STATE OF SASKATCHEWAN TRAILS
During the last few years, the Saskatchewan Trails Association has made considerable efforts to improve the trail network in the province and further the engagement with new and current lovers of the trails. But what we were lacking was the understanding of trail issues within the province and the necessary tools to maintain and enhance this work. This led the STA to initiate a survey project to develop a greater understanding of the current state of trails in the province.
We would like to thank the trail enthusiasts and operators who participated in the survey. The information we have gathered is going towards improving the trails so you can continue to enjoy all the beauty Saskatchewan has to offer.
The survey was distributed 856 individuals representing a variety of users and operators including STA members, First Nations, snowmobilers, ATVers, municipalities, provincial sport and recreation associations, provincial park staff, and resort communities. The survey was distributed during May 13, 2019 and June 13, 2019 and received 72 responses from trail users and 20 responses from trail operators (10.7% response rate).
The responses from trail users included:
Number of Trails
Many people indicated that Saskatchewan does not have an adequate number of trails. This could also be due to lack of knowledge of current trails. Walking and running are leading for use of trails but just barely, snowmobiling, ATVing, skiing, and cycling all follow very close behind.
Development of New Trails
The survey showed mixed results to where new trails should be constructed, but there was a consensus that new trails and methods to find new trails should be undertaken. It was suggested that trails “could sponsor family biking days, where local bike shops take groups out for training rides.” This could work if more trail operators ran event days to spread awareness about trails. Diversity in the trails is required, both longer day trails and short trails requested with varying difficulty.
The majority of survey participants felt safe on the trails. There were a few who suggested culling wild hogs, more shelters in Prince Albert National Park, and drinking and driving checks for snowmobilers and ATVers.
Many commented they would like more signage, maps, and signs to show Point of Interests (POIs) on their journey.
Most people search for trails using the internet and word of mouth with few using trail guides or apps. There should be more promotion of the STA’s trail directory and resources blog as people will find it easier to access the info they are looking for. The info people want to know about trails is their location, condition reports, maps, snow condition, and trail descriptions.
There seems to be disagreement between two groups of people in regard to ATV use. One side argues there are not enough ATV trails and info while the others argue that ATVers wreck the trails, are dangerous and don’t respect the land. Drinking and riding laws and enforcement was brought up multiple times.
Leave No Trace
One responded recommended it would be nice to see Saskatchewan adopt the Leave No Trace principles in all their trails.
The response from trail operators included:
Trail construction was noted as being a difficult process with concerns raised about funding, length of time/amount of work to construct a trail, the use of heavy equipment and volunteers, required skills, knowledge and amount of trail grooming.
Trail operators mainly commented on the lack of money/consistent grants for trail upkeep as well as the difficulty they face with low funding in regard to maintaining current trails. Funding for trail development comes mostly from donations or out-of-pocket with few government grants and corporate sponsorship to assist. The heavy majority of trail operators agreed there is not adequate funding for trail building and maintenance.
Due to this lack of funding, most trails are updated and groomed only once yearly if not less.
This upkeep is targeted to address weather deterioration and signage. Most trail clean-up is done by volunteers and eco-friendly trail users. Trail operators seem to have a strong network with many operators consulting with one another to solve problems and answer questions.
For the full report visit: STA report