Snow might still be several weeks away, but members of the Fort St. James Snowmobile and ATV Club are already hard at work getting the trails ready for winter use.
The club recently received funds to put up more signage on the 300km network of trails, and club Vice President Wayne Moll says that more than $50,000 of funding has gone into the trail system over the past year. “Plus there are all the volunteers who groom the trails and put up the signs,” he says. Recently those volunteers have been out replacing three old bridges that needed upgrading, and over the last two years they’ve installed other new bridges, in order to help the environment and fish habitats by keeping snowmobiles and ATVs out of local streams.
Grooming the trails has been made easier since Fort Machine Works donated a groomer last winter. The club purchased a Polaris 800 Mini Ranger on tracks to pull it, and were able to use it during the 2014-15 season. The Ranger was also used during the summer to carry material for the club’s projects, and both vehicles can be transported on a 24-foot low-deck trailer that was purchased in January, which will cut the travel time to get to places such as the Dog Creek Trail, at the far end of the trail system. The signage includes new trail maps at the entrances to the main trail systems, directional signs, and distance signs every five kilometres in both directions on each trail. The club also had 3,000 brochures with information about the trail network printed up.
In addition to grants, the club fundraises throughout the year. In 2015 they held three poker rides, and they also raise funds by renting out the land and buildings they own at the old fair ground. “Music on the Mountain was there, and for seven weeks this year we had 80 tree planters camped up there and using some of the buildings, which they gave us a donation for.” Moll acknowledges that the site doesn’t get used as much as the club would like. “We tried to get interest from other recreation groups in the community, but there wasn’t any.”
The trail system consists of loops, some of which attach to each other, giving snowmobilers a variety of runs of different lengths. Moll adds that dog mushers also use the trails in winter, while in summer they’re popular with ATV users.
Membership in the club is $25 per person or $50 for a family of four. Moll says that the club could always use more volunteers and people interested in being on the committee. “The average age of our committee members is 64,” he notes. Anyone interested in more information about the club can e-mail email@example.com, or check out the group’s Facebook page.