From the Annapolis County Spectator.
By Heather Killen
Users beware, the Annapolis Valley rail trails are now being patrolled by a joint enforcement group.
Danny Phinney, head of the Annapolis County Trail Society, said the first of a series of trail patrols took place on October 10. A multi-agency group patrolled the entire trail along the bed of the former rail line, about 100 kilometres. Nineteen people braved the wet weather in rain suits and safety vests to participate in the joint education and enforcement effort.
‘Overall it’s well known the trail needs to be patrolled,” he said. “We’re not finished, it’s an ongoing project. We’ll be out there again and we’ll be looking at how we can improve the plan.”
Members of the Annapolis RCMP were joined by members of the Annapolis Valley Trails Association; the Department of Natural Resources, and the Annapolis county bylaw enforcement officer. They set up stationary checkpoints as well as mobile ATV patrols, handing out OHV Riders Handbooks and a few summary offence tickets.
This patrol initiative was started by Trail Warden Bill Bishop who contacted Annapolis RCMP to work cooperatively with his group on finding the best ways of educating the public, while enforcing ATV regulations. An operational plan was created over several months to patrol the railway bed on various occasions and to keep the various departments aware of what infractions were occurring.
Phinney added that it’s important for people to realize that the trail wardens will be keeping records of their patrols and if someone is caught in violation of the law, the police will be made aware of it. There are always people who break the rules, but the patrols will eventually catch-up.
“Sooner or later they’ll be caught abusing it,” he said. “We’re not finished. We want people to know this will be an ongoing thing.”
The idea is to talk to all users and promote the idea of trail etiquette so that everyone using the trail can feel safe. Whether it’s ATV enthusiasts, walkers, or horseback riders, the trail is open to everyone; but in order for all to enjoy it, they need to respect each other, he added.
During the October 10 patrol ATV riders were asked to slow down and pull over if they see a horse and rider coming. They were also reminded that they were required by law to carry insurance and registration on their bikes.
Dog lovers were asked to keep their pets on a leash and be sure to pick up after them. The idea on this trail is the same as other nature walks; leave nothing behind. Horse people were asked not take any spooky, or high-strung animal into a situation where they would encounter a reason to panic.
Phinney said they’ll be fine-tuning the patrols in the months to come. Overall, the first patrol got positive feedback from everyone involved. It was also great chance to get out and enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way.
Rodena Renaud, Annapolis RCMP community program officer, agreed the patrol was fun. She said she went along for the ride and had a wonderful time, despite the wet weather.
“I believe it was a huge success,” said Renaud. “The Annapolis Valley trail is a wonderful resource, it should be enjoyed by walkers, horseback riders, and ATV owners. And everyone should feel safe while they enjoy the trail.”
ANNAPOLIS COUNTY TRAILS SOCIETY
NS TRAILS NEWSLETTER
The Annapolis County Trails Society has their first "honourable"-honorary member in the form of Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Mr. Harper was in the area announcing funding to build highway expansions on Friday, March 6, 2009. He later took his first snowmobile ride along the first phase of ACTS’ recently completed section of Trans Canada Trail at Wilmot NS. There he announced $25 million for funding of the national Trans- Canada Trail system.
ACTS, ATVANS, SANS, NSORRA, Hike NS, Canadian Trails Coalition and NS Trails members, and Annapolis Valley Trails Coalition coordinator, Rick Jacques, were in attendance at the site posing with Mr. Harper for the photo op. Walkers, skiers, snowshoers, dogs and horses all took a part. Mr. Harper and his team were impressed with and enjoyed the well-organized event. Media were transported along the trail by ACTS director, George Noble, and his horse pulled sleigh.
ACTS recently had several members take the Trail Wardens course: James Frank, Al Worthen, Bill Bishop, Bob Wright, and Bob Bennett. Bill Bishop has been appointed coordinator of the Trail Warden group for the Wilmot area.
The near future plans for trail development include the westward extension of the Mt. Hanley trail to the Lawrencetown-Paradise line, and "Between the Bridges" from the Moose River at Clementsport to the Bear River bridge.
Bill Bishop, ACTS’ 2nd Vice President, has been busy building our new web page at www.annapoliscountytrailsociety.ca. It is easily accessible and full of information.
Check out the site re the upcoming International Trails’ Day for June 6 2009 at Cornwallis, NS.
Submitted by Marilyn Wright, Sec ACTS