I and a couple others went to one of the stakeholders meetings.
At this point I think we need to get a couple messages across:
1) Trails can be sustainable, non-destructive to the land, and add value to the province through motorized recreation...and it'll be very helpful to show examples of this (Ontario, BC have pretty good trail management from what I understand...and there are more examples)
2) We want to be at the table when the trail planning happens to make sure they are enjoyable and sustainable, moving or adjusting existing trails rather than closing them. (this will be a consultation, so we need to keep an eye out for it - Parks and Recreation is responsible for this deliverable 'as soon as practicable')
3) The draft SSRP talks a bit about existing 'designated' trails - we need to get a definition of (or perhaps help define) what 'designated' trails means...right now, it means something different each person.
4) We will help to build the governance around the trail systems, and help to maintain them where we can.
The format of the stakeholder meeting was like this:
a) Break into groups/tables (each table had stakeholders and a facilitator/note taker)
b) Discuss pages XX to XX ((plan portion) and XX to XX (corresponding implementation portion) based on these questions:
1) What do you like about this section?
2) What don't you like about this section?
3) What is missing?
4) Facilitators presented major points for select, tables. ALL recorded points were attached to bulletin boards to be organized/grouped later on.
c) discuss the next section (pages XX to XX and XX to XX)
d)rotate to a different table/facilitator/stakeholders (this was pretty good - got to hear different points of view and spread our word farther)
We sat at three different tables in total, with three different groups discussing a total of six areas of the SSRP draft (remember, it's still a draft).
I highly recommend becoming very familiar with the plan before attending ;-)
My perception is that the plan is not at the level of 'this trail will close, that trail will stay open'...yet. It's still at a high level dealing with big chunks of land. If anyone had a different perception, please speak up
The approach I took was not to ask for this or that trail to remain open, but rather to let folks know we truck enthusiasts want to preserve the land too . We don't want to rip it up, we want to see it from sustainable trails...and we want our descendants to be able to do the same.
The following is a little more detailed than above, but can be a really good framework of changes/additions to the plan which will provide for a good future for the trails (thank you Peter Straub, I hope you don't mind that I posted this, if you do let me know and I'll have the mods take it down):
We, the members of the 4WD Community in Southern Alberta, would like to see the following changes to the proposed South Saskatchewan Regional Land Use Plan.
And end to the Access Management Plans for managing motorized recreation on Public Land.
o Access Management Plans require the re-use of existing linear disturbances on the land which were not necessarily engineered as sustainable recreational trails and may not provide the desired experiences of the recreational users.
o The only management tool for government in an Access Management Plan is to declare a particular trail as Open or Closed, meaning that the only available response to Trail problems is Closure.
Replace Access Management Plans with “Motorized Recreation Plans” based on the 5E’s
o Experience, Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Evaluation
? Experience – Master Trail Planning which incorporates ecological, social and trail sustainability while providing the Experience Albertan’s desire.
• A Master Plan should be developed for each Public Land Use Zone.
• In developing the Master Plan, Recreation Groups should be consulted for input on desired experiences, destinations and favorite activities within each Public Land Use Zone.
• User groups should have the opportunity to participate in the planning process through providing inventories of desired trails and waypoints of favorite destinations.
• Connections to staging areas, transportation corridors, camping facilities and inter-connection between Public Land Use Zones should be well thought out within each PLUZ.
? Engineering – Budget and Implementation capability to create sustainable trails, not just re-use unsustainable disturbances.
• A budget to implement and maintain a trail network as outlined in the Master Plan.
• Implementation responsibility assigned to appropriate government department with milestones for progress and completion
• Trail built to standards that offer challenges, experiences, and “seat time” such that users do not need to ‘Make their own fun’.
• A variety of Trail standards to offer transportation corridors, as well as challenging alternate routes for varying skill levels of users.
• Source of ongoing funding to provide maintenance and repair of heavily used trails.
• ‘Adopt a Trail’ programs to ensure ownership for clean-up and monitoring of recreational trails.
? Education – to ensure users know what to expect, what to do, and their responsibilities on the trails.
• A consistent set of signage standards, brochures, kiosk information, and rules for all recreation areas.
• Consistent trail descriptions to help users make informed decisions about where to recreate.
• Educate users on trial etiquette and expectations for enjoying the trails.
• A program to partner with recreation clubs to provide training to safely operate your 4WD and its equipment on the trails, and without damaging the trails.
? Enforcement – to ensure compliance with the plan
• Meaningful enforcement regulations for issuing penalties for people misusing the trails.
• Specify minimum staffing levels for enforcement during different seasons to ensure meaningful enforcement presence.
• Program to partner with recreation clubs to provide Trail Volunteers to promote education and proper use of trails.
? Evaluation – to continuously improve the plan.
• Set appropriate Key Performance Indicators for recreational trails in each PLUZ, i.e. # of KM of trails, Destinations, staging areas, User capacity, Compliance, etc.
• Identify appropriate government department with responsibility to provide annual reporting against the Key Performance Indicators.
• Program to partner with recreation clubs ensure user’s needs are being met, issues are identified and corrective action is taken when needed