Sweeping up the sandhills in Portage la Prairie

Trail riding, sand dunes, and low spots where you can do mud bogging.

by Karissa Gall |

A picture of ATVers all standing around their machines waiting for the 1st ride of the season.  There are sand dunes behind them, and in the foreground.

Members of the Portage Off Road Vehicle Club enjoy their first club ride of the 2013 season. — Photo courtesy club president James Banfield

In a bid to preserve the Portage Sandhills as a popular riding area, members of the newly formed Portage Off Road Vehicle Club in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, have been adding advocacy work to their riding-related routines.

According to the club, in the past the Sandhills were crowded with riders of all kinds. Presently, however, the riding potential at the Sandhills is not being realized at the same rate.

“The Sandhills is marshland, so there is basically any style of riding you want,” said said club president James Banfield. “Trail riding, sand dunes where you can do some hill-climbing and play in the sand, and then there’s the low spots where you can go play in the mud and water if you like mud bogging.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “it’s been one of those scenarios where it only takes a few bad apples to ruin it, and there were a few of them out there trespassing where they weren’t supposed to be. One section of our Sandhills was given over to wildlife management. We do have two sections of land that we are still legal to ride on right now, so that’s what we’re using today, and we’re hoping to save those last two sections for the future.”

Banfield said 33 local riders banded together in November of 2012 and have been working to acquire a temporary lease on the property, in order to once again give people a top-notch place to ride.

“There are a lot of riders just looking for a place to ride,” said Banfield. “Everybody’s got quads and unfortunately a lot of people ride them illegally because they really don’t have anything else. So they ride gravel roads and places where they’re not supposed to be. We are having to trailer probably an hour and a half to two hours anywhere else in this province where we can legally ride again.

“Hopefully we can obtain this lease and get the word out and promote this area and get people out there,” he said. “It is very important just to give people a place to ride.”

While the club works on obtaining a lease, Banfield said they are also looking for businesses to sponsor club clothing. He said proceeds from the clothing will go toward a poker derby they are hoping to put on in the fall. Until then, he said, the club does have one event planned for May 25.

“May 25 is our first ride this year and it is a cleanup of the Sandhills. So everybody’s bringing trucks and trailers and cleaning up all the trash that has been left behind by years gone by,” he said.

He said all riders are welcome to help out in this effort to make a good impression and get the property.

The Portage Sandhills are open to the public and are located 12 miles south of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Until the club can obtain a lease on the area there is no cost to ride; however, if the club obtains a lease riders will require a membership. A one-year membership is set to cost $25 for a single rider or for family of riders. Visit http://www.porvc.ca/ for information and club contacts.

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