This week’s snow may have put a damper on hiking, but Ladysmith’s popular trail network is mostly open again after Mother Nature had knocked it out of commission for more than a month.
That said, town staff say it will take more time before they can complete extensive cleanup and repairs necessary to bring it completely back on line.
The Holland Creek, Stocking Lake and Heart Lake trails were hit hard by the intense windstorm that swept across southern Vancouver Island on Dec. 20, toppling trees, blocking roads and knocking out power to more than 750,000 homes across southeastern BC.
Many parks in the region had to be closed until crews were able to clear debris. Holland Creek was no exception with hundreds of trees down and a portion of trail’s high-use section washed out. Roughly 300 trees fell across the popular trail network.
“In the month following the storm, town staff have responded above and beyond their regular day-to-day duties to ensure our trail system could be reopened as quickly as possible while also ensuring public safety,” said Guillermo Ferrero, city manager.
Certified tree fallers had to be contracted by the town to assess potential dangers and hazards, both on the ground as well as hang ups higher in the tree canopy, Ferrero said.
Closed for more than a month, the Heart Lake Trail was reopened Jan. 24 after town staff removed 115 trees brought down by wind. The steep section of the trail and the route that goes east are now clear. Workers were unable to finish clearing the trail on the west side of the loop due to high water levels. For the time being, the public is urged to avoid that route.
Staff then shifted their efforts to the Stocking Lake trail, where about 130 trees were down on that trail, making it unsafe. That trail was reopened last Wednesday.
A section of the Holland Creek trail between the RCMP building and the pedestrian bridge remains closed until further notice, partly due to damage but also to accommodate construction of the water filtration plant.
“A geotechnical report on the washed-out slope of the Holland trail behind the public works yard is being completed and will hopefully provide us with all the information we need to repair and restore that section,” Ferrero said.
The public is asked to obey all signs along the trails.
With much work still to be done, there was no cost estimate available for the cleanup efforts.