Across the Board Part 4: Permissions Director

Old Trail Marker at Hastings Lake

One of the marvels of the Waskahegan Trail was how we were able to get permission from so many private individuals to build trails on their land.

It was a slow start. In the late 60’s, the hardest task was getting out and approaching landowners.

But once Stan Skirrow got involved, everything took off. As he tells it in the Waskahegan Trail Guidebook, “It was found that farm people didn’t get into a dreadful fit when you made a request of them. It was found that for every NO, there are many YESes and that there are many fine chats and cups of coffee. Farm people, after all, are special.”

Stan insisted that all agreements would be verbal. This meant we would always have to earn the privilege of ongoing permission.

Stan also built long term friendships with landowners and their families. He visited them regularly, and even attended their funerals. As a result, their generosity and trust continued over the years as land was divided and sold or passed on to younger generations.

In short, the trail has momentum.

When land is sold and we discover we have new landowners, it’s almost always a positive situation. One landowner told us, “When we bought this property we were thrilled to discover that we were part of the Waskahegan Trail network.”

The Permissions Director works with Trail Maintenance and other volunteers to address landowner concerns and find solutions—such as our recent signage improvements. Sometimes communication starts with us, like when we need to ask for permission to reroute a trail.

Landowners get in touch with us either through our website’s Contact page or by posting a message on our Facebook page. But us contacting them is sometimes more convoluted. We keep records of land descriptions and owner information, but when land changes hands, we don’t always know about it right away. Usually a land title search or a visit is all it takes to discover a new landowner and update our records.

Duties of the Permissions Committee Chair

  • Be a single point of contact for landowners having questions or concerns.
  • Visit landowners—accompanied by another member—as required.
  • Ensure that the records of landowners and site descriptions are up to date.
  • Report to board meetings.

The only requirement is the ability to attend most meetings.

Come for a Visit

Why not visit the next board meeting on November 23? It’s the best way to find out what we’re all about.
If you have any questions about the duties of the Permissions Director, JoAnne or Karen will be happy to talk to you.
Next time, we’ll look at Social Convenor.

Read about other board positions:

Part 3: Hike Coordinator
Part 2: Trail Maintenance Coordinator
Part 1: Membership Secretary
Introduction

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