ATVs a problem on groomed snowmachine trails

Feb 19, 2021

Credit Kenai Peninsula Borough

Mayor Charlie Pierce has proposed entering into a trails management agreement with the Homer-based snowmachining group Snomads. An ordinance to that effect was introduced during last night’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting.
    The ordinance includes a clause that would allow the Mayor to ban motorized wheeled vehicles, such as quads, side-by-sides or Argos, on groomed trails, in the winter months.
    Dave Mastolier, president of the Snomads, said motorized wheeled vehicles do damage to the snowy groomed trails that can be life-threatening to snowmachiners.
    “We support ATVs, UTVs, and we clear trails for these, but for winter use on groomed trails, they ruin it for all users. For snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, dog mushers, fat tire bikers, anybody that uses the groomed trails that we're paying for, it creates a real safety hazard: ruts.”
    Assemblyman Richard Derkervorkian asked Mastolier about enforcement and access.
    “How are you going to enforce that? And then how are you going to justify someone that may only have an ATV to access their cabin? Basically cutting off their access to let's say, caribou Lake?”
    “That's a great question. There's no teeth on this, that's the problem. It's we want to be able to tell somebody that's destroying the trail that, you know, the risk that they're doing. The police aren't going to come out there. The troopers aren't going to come out there. I don't know how it's going to be enforced. It's just, you know, I guess an honor system,” Mastolier said. “As far as the timing, if the trail is groomed, that means there's so much snow out there that a wheeled ATV is not going to be able to get around.”
    He said those would be the only times the trails would need to be restricted.
    Assemblyman Bill Elam said he was concerned that barring such vehicles would unfairly deny access to the backcountry.
    “I invite you to come down and we'll go take my ATVs, we can take my side-by-side my fourwheeler, my Argo, whichever one you want to go on and we'll go on a groom trail and I will show you what it does,” Mastolier responded.
    The ordinance will get a public hearing during the March 2 assembly meeting.