMP Cpl. Terry Sundell took the first half-hour of the meeting taking resident questions about ATV use, where he heard complaints about rowdy weekend visitors giving regular off-road users in the region a bad name.

He told the crowd it was clear to him while investigating this summer’s discovery of intentionally hidden pieces of metal on a trail south of Marchand that a distaste for ATV riders in the community is still present.

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