ATVers Cannot Co-Exist on Trails Used by Walkers, Bikers and X-Country

Nova Scotia

ATVers Cannot Exist on Trails with Walkers, Bikers and X-Country Skiers

This was the first post I ever wrote on my Maritime Explorer website. Since then it has been followed by almost five hundred more from eight provinces, nineteen states and thirty-three countries. It was kind of disappointing that my first post on the Maritime Explorer was a negative one, because the vast majority of subsequent posts report on positive experiences. However, it can’t be helped, the title says it all – ATVers cannot and will not responsibly share trail with others. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a strong advocate for Active Transportation i.e. walking, jogging, biking or x-country skiing – anything that doesn’t require an engine. I am equally an opponent of the misuse of OHVs i.e. snowmobiles, ATVs and dirt bikes. To their credit the snowmobilers for the most part are responsible and have created a province wide system of trails that they maintain. Because their machines ride on snow they have little environmental damage compared to ATVers and dirt bikes. In Nova Scotia it seems that to own an ATV is to want to not only wreak havoc on the environment, but make sure that you ruin it for anyone else who might actually want to get out and enjoy the outdoors. I came across yet another example of this ATV eco-terrorism this morning.

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of old roads and trails that the Atvers currently can access legally in HRM, particularly after the Province bought the Bowater lands which were previously off limits to them because of the destruction they wrought on the companies logging roads and bridges. In contrast there are well less than fifty kilometres of trails suitable for x-country skiing. This is because ATVers have convinced successive gutless politicians from all three parties that they are a powerful lobby. They have succeeded in making Nova Scotia the laughingstock of the Great Trail  (formerly the Trans-Canada Trail) system by being the only province that allows ATVs virtually unlimited access to the trail system. They have even got the government to change the rules regarding ATVs in Wilderness Areas. Recently they were handed access to hundreds of more kilometres of roads when the province used taxpayers money to buy the Bowater lands. You would think that would be enough, but nothing but unfettered access to everywhere including private property seems to be their quest.

The one area they are not allowed is in Provincial Parks. Jerry Lawrence PP is only a few kilometres from my home and in winter is one of the very few places that x-country skiers can lay down tracks and ski in a nice loop that has two lakes to explore as well the road that is closed to traffic in winter. There is a club whose members use the park every day that conditions are suitable which has been most days this year since mid-December. This morning Alison and I went to the park and skied on nicely defined tracks until we got to Lewis Lake. ATVers had used the lake to gain illegal access to the park and apparently took great delight in obliterating the tracks. While we were there two snowmobiles came along and finished off what the ATVs had not destroyed.

I am issuing a clarion call for the believers in AT to fight back. We need much stronger laws to prevent this type of thing happening time and again. Immediate confiscation of any OHV found in a PP would be a good start along with a lengthy driver’s license suspension. There are groups fighting back including Kierans Pathway in the Annapolis Valley.

A few years after I wrote this post, I did one on biking from Halifax to the Bike and Bean in Tantallon on the rails to trails and found that the ATVers, despite the Bowater acquisition, were still doing their best to make life miserable for anyone who actually wanted to get some real exercise.

Not to end this post on a downer, check our my post on cross-country skiing in Gully Lake Wilderness Area. You won’t find any ATVers there, just wonderful snow conditions and peace and quiet.