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Response to column on Columbia & Western Trail

Letter to the Editor from Bob Wishneski of Trail

I was born, raised and lived in Trail over 63 years. I am a hunter, fisherman, and ATV rider. I enjoy the great outdoors and all it has to offer.

After reading Mr. Thompson’s comments about restricting motorized vehicles on potions of the Trans Canada Trail (“Keep motorized vehicles off Trans-Canada Trail,” Trail Times Aug. 16) I felt I need to respond.

Read column here: Keep motorized vehicles off Trans-Canada Trail

Firstly, the Columbia & Western Trail Society (C&WTS) are the stewards for an 85-kilometre length of old CPR track bed from Castlegar to Fife above Christina Lake. It was originally classed as a transportation corridor. The society is responsible for the maintenance and up keep of the trail.

This portion of the rail bed was turned over to the province by CPR when they shut it down in the 1990’s. The province’s Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations owns the rail trail and the trail is overseen by Rec Sites & Trails BC under the ministry’s direction. It is crown land.

C&WTS is comprised of many user groups and believes the trail can be shared by all and has delegated this section as a “multi use” trail which includes everything from hikers, bikers, horse riders, motorized, etc. Many from the biking persuasion have protested this and are trying to remove the motorized classification.

This is where the problem lies.

Mr. Thompson touches on taxpayers in his article, I am one, have been all my life in B.C. and believe I should have the same access to crown land that anybody else has, whether I walk or ride, but, forgetting about my personal wants, there are people with homes along the west side of the Arrow Lake that rely on motorized transportation to reach their dwellings and the trail is now their access route.

As far as damaging the surface by driving on it, yes, some ATV riders are out of control and disrespectful to the environment, but most aren’t. Education from other riders and the public in general should hopefully help with that.

Mr. Thompson may not be aware that some ATV clubs such as the Salmo Valley Seniors ATV Club, (not the only ones) have taken an active role in helping the C&WTS with maintenance such as sign posting, helping with painting the Kiosk shelters spaced along the trail, and just some basic cleanup as you ride along and come across garbage, fallen trees, rocks, etc., that impede the trail for all.

As far as the Ministry giving access to all size vehicles on the trail, I believe Mr. Thompson is referring to an application to use the trail for logging truck access which in effect would mean the trail would be classed as a Forest Service Road.

Is this good or bad, time will tell. The logging company would be responsible for keeping up the trail (road) maintenance and it is yet to be confirmed, but early indications are it would only be for winter months when snow is on the trail. They would be off during recreational seasons, but again this is not confirmed. I hope this brings a more thorough and logical approach for consideration on this topic.

Bob Wishneski


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