Power Through Collaboration

I recently attended a Columbia Basin Trust trail meeting, hosted by the Fernie Trails Alliance, where the assembly of 50 diverse people revealed a collective passion that spotlighted the power that is possible with cooperation.

The damming of the Kootenay River at Libby created Lake Koocanusa, which generates hydro-electric power and provides downstream flood control. With the dam came an international treaty compensation agreement, which created a legacy fund managed by the CBT. The Trust supports efforts by the people of the Basin to create a legacy of social, economic and environmental well being, and to achieve greater self-sufficiency for present and future generations.

CBT has reached out to progressive trail-managing organizations, to show support and discover where their funding can be best utilized in the Basin. The power and structure behind such an organization really comes to light when you are amongst a focus group willing to volunteer its time, expertise and energies, and work together to fulfil this objective.

The meeting’s agenda included presentations on Asset Management, Trail App Development (see Trailforks), Risk Aversion, Funding Procurement, Trail Construction Methods, Land-Use Agreements, Marketing and Regional Network Support, all intended to provide trail-use organizations with the tools required to build support and capacity within this not-so-easily navigable terrain. When groups are given the opportunity to share their experience and skills, the value of this collaboration cannot be understated.

The makeup of trail organizations have evolved from the pick-axe-, Pulaski-, and brush saw-wielding enthusiasts into multifaceted, complex management groups—requiring employees, contractors, bookkeepers, and a strong and powerful volunteer body—that are responsible for organizing and delivering $100,000-plus annual budgets. With the goal of providing recreational infrastructure that will serve for generations to come, trails societies and clubs must evolve to meet these long-term needs.

The meeting attendees included Sparwood Trails Alliance, Golden Cycling Club, Fernie Nordic Society, Columbia Valley Greenways Trail Alliance, Fernie Snowmobile Club, Elkford ATV Club, Kootenay Columbia Trail Society, Revelstoke Snowmobile Club, Slocan Rails to Trails Society, Salmo Equestrian Club, and Fernie Trails Alliance. It’s inspiring to see that these diverse groups, powered mainly by passion, are able to build a significant network of accessible, well-maintained trail systems throughout the region.

Fernie Trails Alliance has built an operational model, that has many like organizations requesting our assistance and guidance so they are better equipped to tackle all that is involved in bringing trails that promote a culture of healthy, active living and other positive benefits to their communities throughout the Columbia Basin.

When you are personally proud of all of the successes the FTA has enjoyed over the last couple of years, and get to share your information and knowledge about the trail-related progress achieved in our community, it makes the sun around us shine a bit brighter. Thanks CBT.

Happy Trails.