Another project I mentioned in the spring came together differently than planned but with excellent results. I had preliminary talks with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) about doing a trail project in the Whitehorse area as a side activity to Operation Nanook. We initially hoped to do some bridge and trail work around Cowley Lakes but the project ended up being more complex than expected and not feasible in the time we had to plan it.
Instead, the CAF committed 16 combat engineers for two full days to brush out two heavily used sections of trail in Kulan/ Crestview and Copper Ridge/Ice Lake. Combined, the CAF, KSA and Rangers performed more than 300 person-hours of work on the trails over the weekend of June 1 and 2. This weekend effort is roughly equivalent to our average hours of trail brushing per year using just KSA volunteers. Despite the pouring rain on Saturday, the soldiers were upbeat and a pleasure to work with.
In order to do so much brushing in so short a time, the KSA bought two new brush saws—one from each snowmobile dealer that sells them. Director Brad Milligan had the ambitious idea to chip all the brush from the Copper Ridge project with our 30-year-old brush chipper. He quit after an agonizing morning spent coaxing the machine to stay running. A quick inspection revealed that it was worn beyond repair so Brad promptly sourced a replacement unit that he bolted onto the trailer. It’s now ready for the next project.
Word of our co-operation with the military must have spread because it wasn’t long until the phone rang and it was the Army Cadets asking if they could co-ordinate a trail project with the KSA during their international cadet camp at Boyle Barracks. The cadets spent all day on August 6 helping KSA volunteers brush out two very popular connector trails near the intersection of the Copper Haul Road and the Mt. McIntyre Road.
The cadets were energetic and enthusiastic. They weren’t permitted by their supervisors to use power tools but they did make good use of their axes. Some of the cadets from the U.K. had never cut down a tree. It was entertaining to watch as they first felled the trees and then had competitions to see who could buck up the cord wood the fastest. The KSA and cadets put about 140 person-hours into trail work that day.
The work done in partnership with the CAF and cadets improved accessibility, increased sight lines and enhanced safety by removing trees that were obstructing or leaning over the trail. The result is a huge benefit to the community and to us as the stewards of the trail. The KSA is extremely grateful for their assistance and I’m hoping these become annual events. We’re already in discussions with another paramilitary group, the Junior Yukon Rangers, about potential joint trail work next summer.