A pilot project aimed at recreational all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders was launched earlier this summer at Moose Mountain Provincial Park and will continue until Labour Day. As part of the project, ATV users are required to bring their recreational vehicles into the park by trailer and proceed to the Visitor Centre, located on the main floor of the Chalet. There, they will receive a map of an approved riding route, a pamphlet outlining the rules for riding in the park, and an acknowledgment form which they must sign in order to receive a 2016 Trail Permit at no charge. Moose Mountain Provincial Park manager, Joan Adams says: “We are trying to get the word out about what the park has to offer, as well as ensuring responsible recreational riding within Moose Mountain Provincial Park.”
MMPP's ATV trails were officially opened on July 15 by the province's Minister of Parks, Culture and Sports, Mark Docherty, as part of capital projects aimed at enhancing visitor experience in the park.
The Saskatchewan government contributed $125,000 to the enhancement of the park's ATV trails. This amount was matched by the National Trails Coalition, for a total investment of $250,000.
The ATV trails are located in MMPP's back country and include some of the park's existing snowmobile trails.
“It's a 47 km ride,” says Adams. “ATVs have to be trailered to the unloading area, just west of Little Kenosee. The ride is a loop that starts on Centre Road as far west as the Bennett Lake Trail and south to the Horse Lake Trail. It's clearly marked on the map we give riders when they stop in to the Visitors' Centre for their permits.”
“Moose Mountain Provincial Park has been a designated ATV park for 10-plus years,” she adds. “And maybe we haven't done a good job of getting the word out. This pilot project is an opportunity to create educational awareness for recreational ATVers about what we're offering here.”
Riding in a provincial park comes with responsibilities, says Adams. “Moose Mountain Provincial Park is an anomaly. It's a forest, surrounded by prairie.”
“The acknowledgement form that riders sign in order to receive their permits outlines the rules and responsibilities associated with riding an all-terrain vehicle in Moose Mountain Provincial Park,” she adds. “Some of the rules are self-explanatory: having a valid driver's license and the necessity of having third-party liability insurance to ride on Crown land and to be able to produce a copy of your insurance if a peace and/or enforcement officer asks to see it. And of course, children between the ages of 12 and 16 must be supervised by a person who has held a continuous and valid license for one year.”
'We also ask that riders wear personal protective equipment. This includes a helmet, eye protection, long pants long sleeves and boots.”
“But other rules are aimed at protecting the park and not all ATV riders may be aware of them,” says Adams. “All-terrain vehicles must be washed and clean prior to riding in the park. This is to avoid the spread of noxious weeds and/or invasive species. If someone has been riding outside the park and brings something into the park on their ATV, that can be a problem for us. We don't want to have to be looking at eradication of something that is harmful to the park's ecosystem.”
“Prevention is always best. Even if someone's building a home here, the construction equipment has to be washed and cleaned before it's brought into the park.”
“ATVs are only permitted on designated trails within the park and we ask that riders travel responsibly,” she adds. “Stay on the hard-packed trail surface and go over, not around, obstacles to avoid widening the trails. And don't ride if the trails are wet and muddy. Weather conditions can change abruptly and the park reserves the right to close any and all trails without prior notice.”
“What we're trying to do is promote a whole cultural shift in thinking,” says Adams. “We're offering people a chance to access the back country in the park that would normally be inaccessible with a vehicle.”
“But we're balancing that with the fact that responsible riding will help to ensure the future of recreational ATV use in the park, and to ensure the park is protected for the enjoyment of everyone.”
“It's a privilege-not a right-to ride in Moose Mountain Provincial Park.”
For more information, call (306)-577-2615. The Moose Mountain Provincial Park Visitor Centre is located on the main floor of the Chalet and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m until Monday, September 5.