Major upgrades have been completed at Morice Mountain Ski Trails thanks to funding and the hard work of many volunteers.

Major upgrades have been completed at Morice Mountain Ski Trails thanks to funding and the hard work of many volunteers.

Funding and volunteers result in major upgrades to Morice Mountain Ski Trails

Upgrades to the Morice Mountain Recreation Area promises more outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the year.

Upgrades to the Morice Mountain Recreation Area promises more outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the year.

The Morice Mountain Nordic Ski Club is working to improve the trails with the goal of making it more conducive to mountain bikers, horseback riders, dog walkers, hikers and skiers.

“We were suffering a lot of four-by-four damage and ruts,” Yeomans said. “You’d have brush sticking out and people have fallen over in their skis.”

“You can’t mountain bike very well on the trail because they are wet and rutted.”

Yeomans said the club is dealing with 30 kilometres of trails, and they are working on the drainage, covering potholes, fixing bridges and upgrading the main cabin to feel more hospitable.

“We’re insulating more, put some signing on it, put some baseboard heaters in there,” Yeomans said. “If we can drain the water and get rid of the ruts, then we’ll be able to start skiing earlier.”

This year, they managed to finish preliminary rehabilitation of the alpine trail.

“We’ve done all we’re going to do the alpine trail. We essentially got up to the first four kilometres which were [where] the bad erosion problems are,” club president Greg Yeomans said. “It gets you to a really, really steep section which we actually had to build a trail around, which we need some government approval for. So there’s more to do.”

The club also has a few gates which they close when the trails become too soft for use, keeping vehicles out until the trails harden up.

The trails were not designed for motorized vehicle use, but there has not been a bylaw prohibiting them. Furthermore, the main trail is the main route to certain recreational sites.

The club has received funding for upgrades from various sources, the biggest contributions came from the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations, Northern Development and Bulkley Valley Credit Union.

Other donors have provided materials such as culverts, bridge structures and machinery.

“As far the initial project that we’re undertaking, we’re fully funded for that,” Yeomans said. “But there’s additional trails we want to put in, there’s a biathlon range we want to put in, and we do not have the funding for that.”

They will have an open house on Nov. 3 to chart out their future plans.

“We’re going to share some of the ideas with the community,” Yeomans said. “Once you have some concrete plans on what you want to do with it, it makes it easier to get future funding.”

The club also uses a mix of volunteer labour and contractors to get work done. They will have their next work bee session on Sept. 19-20.

“There’s going to be projects that carry over into next year or if we get a drying trend this fall, we can do some additional works,” Yeomans said. “But we’ll just have to play it by ear and see what we can do.”