Trail upkeep a winner for everyone
Nelson mountainbikers have acknowledged the contribution of the people who have worked hard to maintain the region's international reputation as a mecca for riders.
In a relationship that extends back over five years, the community probation arm of the Corrections Department has helped to look after the tracks, which make use of fantastic hilly countryside close to town and include a multitude of off-road trails that cater for all abilities.
Each year, offenders provide four million hours of service to thousands of projects throughout New Zealand. In Nelson, Motueka and Richmond, they clocked up 29,685 hours in the second half of 2013 alone.
A probation team have been carrying out trail building work in the Sharland's Rd area of the Hira forest for several years, and many of the trails in that area have benefited greatly from their efforts. The tracks include R&R, the Wiggles, Waterloo, What the DOCtor Ordered and Willow Lane.
"Without the support of the community probation team, we wouldn't have made anywhere near the progress that we have in this area," said David Judson of the Nelson Mountain Bike Club, who oversees the development of the Sharland's trail network.
"Not only is it great to have the extra manpower but the quality of the work this team does is fantastic - and that is testament to the skill and passion of Dave Skerrett who leads them."
To show the club gratitude for the way Skerrett and the whole offenders' crew have embraced the trail-building project, the club has presented him with an official certificate of thanks.
Speaking on behalf of the community probation team Caroline Webber, service manager for Nelson, said community work gives offenders the opportunity to do something good for the community.
"They can also gain valuable skills and job experience, which can help with gaining employment. Reducing re-offending is Corrections' top priority, with a target to reduce re-offending by 25 per cent by 2017, and research shows that getting a sustainable job can reduce the likelihood of re-offending and help create safer communities.
"These mountainbike trails provide an excellent project, which the offenders love as they are learning skills, and contributing to a worthwhile end product.
"Everyone who rides the mountainbike trails in Sharland's is benefiting from the hard work done by Dave and his team and the club is very grateful to the community probation team for its continued support of mountainbike trail building in our region."
Skerrett said acknowledgement was an apt return.
"If you are riding in this area and come across the crew hard at work, please take the time to slow down and say hello and thanks."
The Nelson Mail