Parts of the Montane trail network were badly damaged by Coal Creek in November 2022. (Image courtesy of Pat Gilmar)

Parts of the Montane trail network were badly damaged by Coal Creek in November 2022. (Image courtesy of Pat Gilmar)

Repairs to begin in earnest on Fernie trails damaged by November storms

Trails like Smooth Salamander and Marlu are out for the count until trail crews can spend a lot of time repairing them

The snow is melting, and the local trail crews will be venturing further afield on the trails around Fernie to assess the damage from the November 2021 storms that has been buried under the snow for the last five months.

The November storms did a number of the recreational trails around Fernie, with a few popular ones unable to be fixed before winter locked them under snow and ice.

For the Fernie Trails Alliance, trails like the TransCanada Trail between Fernie and Hosmer, as well as south of town on the east side of the valley are the worst affected.

Ben Martin, who is trails manager with the FTA said that trails such as Snoop Lion and Smooth Salamander had lost bridges, and culverts had been washed out. Work was set to begin in them in coming weeks as the snow melted, but there was likely to be ongoing work through the early season.

“A lot of trails became big ruts, which is very unfortunate because we try very hard to make it so the trail isn’t the path the water flows down,” said Martin. “It’s something we haven’t had to fix on such a massive scale before.”

Martin said the FTA would have a major focus on repairing trail damage they couldn’t attend to last year.

“It’s going to be a all hands on deck once we figure out the approach.”

To help them along, the FTA recently secured a second year of funding for a trail crew from the Columbia Basin Trust, to allow them to hire five crew members for up to 16 weeks to help with building and maintaining the network. Details will be forthcoming from the FTA.

For the Coal Creek Heritage Society (CCHS), trails manager Pat Gilmar said that they hoped to get working on repairing trails in the next two weeks, specifically the Marlu trail in the Montane area.

“Trails get rutted every year, and last year didn’t help. That’s what happened to Marlu – it got turned into a trench.”

Marlu will remain closed until it’s sorted out. Other trails beside Coal Creek were completely deleted, and there will be minor diversions around the affected areas.

Gilmar also said they’d be back at re-trenching and putting in culverts, and they hoped to re-surface the Easy Beaver trail, which is intended to be easily accessible for all users.

For now, trails in the Fernie area are in between season.s (unless you’re a hardcore fatbiker that goes at 5am and well up into the trees), so users are encouraged to head further afield to find dry dirt.

READ MORE: ‘The time of year to stay off the trails’: Mountain bikers head out of the Elk Valley for riding



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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Outdoors and Recreation