OUT ON A LIMB: Committed my own small act of ecological defiance

There I was approaching one of my favourite spots in the Beaver Lodge Lands when I started to notice something was different

There I was approaching one of my favourite spots in the Beaver Lodge Lands when I started to notice something was different.

Did the route down to the creek look more trampled, more like a trail? Or was I just imagining it? The point about having a favourite spot is to get to know all about it’s nuances, its changes through the seasons. Bushes go from bare limbs to budding leaves and eventually to summer berries. Ferns unroll themselves from the forest floor into first fiddleheads and then swords or brackens. The expansions and contractions of the seasons is an unending process that you soon become attuned to.

The creek swells, overflows, retreats. Salmon fry await the fall rains. The cycles keep rolling.

Detecting something was different without it being obvious was a good thing. That something was different, however, had an ominous feeling to it. This part of the creek is on the road to rehabilitation after years of heavy use as a crossing, first for hikers and then – as the mountain bike boom hit – for spoked wheels and nobby tires. The crucial creek bed and the sloping banks suffered as the trail slashed across the streambed. But that was stopped after the Beaver Lodge Forest was protected in 1993 and the trail was decommissioned.

This beautiful stretch of stream rebounded and my discovery of it provided a respite from the outside world.

As I got closer to the stream it became obvious that something had changed. Drastically. Set up on the bank of the stream was a log crib filled in with soil to create a jump for someone’s mountain bike. The landing spot was obviously the gravel bar in the middle of the streambed. the soil for the jump was provided by the muddy river bank where a four-foot hole had been dug.

I was outraged.

So, I tore apart the bike jump and scattered the logs. I tried to cover the approaching trail with as much forest debris as I could to “re-decommission” the trail. Thankfully, the winter storms provided plenty of branches.

After half an hour’s work I was moderately pleased with the results. For a finishing touch, I took a stick and scratched into the gravel bed the letters S-A-L-M-O-N to explain why I did this. This was prime salmon-rearing habitat and the reason the crossing was decommissioned in the first place. It couldn’t return to being a bike crossing.

I don’t have any problem with bikes in the BLL. In fact, I rode my bike to get there that day. But I got off of it at the trail and walked the rest of the way.

I don’t even have a problem with bikers setting up jumps and obstacle courses but do it away from the creek and get permission. There is room for all to use the Beaver Lodge Lands but you can’t just go building things wherever you want.