How? Recreation in harmony with wildlife.

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?

BIBLIOGRAPHY
* 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.

Benefits of Trails | Rails to Trails

Enhancing the Environment with Trails and Greenways. Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Trails in Saskatchewan Provincial Parks

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

Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map

Facebook: StBarbeBaker

Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Facebook: South West Off Leash Recreation Area SW OLRA

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1./ Learn.

2./ Experience

3./ Do Something: ***

Man of Trees winter trail network

How can we encourage more people to get outside, get active and get together over the winter months in Saskatoon?~Eric Westberg COS

In 2015, members of the Fatlanders FatTire Brigade (FFTB) discover the Richard St. Barbe Baker afforestation area and start to use existing trails for winter recreational snow biking. Through January to March 2016 the (FFTB) groom trails using showshoes to gauge the effectiveness of this method of making trails. The FFTB is quite enthusiastic, and wish to pursue a formal trail network in this flat land area. Several bicycle enthusiasts prefer these trails over and above the technical trails in existence along the riverbank.

FFTB submits proposal to the City of Saskatoon (COS) Open Spaces Consultants for discussion of a “Man of Trees“ winter trail network. It is noticed by the FFTB that the City of Saskatoon initiates a Winter City Strategies Initiative for the City of Saskatoon. The City of Saskatoon is currently in growing Winter City YXE and they are in the planning and development stage “to make winter in our city great!” Jeff Hehn, ambassador for the FFTB, brings to the city the FFTB proposal to embrace a winter strategy that could increase outdoor winter recreation.

The FFTB proposal suggests that the groomed winter trail network would encourage fat biking, cross-country skiing, skijourning, snow shoeing, horse back riding, winter hiking, and sliding snowshoeing recreational activities.

The “Man of the Trees” trail network, is stated to have the potential to improve winter tourism amenities for the City of Saskatoon in this proposal. An emerging recreational activity known as fat biking is on the rise. Fat bikes are specialized for winter biking and riding upon snow. Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, slide snowshoeing, skijoring, hiking, and horseback riding all benefit from the grooming of a winter trail network.

As part of this winter tail network, it is imperative that motorized vehicles do not have egress to the park, as vehicles undo the work done by those actively engaged in grooming the paths. The FFTB have been in this way: actively engaged as stewards of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area while at the same time advocating for the winter trail network.

Further to the newly installed barriers, the FFTB continue to raise money for the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Trust Fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)” to fully support the erection of gates and barriers at any areas where vehicles may enter the afforestation area. With motorized vehicles, thus restricted, there is no doubt that it is very much easier to create trails to fat bicycle in the afforestation area, and keep them well groomed.

If you are ever out in the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, and wonder about the newly created trails they have been the passion of Jeff Hehn and the Fatbike Fatlanders Brigade.  Consider this, is the man of the trails network an an outlier in regards to the environment issues being an observation point that is distant from other environmental observations  Or is the man of the trails network a means to observe and appreciate the flora and fauna with a healthy respect for their habitat and provides a means of proceeding with respect through the afforestation area with the least amount of impact on the semi-wilderness wildlife habitat.

Meetings have resulted in a sharing of  information and an increase of awareness between the viewpoints of  these diverse stakeholders, who share the mutual goals and desires in regards to the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area to mitigate illegal trespass and the appreciation and respect of the afforestation area.

It is fantastic that the City of Saskatoon recognizes and supports two initiatives for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area; the “strategic goal of quality of life” and the “strategic goal of environmental leadership.”

The City of Saskatoon is growing, expected to reach 250,000 by 2025 and 380,000 by 2035.  It is truly an honour to know that the City of Saskatoon takes the biodiversity of this ecological area seriously.  The various stakeholders have been in contact with the City along the way regarding both the environment as well as the FatLanders Fattire Brigade pitched the Winter Trail Network – a Winter City YXE proposal.  As the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is across Cedar Villa road from Chappell Marsh Conservation Area, it is fitting and fantastic that the herds of deer, waterfowl, small mammals and amphibians are considered alongside the wetlands, native and modified woodlands and grasslands when creating human plans and recreation activities in the home and habitat of the native wildlife.

Respect of the afforestation area coupled with a due consideration of the semi-wilderness wildlife habitat, means this generation and many future generations can also enjoy and take part in various recreational capacities the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area.  Without trails, humans just cannot interact with nature, however with too many trails and other forms of human intervention, nature just simply cannot interact with humans.  The wise deliberation on the ecological footprint is a wonderful recommendation at the outset of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area human development process at a time when the human footprint in the afforestation area increases exponentially.  With forethought now as to wise and considerate placement of trails and human activities in a semi-wilderness wildlife habitat, it just may be that humans and nature can peacefully co-exist now and in the future.  Wouldn’t it be a fantastic experience as it is today, that in 2035 as well, when the city reaches a population of 380,000 grandchildren and great grandchildren can see waterfowl, deer, amphibians and other wildlife within the city limits at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area without the only urban recourse of going to a zoo?  Don’t jump to the wrong conclusion here, zoos are fantastic, however, don’t you agree it is a treasure to have a preserved afforestation area affording a natural environment for human activities alongside the urban zoo.  Respect of the afforestation area coupled with a due consideration of the semi-wilderness wildlife habitat, means this generation and many future generations can also enjoy and take part in various recreational opportunities within a semi-wilderness wildlife habitat at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

…today it is the duty of every thinking being to live, and to serve not only his own day and generation, but also generations unborn by helping to restore and maintain the green glory of the forests of the earth.” ~ Richard St. Barbe Baker

Sidenote:
As Richard St. Barbe Baker had once the nick name “Man of the Trees” this trail network, is thus named by the FFTB. The multi-use trail network is of course open and available to those who are not men.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Giles, David. City of Saskatoon offering free winter activities Global News.


Feeling dreary about winter? City of Saskatoon trying to change that
New strategy designed to improve winter life, economy, accessibility, culture
CBC news January 2017

Things to do in Winter in Saskatoon. Tourism Saskatoon

WinterCityYXE: Saskatoon’s Winter City Strategy City of Saskatoon

Winte City Strategy Breakfast March 15, 2017

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
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Off leash dog park Valley Road Saskatoon!
If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque please to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund” (MVA RSBBAA trust fund) and mail it to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area c/o Meewasin Valley Authority, 402 Third Ave S, Saskatoon SK S7K 3G5. Thank you kindly!
Twitter: St Barbe Baker
Pinterest richardstbarbeb