TURIN A property owner whose land borders the route of last weekends Snirt Run returned home from vacation to find his land looking considerably changed.
About 3,000 feet of all-terrain vehicle damage had ripped through his forest, varying from a few inches of sloppy mud to an 18-inch-deep rut extending more than 20 feet, baring the destruction of hundreds of tree roots.
John J. Bodnar owns the 64.4-acre parcel, which lies east of Tabolt Road. Hes an ATV owner, snowmobiler and, in years past, a fan of the Snirt Run.
This years mandatory $15 sticker to participate kept him from riding in the event, as he previously rode for free.
He said in years past his property had been taped off from the route.
This year it was not.
Whats more, Tabolt Road, the only route on the map connecting the north and south portions of the eight-hour ATV poker run, was covered in heavy snow.
Despite the Snirt Run map that included the road, participants arrived at either end of Tabolt Road to discover large orange barrels placed at both ends. The barrels displayed a sign with an ATV and a circle and slash through it, the same sign used throughout the designated route to show off-limits areas.
Participants could choose to turn around, returning to the section of the route where they had started; enter the deep and nearly impassable snow past the barrels; or enter heavily wooded posted land with no snow.
Many chose to enter Mr. Bodnars posted land.
In its 11th year, the Snirt Run has been growing, now averaging 3,000 participants per year. The ride is the sole fundraiser for the events host, Barnes Corners Sno-Pals Snowmobile Club.
Club President Gary R. Stinson was asked on the afternoon of April 12 during the event if he was aware that participants were entering the posted land. He said he had no comment.
Mr. Bodnar learned of the damage while on vacation over the weekend after seeing a video posted to the Watertown Daily Times website. A video shows ATVs and utility task vehicles, which are illegal for trail and road use, entering his posted land. That video can be seen at http://wdt.me/Snirt-Run.
He immediately visited the Sno-Pals website, obtained Mr. Stinsons email address from the site and sent him a message.
I am on vacation at Myrtle Beach and read the Watertown Daily Times which states the Snirt Run has damaged my property on Tabolt Road. I will review this damage on Sunday and we will need to talk, Mr. Bodnar wrote.
His email was returned as undeliverable. Mr. Bodnar also could not reach Mr. Stinson by phone.
Knowing Mr. Stinson was aware of the damage, Mr. Bodnar said, If you were that man, wouldnt you be the one leaving a message?
On Friday, Mr. Bodnar walked around his property with Lewis County Legislator Craig P. Brennan, R-Deer River, showing him the damage. They walked along muddy ruts assessing the destruction. Mr. Brennan noted that damage to tree roots 18 inches deep could harm the trees above.
The ATVs appear to have exited the property, returning to Tabolt Road just before reaching preserved wetlands.
Mr. Bodnar, who works in construction, said his best guess at the cost of repairing the damage was $4,000.
Topsoil will have to be hauled in. If it was just back blading, I could do it, but this is too much, he said.
Mr. Brennan asked Mr. Bodnar to get an estimate before next weeks post-Snirt Run meeting, during which legislators will meet with organizers and law enforcement to share concerns and improve the event next year.
The legislators also will review the contract, signed by Mr. Stinson, that outlined criteria for opening county roads for the event. The pact states that Sno-Pals will fix damage that occurred during the event.