Clearwater County calls on province for advice about trail
reprinted from Red Deer
Advocate (Paul Cowley) April 24, 2008
Clearwater County wants the province's help in sorting out access
issues along a proposed scenic trail along an abandoned rail line
west of Rocky Mountain House.
A letter has been sent to Alberta Sustainable Resources Development
Minister Ted Morton asking that the province get involved in
smoothing the way for the trail by working out agreements with
companies owning timber rights along the anticipated 120-km trail
route from Nordegg to Rocky Mountain House.
"The trail will need the co-operation of Sustainable Resource
Development and the timber companies in order to facilitate access
to the trail," said Clearwater County Reeve Dwight Oliver.
There are about a dozen stream crossings along the proposed route
and there are a number of spots where trail users need to go off the
former rail right-of-way to continue their journey. Before any
further work can be done to push the trail project ahead, access
issues need to be sorted out or major changes in the concept must be
made, said Oliver.
"At this point now, we've decided the first phase of this needs to
be Sustainable Resource Development support for the concept and
helping work out those types of details."
Clearwater County has already committed $250,000 towards the cost of
developing the trail, estimated at $1 million to $2 million. There
is the possibility of tapping into more money using the province's
Municipal Sustainability Initiative.
The idea of turning the abandoned rail line into a tourist draw has
been kicking around since the 1970s, when the province protected the
land to ensure it remained intact.
About five years ago, the county did some basic surveying work to
gauge the condition of the route and to determine how much work will
be involved in making it safe for hikers, mountain bikers and other
Among the major jobs is replacing deck planking on three trestles as
well as overhauling sections of the old line where railway ties are
still in place.
In recent months, the enthusiasm for tackling the project appears to
be picking up steam.
Interest has been growing among outdoors groups and local businesses
and individuals have already volunteered to donate time and
Oliver said there has been "amazing support" from the community.
"We're pretty confident this is going to be a long-term success."
The tourism potential is considerable. B.C.'s Kettle Valley
Railroad, an abandoned rail bed that winds through south central
B.C. between Midway and Hope is a major draw for the area.
If the Rocky to Nordegg trail project goes ahead, it is expected it
would be built in sections over several years, likely starting in
Nordegg and working east. The abandoned rail line ends about 20 km
west of Rocky and a finishing leg would need to be mapped out.