East Coast Trail Committed to Hiker Safety and Protection of the Trail
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
EAST COAST TRAIL COMMITTED TO HIKER SAFETY
AND PROTECTION OF THE TRAIL
For immediate Release July 15, 2014
(St. Johns, NL) The Board of Directors of The East Coast Trail Association, today confirmed that it will continue to advocate for the safety of hikers and to seek more protection of the East Coast Trail as a pedestrian hiking trail.
The issue of commercial mountain biking tours on the East Coast Trail has raised serious concerns for the long term protection of the East Coast Trail as a pedestrian hiking trail.
Guided by its mission and values to provide a safe, wilderness hiking experience with minimal impact on the natural environment the East Coast Trail Association today reiterated that it cannot endorse the use of the East Coast Trail for mountain biking. That position is based on the following factors:
Hiking and biking on a single-track coastal trail poses serious safety issues for both hikers and bikers;
The East Coast Trail was designed and built for pedestrian traffic only. It is not a multi-use trail. The trail bed is not sufficiently hardened to tolerate bike traffic without considerable damage to the paths. In addition, infrastructure such as boardwalks and stairs were designed for hikers, not bikers.
The East Coast Trail Association (and countless volunteers) have spent 20 years building the Trail and securing permission from private land owners, Parks Canada, Municipalities, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Crown to develop a hiking trail over their land. However, permissions were not given for a multi-use trail for biking.
The Association’s primary concern is the safety of hikers and the protection of fragile environments such as wetlands. Inappropriate use of the trail compromises the safety of hikers, has the potential for damage to the trail bed and infrastructure on the trail and breaches our agreements with property owners, commented Randy Murphy, president of the East Coast Trail Association.
As the builder and custodian of 265 kilometres of developed wilderness hiking trail along the eastern Avalon, the East Coast Trail Association is a member-based, volunteer-supported charitable organization. Over a period of 20 years, millions of dollars of funding from governments, corporations, individuals, municipalities and members have helped to build and maintain the Trail to world class standards. National Geographic has recognized the Trail as one of the ten best adventure destinations in the world.
This issue of commercial use of the trail for mountain biking tours has made us realize that our ability to protect the Trail from these kinds of intrusions is more fragile that we would like, commented Murphy.
Since the East Coast Trail Association first became aware of the tour operator’s intention to use the Trail for mountain biking, it shared its concerns with the provincial government and the operator’s representative followed by an appeal directly to the out-of-province tour operator to respect the Trail as a pedestrian trail. The operator did not respond to the Association’s appeals and scheduled a mountain bike tour on several Trail paths in July and continues to advertise other opportunities for August and September.
The East Cost Trail Association intends to take this opportunity to seek more robust measures to help assure the future conservation and protection of the Trail, noted Murphy. Many stakeholders, municipalities, landowners, ECTA members, and tourists have stepped up and shown their support for the Trail, he added. We see the Trail as a valuable community asset and plan in the days and weeks ahead, to leverage that support to communicate our safety concerns regarding biking activity on the Trail and to lobby for the long term protection of the Trail for pedestrian use only.
For more information, contact:
Randy Murphy, 725-9811
Recognized by National Geographic as one of the 10 Best Adventure Destinations in the world