Opinions stated in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this site or myself. It is merely an interesting read.
Having worked on trails in Whistler in the 90’s, that was an interesting read. Almost everything was unsanctioned at that point. WORCA did volunteer maintenance days on some of the really popular trails, but other than that, the builders did work on their own trails.
I think the sanctioned trails are getting so good around NS with the level of build quality, the unsanctioned trails are declining in use and popularity. There are exceptions…
Interesting article, this part stood out to me the most :
“After a lot of work, he applied for a tenure – the right to work on Crown land – which the B.C. government was legally required to respond to within 60 days. Then the deadline passed without a yes or no. “I got frustrated and just started building,” McIntosh says.”
After unsuccessfully going through the process of attempting to form a trail association to construct sanctioned trails on crown land I can understand why some builders say “fuck it” and start building.
Even if we had been successful in forming an association the approval process to build on crown land is lengthy, costly, and complex. It’s exceptionally frustrating to see skidders tearing up the ground and hauling down trees during forestry operations in the same area we had planned on building, knowing that their approval process wasn’t nearly as arduous as the one to build a trail.
After this, I’ll leave any further comments to those in the know, as I’m fairly ignorant how these things work. A 0.5 second google search reveals a fairly straightforward application process to build a forestry access road on NS crown lands: waiting period 20 days, initial price for a 1 year permit and annual renewal fee is $124.52, plus “stumpage”. There seems to be similar easy to find/access and apply off-highway vehicle infrastructure/trail grants. These likely aren’t as quick and easy as I think they are, however the equivalent/easy to find application process/permit for human powered/mtb trails is…(cricket sounds?). One could argue that forestry “helps drive the economy” although I would say that the tourism/economic potential of successful areas such as Railyard, Minto and Brookvale are only beginning to be realized by those in power, and is likely more sustainable. I get that this is easy enough for me to say, where my livelihood doesn’t depend on forestry.
On the flip side, something the article alludes to, I read somewhere a while ago that the whole BC/north shore freeride scene (which modern mountain biking arguably owes a lot to) would not have happened without a multitude of logging roads creating easy access for builders and riders to get back up there and do their thing.
This is the process for constructing a hiking trail in a wilderness area, which are controlled by Dept. of Environment. We were told the process is the same for mountain biking/multi-use. The process for constructing a trail on crown land that is not a designated area is through Dept. of Natural Resources and Renewables is similar.
The whole process has somewhat soured my perspective on trail building and to a lesser extent trail riding. I find my focus shifting more toward gravel riding, fly fishing, and backpacking these days. As the article alludes to, our unsanctioned trails won’t last forever and I don’t want to be the dude holding the shovel when accountability eventually comes calling.
At Nine Mile, we’re really wanting to develop new trail, but we’re waiting for Environmental Assessments to be done. I think we’re 14 months waiting (others can correct me), heard that the process is moving forward, but still more steps to do, so we’re still waiting. The process is slow, and the wait is frustrating. I completely understand why builders get frustrated.
However, it’s the only way to have sustainable trail. An unsanctioned trail can be developed or logged over, or closed at the whim of the landowner. Hundreds or thousands of hours of trail work and an amazing trail could disappear in a day - local examples being the Bayers Lake side of Whopper Dropper and the Burnside trail.
I think its really hard to compare illegal trail building in NS to BC or even a place like Quebec.
I think we can learn alot from their process and the mistakes they have made along the way.
Lets face it, without “illegal” trails most of us would have never ridden a trail.
Land usage now has become more sought after because apparantly every square meter can be purchased.
I dont see it ever dying here strictly due to the fact that
A - People who are into trail building just wanna go get shit done and the fact of the matter is, it can be done with minimal consequence if your not a moron.
B - Our “Legal” trails arent really giving everyone the finite thrill they seek. MTB is a privileged sport, and the riders will always want more. And when we get what we want we are gonna ask for more again. And time is precious, most people are not focused on trying to build a future for anyone to be honest IMO. Respect to those that are.
I realize there is a process on getting land usage agreements and someday I will most likely figure all that out. Right now its nice to see giant parcells of land being protected, for whatever reason it is.
Thats my 2 cents
100%. Basically it just seems to come to dollars… its not about usable land…its all about padding someones back pocket…
There wouldn’t be a sanctioned short track mountain bike race series in Shubie Park this year without people taking the time to build and maintain unsanctioned trails there.
Those aren’t trail builders. Those are pot growers.
I don’t grow, I just indulge.