Steering committee seeks to designate rail trail

The proposal seeks to officially secure a currently undesignated section of trail

RYAN WILLMAN

Arrow Lakes News

A volunteer steering committee in Rosebery has prepared a trail management plan proposal regarding a 26 kilometre stretch of the rail trail from Rosebery to Summit Lake. The proposal seeks to officially secure the well used, but currently undesignated section of trail as a public trail, as well as address environmental and maintenance concerns identified by the committee.

Historically, surveyor George Dawson originally documented the trail as a part of a First Nations foot trail in 1889. During the 1890s the CPR developed the trail into the Nakusp and Slocan Railway during the heady days of silver mining that boomed through the valley but the railway was abandoned as the mining died away and sections were unofficially and officially adopted by recreational groups for public use. Groups have done their part in undertaking informal and formal volunteer maintenance, but the trail continues to disintegrate in sections without an official designation.

According to the groups proposal (which is available to read online at https://roseberysummitrailtrail.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/r-sl-rail-trail-summary-final-version-06-02.pdf), the Rosebery-Summit Lake trail has suffered significant deterioration due to continued and unmonitored use in addition to unchecked natural wear and tear caused by beaver activity, washouts and unmanaged water flows. The proposal outlines a detailed plan to designate the Roseberry-Summit Lake section of trail for public non-motorized use with limited local motorized access.

The proposal named the Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) branch of the Ministry of Forests as an interested group who would take on the stewardship of the trail along with their existing workload of public trail maintenance.

Nakusp residents and recreation club members have mixed feelings about the proposal because the committee is suggesting heavy regulations on motorized vehicle use of the trail as part of their proposal. The Rosebery committee, sighting the BC Recreation Manual used by government ministries to plan and design trails which states, “in most cases, motorized and non-motorized use on the same trail is not recommended,” recommends limited ATV access to the trail system. This could take the form of a membership driven program that would impose restrictions such as speed limits and day permits issued when environmental conditions are favorable. The proposal also prohibits the use of dirt bikes or other motorcycle vehicles on the trail.

Nakusp Trails Society member and trail maintenance supervisor, Wulf Mense is cautiously optimistic about the proposal and trusts the group is following due process to make sure the desires of the people are balanced with the potential impact on the environment.

“I am positive about the upcoming changes,” Mense shared. “We maintain a section of the rail trail as multi-use, but our section is not as environmentally fragile as Bonanza Creek. I think there should be an environmental assessment done.”

The Nakusp Trails Society is the official steward of the rail trail section from outside Nakusp to Summit Lake and have designated it a multi-use trail. Mense credits the successful partnership on a mutual respect.

“We don’t want to stop people from getting from point A to point B, but everyone needs to respect trail etiquette. We don’t want people racing for example and ripping up the trail because then we just have to spend money and time to fix it again,”he said.

The society is currently working on increasing signage along the trail and has plans to implement trail etiquette education in the schools.

According to a statement prepared by Nakusp ATV club president Ernie Knecht, “the club recognizes tolerance, respect and good trail etiquette,” as key elements in sharing trails, and promotes “multi use trails for all users to be shared with everyone.” The club has taken up a vocal opposition to the current proposal by the Rosebery steering committee, stating “ATV riders find it unacceptable that a self appointed group from Hills and Rosebery can propose the formation of a steering committee, which will severely restrict the use of the trail by all users.” Knecht maintains that “the solution should be to designate the rail trail as multi-use and work on a plan that uses tolerance, respect and good trail etiquette to make the trail shareable and usable by everyone.”

The Rosebery steering committee is currently tabulating the results of a poll that was distributed to valley residents through the Valley Voice and expects to publish their feedback by July 10.

 

 

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