Of trails and due process
As a person interested in mountain biking for fun and fitness, rather than either risk or competition, I none-the-less joined this year?s Tour de Soo. The main draw was a chance to see some backcountry between here and Pemberton. Overall, I join others in saying to PORCA and WORCA: "Well done, and thanks for the effort."
At the same time I want to raise what I think are serious questions about some aspect of the trails on that route, and on many routes here in the valley. Perhaps half way through the race, the route diverted from an old logging road to a newly found route down though a previously untracked forest. In the Aug. 24 Pique this is referred to as "a significant new single track decent from Echo Lake." I too think the new track was significant ? but in my view it is significantly irresponsible of the organizers to have added it to the race, or to have created it at all.
By the circumstance of age and the opening sentence, I was by this time either last, or near last in the race. This meant that some 60 had gone before me. The new-found trail was already in sad shape. It was not fun for me to find myself an unwilling participant in the destruction of even a relatively narrow ribbon of the environment. The terrain had been mostly mossy over rock or roots. It will take decades to recover from the activity of a couple of hours. The ribbon itself widened as each of us came by. In some places the best riders would be the least destructive, those with hands on the brakes probably the most destructive, and only perhaps those who got off and walked had less impact. For all it was easy to tear off whole sections of ground cover.
The reader who wants to know the next chapter in the life of this trail should visit now that we have had a serious rain. It would be a real demonstration of the role that moss plays in an ecosystem.
But you don?t have to trace out the trail from Echo Lake to Highway 99. You can walk, run or cycle any of the routes between the cross-country trails of Lost Lake. You can visit here within the municipal boundaries wide, bare trails, where trails didn?t exist last year, and others that as two-year-old creations are thrashed. They are continually widening, and "webbing," and in using these verbs we give them a life of their own.
Trails built over existing paths, logging roads, drag lines, etc are unlikely to fall into an area of great criticism. But trails where none previously existed need to be well thought out, well constructed, and, if not first aired in the public domain, avoided. This is doubly true if the new trail is down steep terrain, and trail proponents need to be aware too that some terrain and soils will support a trail better than others. Fun is not the only criterion.
Whenever an individual or an organization such as WORCA allows for a new trail where none previously existed they take on the risks that:
1. The environment will suffer damage, and the steeper the trail the greater the damage.
2. The riders will have to numb themselves to the fact that they are actively involved in the destruction of the area.
3. The rider who is in other ways conscientious about his or her environmental ethics becomes compromised.
4. The rider who has yet to examine their impacts on the earth is led to believe that this is all OK.
5. Finally, there are non-environmentalists out there who love to see us screw up, as it gives them the excuse to continue with more of their own destructive behaviours.
These are not insignificant risks.
At the very least, we all need to understand that just because we have boots, a bike, an ATV, or an off-road motorcycle, and want more pleasure, does not mean we have a license to either develop a trail, or to wantonly destroy an area. Please, if you think we need yet another trail, take it up with several involved groups in the community. Start with the bike and mountain clubs, and get a real discussion going. Make sure someone speaks for the forest. Then take it to other interested groups. Parks and Recreation might like a word on it, and so might the Forest and Wildlands Advisory Committee. A trail developed without this kind of due process is more likely to be a problem trail. What is happening right now is unsupportable, unsustainable, and rapacious of the environment.
Whistler resident since 1987, Whistler skier since 1965, rider, hiker, and trail runner. Current member of the Forest and Wildlands Advisory Committee
Sunday, Aug. 26th, was an awesome day for the seventh annual WAG Dog Wash. After a week of autumn like conditions we were graced with a bluebird day in which we washed over 90 dogs in six hours.
This year's event was the most successful Dog Wash to date. We were very pleased to see many faces from past events and we were delighted at the number of tourist dogs in attendance. The Dog Wash also turned out to be a great place to have an impromptu WAG Alumni reunion. I would like to thank the following sponsors whose generous support made all of this possible.
Whiski Jack Strata Complex, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Whistler Dog Grooming, Nester?s, Garlick Mountain Ceramics, Whistler Blackcomb?s Club WAG, Teddy Treats, Raine Playfair, the Fire Department, Mountain FM, Mountain Crests, Whistler Cable 6, Pique Newsmagazine and the Whistler Question.
I would also like to thank the many hard working volunteers who helped set-up, sign-in, soap-up and BBQ. Your energy, enthusiasm and love for the animals is the heart and soul of WAG.
The day?s record-breaking turnout and overwhelming support for WAG is a good example of Whistler?s thriving community spirit.
WAG Shelter Manager
On Aug. 22, 2001 the Honourable Graham Bruce, Minister of Skills Development and Labour, directed the WCB Panel of Administrators to consider delaying the implementation of the second hand smoke regulations. On the same day, during Question Period he implied that there was little or no consultation and that the regulations were being imposed without consultation.
The Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon Division, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. and Yukon, and the B.C. Lung Association, which make up the Clean Air Coalition of B.C., would like to ensure the Minister of Skills Development and Labour and the public is aware that each of our organizations participated fully in four public hearings throughout B.C. During the consultation process, over 500 oral and written submissions were received by WCB and an economic analysis was undertaken. This information can be seen on the WCB Web site.
Minister Bruce, along with 85 per cent of all other workers in the province, have been guaranteed a smoke-free workplace since April 1998. However, women and men who work in the hospitality sector, long-term care and correctional facilities have had to wait for the same protection and as a result must suffer the health risks from exposure to second hand smoke.
Contrary to industry claims, in jurisdictions with similar regulations, there have been virtually no negative impacts on business or tourism in the long-term. Additional consultation is not necessary ? it is time for action. Second hand smoke is a known health hazard and exposure to second-hand smoke can be easily prevented. We strongly encourage the Panel of Administrators to not delay the implementation of the regulation and for the Minister of Skills Development and Labour to reconsider his direction to the Panel. The health of women and men depend upon it.
Chief Executive Officer,
Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. & Yukon Division
British Columbia Lung Association
Chief Executive Officer,
Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. & Yukon
"It is always good to know, if only in passing, a charming human being; it refreshes our lives like flowers and woods and clear brooks." ? George Eliot
I have been fortunate over the last several years to have met and worked with a number of charming people who have made a difference in my life. I'd like to take this moment to thank all of them for the gifts they have given me over time and the support for my new venture they give to me now.
So to those at Meadow Park Sports Centre, especially the Fitness Centre Staff, cheers and thanks for everything. Finally, good luck to Peter Train who now has the opportunity to experience the blessing of being surrounded by such very good people.
I was saddened to learn that Whistler had resumed the practice of shooting black bears in conflict situations with humans. Whistler has worked too hard to become a model bear-smart community to resort to outdated, ineffective bear management techniques.
Whistler is a thriving beautiful community but it's built in black bear habitat and must continue to learn how to live peacefully with these wonderful animals. The killings must stop ? when you remove one bear you're created a spot for a new bear to move into and the cycle continues. It's best to learn how to live with the bears that live in your area by removing attractants and training bears not to come into town.
Bears are motivated by food. You're inviting a bear into your backyards when you leave it out for them. Consequently everyone, including local campgrounds, need to clean up their act and remove attractants ? anything fatty or sweet. You also need to close your doors and windows. If you have concerns about a bear in your area call the RCMP ? they're located in Whistler and can arrive in time to implement non-lethal bear control.
I look forward to the day that Whistler can say that not one bear has been killed. You can do it.
Director, Canadians for Bears