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Wigwam Flats and Silver Springs Rim Biking

Filed in Biking, Hiking by on April 18, 2014 • views: 4793

This spring our biking activities outward from Elko and along the Rocky Road (motorized closure) to the Wigwam Flats is causing a big issue with wildlife concerns. Bighorn Sheep are lambing along the Wigwam River Rim and the Silver Springs Lake Rim when we have our maximum visitations by mountain bikers. This activity has increased hugely in the past 5 years and all mountain bikers must help to mitigate our negative effect on the Bighorn Sheep herd. We must stop biking in the lambing areas and we must have our dogs under control 100% of the time or best not to bring them with us. Ewes and lambs are constantly being moved off the grasslands and onto the cliffs by the increase in biking and dog traffic. The Wigwam is an Access Management Area patrolled and monitored by Conservation Officers and you will be ticketed for wildlife offences if you do not comply.

We are in discussing’s with the Ministry of Environment to get a workable plan approved so that we can continue biking without having a negative effect on the wildlife populations and viability of the grasslands that are subject to invasive noxious weeds.

Stay on the red track which is old roads. Stay off the blue track along the Wigwam Rim which is old roads and some single-track.

Silver Springs Rim may be approved if we behave ourselfs and not venture beyond the track shown in red.

Below is my recent email discussion with Ministry of Environment wildlife officers.

Thanks Pat. Doug and I will review attached maps and proposal soon. I very much enjoyed our afternoon out at Wigwam Flats. Great discussion.

Take care

Irene

From: Burley, Patricia ENV:EX
To: Pat Gilmar (patgilmar@shaw.ca) (patgilmar@shaw.ca)
Cc: Teske, Irene FLNR:EX; Martin, Doug FLNR:EX
Subject: FW: Spring Riding in South Country

Hi Pat,

Thank you for keeping me in the loop. I had a good afternoon with you and Irene yesterday. I’m glad this agreement will be moving ahead. I’ve cc’d Irene and Doug for you as contacts.

Talk to you soon,

Trish

From: Pat Gilmar [mailto:patgilmar@shaw.ca]
To: ‘Terry Nelson’; directors@fernietrailsalliance.com
Cc: Burley, Patricia ENV:EX; Paddy Gilmar; ‘Dan Savage’
Subject: RE: Spring Riding in South Country

Bike riding in late March to mid-May has sent a lot of us to the south country for the past thirty years. Wigwam Flats and the Dorr Road – Elk Rim will continue to be important to both wildlife and mountain bikers. We just have to get more involved with the wildlife biologists and work out a solution.

The main issue with the Wigwam Flats is the Bighorn Sheep lambing season that happens the same time that we have been riding there. With increased biker visits in the past five years both riders and dogs are constantly moving the pregnant ewes and young lambs off the grasslands and onto the cliffs. This can be mitigated in two ways: don’t ride the Wigwam Rim and don’t bring your dog. On the attached map the blue track (old road and horse trails) should not be ridden until after the sheep have moved to their summer retreats. The red track is what the wildlife biologists would like us to stay on until mid-June when the area is opened up to motorized visitors.

Silver Springs Rim Trail was illegally built (like most of the Fernie trails) but is mostly in a non-lambing area. It climbs an old road through the trees, joins the old hiking trail along the rim in the trees and then descends mostly in the trees. Bighorn Sheep ewes do not hang out there in lambing season. Cougars and other predators like the tree cover, not pregnant sheep. The lambing areas are in the open spaces along the Silver Springs Rim to the north and to the south of the Silver Springs Rim biking trail.

The FTA can reach a compromise with the Ministry of Environment by:

1) Riding only the main road on the Wigwam Flats until the motorized opening on June 15th to July 15th . The motorized access is only on Rocky Road and the lower Wigwam Bench (apple orchard).
2) Stay off of the pipeline road to the north of the Wigwam Flats road. The animals hang out there also.
3) Sign the blue tracks as open for riding only after June 15th and until October 31st. The ewes and lambs should be mostly gone by then.
4) Apply to Lisa Cox (Crown lands) to sanction the Silver Spring Rim Trail as a hiking and biking trail. Make sure that no one rides the rim to the north and south of the existing biking trail.
5) Apply to Lisa Cox to get the blue tracks on the Wigwam Flats (blue tracks) as bike trails between June 15th and October 31st. The FTA can install a Kiosk at the parking area gate and install signage along the route.
6) Ask all bikers to leave their dogs at home. Who is going to handle a dog on a line while they are biking downhill?
7) We can also put in more effort to help with the weed control. Most of the weeds are spread by animals and wind across the grasslands. We need to stay on the designated trails and show that we can keep them weed free.
8) Wildlife biologists understand that we want to recreate, we just have to give them a workable plan and convince them that we can help enforce it.

Pat Gilmar
Director
Fernie Trails Alliance
Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club

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