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Work improves access to forest

Volunteers spruce up trail systems in Millennium Park

Community partners have joined forces to improve access on forest trails.

That’s because the BOMB (Bloody Old Men’s Brigade) Squad has secured funding from Powell River Community Forest Ltd. to turn tired old trail systems into the kind of project for which the squad is renown.

Pat Walsh, BOMB Squad member and president of Powell River’s Outdoor Recreation User Group (ORUG) Trails Society, said the forest trail beautification project is the result of the cooperative efforts of a number of community user groups.

“The idea is to bring the trails back up to a more usable level and to refurbish the trails,” he said. “There are a number of different trails in Millennium Park that are being done.”

Trail construction work on the day that Walsh was being interviewed in Millennium Park was being performed on the Triple Bypass Trail. Access to the trailhead is located just before the skateboarding park at Powell River Recreation Complex. Large piles of sand had been dumped at the roadside and was being transported into the forest area on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) equipped with trailers.

“It happens to be one of the more level trails in the park so the thought here was to try to make it mobility-friendly,” Walsh said. “I hesitate to say it’s wheelchair accessible but we are hoping for it.”

Walsh said Powell River ATV Club agreed to assist the BOMB Squad to help refurbish that particular trail system. Out at the very end of the trail loop, the BOMB Squad is building a picnic site.

All three of the major trails running up and down the creek lines in Millennium Park are undergoing refurbishment. Walsh said the BOMB Squad has already completed the Willingdon Creek Trail. It has been gravelled and has a topcoat on it. A small picnic site has been built at the top end. The majority of boardwalks and bridges on that trail have been replaced.

On the You Name It Trail that connects Willingdon Creek Trail with Kingfisher Trail, all of the boardwalks have been replaced and most of the drainage has been repaired. A new bridge has also been built on this trail. The BOMB Squad is now in the process of refurbishing and grooming Kingfisher Trail.

McFall Creek Trail on the far side of McFall Creek is also undergoing work. Walsh said the only option in the past for people heading up Kingfisher or McFall trails has been to go on the pole line to join with the other trail. There is a proposal for the BOMB Squad to build a bridge to link the two trails.

The BOMB Squad is also proposing to re-establish a trail that decades ago used to run from underneath the concrete footbridge at the recreation complex and then joined to a bridge over toward the hospital site. Walsh said the hope is to link the old trail with the Willingdon Creek Trail with another bridge linking over to Joyce Avenue and the hospital.

“It’s a fairly extensive project,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without the help of the ATV club and the Chain Gang from the Powell River Cycling Association.”

Walsh said the gravel for the Triple Bypass Trail project was being provided by the City of Powell River. Most of the community forest funding will be spent on materials, such as those required for bridges.

Walsh said the volunteers working on the project are constantly running into hikers who are very complimentary about the work that is being done.

“They are starting to come back into the park,” he said. “We are starting to see more use of the park. Hopefully, as word spreads, people and families will make better use of it.”

Walsh said the BOMB Squad is aiming for this summer as the target for completion of the community forest-funded project. He said the crew will likely return to the trails in the fall to complete any unfinished work and to perform maintenance.

Greg Hemphill, president of the community forest, said the $22,786 awarded to the BOMB Squad was one of the 2014 grant announcements from the Community Forest Reserve Fund made last fall.

“Our board felt it was a good project as the park gets a lot of use, and timing was right to start investing in the park, as the city had announced a tentative agreement with Island Timberlands, which would ensure all the timber was preserved,” Hemphill said. The community forest was pleased to have the opportunity to provide support to the BOMB Squad. “With their own time and resources, they have built a lot of the recreation trails and bridges in the forests around our community, including some great ones in the community forest area. We’re looking forward to checking out the completed project.”

Ray Boogaards, the city’s director of parks, recreation and culture, said the BOMB Squad does a great deal of trail work throughout the city and the regional district.

“These trails are important community assets and staff supports this project wholeheartedly,” he said. “The BOMB Squad is well underway with this project. Our parks foreman is working with this group extensively. What he passes along to me is the project is coming along nicely and it looks fantastic. We are really pleased with the work they are doing.”

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