Catching up with Dan Kruse, President of the Calgary ATV Riders Association

“We do not just ride ATVs and fix trails, we pick up garbage too.” — Dan Kruse

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Dan Kruse stands beside his ATV next to a row of trees on one side and a fence line on the other.

Dan Kruse, President of the Calgary ATV Riders Association, has been implementing all kinds of initiatives throughout Southern Alberta. — Photo courtesy Dan Kruse

The Calgary ATV Riders Association has been hard at work over the past year. As President of the club, Dan Kruse has been implementing all kinds of initiatives, from flying in rig mats to stabilize trails, to organizing rides for sick kids and their families, to educating club members and guests about the importance of machine maintenance and the potential harms that can result on riders and the environment.

We caught up with Kruse to find out what the Calgary ATV Riders Association (CARA) is up to and why riders in Southern Alberta have much to be thankful for.

How has the last year gone for your club?

The last year has been full of new adventures for CARA. Our amazing volunteers worked with us on our trail stewardship last June. The volunteers worked to help get 30,000 pounds of rig mats ready to be flown onto the trail to fix a section of trail that needed to be fixed. This meant cleaning, repairing boards and cutting things to size. It was also a huge help from Environment and Parks for arranging the helicopter. Once the rig mats got airlifted in, we got more volunteers to drag them into place for them to keep the trail sustainable for years to come.

Last June, we did our annual stewardship where we had a team fixing trails with hand tools to maintain the water bars that keep the trails from getting washed out and the water off to the side of the trails rather than sitting in big holes causing further erosion. The second team that we had for that event picked up garbage along the roads and camping areas in Waiparous. Yes, we do not just ride ATVs and fix trails, we pick up garbage too. In the past, we have partnered with the Ghost/Waiparous community for this initiative. This year, we filled two garbage bins with bags and bags of garbage and even a trailer awning that had been damaged and left behind.

We also did a ride for sick kids with Starlight Foundation. This was our second year doing the Ride 4 Smiles with Starlight. We had around 64 parents and 60 kids that came out for this event. We took the kids and parents out for an ATV ride for a one-and-a-half hour trip and showed them what we get to experience when we ride. CARA calls upon all our volunteers to help with this event as it’s one of our other biggest events. We have so many people on the ground helping as well as drivers taking the kids out for a ride. We will be doing it again this year and hoping for an even bigger year.

Black rig mats are linked together along an ATV trail and winds through trees.

Calgary ATV Riders Association volunteers worked to help get 30,000 pounds of rig mats ready to be flown in to fix a section of trail that needed to be attended to. Once the rig mats were airlifted in, volunteers dragged them into place, keeping the trail sustainable for years to come. — Photo courtesy Dan Kruse

What are the top two places to go for a ride in your area? Why?

Waiparous:

The Waiparous area has trails for anyone of all different skill levels to ride on. Everything from a nice pleasure ride to a much more challenging area. Waiparous has changed so much over the years. Many new trails have been put in as well as some trails that are now dual purpose for ATVs and single-track riders.

Ghost:

I really enjoy the ride from the South Ghost staging area and riding all the way up to Margaret Lake. When you get to the lake and park your ATV at the top of the hill and look down towards the lake, it’s just stunning to see the clear blue water. I always try to make this a stop for lunch, as it’s just so peaceful. I sit and look out at the water and let the problems of life drift away.

When you are at the top of a mountain, it’s amazing what you feel looking down at the world.  

A man in an orange hard hat and reflective vest cuts through a downed tree with a hand saw.

The Calgary ATV Riders Association’s annual stewardship had a team of volunteers fixing trails with hand tools to maintain the water bars that keep the trails from getting washed out, preventing further erosion. — Photo courtesy Dan Kruse

What initiatives has your organization taken lately?

In the fall, we participated in an educational fair out in Waiparous put on by the Ghost Watershed Alliance. We were promoting our stewardship initiatives as well as educating on the importance of keeping your machine in good condition to prevent things like fluids leaking from your machine and how it impacts the environment.

This past February, we had a booth at the Calgary Boat and Outdoor show at the BMO Centre. We participate in events like this as a way to attract new members and educate people on our stewardship initiatives as well as events they may be interested in participating in.

In June, we look forward to our next stewardship weekend out in Waiparous to continue our trail work as well as do our annual garbage pick up.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

I would like to thank everyone for the hard work they do at our events and outside of the events as well. This club is not just a one-person show. It takes an amazing team that works very hard to keep this a well-oiled machine. We all work together to keep things happening for everyone so that we all can keep enjoying what we all love to do. If it were not for our members, we would not be where we are today.


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