Conservancy group weighs in on bike controversy

11-acre property in Maddox Cove includes East Coast Trail

Published on July 17, 2014

A not-for-profit organization that owns land in Maddox Cove covering a small portion of the East Coast Trail (ECT) is not interested in a company’s proposal to use it for mountain bike tours.

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is a private land-conservation organization that aims to protect natural diversity.

In a letter addressed to Sacred Rides dated July 8, NCC aired its concerns about “Ride the Rock” tours. Cape Race Cultural Adventures Inc. operates the local Sacred Rides franchise.

NCC’s 11-acre property will reportedly be crossed on those tours.

 

Biking causes greater impact

“Mountain biking will cause a greater impact than foot traffic on our Nature Reserve and we are concerned this activity will disrupt the local ecosystem, including widening the path and disrupting the vegetation,” wrote Lanna Campbell, program manager for NCC’s operations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

NCC acquired the land in 2011 and has a signed agreement with the East Coast Trail Association (ECTA) to permit its inclusion in the trail system.

 

 

“NCC and the East Coast Trail Association have a signed agreement to continue the safe use of this trail network through our private property, with the understanding the trail is to be used for foot traffic only,” wrote Campbell. “Hiking is considered a low-impact recreational activity, and does not pose much risk to the Maddox Cove Nature Reserve.”

A message posted last Friday to the wall of the ECT’s Facebook page was intended to serve as a safety advisory for hikers, warning that mountain bike tours were scheduled to take place throughout the weekend, as well as later this summer in August and early September.

ECTA president Randy Murphy has since told The Telegram he has concerns about hikers sharing the trail with mountain bikers.

An ECTA news release also stated the organization wants the trail to be for hikers only.

Andrew Holland, NCC’s communications and government relations officer for Atlantic Canada, told The Telegram Wednesday that when it rallied public support to help NCC obtain the land, it did so with permanent protection and public use in mind.

“People have entrusted their dollars to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to buy this land for permanent conservation, so our role is to safeguard it. We want people to enjoy the land … but it’s not intended to be an area where there is this type of activity that could potentially degrade the habitat.”

The Telegram asked Holland if the mountain bike issue could result in NCC excluding the land from the ECT.

“I don’t know,” he responded. “We’ve yet to have any conversations with the event organizers, because, unfortunately, they didn’t reach out to us, and I don’t know why that is. But we don’t own a big chunk of land on the East Coast Trail.”

NCC hopes the company can find somewhere else to hold its rides.

“We don’t have anything against them, and we wish them the very best,” said Holland. “We just feel that maybe they should look at other alternatives for a site to do this activity.”

NCC learned about the tours directly from ECTA. The trail association has no legal right to keep bikes off the trail, nor does the provincial government. Representatives from the ECTA, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and Sacred Rides will reportedly meet in the near future.