Steeves/trail mix: trails strategy encouraging

There's been a soft release of a new provincial trails strategy and most of its 22 action items look encouraging.

Trails can take you to terrific views

From the beginning, I knew it was a stormy day, but the sun was shining when I set off for the steep climb into Rose Valley Regional Park, from the pond up to the ridge above.

It’s not far, but it started to drizzle as we started out, and by the time we were halfway up the hill, it was raining, not just drizzling.

However, when we got to the ridge and began to walk along it, the views out over the lake and the City of Kelowna and up and down the valley, made it all worthwhile.

It’s also quite different, ecologically, from the valley bottom, with just a thin skin of soil and plants over a plateau of sheer rock, but that’s the type of open terrain that appeals to the delicate bitterroot plants, and they’re now in full bloom with their tissue paper flowers hugging the ground in carpets of white and varying shades of pink.

There were all sorts of other plants in bloom, from fern-leaved lomatium or wild carrot, to pinkish comandra, gaillardia or brown-eyed Susan and the last remaining arrow-leaved balsamroot or spring sunflowers of the season.

Work has been done in the park this winter and spring to reduce the fire hazard by removing undergrowth and burning piles of dry vegetation.

On the way down, we met a group of intrepid mountain bikers who has just ridden up the steep section, and another group of sodden hikers with wet dogs, but no motorized vehicles disturbed the peaceful morning.

That’s one of the recommendations of the Trails Strategy for British Columbia soon to be released by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, that management of motorized trails be integrated into the new Resource Roads Act.

Action item 16 of 22 also notes that it’s essential that trail and recreation interests are considered in resource road decisions, in part to ensure that they provide access to trailheads.

That has been a serious issue here. Several years ago there was a lack of maintenance on the two forest service roads from Kelowna to access the Trans Canada Trail section through Myra Canyon, because they weren’t being used as industrial roads. They were so in need of maintenance it became almost impossible for recreational users to access that popular hiking and biking trail.

Managing irresponsible Off-Road Vehicle use was the topic of Action item nine, while 15 addressed the need for compliance and enforcement staff.

Without being specific, items 11 and 12 noted there are a number of options for funding…I wonder what they may be.

On the whole, the strategy addresses most of the issues and contains lots of common sense, like consolidating trail standards and educating people about responsible use of trails—as well as finding a fix to the insurance and liability issues related to volunteer groups working on trails.

It also stated government will encourage formation of local trail committees, and create a trail advisory body.

Implementation period: 10 years. Hopefully most of it will happen sooner rather than later.

It was quietly released, but I think I prefer that. Hopefully that means it has been taken seriously.

It’s not yet available, but will eventually be on the website:

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.


Twitter: @OutsideOkanagan



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