Calling all trail users! The Shuswap Trail Alliance is beginning their annual trail cleanup volunteer days to complete spring cleanup of the trails so they can be enjoyed by the public.
Volunteer support is important in ensuring the Shuswap trail systems are open, safe and picture-perfect for the spring season. Over the winter snowfalls knock trees and branches across the trail, while frost and flooding from snowmelt can damage sections.
Lori Schneider-Wood, executive coordinator with the Shuswap Trail Alliance, says the unusually long and harsh winter Salmon Arm endured means volunteer support is in high demand to ensure the trails are good-to-go.
“This year it will be a lot worse, there was so much snow, and because there is so much snow still up there it’s going to be wet and muddy,” she says. “Everyone is itching to get out there, and the more use it gets when it’s really muddy like that, the more tends to need to be done.”
The two main dates for cleanup events are April 21 and April 29. Volunteers will be moving fallen branches, pushing back deadfall, clipping overgrowth, filling in potholes and, if properly certified, using chainsaws to chop up fallen trees for removal.
The South Canoe Cleanup and Prep Day is April 21 at 8:45 a.m. at the South Canoe trailhead. The prep day is an initial cleanup of the trails, but the focus will be preparing the trails for a second massive effort the following weekend.
April 29 marks the date of the South Canoe Annual Spring Volunteer Blitz and BBQ, a joint effort between the Shuswap Trail Alliance and the Shuswap Cycling Club to get the South Canoe trails race-ready for the annual Salty Dog mountain bike race on May 13. Cleanup again begins at 8:45 a.m. and a BBQ lunch will be provided by Skookum Cycle for volunteers.
This volunteer blitz is an important effort not only for mountain bike racers, but for anyone who uses the trails and expects them to be in good shape.
“The trails are heavily dependent on this. Because there’s not a lot of funds for cleanup, we’ve basically relied on all the volunteers for this annual blitz day,” Schneider-Wood says.
In addition to these two big volunteer days, the Trail Alliance will begin their Rubberhead Trail cleanup on April 16 at 6 p.m.. This cleanup effort continues every second Monday evening in two hour sessions until the trails are deemed fit for the season. Volunteers gather at the 2.5 km parking lot on Forest Service Road 110.
Schneider-Wood notes these volunteers are people who actively use the trails, showing the level of appreciation and respect for these trail systems in the community.
“We have an amazing community, so much support. And it’s all the users, there’s the bikers and the hikers and the snow-shoers and the fat-tire bikers that started going up there this winter. Well it’s very rare to go up in that parking lot and see no cars there,” she says. “And it works, it has worked amazing, all the user groups working together. If we didn’t have this big cleanup, the trails would not be ready.”
The Trail Alliance requests volunteers come prepared with a lunch, drinking water and, if possible, pruning shears and small hand snips for cutting branches. These tools will be provided to those who can’t bring their own, based on supplies available. Schneider-Wood also notes volunteers should dress appropriately for outdoor work in the chilly spring weather.
“It’s nice to be able to say bring your suntan lotion and your bug-spray,” she says, “but that’s not a worry this year!
Prospective volunteers will be required to sign a waiver prior to volunteering, there will be copies on-site, or they can be downloaded on the Shuswap Trail Alliance website.