The trails in Burnett County have long been patrolled by the Burnett County Sheriff’s Department. This summer however, there will be less officers on watch than usual. Ryan Bybee, one of the officers on duty watching over the trails in year’s past, will be changing his role in the department because of need elsewhere.
"Our department is five deputies short on road patrol so I'll be on road patrol the rest of the summer," Bybee said. "It means we will have the least amount of enforcement on our lakes and trails that we have had in the last five years," he pointed out. "We have created an expectation of safe trails."
The county is attempting to make up for the absence of Bybee and other officers by hiring a limited-term employee to help fill the void. But this limited-term employee can only watch over lakes and trails eight hours a day, for four days a week. This clearly leaves a large time frame when the territory is unenforced.
But while this issue may not be able to be fixed by hiring paid employees, many aspiring DNR officers are looking for experience in the field and could be hired as volunteers. A variation of this solution was pitched at Thursday’s Burnett County Natural Resources Committee hearing where all these issues were discussed.
The trails and lakes may not have the same amount of enforcement for the summer set up as of now, but the committee is working on solutions to keep the wilderness areas as safe as year’s past.