Over the past two years, many community residents have reached out to Copeland Forest Friends Association expressing concern about the continued building of single-track trails in the Copeland Forest, despite it being already saturated with trails.
Copeland Forest Friends Association (CFFA), a not-for-profit organization charged with conserving the natural integrity of the forest, has recently received approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to take on a more active stewardship role over the Copeland Forest. Given the accelerated and damaging increase in trail building and use, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic, CFFA is imposing a moratorium on all new trail builds, effective immediately.
According to Brad Turner, CFFA Board President, “Currently, there are approximately 54 km of single-track trail in the Forest. The MNRF has always prohibited trail building of any type without prior authorization, but the message has maybe not been as clear as it could be. This ‘no-new-build’ moratorium will remain in place while the organization’s new Trail Committee reviews and updates the existing framework and makes recommendations to the Board.”
The Trail Committee will also be mandated to focus on new, unauthorized trail builds as well as trail maintenance. To facilitate this, a process will be established whereby the Trail Committee oversees all trail maintenance in the Copeland Forest and reviews all new trail requests before presenting them to the Board for a decision. Ray Gingras, Vice-President of the Board, said, “This process will be transparent, consultative and will put the ecology of the forest first.” Gingras notes, however, that this process will not be required for regular trail maintenance (removal of logs and clearing of an existing approved trail).
The Trail Committee will also be recruiting representatives from all CFFA user groups as well as other stakeholders and members of the community to offer a fuller perspective to trail use and related issues for consideration by the Board.
Finally, with the moratorium now in place, the Committee is actively encouraging users to report any new trail builds to the CFFA. Gingras is requesting support from the community to help monitor any unauthorized activity: “If you see any trail building activity that does not have a Copeland Forest Friends sign, please photograph the area of concern and email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.”