A great season of ATVing in Saskatchewan

After winter held on into early April in Saskatchewan, ATVers scrambled to get out and enjoy the rest of the season.

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ATVing in Neudorf, Saskatchewan.

ATVing in Neudorf, Saskatchewan. — Photo courtesy SATVA

After a late start, the Saskatchewan All Terrain Vehicle Association (SATVA) had a great 2013 season, full of rallies and good times with friends and family.

SATVA currently has 10 member clubs with about 223 members from all over the province. It was formed in late 2006 and is focused on safe operation of all terrain vehicles, promoting recreation, and lobbying government and other regulatory bodies to access more opportunities for ATV riders throughout the province.

John Meed, the general manager of the association, said the late start to the season was due to winter hanging on in Saskatchewan well into April.

The year in review

"Lots of rallies had to be cancelled or delayed," said Meed. "But once things warmed up, a number of rallies were held throughout the province and were very well attended. Recreation is still very active in the province. However, we are still trying to lobby for better opportunities, especially in the south half of the province where there aren't a lot of managed and maintained trails."

One club in Esterhazy has a trail system, but had many issues with water because of the extended winter season. Moose Mountain Provincial Park, which also has a managed trail system, wasn't able to open trails at all this past season.

"We are trying to work with them to find some solutions so in 2014 they can get the trail system open within the park," Meed said. "It was a really wet year because we had a record snowfall that led into a fairly wet spring, and many of the trails were completely under water in Moose Mountain and other areas."

Although the weather put a damper on the season, Meed said people still got out and enjoyed themselves.

Working to expand riding opportunities

"In Saskatchewan, the current law allows anybody to ride in any ditch of any provincial highway and on any unoccupied Crown land unless there's a regulation prohibiting it," said Meed. "In the north half of the province, north of Prince Albert, there are hundreds if not thousands of old abandoned logging roads and game trails people can use. A club up near Big River has a managed trail system that is over 300 kilometres long."

Another great area for riders is the Hudson Bay area in east central Saskatchewan. There are all kinds of trail opportunities here with mostly crown land and forested areas.

"There are lots of opportunities to ride, but not a lot of managed trails owned by a club," said Meed. "We've been doing a lot of work on that. We've met with government a couple times this year to develop opportunities for ATV riders. We need an alternative to riding ditches and (to) develop managed trail systems."

Besides lobbying for better opportunities, Meed said SATVA also offers safety training to its members. An ATV safety course has been developed by the Canadian Safety Institute, a division of the All-Terrain Quad Council of Canada. Safety training is important for the safe operation of an ATV and the course is offered throughout Saskatchewan and other provinces.

Unfortunately, this year in Saskatchewan was a bad year for collisions with ATVs, including some fatalities. SATVA members were deeply saddened by this and hope to start a helmet campaign in the coming year. SATVA has approached the Saskatchewan government and hopes to receive some funding from them for the helmet campaign to improve this safety issue.

Meed said he hopes 2014 will bring an earlier spring, great rallies and more movement from the government in regards to trails. He is hopeful and looks forward to the future of ATVing in the province.

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