Community Comment: How to keep our trails open to everyone

"Land closures and trail restrictions have caught up to our sport of “off roading” in a frightening fashion."

This is what will happen to all “Off Road” users if we don’t stand together to keep access to the wilderness open.

Land closures and trail restrictions have caught up to our sport of “off roading” in a frightening fashion. Misguided politicians and anti-access protectionist groups have lobbied heavily to try to shut us down and get us to leave our machines parked in the garage. Leaving them in the garage is definitely cheaper and makes them easier to keep clean, but is not as much fun as being out on the trail getting them dirty.

But, I can tell you that the future of “off roading” is stronger than ever! As I look at all the dirt bikes, ATV’s and 4 wheelers on the trail, we have to join together to fight back for access on many levels and all of us can play an important part is this battle.

Please allow me to give you some simple steps of what you can do to make a difference and keep the future of “off roading” in safe hands —-OUR HANDS. I will call them four steps to keeping you out of locked gates, tank traps, etc. – keeping our land from being behind bars.

First off “JOIN” [first letter in JAIL] a club in order to save our right to use our lands to save our sport of off roading and keep our trails open for riding, whether it be for hunting, just a ride with the kids, or exploring. We need to raise an army of access fighters to let the politicians know that we are a unified voice and that our votes will count.  It is only by large numbers that we can make a difference in keeping our tires on the ground and on the trails. “MEMBERS=VOTES=SUCCESS” We must be part of a unified voice!

Second, be sure to “ADVOCATE” for your particular sport. Tell those that don’t know about what we do and why we do it. Talk to kids at school about “off roading”. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about your experience. Volunteer with search and rescue. When you see rubbish on the trail, pick it up. Show that you are being responsible in the bush. Clean up and maintain the trail for all users.

Thirdly, “INCLUDE” outsiders in what you do in your chosen sport. Invite the politician out for a day in the wilderness; show them what we off-roaders enjoy so much. Organize a clean-up day where you ride and ask the local newsroom to cover it with your submitted pictures and article.

Fourth and finally ‘LETTERS”. Write them! Nowadays its e-mail and the social network, but still write them when asked to do so or when there is an issue affecting your riding area.

The anti-access protectionists are very good at it and this is our competition for the wilderness. They just feel that there is not enough room out there for all of us.  Get your opinion out there and make your voice heard. Most organizations and politicians have clickable links and letter addresses that make our job much easier. Use them. Ask members of your group to write at least one letter per year, then one a month for each month they ride.

Let’s make that our objective to preserve the ability to ride in/or on our crown land.

In the beginning when I first started to ride, trails were not organized or marked, and the feeling of freedom was unsurpassed. In today’s world, we have routes designated on maps and must stay on the designated routes, but we must not let the rules become unbalanced and ridiculous.

Keep our Crown lands out of “JAIL” and do your part as best you can. Make your opinion count, become involved.

James Ellison, is a Councillor for the Village of Fruitvale

Community Comment is an opportunity for elected officials from our local municipalities to update citizens in the region on the events, plans and progress in their respective communities. Every Friday, the Trail Times will present, on a rotating basis, a submission from councils, school trustees or regional district directors.