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LETTER: Dirt bikes on mountain trails--what you need to know

Dear editor,

Given the comments [posted to this paper] I felt it was worth providing some additional insight from the perspective of the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society (KCTS).

The official trails network managed by the KCTS is non-motorized and there is an extensive list of reasons why. The primary reason is that 90% of the trails are located on private land. Landowners have agreed to allow the public to use their land in a non-motorized way. It has been a huge effort to work with landowners and have them agree to provide public access on their land. Many of the landowners have significant land holdings, legal and liability requirements and impose stringent conditions upon the KCTS to provide public access. Volunteers and paid staff with the KCTS spend many hundreds of hours every year working with landowners, lawyers, insurance providers and local governments to maintain the trails network that we currently have the privilege to enjoy.

Specifically regarding the 7 Summits, this trail is located on a mix of private and Crown Land. After the roads were closed, the Crown Land portion of the trail has never had sanctioned motorized access. Approximately 5 years ago the provincial government turned management of the Old Glory and Plewman Basin trails over to the KCTS and we have continued to manage these trails as non-motorized. The remaining portions of the 7 Summits were developed by the KCTS as a non-motorized trail. The funding providers and land managers all were supportive of this decision as the trail was developed.

I would encourage motorized users to organize a group to represent their interests and engage with local governments and land managers to address their access requirements. The KCTS was part of a process a few years ago that began the process of identifying the needs of all trail users. However, the progress has been slow and requires more representation from all user groups.

It is my hope that all trail users, but especially motorized users, understand the many complex issues around public access to local trails including landowner permission and insurance requirements. KCTS volunteers have spent tens of thousands of hours over the past 15 years establishing the relationships, legal infrastructure, safety procedures, financial management and policies to allow the trails network to exist as we now know it .

Isaac Saban
President - Kootenay Columbia Trails Society