Trail maintenance volunteer crews were working on Contra and Trail Dogs on Monday, May 23, as part of a volunteer event organized by the Fernie Trails Alliance. (Photo by Cindy Sleeman)

Trail maintenance volunteer crews were working on Contra and Trail Dogs on Monday, May 23, as part of a volunteer event organized by the Fernie Trails Alliance. (Photo by Cindy Sleeman)

‘Respect the trails’: volunteers have been busy getting Fernie trails into shape

The Fernie Trails Alliance and Coal Creek Heritage Society have been organizing volunteers

Trail maintenance crews in Fernie have been busy over the past few weeks with repairs and projects heading into late spring.

“The trails are coming more and more into shape,” said Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) executive director Todd Penke.

On Monday (May 23), the FTA kicked off the season with a volunteering event that brought around 40 people out to Contra and Trail Dogs for maintenance and repair work.

“This was the first big trail day for the FTA.”

“It was great to have so many people out, families, and lots of passionate trail users.”

They raked up stones and fixed some drainage issues, among other tasks along those lines, he said.

“It’s a type of trail that just needs to get cleaned up every year because people are getting pretty big air. (We) don’t want them sliding on the stones on the sides.”

The event was done in coordination with the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC and the Fernie Mountain Bike Club, the latter of whom lent a barbecue to feed the workers.

The FTA also organizes Thursday work parties at 6 p.m., and on May 26, they focused on ‘some pretty big rutting repairs’ for the Roots trail, which was damaged in storms last November.

As for projects, he said work is currently being done on a new uptrack for Contra and Trail Dogs, which should be done soon.

The Coal Creek Heritage Society (CCHS) has also been busy in the month on May, with volunteers hitting Ridgemont and Montane trails for maintenance and repairs.

According to Rick Wiess, vice president of the CCHS, they have been working on drainage and erosion control repairs on Sidewinder, and erosion repairs and maintenance on Eric’s Trail, Roxy Roller, and Split Decision.

“The bridge on Split Decision is still unridable. You can walk it but it still needs repair, it’s still on the to do list,” he said.

“We’ve also worked on … upper Kid’s Stuff, all the trees have been removed and the trails are good to go.”

Eco-Terrorist is re-opened following a few weeks of a ‘muddy mess’ on the board walk section.

The CCHS also has an ongoing project that just begun on May 26 to re-route a portion of R-Trail and Kid’s Stuff to move it off of a CanWel logging staging area. That re-routing project should last about a week and a half.

“Over in Montane we worked on the Marlu trail from the Montane Hut down to Cokato Road. That’s been all repaired and fixed up. It had extensive erosion from last November.”

They will also be doing some basic maintenance repairs on Easy Beaver, he said, “and then just other maintenance projects throughout Montane, similar to Fernie Ridge.”

Both Penke and Wiess emphasized that people ought to wait before heading out on trails when they’re wet and muddy.

Penke said: “The more people ride on them right when they’re super muddy right at the start of the year, the more work we have to do to repair, as opposed to being able to address other work and other enhancements that we’d want to focus on.”

Wiess said: “People need to respect the trails, whether they’re dry, wet, muddy, or have a closure, you need to respect that designation.”

“That’s all we ask.”

Wiess also mentioned a recent conflictual encounter with a bear on What’s Up Dog trail that led to a dog being injured.

He said that even if people haven’t heard reports of a bear in a certain area, that they should be prepared, as bears move around and be hard to track from one day to another.

“When you leave your house and you’re going for a walk, a hike, or a ride or a run, be bear aware.”

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

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


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