I’ll take this as an opportunity to weigh in and let you know what I’ve been up to for the last year in my role as VP Trail Advocacy for BNS.
In 2016, Nova Scotia Environment made provision for the use of mountain bikes in the Five Bridges Lakes Wilderness Area. Although these trails are not lauded by the mountain bike community as the most fun trails to ride on a mountain bike, this is a first in Nova Scotia allowing for the use of mountain bikes in a protected wilderness area and has established momentum for the development of further projects of this kind.
I have spoken with both DNR and NSE and both are agreeable to the idea of mountain bike trail development on both crown land as well as wilderness protected areas in the province. Neither organization, however has a policy established or the resources available for the development of such trails. As such, it will be up to organizations such as the McIntosh Run Watershed Association to take on development of such trails.
Speaking of which, through the hard work of the McIntosh Run Watershed Association, land use agreements have been established with the Department of Natural Resources as well as Halifax Regional Municipality for the development of sustainable multi-use trails (open to mountain bikes) on their respective lands. Multi-use trails off Norwarren Dr. in the Herring Cove area have been under development for the past year+ with 2 beginner loops nearing completion. MRWA volunteers put in over 1200 hours of volunteer work in the last year.
On behalf of BNS, I wrote a letter of support for the McIntosh Run Watershed Association’s MEC Access and Activity Grant application - which they were awarded in the amount of $13,600. This money will be used to help fund the building of the first granite loop in the Governor’s Brook area (the Attic area of Fight Trail) in Spryfield. Flagging of the that trail has already begun (but it should be noted that MRWA is not responsible for the recent orange paint markings in certain areas of the preexisting trails).
As this new MRWA trail will be in large part integrated into the preexisting informal trail network (the Attic area of Fight Trail), I have been liaising with the builder group of the preexisting trails (as a good gesture - they invested countless hours into developing the ad-hoc trail that will become much of the new trail) and communicating with the larger mountain bike community that uses these trails to aid in the transition from an informal trail to a formally recognized trail.
If you would like to get involved with this effort, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, in the past year, I contacted the Long Lake Provincial Park Association to propose formalizing multiuse single track trails in the Witherod Lake Area of Long Lake Provincial Park. For the last many years, the Wrandees Trails have been maintained informally by various users of that trail network. Very few people used that trail network at the time due its lack of accessibility. Now however, with the completion of the Lake View Trail, many new users are accessing the Wrandees Trails. This has increased the potential for the same kind of erosion we have seen up the Bay Road side of the park. As such, and because the LLPPA was game to speak with me regarding formalizing single track trails, I assisted their trails committee in drafting principles for mountain bike trail development in the park. These principles were approved by the association at their last board meeting (only one month ago) and have opened the way for moving forward with potential trail development in the park. Just to give an idea of how long it can take volunteer groups such BNS and LLPPA to complete such tasks, drafting the principles took nearly 8 months - these kinds of policy changes are incremental and generally move forward at a slow pace.
Regarding Spider Lake, I am in conversation with BNS’s insurance provider regarding securing liability insurance for the owner of the land where the Spider Lake Trails exist. Efforts have been made in the past to try to formalize the Spider Lake trails without success. We’re trying again - but it is proving to be an involved process requiring a draft management plan being put into in place prior to provision of the insurance - and with no guarantee that the landowner will accept a proposed management plan, at all.
Lastly, I was recently approached by city Councillor Tony Mancini to meet to discuss the state of mountain bike trails in HRM. We have a follow-up meeting in July involving some other interested parties active in the mountain bike scene to begin looking at a plan for the establishment of formal trails in HRM. This could involve the establishment of a local mountain bike trail association (or something of the like).
Work is being done - but its all happening on a volunteer basis. As such, it takes time and often falls second place to the obligations of family, paid jobs, and just the general business of everyday life.
I will make it a point to get the trail advocacy page of the BNS website updated (something I have not been active in doing) and continue to post updates on that page as they emerge.
As I find responding to queries in forums time consuming and sometimes unending, I’ll politely request that if you would like further information or would like to get involved with any of these initiatives, you can contact me directly at email@example.com.
Its great to see people interested and engaged in this conversation!