Castlegar trails in good hands with diverse group

Annual general meeting discusses wide range of topics

The Castlegar Friends of Parks and Trails Society annual general meeting held Wednesday, April 23 was well attended with about 35 people interested in helping manage, maintain, build and promote the trail network in Castlegar.

Lawrence Redfern, now past-president of the society as there is a chance he may be moving, outlined the major activities of the group over the past year.

Funding, a key issue for many volunteer organizations, was successfully obtained from the Columbia Basin Trust for repairs to some trails due to high water damage.

The Castlegar and DIstrict Recreation Commission provided the bulk of funding for the hiring of seven part-time and one full-time person for ongoing maintenance and have committed another $25,000 for maintenance labour for 2013.

Sarah Meunier, crew leader, said the trails are slowly getting into good shape for the summer hiking season and the team has been out weed-whacking and removing fallen trees.

Redfern said the workers from Selkirk College’s Recreation, Fish and Wildlife program are “great workers” and understand not just how to build trails but how to minimize harmful impacts, stay safe and enjoy their time doing it.

Redfern said many of the trails have been “hardened” over time and are better able to withstand erosion because they are well built.

Peter Wood, trail maintenance director, said the most important thing people can do is use the trails and report any issues to the group.

Rick Johnson, membership director said numbers are slowly growing and they have 119 addresses for members, which represents about 137 people in those households.

To keep everyone informed, a volunteer editor is also being sought to put together a newsletter, which is now mailed to members just once per year with another email version also being sent. If you would like to help, contact the society at 250-365-5350.

Future routing of the Trans Canada Trail was also added to the agenda with a number of people speaking to the issue.

Mary Kate Woodward, author of “Butterflies and Butterfly Gardening in the Pacific Northwest,” was concerned about possible habitat loss for two uncommon species, Buckwheat Butterflies and Immaculate Green Hairstreak butterflies, if the proposed routing was near the Skattebo Reach trail, north of the junction near the power lines.

Woodward said the butterflies can’t speak up in their own defence and have a small habitat and tight timelines for breeding, etc.

Redfern said the essence of the discussion was the group would support designation of Skattebo and Ward’s Ferry trails as the Trans Canada Trail for hikers, should Trans Canada Trail wish to do so.

Information on the Trans Canada Trail website states the goal is to have the coast to coast to coast trail done by 2017, the 25th anniversary of the Trail and Canada’s 150th anniversary since Confederation. There are over 6,000 kms to go.

There was not a lot of support for involving biking in the motion, but things are very active on the mountain biking front, according to director of mountain biking David Hall.

Hall said lots of work was done on the Merry Creek Trail and it is “pretty much complete.”

About 20 members of the Castlegar Mountain Bike Society, spent over 400 hours working on the trails and would now like to step up and help those in the Friends of Parks and Trails with their endeavours, too.

Castlegar Friends of Parks and Trails will have a booth set up at Spring Fling, answering questions and providing information about the trail network.

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