It’s been just over a year since the Prince Edward Island ATV Federation (PEIATVF) held its first official meeting. Since then, it has brought together five off-highway vehicle (OHV) clubs, created 100 kilometers (62 miles) of signed trails, and by the end of this year will add another 100 kilometers.
“For a small Province, that’s monumental,” said Paul Wilbert, Federation President. “All of our trails are developed on private land. Ninety percent of it is agricultural. So we’re getting bikes out of farmers’ fields, and getting them on a new trail through the woods. And we’re trimming hedgerows so we can get bikes closer to the hedgerows, and in some cases the farmers gain 4 to 6 feet of their fields to put crop in again.”
Prince Edward Island is just over 2,000 square miles in size. It has no national forests or crown land, and is best known for its red-sand beaches, lighthouses and fertile farmland. To build trails on private property, the Federation must get written permission from landowners, as well as have liability insurance to protect them. Clubs must also install signs and markers to make sure riders stay on trails. Raising necessary funds required the Federation to create a trail pass. “The clubs all had different membership amounts,” said Wilbert. “We agreed to a single trail pass that’s been adopted by all of them. It’s a $50 trail pass; $23 stays with the club of your choice, just like other Provinces and States; $20 goes back to the Federation for insurance; $7 goes to the Province for taxes. Our trails are multi-use, so hikers, snowshoers, dog sleds and skiers can use them. The only people that get charged for a trail sticker are motorized users, on ATVs, dirt bikes and side-by-sides.”
The island’s sandy soils make building trails easy, Wilbert adds. The clubs’ major challenge is acquiring permits for stream crossings. “We had 150 telephone poles donated,” he said. “We use three poles per bridge, crossing small streams. We just have to deck them with 2-by-6’s. You can build a bridge in 2 hours and cross it. But every time we come to water, it’s $100 to get an environmental permit. We have to respect the environment, so we spent $1,000 on printed maps that show watershed layers and wetland buffers. All that is on there, so the government can see it before they approve our trail. To get across the stream, you pay the $100 fee, you build it and you go.”
Retired from the Navy as a Boatswain, with leg and lower back injuries, Wilbert, 41, has been the prime organizer of the Federation and its progress. “The passion for me was to be able to drive legally on Prince Edward Island, and not have to go to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia on their trail systems. The biggest goal I have this year is to get more rural businesses online. Yesterday, we found out we have two more restaurants that have signed off on the trails. If we can give bikes a destination, that’s the key. If people can go ride for 5 or 6 hours, they’re spending money on food and fuel, and that’s your rural economic stimulus.
“Right now, PEI is the talk all across Canada for what we’re doing, because this has never been done here before, and we’re getting it all legal.”
Here is more of what the PEI ATV Federation has accomplished in its first year, from a recent newsletter to members:
- Adopted a single Provincial federation trail pass that is recognized in New Brunswick. Their pass is recognized in PEI as well. Local ATV Dealers now sell trail passes.
- All clubs belonging to PEIATVF have complete insurance coverage.
- All landowners that sign a land-use form will be protected with trail insurance.
- Received the first grant monies from COHV (Canadian OHV Distributors Council) in over 6 years. (A previous Federation had dissolved.)
- Has re-established membership with AQCC (All Terrain Quad Council of Canada).
- Working with various Provincial Government Departments, including the Departments of Justice & Public Safety, Agriculture, Enforcement, Highway Safety, PEI Federation of Agriculture and the PEI Snowmobile Association, a first for PEI.
- Each of the Island’s clubs received approximately $2,000 worth of trail signs and stakes to distribute on their trails.
- Received Government approval to cross the Confederation Trail, and permits for building bridges over streams.
- Attendance at the Quad Council’s Annual General Meeting in Nova Scotia.
- Successfully held a charity run for a local family, raising over $7,500.
- Launched the new PEIATVF website.
ATV clubs on PEI include the Tignish Sportsman Riders, the Evangeline ATV Club, the Queens County Trail Blazers, the Eastern Kings ATV Club, and the East Prince Quad Tracks ATV Club
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
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