Mountain bike trail cleanup is underway following impacts from this past winter’s Douglas-fir beetle logging.
Prior to the harvesting, the Williams Lake Cycling Club entered into agreements with industry and made arrangements for them to deal with clean up, maintenance and rebuilding of trails. The deadline to have crews working on cleanup is April 15.
Last week, Tolko Industries Ltd. started re-route work of Spokey Hollow on the Westsyde Trail Network after logging saw a section of the trail damaged. They hired a crew put together by Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium chair and First Journey Trails’ Thomas Schoen to do the work.
The project was completed on Friday, April 7 when Tolko representatives including Area Supervisor Marco Passeri met with members of the WLCC to discuss trail maintenance and for the first ride of the season.
“The club did an inspection on Friday of the Spokey Hollow reroute as commissioned by Tolko,” WLCC president Shawn Lewis said, calling the reroute a “best of the worst” type scenario. “The reroute meets all the necessary requirements and, in my opinion, sets the standard as to what we should expect from any work similar to this. Berms are compacted nicely and work well.”
Lewis said the line maintains the original flow of the trail in both directions and noted there is now 200 metres of new trail.
“I think it’s reasonable to expect to put another day of work into the trail once everything settles and it gets ridden but at this point it is almost perfect,” he said. “A big shout out goes to First Journey and their crew for excellent work as well as a thank you to Tolko for getting this work done in a timely manner.”
Lewis also thanked Williams Lake Community Forest manager Ken Day and Passeri for working with the bike club and attending the club’s recent annual general meeting on Wednesday, April 5.
“There was a high level of respect for everyone amongst the very diverse crowd [at the AGM],” Lewis said. “The cycling community recognizes harvesting, especially beetle-affected wood, as a necessary evil. We only want to ensure guidelines are adhered to and the post-harvest maintenance plan is done as prescribed with there being a suitable penalty in place if not.”
Lewis added one of the biggest things to come out of the AGM was the recognition by the attending group that the WLCC’s legal trail network is protected.
“Industry must come to us pre-harvest and work with us to develop, not only the harvesting plan, but also a cleanup and maintenance plan and be held to a timeline for work to be completed as developed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations,” he said. “Without our legal agreement there would be no recourse for us if industry went out there and, through their logging, decimated the network.”
Schoen credited the work of his two-man crew: Mitch Forbes and Aaron Quon. Quon is a full-time First Nations trail builder and the son of Xat’sull Chief Donna Dixon.
“Communities all over the province have long recognized the values that our recreational assets provide,” Schoen said. “Williams Lake was one of the first communities that legalized large networks of mountain bike and multi-use trails and formed partnerships with the bike club, industry stakeholders and the Ministry of Recreation Sites and Trails.”
The work on Spokey Hollow, Schoen said, is a prime example of how well partnerships with industry can work in the community and of how important legal trail networks are.
“A huge thanks goes to Tolko for being an outstanding partner and also to the ministry for their ongoing efforts in making Williams Lake the number one mountain biking destination in B.C.’s Interior,” he said.
Passeri, meanwhile, said Tolko has been working collaboratively with the WLCC to find the best mutually beneficial solutions.
“At Spokey, the combination of safety, logging access, and trail management was problematic — the trail re-route was actually suggested by the bike club as a solution to minimize, if not eliminate, trail damage and address safety and access at the same time. I thought this was a great collaboration,” Passeri said.
“Communication is the key. The trails are an important part of the community. I ride and know that I don’t want my riding experience impacted.”
Passeri noted Tolko has been working with the WLCC and the ministry to develop best management practices for harvest operations and trail maintenance post-harvest.
An example is the creation of two- to three-metre tall stub trees to maintain the delineation of impacted trails. Tolko has to debark the stubs to ensure the beetles are removed, however, Passeri said that the stubs also create a new opportunity.
“If there’s an artistically-minded person who wants to create some features along the trail, that would be fantastic,” he said.
He added other trails have not been impacted as much, but notes work is continuing on the cleanup throughout the city’s trails.
As for the work the Williams Lake Community Forest is doing, Day said they’re currently conducting cleanup on the Westsyde Trail Network’s Snakes and Ladders, Spokey Hollow, Back Door, Ravin, Outer Max and Booga Wooga.
“We’ve been trying to work closely with rec sites and trails,” Day said. “Things are going well and we should be ready for the start of the bike season soon.”
As for other trails affected, Lewis said there are roughly 20.
“Southsyde, Fox and the Westsyde all have had harvesting occur in or near some trails,” Lewis said, noting aside from Tolko, the Williams Lake Community Forest and Pioneer Logging Ltd. also had logging operations occurring during the winter months. Cleanup is supposed to be done, at the bequest of rec sites and trails, by April 15. With the slow melt, though, there has already been one delay request approved so it’s hard to say if it will all be fine by that timeframe. Regardless, they are still responsible for the cleanup on all the disturbed trails.
“As riders get out there I’m sure there will be some shock. There were a lot of trees removed … the riding landscape in many areas has been transformed.”