Gold Rush Trail advocates seek funding

Plan identifies snowmobiles sharing space with ATVs

Significant work has been done to extend the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail for more than a decade, including clearing existing trails of pine beetle deadfall, such as these men did last year. The project focus is now expanding to accommodate ATVs and other users on these trails.

Significant work has been done to extend the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail for more than a decade, including clearing existing trails of pine beetle deadfall, such as these men did last year. The project focus is now expanding to accommodate ATVs and other users on these trails.

The South Cariboo Joint Committee (SCJC) recently received a presentation by Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail (GRST) proponents, in support of a request for funding assistance.

The presentation was jointly made by GRST representative Steve Law and project partner New Pathways to Gold (NPTG) executive director Gord Rattray.

Law said the NPTG is involved in this trails project under its mandate – and government funding – for economic development and investment in heritage.

The presentation began with a summary of the project’s long history, which he explained began with the extensive work of the late Jack Barnett around 2000. It covered past and recent successes with funding initiatives (including approximately $600,000 in 2009/10), Law added, what the money funded, and its progress with trail grooming, marketing and capital carried out by volunteers.

District of 100 Mile House council has supported the past work performed by these groups for more than a decade, including securing funds for the project in 2009, he noted.

“The District had applied to Western Economic Diversification, Northern Development Initiative Trust and a couple of other parties to basically clear the trail again after the pine beetle epidemic. Dead pine was falling on the trails, and made them essentially impassable.

“And, [NPTG] also jumped on board and threw in a bunch of money.”

This year’s goal targets trail improvements from 70 Mile House to Spout Lake, Law added, of the total of 463 kilometres of Gold Rush Snowmobile Trails spanning from Clinton to Wells.

An ongoing issue is adding to and replacing current signage, he noted.

“Virtually every year, some of the directional signage gets shot, taken down or disappears. And, signage is a really key thing to making a safe, enjoyable trail for the public. They need to know where they are and the fact that they are on the trail.”

In addition to trail clearing and improvements for snowmobiles, Law said these trail groups also plan to open them up for other users to enjoy.

“The business plan identified the need to move this to an all-seasons trail. To make it economically viable, we have to do that because the ATV usage is really, really significant in terms of the economics, and it is already being used [for that].”

He explained the GRST board is working with ATV/BC on this, but the main issue is the current lack of off-road vehicle legislation – to allow for connections and road crossings along the trails – which is moving slowly through the government approval process.

Now, the group has a business plan for the whole trail project, Law added, and a GRST Regional Management Committee (RMC) charged with implementing it.

The current project estimate is $110,000 for 2013/14 trail work, and how they plan to raise that amount is detailed in the background documents provided to the Cariboo Regional District’s SCJC. See www.cariboord.bc.ca under What’s New-Agendas, SCJC-Sept. 9, item 3.2 for the NPTG presentation.

Law noted that this spring, the RMC laid out groundwork and plans for requesting financial support from numerous funding organizations, as many require similar contributions from other groups.

“With the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition [CCBAC], that was their main reason for deferring our application. They said they want to see some private commitment before they will consider it.”

The group approached the District of 100 Mile House a couple of months ago, when he noted they were redirected to the SCJC for a grant-in-aid request, which effectively splits its grant funding with the CRD.

After a summer break, Law said the RMC is back at work pursuing the dollars to get the project going again and complete these trails, and get them into a sustainable condition.

“The maintenance we want to do now is, we have to make sure that sections are wide enough to run a groomer down there.”

He noted the planned trail will one day link the communities of Clinton, 70 Mile House, Likely, Wells and Barkerville.

For more information, download the GRST brochure at www.southcaribootourism.ca/things-to-do/winter-activities.

100 Mile House Free Press