When it comes to enjoying the outdoors, many have taken to the thrill of their ATV's, side by sides, quads and dirt bikes.
However, when hittin' the back roads, drivers must always remember to drive safely and respect other people's property.
Southwest Sno Trackers President, Gord Weidenhammer, farms in Deloraine-Winchester. He says ATV drivers can mistakenly assume a snowmobile trail is to be enjoyed in every season, but this is just not the case.
"I guess the biggest thing with the snowmobile club, we're crossing private property most of the time and the work that goes on behind the scenes, we have every piece of private property signed up with a Snow-Man agreement that with the snowmobile clubs, that insurance takes over and we're responsible," explains Weidenhamer. "From mid-December to about March, we're responsible for that piece of trail that crosses property."
"We the landowners know we're there, and they've allowed us to be on their property," he adds.
"ATV clubs have done this and there is the Manitoba ATV Association, and they have to do the same. You can't just ride where you want," continues Weidenhamer. "We do get a cross-over sometimes in spring and fall, and people think, 'well, it's the snowmobile trail. We can ride there with our quads. No, you can't. Technically, you are trespassing."
Each year, farmers throughout the Westman Region see driven paths through their fields, from the growing season to harvest. It's difficult to determine who these drivers are who are mowing down a swathe in a field, and many farmers share their frustration with local police force, as this is another form of vandalism.
Weidenhamer says thoughtless ATV riders driving on winter snow trails out of season has hurt their club in the past. "We've had people upset and take their trail away because of ATV's when we haven't got anything to do with it until the snow."
"People don't want you all over the place on their land and they want a designated route, and that's what the snowmobile trail does, and that's what the ATV clubs would have to do," he says.
There's a few ways to solve this problem of where to drive. ATV enthusiasts can secure their own agreement with a landowner (ask first, get permission, prepare to rent that land for the season, then go have fun!) to go trail-busting, or find designated ATV trails through the All Terrain Vehicle Association of Manitoba website and check out the map!
Weidenhamer says having a designated ATV trail in their area would be a good idea, but there is a lot of work behind the scenes. Please follow more of this interview with Gord Weidenhamer and CJRB's Betty Sawatzky below:
For more information on Manitoba's ATV trails, please visit the following website: ATVMB Trails – Download ATV trails by club