By Andrea Arnold
Another forest service road near McBride is slated for deactivation in 2023. The Prince George Natural Resource District under the Ministry of Forests has announced the deactivation of 0km-9.5km of the East Twin FSR. The Fraser Headwaters Alliance has been working on a hiking trail that would connect the East Twin to the Beaver. If this most recent deactivation proceeds, they will lose vehicle access, drastically hindering trail development.
The Ministry of Forests issued a notice in the March 2nd edition of the Goat announcing the deactivation later this year. In the same notice, they also invited organizations willing to take on the liabilities of the road to contact them.
This is not the first time a local road has been pulled out of service by the Ministry of Forests nor will it be the last.
Road development is not cheap, and once access has been gained to mountain areas not previously accessible to the general public, then why put in extra funds to close it off again? The cost of installing and removing infrastructure like bridges and culverts adds up quickly.
These roads have several purposes once a logging operation moves out. The most obvious and talked about is recreation. A deactivated road drastically limits the number of people able to access the backcountry. A quad or dirt bike may be needed to maneuver the obstacles created by a deactivation during the non-snowy months. In the winter, some access is possible by snowmobile as many of these roads are not plowed for automobile traffic. Not everyone in the valley has these toys available and, as a result, loses out on the ability to enjoy their vast backyard.
Secondly, the expense. Several times, once a road has been deactivated, culverts and bridges removed and obstacles in place, a decision to continue logging a nearby area results in more funds being poured in to reopening the road.
Lastly, a reason that I don’t hear talked about often, is the accessibility of the backcountry in case of a fire.
Not many years ago, smoke was seen rising from the valley up the Cottonwood. The area would have been easily accessed by fire crews just a year earlier, but the recent deactivation of the road at the 7km bridge prevented easy access to the area. Fortunately the fire did not become a bigger issue, but the question is, when will one occur that does? With fires becoming a more regular occurrence, I think this should be a more talked about reason and one that holds the most weight.
If roads continue to be deactivated, we will lose access to part of the reason I love living here, the ability to explore beyond the beaten path.