HOWLEY A washed-out section of the rail bed just over 10 kilometres east of Howley has ATV riders working hard to get on with their journey.
A group of riders from the Clarenville area were riding along towards Howley when they came to the section that was washed out in heavy rains the night before. The washed-out area is about 15 feet across and has a depth of about 15 feet straight down. It’s roped off with a pink ribbon and a tree across the trail.
The group of six traveling in three ATVs had to go around the broken part of the trail through a flooded section beside it. Using their own hands and tools, they cleared the blocked culvert to let some of the water pass and used winches to pull each other up and over the side of the rail bed to the other side of the washed-out area.
“We shouldn’t have to do this,” said Tony Goobie of Conception Bay. “This is the first washout we’ve seen since we started off.”
Goobie was traveling with a group from Clarenville. They say another group traveling toward them from Nova Scotia had warned them about the washout, so they were fairly well prepared.
Dale Bartlett was with the group as well, and he said they pay enough to use the trails without having to “go through all this.”
“We pay our taxes and we pay for our trail passes,” said Bartlett, who was traveling through the area from Clarenville. “And this isn’t good for tourism, we heard a few people from out of the province saying they wouldn’t be coming back because of the condition of the trails.”
Wade Rubia and his group from Deer Lake said they were the ones who marked off the washed out area with the pink ribbon, even though they do not work with any agency responsible for safety on the trails.
“We were lucky we were able to see it from a distance, we didn’t have to stop fast, didn’t fall in or anything,” said Rubia. “But this needs to be fixed fast, this is dangerous and someone could get hurt.”
A crew from the provincial Parks and Natural Areas division of the Department of Environment and Conservation were driving through at the end of the day Tuesday. They would not comment except to say the washout would be fixed as soon as possible. Representatives from the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Federation, which is responsible for the condition of the trails, were also unavailable for comment.