The Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) recently hired Ben Martin as their new trail manager. The role is the FTA’s second paid position, created to help manage increased volunteer responsibilities due to surges in trail popularity.
After noticing the success of similar positions in other trail organizations, members of the FTA instated the position to increase efficiency, accomplish more projects, and cut costs. With the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the FTA was able to create this role despite decreased funding due to the pandemic.
“Since its inception, the trail network has expanded to an impressive 350 kilometres plus, and growing, of single track. The sport of mountain biking has increased exponentially, with Fernie drawing attention globally as a mountain biking destination, alongside trail running and hiking, which are on the rise, with Fernie as a hot spot for exploration,” said Krista Turcasso, chair of the FTA.
As trail manager, Martin will receive direction from the board and Trails and Maintenance Committee, made up of a varied group of members representing a number of sports, interest, and clubs. Trail manager duties include managing and coordinating volunteers, overseeing budgets, ensuring trails are maintained, and doing weekly trail reports.
An avid biker, hiker, and trail runner, Martin has called Fernie home since 2007, having volunteered with the FTA for over 10 years. A passionate trail builder, he has years of experience volunteering on the FTA’s Trails and Maintenance Committee, an organizational body dedicated to budgeting for trail work. He also has ample experince leading Thursday Night Trail Work Parties, where volunteers maintain and build trails, and has been integral in a number of FTA sub-committees such as the Fernie Ski Touring Club, on which he sits as a board member.
“Ensuring we continue to have a great trail network is really important to me, as a really big part of this role is being able to support the volunteers that build the trails,” said Martin. “Those people deserve a lot of recognition and thanks for all their hard work, so I see my role as being supportive to those people so that we can continue to have unique trails built by local groups of people. Ultimately, our network is complete because of having trails to suit all abilities of rider, hiker, and runner, and I want to help to make sure that continues.”
The FTA has five member clubs including the Fernie Mountain Bike Club and the Fernie Nordic Society, as well as seven committees and eight current projects. A registered charity, they represent trail users in Fernie and work with member clubs, landowners, and outdoor recreation groups to upkeep Fernie’s trails. They receive funding from member clubs, donations, grants, trail passes, and Resort Municipality funding.
With trail season in full swing, the FTA encourages anyone interested in getting involved with trail work parties to reach out at email@example.com. Work parties occur Wednesdays and Thursdays, and are currently up and running while practicing work safe pandemic practices and procedures. The FTA also urges those wishing to propose building a new trail, or the modification of an existing trail, to visit their website.