December 20th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 51
Newly formed Trail Alliance seeks to make sense of trails
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Vyk Harnett photo
Hikers on walking trail to Star Creek Falls.
Pass Herald Reporter
The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is surrounded by a vast network of unique hiking, biking and walking trails, but pinpointing them can be tricky.

Tourists and locals alike have been known to express their frustrations at locating trailheads, following markers and accessing parking areas near the trails. For those familiar with Turtle Mountain, for example, know how obscure the directions are to finding the trailhead – try finding it as a visitor to the area!

The municipality’s Parks and Recreation Authority organized a meeting on December 7 to form a non-profit trail alliance in the community.

The fundamental goal of this group is to develop a 20-year strategy plan to improve and promote the trail and recreation system in Crowsnest Pass.

“Ultimately, we want to provide safe, fun outdoor spaces for our community and visitors to play, relax and enjoy,” says member of the Parks and Recreation Authority Heather Davis. “It takes a community to build this and we encourage anybody to get involved to be a part of this group.”
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There’s a lot of work ahead, but the first step was to define the purpose of the Trail Alliance, to establish a non-profit society of community volunteers, and to lay out a loose action plan at the December 7 meeting.

“Once this is completed, then we can work on enhancing our trail system by gathering data and identifying landowners and gaps. We then want to provide trail maps through apps, online sources and paper. With this comes signage, trail enhancements and applying for grant funding to assist with budgets. Lastly, we want to create a trail master plan with strategies that incorporate 20 years of foresight,” says Davis.

Some 15 interested community members came out to learn about the initiative, offer input and become involved. Among the interested members were people from the community who, through their careers or other projects with which they have been involved, had great value and experience to add, like members of the municipality, Crowsnest Conservation Society and the Crowsnest Chamber of Commerce.

“The energy was super positive at the first meeting. It felt like there was a lot of interest and positive feedback. Concerns were brought up like liability, which just goes to show us that people have thought this process through,” says Davis. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are confident that we can overcome these obstacles and by taking this first step, we are on the right track.”
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The goals for the upcoming winter include establishing roles and responsibilities within the trail alliance, commencing data collection on trails and identifying key players vital to making the project happen.

Throughout 2018, the group will begin inventory of the trails in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass. Training members to collect and GPS trail data would go ahead in the spring and continue into the summer, at which time trailhead locations can be identified. In the fall, the group will start working on land use agreements and begin fine-tuning trail management rules. By spring 2019, the group hopes to have hardcopy and digital maps ready to go.

The Parks and Recreation Board saw a need for action based on the 2015 “State of Recreation” report completed for Crowsnest Pass by consulting company RC Strategies.

“The report shows a survey which indicates that 48 per cent of the people surveyed would like to see enhancements to the walking/hiking trail system. This was the top concern regarding outdoor facilities and spaces,” says Davis. “We see this as an opportunity to enhance the entire trail system, not just for walking and hiking. We want to encourage and showcase our fantastic outdoor spaces and tie them in with other recreational opportunities in the Pass such as parks and high-use areas.”

The next meeting is scheduled for January 15 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Room 11 at the MDM, where the Trail Alliance will develop official vision and mission statements and decide on each individual’s role and responsibility within the group. Anyone interested in getting involved is welcome to attend the meetings.

If you would like to get involved and cannot attend the meeting, email
December 20th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 51
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