Snowmobiles cause havoc at ski area
Wednesday, Jan 01, 2014 06:00 am
Riverlot 56, a natural area on the east edge of St. Albert, becomes a cross-country ski wonderland for many locals each winter. Making it all possible are volunteers from the St. Albert Nordic Ski Club (STANSKI) who provide hours of volunteer and equipment time in the preparation and maintenance of the Riverlot 56 trails.
A couple of weeks ago a STANSKI volunteer spent five hours grooming and setting ski tracks in the upper and lower lots. He returned to the riverlot the next day to discover that snowmobilers had cut the wire fence on the east side of the property to gain entry, then drove their machines through the interior trails of the upper lot, destroying the ski tracks he had so recently set. He notified the Riverlot 56 Society, RCMP and Sturgeon County. “No Skidoo” signs are clearly posted around the perimeter of the riverlot.
The illegal and selfish actions of the people operating those snowmobiles offend and interfere with the rights of community members. STANSKI volunteer time and energy is wasted. The lost opportunity for skiers to enjoy the trails, and the Riverlot 56 Society’s concern for public safety and the disturbance of wildlife are prominent issues. The potential for a snowmobile collision with skiers using the trails at night is a particular worry.
People using these trails are asked to assist in monitoring and protecting the Riverlot:
Call 911 if you see snowmobiles on the trail (other than STANSKI volunteers setting the tracks!)
Take pictures. Most cellphones have cameras in them. Photos can be great evidence-gathering tools.
Public response can be effective, especially with vandalism in motion such as this; it’s hard to be caught through police surveillance. Also, wrongdoers can be deterred by community reaction.
In the meantime, STANSKI has reset the trails, and the Riverlot 56 Society has obtained wire to repair the cut fence. Hopefully this delinquent behaviour is a one-time incident. Community awareness and participation may help ensure that outcome.
Mary Ann Cuvilier, president, Riverlot 56 Society
Con Tanasiuk, president, STANSKI