In the April 7 opinion letter (“Trail won’t stand up”), ELF’s Ross Muirhead is once again attempting to speak for the mountain bikers and trail building, stating that tree canopy is required to protect trail integrity. He points to examples of poor drainage and trail erosion on the New Frogger trail built by the Community Forests. This latest verbal attack on the Frogger trail is just a veiled effort to push ELF’s campaign to denounce the great support that the Sunshine Coast Community Forest is giving back to our recreation community.
Trail erosion is not a result of not having a tree canopy, but more of poor trail building practices, overuse or wrong type of use (i.e., motorized on non-motorized trails). North Vancouver learned the hard way of fall-line trails being poorly designed, and being built with inadequate drainage. Overuse of these trails causes deep ruts and erosion into nearby streams. All of these trails are under the canopy of 80 to 100-year-old forests. North Shore Mountain Bike Association is rebuilding these trails or reclaiming the old ones to mitigate further environmental damage.
I like to think that mountain bikers can work with forest companies in coming up with win-win solutions. It wasn’t that we didn’t have a choice to accept logging over old Frogger; we saw an opportunity to build a better trail after logging was complete. The old Frogger trail was a difficult single-track climb that linked two old skidder roads. The Community Forest asked for mountain bikers to locate the trail and to build it for them. Not only did the trail eliminate steep unridable sections, it was longer, built to a higher standard, and used by the recreational community more frequently than ever before. Yes, there are still maintenance issues – not because the trail doesn’t have tree cover, but due to motorized trail riding during poor conditions.
It’s ridiculous to think that tree canopy is the solution to protect trails. Proper trail design, adherence to established trail standards and ongoing maintenance will keep our trails long-lasting and a legacy for all to enjoy.
One last thing – I can only think that ELF is saying this about Frogger to connect mountain bike trails to its protectionism rhetoric and tactics. We want to be part of the solution and will continue to work with others who want to share our little patch of Earth; so please leave us alone – you do not speak for us.
Warren Hansen, RPF, Langdale