Winter trail users will soon have a brand-new map to guide them to the groomed and maintained routes around Fernie as part of the new Winter Trails Collaborative, which seeks to organize trail grooming, connectivity and access for recreational use.
The collaborative – which was facilitated by Tourism Fernie and includes the Fernie Trails Alliance, private land owners (Montane and Ridgemont), City of Fernie, Fernie Nordic Society, FMBC, Fernie Alpine Resort, Island Lake Lodge, Fernie Fat Bike, Fernie Search and Rescue, Fernie Pets Society, Fernie Chamber and Visitor Centre and the Fernie Snowmobile Association – brings together volunteer trail groups, landholders and stakeholders involved in the maintenance and use of trails around Fernie.
Executive officer of Tourism Fernie, Jikke Gyorki said that the collaborative effort has been a great opportunity to come together and discuss the current challenges and opportunities related to winter trail use, especially in light of COVID-19.
“There are many passionate people behind the scenes working on our trail system, most of them volunteers,” said Gyorki.
“With Fernie’s complex and diverse land-use and ownership dynamics it was important to come together to identify priority needs for this season, including access to washrooms and parking, and submit joint funding applications,” she said.
Chair of the Fernie Trails Alliance, Krista Turcasso said that the number of trail users over summer had indicated that there was need for more collaboration in order to ensure that there were more trails groomed and available for use over winter.
“User groups recognized this summer that trails were being used more than we’ve seen in the past, and we were anticipating this winter that we’d be seeing the same,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that there’s ample opportunity and great conditions for people to use the trails.”
Under the collaborative, the length of trails around the City of Fernie being groomed by volunteers and user groups will be significantly expanded from 14.6km to 46.7km.
The collaborative is backed by a significant injection of funds from the Resorts Municipality Initiative to the tune of $37,000 which was approved by the City of Fernie last month, with additional finding from the Fernie Trails Alliance, Fernie Nordic Society, RDEK, Columbia Basin Trust and Tourism Fernie for a total budget of $72,000 for the 2020-2021 winter season.
The funding will go towards covering expenses already taken up by volunteer work, increased snow clearing for parking, new and enhanced signage, the new winter trail map and more.
The map, which will show trails planned to be (and currently being) groomed by the Fernie Trails Alliance, Montane landowners, City of Fernie, Fernie Alpine Resort, the Nordic Society, and more, will be available for free around town beginning next week.
The map, and the collaborative overall, is specific to the 2020-2021 winter season in response to the pandemic.
The Fernie Trails Alliance and trail groups will be promoting efforts for users to buy passes and support the various volunteer groups through the purchasing of annual trail passes and donations in order to increase the likelihood of the collaborative and its efforts continuing into future winter seasons.
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