Is it possible and How?
“Every trail can’t be all things to all people but all trails can play beneficial roles. Trails play roles in the economy, play roles in the environment and perhaps most importantly, play roles in our health.*” Trails have the capacity to provide connectivity, economic benefits, education potential, environmental interpretation, health, heritage, and recreation. Trails can also focus on just interpretive trails. Trails may be made solely for recreation without awareness of the environment. Those people focusing on the lack of Vitamin “N” in the urban population, may construct trails for education and health, and not focus on a wide variety of recreation. Then there are those trails which with planning and foresight have the capacity to combine many features for an audience of skiiers, classrooms of snowshoers, groups of fat bicycle riders, and nature enthusiasts who come to the forest to band birds. Trails invite people and increase the human footprint. Is it at all possible for trails to provide health benefits of recreation and to conserve the footprint of birds and wildlife at the same time?
Trails can be constructed to encircle biospheres, and trails can loop around and create length for an exercise workout. Ecosystems in the afforestation area vary widely. Prairie gives way to permanent class IV wetlands, in turn cycles to Aspen Parkland bluffs, which at the next turn reveals implanted and afforested trees. Native grasslands mix with modified grasslands. Native trees combine with afforested mature tree plantings. Shallow temporary floodplains flow with intermittent streams between marsh areas.
Abandoned roadways in the afforestation area formerly allowed motorized vehicle travel east and west. Newly created trails create greenways through the forest biome itself.
“‘Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind’ helps trail planners and builders balance the benefits of creating trails with being stewards of nature and wildlife habitat.” How does one make a bicycle path appropriate for a semi-wilderness wildlife habitat? What are some guidelines for being aware of wildlife, aquatic areas, and environmental impacts and consequences? Can trails be designed in the winter months without an awareness of the spring, summer and fall biosphere? How can trails enrich greenways, and the wildlife, while still providing a recreational experience? Are there impacts of trails on the nesting site of deer families, and fawns? What is the view from the bird’s nest with an increase of trail users in a forest?
Is it possible that a greenway concept or trail design, that the flora and fauna of wetlands and woodlands can thrive alongside people in nature? What types of design considerations and awareness of the biodiversity are required? Trail and corridor planning has the capacity to provide ecologically sustainable trails for a city urban footprint. Trails can protect environmental resources, if the natural eco-system is evaluated, and considered.
However, that being said, trails can focus only on recreational aspects, and those benefits. Trails can be indeed fantastic ways to enjoy winter recreation. Once built, the same trails over the spring, summer and fall months, have opened up the wildlife habitat to people. There is no doubt about it, the winter recreation trails don’t disappear along with the snow melt.
Do these trails bring people into the environment with minimal environmental impact? What happens on a winter trail in the summer? Do the trails provide the tourist with the capacity for educational, scenic or interpretive opportunity year round? Can all vegetation be linked with a greenway corridor, or are there species which do not thrive around a trail? Similarly what species of animals will make homes, reproduce, and live in the same habitat as trails? Can this be accomplished, or does it become an either or? Is it a choice to choose between trails and a variety of fauna, or can they exist together? Do trails include the biosphere of flora and fauna species and therefore enhance the environment?
How do challenging bicycling and hiking trails compare to a shorter interpretive or nature trail? Is the area only large enough for recreational trails, and the park should only be open in the winter, and close up for the other seasons? Can recreational winter trails, afford environmentally friendly trails during other seasons?
Trails dig deep into a woodland, when a trail transects through a forest what are the impacts on the woodland animals, and birds? Do botanists work alongside trail planners to know which areas are sensitive and which would thrive with trails?
Trails are amazing things, a well-designed trail has minimal devastation to the vegetation, are easy to hike, bicycle, ski and snowshoe. However it may possibly be that protecting the vegetation, is not the sole responsibility when trail planning when providing a minimum impact onto an eco-system. Again, trails are truly amazing things, providing people with an opportunity to bicycle in nature, hike, showshoe, ski, or band birds. Alongside the vegetation, good trail planning will consider the seasons and the urban footprint all year round. If a winter ski trail is created in one area of a biome, will this impact where a deer gives birth to a fawn in the spring? When a winter trail loops through a forest, will that have a ripple effect on species of birds nesting over the summer?
Eco-tourism is wonderful. A healthy and active outdoor lifestyle is absolutely marvelous. Having the capacity to celebrate a semi-wilderness habitat in the city is remarkable. What is the way to make these concepts mutally inclusive? How can winter trail networks live in harmony with semi-wilderness wildlife habitats? This question begs the need to know what wildlife habitats exist, which species live where. Where do the nature enthusiasts band their birds? Where do the deers nest their fawns? If these questions are answered, the biosphere, is truly enhanced with trails, and the next generation of skiiers, snowshoers, hikers, and bicyclers will also be handed a glimpse of a deer, and the grandchildren of the bird-banders, will also be able to band birds alongside the same trails. Wouldn’t that be fantastic if many generations of recreational enthusiasts, could have a grand time celebrating winter, and that their great grandchildren may also see a deer in a city forest? Is it possible and how can it be accomplished? The question now is how?
* Benefits of Trails Hike Ontario.
Trails, Bike and Hike: Inpsiring a Healthy Environment Upper Thams River Conservation Authority. Parks Recreation and Natural Areas.
National Trails Training Partnership Wildlife and environment impacts and benefits of Trails and Greenways.
Enhancing the Environment with Trails and Greenways. Rails to Trails Conservancy.
For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com