By Carolyn Richards President, Kawartha ATV Association katva.ca
A common assumption made about multi-use trail systems is that the trail user groups don’t work together or in some cases, even get along on the trails. But that’s not the case in the Kawarthas.
The 5 Points Trail System
Let’s take a look at the 5 points trail system in Trent Lakes as an example. The 5 points trail system is a large forested area that is bordered by towns such as Kinmount, Gooderham and Bobcaygeon. The forest is made up of crown land and several parcels of private land that was sold off by the Crown over the years. To this day there are still many hunt camps in the forest that have had lease agreements with the Crown and local trappers who have been trapping in the area for generations. The trail system itself is a multi-use system, which by definition means that no recreational user group is excluded from using it. At any given time on the trails you might meet up with anyone from a hiker or cyclist to an ATV or a Jeep, and everything in between. In winter you will find snowmobilers, dog sledders and cross-country skiers enjoying the trails. While there are some trails that have strict use guidelines, such as those on some private property that only allow snowmobiles in winter and no summer use, for the most part the trails are multi-use. The best way to manage a multi-use trail system is to bring together all the different user groups and allow each of them to have a voice in the management of the trails. That’s what we’ve done in the 5 Points. In 2011, due to a storm that swept through the area, some of the user groups came together to work as a team to clear the blown down trails. The initial group included Kawartha ATV Association (KATVA), Ontario Federation of 4 Wheel Drive Recreationists (OF4WD), Twin Mountains Snowmobile Club (TMSC) and Haliburton ATV Club (HATVA). The group has expanded over the years to include the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders (OFTR), Kawartha Off Road Motorcycle Association (KORMA) and Buckhorn District Snowmobile Club (BDSC). This group of stakeholders gets together every spring to discuss trail conditions, grant opportunities, events, and partnerships. In the past they have held joint rides to fundraise for local causes such as the Kinsmen Toy Drive. The OF4WD and KATVA members come out, ride the trails together and come back at the end of the day for a barbeque. The cost to attend this event is a toy or cash donation for the toy drive. Each year more than $1500 in cash and truckloads of toys are donated for this worthwhile
cause. KATVA added another $1000 on behalf of their members. Another important purpose for this 5 Points user group is to work together on trail repairs and maintenance. When the group determines that work needs to be done on a trail, whether it’s as simple as a culvert replacement or as big as a washout, the group pools their resources and splits the costs of the project. This partnership model is incredibly important to multi-use trails, because all these organizations are non-profits and most of them rely solely on membership revenue to keep the trails open to all users. A project that would normally cost one trail group $15,000 can now be split into 5 or 6 shares, which allows all the trail groups to stretch their budgets further. This has been a successful partnership since 2011 and the only one of its kind in Ontario. It’s a model that would benefit other trail systems throughout Ontario. So the next time you are riding your sled or ATV, or just taking a hike or a bike ride through the 5 points, remember the partnerships that are the foundation of maintaining and making the trails safe for all users.