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Horses invaluable for trail upgrade

Donat Koller, second from left, adjusts the straps on his horse Sam while Shuswap Trail Alliance volunteers load the pannier boxes with rocks to assist with rerouting and repairs along the Prudential Trail.  - Cheryl Peterson/Promise Photography
Donat Koller, second from left, adjusts the straps on his horse Sam while Shuswap Trail Alliance volunteers load the pannier boxes with rocks to assist with rerouting and repairs along the Prudential Trail.
— image credit: Cheryl Peterson/Promise Photography

A hush falls over the busy volunteers as pack horses, Spirit and Sam, arrive bearing another 300- pound load of rock.

Something about the quiet presence of the horses seemed to add to the overall sense of goodwill during the weekend’s two-day push to improve the trails at South Canoe just east of Salmon Arm.

“Each horse carried about 175 pounds a trip,” said Linda Buchanan, president of the Backcountry Horsemen of BC Shuswap Chapter, who estimated the two horses carried a total of 4,200 pounds over the day.

“That’s the equivalent of about 16 people a trip,” calculated Sutra Brett and Damon Kent, who coordinated the technical work with fellow trail developers, Jim Maybee and Veda Roberge.

What started as a “wouldn’t it be cool if” conversation between the group during a planning session had quickly evolved into a living solution when put to local equestrian trail users.

The two horses joined more than 140 people who came out over five volunteer days in April to work on major improvements to the South Canoe trail system.

New reroutes, bridges, culverts and signage are helping to open damaged trails, protect streams and improve shared use by horses, hikers  and cyclists on what is arguably the Shuswap’s most-visited recreational trail system. Volunteers represented all ages and trail uses, including mountain biking, equestrian, trail running and hiking.

South Canoe Trail Stewardship liaison, Dan Capek, thanked a group of 90 volunteers at Sunday’s event.

He acknowledged the remarkable collaboration of so many people, including in-kind sponsorship from the community.

“The five days have been a moving expression of what working together as a trail alliance is all about,” said Phil McIntyre-Paul, executive director of the Shuswap Trail Alliance.

The Shuswap Trails event calendar has more volunteer days listed throughout the region at www.shuswaptrails.com, including May 16,  plus May 23 and 24 for a Trail Building and Maintenance Workshop and May 25. People are also encouraged to share trail maintenance needs through the hotline email at trailreport@shuswaptrails.com.

 

 

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