Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department kicking up dirt to keep the trails safe this summer

Posted at 11:15 PM, Jun 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-21 23:15:56-04

GOBLES, Mich.—The temps were warm, and the sun was shining on the first day of summer on Sunday, June 21st. It had people heading outdoors to do some of their favorite activities. With more people heading outside, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is trying to keep the trails safe for all who travel through it.

Van Buren County deputies let Fox 17’s Cassandra Arsenault get a glimpse at what their daily patrols look like, and what they are keeping an eye out for out on the dirt roads.

The trails are miles long, and with a lot of ground to patrol out there deputies have 2 ATV’s. They estimate to ride through all the trails from one end of the county to the other could take about 8 hours. Their biggest concern is just to make sure everyone is having a safe summer.

Reserve Sgt. Robert Deloof is cruising Sunday afternoon, and although his job looks like a good time, he means business. His first priority is making sure no one is hurt or needs assistance.

“Things can happen out there like falling off a bicycle, skimmed up, and need first aid, perhaps they have some issues that they need to be resolved and if we are there we can assist them with that,” said Deloof.

Bicyclist, Ben Garth, appreciates deputies patrolling the grounds. He and his dad bike about 8 miles every weekend together, and continued the tradition on father’s day. He says knowing there’s a deputy out there somewhere makes him feel safer. He says what he looks out for most is sharing the trails with other bikers and nature.

“Sometimes there might be animals so you want to watch out for the animals in case they are in your way,” said Garth.

A few months ago when the trails were snow covered, and running rampant with high power snow sleds, deputies let Fox 17’s Cassandra Arsenault go out on their snow patrols.

“The snowmobiles are allowed in the winter time when there is sufficient ice and snow, but in the summer quads or other high powered vehicles are not allowed on the trails,” said Deloof.

The only high power vehicle you’ll find on the trails are the sheriff’s ATV’s. The prohibit quads on the trails, so they don’t get ruined, but also to not take away from people trying to ride bikes, walk, or jog. Deloof says the reason they don’t patrol on bicycles is so that they can cover a large amount of space in a small amount of time. Also, if there’s an emergency they can get there quickly.

Sunday afternoon, Deloof made one stop. He spotted a camper on the side of the trail. He checked in with him to make sure he had his paperwork that allowed him to sleep under the open stars. The camper had walked over 21 miles from South Haven to Gobles. His paperwork was all in order.

The low key day, Sgt. Deloof had on Sunday with no dramatic events or injuries is picture perfect in his book.

Sgt. Deloof says to be weary of dogs when walking the trails, and have a stick or something to fend them off if you are ever attacked. He also encourages people not to walk the trails alone.