Landowner demands apology before opening snowmobile trail

Locked gate on Stacy Pettit's property in Lincoln County. (1/31/20 WSAW Photo)
Locked gate on Stacy Pettit's property in Lincoln County. (1/31/20 WSAW Photo)(WSAW)
Published: Jan. 31, 2020 at 9:29 PM CST
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One Lincoln county landowner has had enough, closing the snowmobile trail on her land after an act of vandalism was discovered Friday morning.

According to Stacy Pettit, her family has allowed snowmobile clubs to use their land for trails for 35 years. After Friday’s discovery, that may no longer be the case.

“The plan was to allow that to happen, but when these types of things keep happening, you have to do something,” explained Pettit. “Landowners don’t have to tolerate this kind of behavior from businessmen, snowmobilers, or any other type of people trespassing on their property.”

The act to which Pettit is referring, two spray painted cardboard signs hung on a locked gate, calling her a vulgar word. Pettit learned about the vandalism on Facebook.

“A neighbor up the road sent me a picture this morning on Messenger,” explained Pettit. “I let my family know, because you get these types of threats and this type of behavior by people, you never know. You’re concerned about your own safety.”

The club that maintains that stretch of trail, Rock Island X-Press Snowmobile Club, posted the photos on Facebook to explain to riders why the trail wouldn't be opening.

“The club was actually established because of that trail,” explained club president Robin Mittelsteadt. “It connects north and south Merrill. It’s out of my hands. We’re at her (Stacy's) will as to if she reopens it or not.”

That portion of trail was scheduled to open as early as Wednesday, once the ice conditions down trail on Lake Alexander were deemed safe and a forestry project Pettit is having done on her land is completed.

“The trail has not been opened yet this season because of ice conditions on the lake,” explained Pettit. “It was a safety concern from both the snowmobile club’s standpoint and our standpoint.”

Now, there’s no telling when the trail will open.

“I want an explanation and I want an apology,” Pettit said. “It wasn’t a snowmobiler. It was someone who benefits from this trail being open. It’s hard to punish the snowmobilers for something a local business owner did. This person comes out and does a public apology through the media outlets, not Facebook, the media outlets, I will stick to my agreement of opening the trail next Wednesday.”

Lieutenant Tim Fischer with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office did confirm that they were investigating a case involving trespassing and disorderly conduct but was unable to share any other information.