Friday, March 14, 2003
Skiers fined for leaving Great Meadows Refuge trail
In late February, a group of about 5 cross country skiers was found off the marked trail while in Carlisle's Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, and were fined $75 each for trespassing. Tim Prior, acting project leader for the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, said the skiers parked along Route 225 and entered the refuge off the trail near the Concord River. "They were essentially bushwacking," he said.
Trails are blazed in the refuge with yellow markers. The Refuge boundaries are marked with blue signs bearing a flying goose insignia, and areas closed to visitors are marked with similar red signs. Prior said the skiers had traveled past both blue and red signs. Each skier was given a federal court citation. They have the choice of paying the $75 fine, or else appearing at the Federal Magistrate's Court in Cambridge.
Wildlife has top priority
The Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for the management of wildlife and wildlife habitat. The Service focuses on the protection of migratory birds, federally threatened and endangered species, and migratory fish.
There are six human activities that are considered for each refuge: wildlife observation, photography, interpretive and educational programs relating to wildlife, hunting and fishing. Prior said that at Great Meadows most of these activities are permitted in designated areas, though hunting is prohibited and fishing is only allowed within the Concord River.
At Great Meadows people are directed to stay on the trails. Following federal refuge policy, horses and bikes are prohibited, and dogs must be on a leash. These rules are more restrictive than those on the surrounding Carlisle conservation lands. Matt Poole, the outdoor recreation planner for the refuge, said boundaries are marked so that people walking town trails will know when they reach the refuge and need to begin following the federal regulations.
When asked if there is flexibility in dealing with violations, Prior said, "for the most part, our officers have the discretion of issuing a verbal warning, or issuing a citation. It's kind of the totality of the situation." For instance, he said that use of a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle in a refuge usually results in a citation for trespass and perhaps vegetative damage. There have been snowmobiles traveling along the edge of the refuge in Carlisle, but Prior said snowmobiles are not as serious a problem here as they are in other refuges.
Partnership with Carlisle
Refuge personnel walked the Carlisle land on February 14 with members of the town's trail committee and with the conservation commission administrator. Poole said budget cuts have reduced their staff by about half, and the only public walks currently offered on the Carlisle section of the refuge are those led by the Carlisle Trails Committee, which also maintains the trails. Poole praised their help. "That's a very nice partnership." For more information about Great Meadows and other nearby refuges, visit the website http://easternmanwrcomplex.fws.gov.
© 2003 The