The Friends of Lois Creek held a public meeting a week and a half ago to inform trail users on what might be happening in 2014 on the trail system in Townsite.
One thing that won’t be happening is logging. And that is both positive and negative, says Nigel Kitto of the FOLC.
It is good news that mechanized logging will not occur, as many were quite concerned about the effects of that. But, there is a lot of beetle kill in the trails area that presents a fire hazard that will have to be dealt with at some point.
“Canfor holds the logging options over the Crown Land sections of the Lois Creek trails area, but has chosen not to proceed,” Kitto said. “Although concerns remain of the effect of the beetle infestation, FOLC are very happy that mechanical logging will not occur. Options to manage the risks of wildfire in this area were discussed at the meeting including accessing city and provincial grants.”
Ian Johnston of Canfor was at the meeting and explained that a recent hydrology report saw an increased risk of flooding events in the Lois Creek and Kimberley Creek catchments if proposed logging plans proceeded.
“Canfor assessed this risk as a too high and has decided to postpone logging for at least five years and likely indefinitely,” Kitto said. “The very high percentage of beetle infested pine remains a concern, and flooding risk still remains, but at lower risk compared to that after mechanical logging. Forest health and increasing wildfire risks are other implications of the beetle infestation that will need management into the future. City and provincial representatives and many key volunteers were present to discuss these and other issues to assist in planning and setting priorities for work needed.”
Priorities for trail work in 2014 include a new bridge on the Daisy Trail and more signage work. A timber frame shelter is proposed for the Tea Spot in the Spring courtesy of the Timber Frame program at the College of The Rockies. Concerns around recent flooding events and resultant damage was also discussed, and an ecological assessment is being planned in hopes of guiding a restoration project to the sensitive wetland area along Florence’s Gully.
“The trails are in excellent condition at the moment, and there are a lot of different users out there,” Kitto said. “New bins, dog waste bag dispensers and shovels have improved a pretty gross issue, but the FOLC will continue to educate and hope dog owners will do the right thing. Many of the culprits seem to be stray or unattended dogs and the city is aware of this problem.
“There has been some track-set grooming done and some signage out to try and manage the traffic for the enjoyment of all users. Some trails further out have been designated as cross country ski only, most other areas have a path for skiers and another for snowshoers/walkers. Motorized vehicles are not permitted in Lois Creek.”
New signage, maps, trailhead bulletin boards, installing doggie boxes, keeping the trails open from deadfall and track setting in the winter months all happens through the hard work of dedicated volunteers, who were acknowledged at the meeting.
Volunteers are always needed to help with trail maintenance. If you would like to get involved you can contact any member of the Friends of Lois Creek. Suggested initial contacts include Don Davies at 427-3966, Blake Rawson at 427-5495 and Nigel Kitto at 427- 7789.
The Friends of Lois Creek was formed in 1997 by concerned local citizens in hopes of limiting logging by having the trails designated as a Forest Service Recreation site. Since then, with support from Cominco, other private landowners and the City of Kimberley, the trails have been further established and improved. With assistance from Lisa Cox of Recreation Sites and Trails BC, The Lois Creek trails have received provincial recognition as a designated trail system, ensuring that the recreational values will be considered in any future logging plans. The Friends of Lois Creek is an informal group that operates in cooperation with the Kimberley Trails Society.