Normally, riders digging trails is a cause for celebration but this time it’s not good news. Nabil Abbas of the Sheffield Wildlife Trust (SWT) contacted Ride Sheffield yesterday, (6 Jan), to let us know he’d found a group of riders digging a trail on Blackamoor. It was on land within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which makes it a criminal offence punishable in the worst cases by a £10,000 fine.
The riders refused to give their names, hid their faces when photographed and generally treated Nabil with contempt. Even when made aware they were damaging a SSSI they continued to dig. Nabil has since done his best to make good the damage and has felled trees across the remainder of the trail to ensure it can’t be ridden. Natural England have been informed.
It’s important that we underline the potential consequences of this kind of vandalism. Not only is it a criminal offence but it jeopardises the excellent relationship that Ride Sheffield volunteers have spent years building with SWT. Secondly, other land managers will be made aware and form an opinion of mountain bikers on the basis of this story.
The moral is, don’t upset your friends. SWT have worked closely with Ride Sheffield both on Blackamoor and at other sites they own like Grenoside Woods. It’s perfectly possible that the actions of these riders were the result of ignorance and it’s crucial that we do all we can to talk to them and redirect their enthusiasm. There are places where they can dig and do so without upsetting land managers with whom we have an excellent relationship.
So, if you’re reading this and you were involved and you’d like to hear where you can dig and just how much good work can be undone by damaging a SSSI, get in touch with us at the usual email.