September 18th, 2007 12:57 PM
DEP Handing out Tickets at Shenipsit/Soapstone Xpost from BR
I talked to a fellow biker who got a $75 ticket for being in the parking lot at Shenipsit Forest after dark. Its clearly posted at the entrance to the park, but to my knowledge, has never been enforced in the 20 years I've been riding there.
Anyway, I talked to the DEP today - here's what they said (the DEP remembered a NEMBA trail maintenance event we did there 5 years ago!):
I called again this morning and got Marilyn live, we talked for 20 minutes or so. I was floored by how down to earth, reasonable and matter of fact she was. I've met her a few times and haven't really had any issues, but I've heard many stories. Sorry this is so long-winded, but I think there's good info.
We talked about three things:
1) Night riding and tickets
There is no "event" that caused the tickets to be issued last week, it was a random enforcement activity. She said the park is closed at sunset, if you are in the park after that time and a DEP or cop drives by, you risk a ticket. She agreed that if you aren't in the parking lot, you probably would never get a ticket. She said that no law enforcement officer she knows of would be chasing people in the forest. I reinforced that the mountain bikers I see are all adults and would pose no risk for vandalism, she agreed, but would not come close to saying they would let us "break the law".
2) Trail use
I made a few remarks about the motorized use in the park. Its gotten a lot better, but in the spring there were a bunch of "punks" on MXers tearing the place up. She informed me about the three NETRA events (yeah I know about them). What I thought was interesting was her take on the interaction between user groups at the Snip. In her opinion the Snip is a model for a multi-use trail system, she feels that considering all the users out there, (MX, Quad, hikers, MTBers, equestrian - she mentioned these all specifically), there is little user conflict. She seemed pretty proud of this and mentioned it a few times contrasting the Snip with other areas "in the southern part of the state". She sees no point in dividing up user access to certain trails, her opinion is there is not enough space to adequately do this. She would much rather have everyone co-exist on the trails as they are today.
3) Trail maintenance
I told her I would like to set up some trail maintenance at the Snip given the fact that the DEP is understaffed and can't do these themselves. She was VERY receptive to this idea. About five years ago NEMBA did some maintenance out at the Snip. She mentioned this specifically and said what a great job we did (I was part of the crew) and how well it has held up. This project paved the bottom of a trail where it comes out onto Webster Road, it was a muddy mess, now its stays dry year round. She would love us to do another project like that. She said any maintenance we do HAS to accommodate all user groups - she would not accept a proposal for anything that couldn't be used by all user groups - meaning 4 foot wide minimum. The start of this process is for us to propose a project, I'm open to any ideas. We did that last project in a half day with 8-10 people. I'll start another thread for that - and look for everyone's participation!
If anyone has any questions, let me know, I tried to capture my conversation, but I likely left something out.