County refuses to open convenient link to the beach

A route locals have been taking to Gull Lake won’t be opened up to all vehicle traffic.

A route locals have been taking to Gull Lake won’t be opened up to all vehicle traffic.

A delegation from Wilson’s Beach requested in March that they be allowed to use the narrow track to the beach to take canoes and kayaks down for launching. The route is designated for use by off-highway vehicles, such as quads, but not road-licensed vehicles.

County staff looked at the options and came back with a recommendation to council not to allow more vehicle use on what is part of the New Saratoga Environmental Reserve. Council agreed and voted against.

Keith Boras, county manager of environmental services, said while local residents saw the route as a convenient link to the beach for those in nearby communities, the county has no power to limit who uses it.

“Unfortunately, once we make it public then everyone can go there,” he told council. “I don’t see a way around it.”

County staff are concerned that once word got out there could be many people trying to drive their four-wheel drive vehicles down the track, which is only usable when it is dry.

Reeve Paula Law said a lot of damage could done.

“Chances are (local residents) aren’t going to go down it on a rainy day, but somebody will.”

The county has been working with area residents to allow limited access at another location by Wilson’s Beach campground. After talking with the New Saratoga Community Association, the county has proposed allowing a bobcat to use the OHV trail there to take docks down to the lake and do cleanup work.

It will be limited to 48-hour windows in the spring and the fall.

Several residents from the area attended the council meeting. Afterward, one said they did not want to comment but accepted council’s decision.