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Deep snowpack delays trail openings

Rocking The Flume last summer - Andrew Zwicker photo
The Kootenay Columbia Trails Society (KCTS) is up and running again, and is now in their second week of work. However, the heavy snowfall this past winter is having an effect on the opening of the trails.

“We’re just doing our annual inspection and maintenance of the trails as they open, which is quite a bit slower this year than previous years because of all the snow,” said Stu Spooner, who develops and manages the trails.

Currently six Rossland trails are open, with more due to open as the snow melts. For those who are eager to make the switch from skiing to biking, Spooner said, “We also maintain regional trails, so we have some trails down in Trail, Montrose and Fruitvale down along the Columbia River and they’re all open at the moment.”

Trails openings are usually completed by early July with the Seven Summits Trail traditionally being the last to open. With higher-than-average snowfall this year, the opening of Seven Summits will likely be delayed.

“It’s anybody’s guess about how late the season will be this year,” said Spooner, “It’s running about three to four weeks late right now, but hopefully it will get nice and hot and all melt really fast.”

In the meantime, the Trails Society has plenty of new projects to keep them busy—and the money with which to do the work. The KTCS is funded mainly through regional recreation funds from the Greater Trail Area, but because many of the trails are in the Rossland area, the city also provides extra funding.

With regular funding spent mostly on existing trails, the KCTS looks for additional funding to support new projects. “This year we have quite a bit extra money from the Columbia Basin Trust through community programs,” said Spooner.

With dedicated funding available, Spooner hopes to develop a new trail. “We’re developing a new trail down in Trail up above the hospital. We’re calling it the Sunnydale Bluff trail.”

Funding has also been set aside for upgrades to the Seven Summits Trail. “Because we have so many trails and so many different people using so many different trails, we try and do something on every one of the trails to keep everybody happy,” Spooner said.

The Black Jack recreation site will also see the completion of new trails that were started last year. “Trails like Larch Ridge and Montecola. We started developing some trails out there and we’re going to do some more work.”

Spooner also hopes to make gains this year in the re-opening of the popular Oasis trail. The popular trail, which goes from highway 3B to the Oasis town site on the Columbia River, was closed a few years ago due to land access issues. “We’re trying to organize with landowners’ permission to re-route the trail, and if we’re successful with that there’s a chance we might actually begin building some of the new route.”

The KCTS appreciates the support of all those who sign up for a membership. Last year the group's membership was over 300, with fees going towards trail development and maintenance.

“People are pretty keen. We’ll be in the process of telling people what we’re doing and encouraging them to join again.”

Every year there is a volunteer trails day which allows for anyone to come out and work on the trails.

“People are often asking for opportunities to come and contribute out there working on the trails,” Spooner said. This year, June 4 is the day to bring tools and lunch and help maintain the local trails. Depending on the snow this year, plans might change. Information about the volunteer day will be posted around town and the information will be available online..
For information on KCTS, volunteer trails day or society membership, please visit the group's website.