Boul­der plan

Parks Canada says us­ing Table­lands rock for trail is the best choice

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY GARY KEAN [email protected]­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_GaryKean

Parks Canada says us­ing rocks from the base of The Table­lands to fix the Green Gar­dens trail is the en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble thing to be do­ing.

Parks Canada says us­ing rocks from the base of The Table­lands to fix the Green Gar­dens trail is the en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble thing to be do­ing.

Late last week, Trout River Mayor Ho­race Crocker raised con­cerns about stone along the Trout River Gulch high­way be­ing pro­cessed and trans­ported out of the area.

He said no one is sup­posed to be re­mov­ing any of that rock, as The Table­lands are one of the ge­o­log­i­cal won­ders that sup­port the UNESCO World Her­itage Site sta­tus of Gros Morne Na­tional Park.

Ac­cord­ing to Parks Canada, the rock is be­ing used to fix the one-kilo­me­tre stretch of trail lead­ing across The Table­lands bar­rens to­wards the wooded sec­tion of the Green Gar­dens trail on the other side of the high­way from The Table­lands moun­tain range.

Rob Hingston, who is Parks Canada’s vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence prod­uct de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer in Gros Morne Na­tional Park, said us­ing that par­tic­u­lar rock is cru­cial to pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment along the Green Gar­dens trail.

Nor­mally, said Hingston, when trail work re­quires lo­cal ma­te­ri­als, a bor­row pit is cre­ated near the trail from which ma­te­rial can be re­moved just a short dis­tance away. Be­cause the sec­tion of trail be­ing worked on is an open bar­ren, us­ing a bor­row pit would cre­ate an eye­sore in plain view of hik­ers.

Bring­ing in rocks and soils from too far out­side the im­me­di­ate area could cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment for non-na­tive plants to pro­lif­er­ate and con­tam­i­nate the unique ecol­ogy of The Table­lands bar­rens, which Hingston said con­tains some rare veg­e­ta­tion.

So, the de­ci­sion was made to use rock from the Dry Gulch area at the base of The Table­lands. Ac­cord­ing to Hingston, the gulch is known to bring boul­ders down­stream when there is heavy runoff and Parks Canada of­ten has to clean out rocks from the bridge area to pro­tect the high­way from dam­age caused by over­flow­ing wa­ter.

These re­moved rocks are usu­ally just piled near the bridge.

“Those are the rocks we are us­ing for the trail work,” he said.

The con­trac­tor do­ing the work is us­ing rel­a­tively light equip­ment, namely a small back­hoe, rock mover and crusher.

“There is no dig­ging in­volved and we are just pick­ing up boul­ders off the sur­face and crush­ing them,” said Hingston. “There are also no rare plants lo­cated in the Dry Gulch area.”

The same process, he noted, was used sev­eral years ago to pro­vide lo­cal ma­te­rial for the shoul­der of Route 431 along Trout River Gulch from Woody Point to Trout River.

“It would ac­tu­ally be cheaper for us to bring in ma­te­rial for the trail work, but this makes the most sense from an en­vi­ron­men­tal per­spec­tive,” said Hingston.

The one-kilo­me­tre stretch of Green Gar­dens trail will re­quire about 150 cu­bic yards of stone to fin­ish the work, he said.

The Green Gar­dens trail is one of three trails Parks Canada is work­ing on that Hingston is in­volved with.

He said the jobs be­ing done on the Look­out Hills trail be­hind the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre in Woody Point and the trail lead­ing into the base of Gros Morne Moun­tain in­volve dif­fer­ent, sloped ter­rain that won’t re­quire a sim­i­lar ap­proach as the Green Gar­dens trail when it comes to im­port­ing ma­te­rial.

Hingston was asked if the ma­te­rial used on the con­tro­ver­sial West­ern Brook Pond trail project had to be brought in from else­where in the park or from out­side. He said he was not in­volved in the project and could not com­ment on it.

Many peo­ple have ex­pressed out­rage at the work done on the new West­ern Brook Pond trail, which was trans­formed from an in­ti­mate hik­ing trail into a much wider ac­cess road.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

A sec­tion of the Green Gar­dens trail cur­rently be­ing worked on by Parks Canada.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

This map shows the plan for how the Green Gar­dens trail is be­ing re-routed.

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