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Recreation conflict happens everywhere throughout North America. Canoeists are in conflict with motorized boaters, landowners conflict with recreation users, motorized versus non-motorized. One just has to search recreation and reams upon reams of conflict will jump out at you.
Our recreation community has been largely successful until recently because of our volume – over this big Valley, our numbers weren’t unbearably large.
As our trail system expanded, and became more diverse, our biker numbers have grown. Suddenly we attract professional three-day stage mountain bike races, and just as suddenly our ‘secret stash’ becomes a highway rather than a quiet stroll through the forest.
The most popular trails system rises out of Fairy Creek and steps onto Mount Proctor, if you stand at the entrance to the Grazing Tenure you will see mountain bikers pouring across the fence. Some of them knowing how to access Swine Flu turn right, those that don’t scatter and go in every direction. Some have dogs, some don’t. The numbers are significant. We can break a hundred people by mid-afternoon on a Saturday.
Up until recently, recreation users have enjoyed a carte blanche of user access, taken liberties and created unreasonable expectations. Reasonable expectations of the grazing tenure holder lie in opposition to this massive use. His simple request of no dogs “chasing his cattle” has led to an outflow of indignation. As our organization gets larger we must educate people on the etiquette required when travelling through private and public land.
The facts are that that dogs and zoned grazing tenures do not marry well. Even well-behaved dogs aggravate cattle, and you need to merely visit an operating cattle ranch to check for yourself about dog etiquette.
The other fact is that Terry Polacik has held this grazing tenure license in his family for fifty years, since the closure of the community ski hill on Proctor. While speaking, Terry gazes across the field we stand in. Fondly recalling spending his childhood chasing cows for his cousin, and then later as an adult assuming the grazing tenure. Continuing the family tradition of cattle in the meadows of Mount Proctor is a great source of pride for Terry.
Maintaining a grazing tenure is not without a significant cost, a yearly fee and a maintenance schedule that runs about $20,000. Terry provides yearly grazing plans, crop assessment, annual rain reports, and weed reports.
Imagine the frustration then, as Terry is on his licensed tenure only to see bikes pouring through his fence with dogs, going every which way up and through his property in search of their favorite trail. The cattle get dispersed, and the most important part of a cattle operation gets more difficult – to have the bull mate with the cows. How does he put that in his yearly report?
We are entering an era where we are going to have to make choices. To continue to enjoy the privileges of our trail system we have to develop a new set of guidelines to minimize conflict.
For most of our community, it is a simple act of courtesy, a new guideline, no big deal. Indeed a small price to pay for the generosity of all of our landowners allowing continued access. Together with respect for the many uses of land, we can move forward and satisfy the needs of all – riders, cows and the mountains we love.
Trail of the Month – Eric’s Trail
One of Fernie’s oldest and most popular trails is our pick this month. Located in the Ridgemont Trail Network, Eric’s Trail has traditionally been known as a great beginner descent while increasingly becoming a popular and challenging ascent for some. Recently, the Fernie Mountain Bike Club’s weekly Wednesday Work Party completed work to reroute the muddy lower section, adding sweeping burms and a whole lot of fun!
2012 Special Edition Trail System Posters
Check out our latest fundraiser, a sharp new poster available that shows our entire trail system. For sale at our business sponsors: Straight Line, Guide’s Hut, and Polar Peek Books.
Park Place Pub
If you are looking for another enjoyable way to support our trail system, head down to the Park Place Pub for a Fernie Brewery pint. These two great businesses have teamed up to donate $0.50 from every beer sold to the FTA in July and August!
When meeting a horse on the trail, please dismount from your bike and call out to the rider. Ask permission to pass. Be safe; be courteous.