The Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) today announced their withdrawal from management of all Ridgemont trails. (Free Press file)

Fernie Trails Alliance announces withdrawal from management of Ridgemont trail network

The Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) today announced their withdrawal from the management of all Ridgemont trails.

On their website, the organization explained that effective immediately, they will no longer have any involvement in the trail network.

This trail network, just southeast of the downtown core, includes a large variety of trails, varying in difficulty. It is known as one of Fernie’s most popular network of trails.

In 2018, The Free Press reported that the FTA was working to restore trails affected by recent logging in the Ridgemont area. The trail network was closed for several months that year to allow for harvesting activities. At the time, it was reported that Parastone was the land manager for private landowner, Pollyco.

LOOK BACK: Fernie Trails Alliance to restore trails affected by logging

The FTA today explained that for a number of years, they have been involved in managing trails on Ridgemont property. According to the organization, there has never been an official land-use agreement set in place with the landowner, despite numerous attempts by the FTA to establish one.

The current situation, they explained, stems from what they describe as an “honest mistake” made by FTA volunteers in the fall of 2019 to build a connector to the Space Unicorns trail. The trail connector, they explained, was created to provide easy access to the kid and family-friendly trail, however resulted in a possible encroachment on Ridgemont lands.

This, the FTA says, was unintentional, and despite taking steps to notify and immediately remedy the mistake, demands were made by the land manager on Jan. 7, 2020 to rectify the mistake which the FTA says are, “not attainable for a charitable organization run by volunteers.”

“Furthermore, the FTA believes the demands are disproportionate to the mistake that was made,” explained the organization on their website.

The organization further explained that while they will remain open to discussions and future negotiations of land-use agreement for this area, they are unable to continue their management of, or dedication of charitable resources to the Ridgemont trail area.

Locals are encouraged to contact the land manager directly at Parastone.ca.

The FTA says they will continue to update their website about this as more information becomes available.

READ MORE: Ridgemont residents raise concerns about logging

To report a typo, email: editor@thefreepress.ca.

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