Respect Their Land!
Most snowmobilers don’t think about where snowmobile trails come from in the first place. Trails are not legislated or a God-given right. Mostly, snowmobile trails exist because someone has said “Yes”.
Frequently, that someone is a private landowner whose property is situated where a snowmobile club wants to route a trail. Clubs must obtain permission from the landowner to cross their property. Normally, for a designated narrow strip of land, to be used only in the winter by snowmobiles with valid Snowmobile Trail Permits.
If enough landowners say ‘no’, either to a new trail or the renewal of an existing one, it would threaten the existence of the provincial system we enjoy today. Think about it: snowmobiling in some areas could return to the dark ages where there were no linkages to other networks and regions, only the ability to ride around in local loops.
So what can the ordinary snowmobiler do to help clubs keep trails in place?
- Stay on the trail.
- Leave the stakes intact.
- Leave gates and fences alone.
- Use only for snowmobiles.
- Use only in the winter.
- Use only when the trail is open.
- Respect the landowner.
At last count, Ontario snowmobile clubs reported land use permission with a total of 15,000 private landowners. These owners include farmers, cottagers, hunt camp owners, wood lot operators, absentee landlords, businesses, corporations, and many, many others. They are a diverse group, with many different viewpoints and interests, but all deserve to be treated fairly and with respect by the snowmobiling community.
By designating a specific route across the land the OFSC travels during the winter, landowners have contributed immeasurably to their local snowmobile clubs and home communities. Landowners who provide consent for the snowmobiles to access their property, will be invited to sign an OFSC Land Use Permission Form. This form outlines the obligations of the snowmobile club to the landowner. When it is signed, the insurer for the OFSC agrees to recognize the landowner as insured by the OFSC’s Third Party General Liability Policy for any legal liability claims with respect to the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. The signed form becomes the landowners’ assurance that the trail system on his/her property will be monitored, maintained and groomed by club volunteers. By allowing permission, the snowmobile trail joins a network which also forms part of the OFSC’s provincial trail system.