As the final patches of snow melt on the city’s mountain bike trails, access to some of its most popular downhill trails hangs in the balance.
The lower portion the Fox Mountain Trail Network will be closed this spring until further notice due to conflicts with private landowners.
Justin Calof, executive director with the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium — the association responsible for managing and maintaining the trail network — said the CMBC was recently contacted by concerned residents who own parcels of land adjacent to the lower section of the Fox Mountain Trail Network.
The residents have requested no further recreational use on their properties, which affects the bottom portions of premier downhill trails Mitch’s Brew bottom, the Loon Trail and Aflo.
In the meantime the CMBC is asking all riders to respect the landowners’ wishes while they hope to negotiate an agreement.
The CMBC has already secured a number of agreements on Fox Mountain with private landowners for recreational use, however, Calof said some parcels still require more work.
The CMBC said it will continue to work on agreements and is encouraging recreational users to explore other parts of the network this spring.
The City of Williams Lake, which has been working to help promote mountain biking tourism in the city and region over recent years, declined to comment on the closure.
Mark Savard, avid community mountain bike advocate and CMBC board member, said the problem raises a larger issue surrounding land access.
“I think this is a good opportunity for governments to wake up and realize they have to have a long-term vision when managing land access for everyone,” Savard said. “There’s no point in having these rich resources if we can’t access them.”
Changes to the trail network has already impacted the community with a new format for the Fifth Annual Peel Out Mountain Bike Festival, held over the May long weekend. For more on the Peel Out see page B3.