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Posted: July 3, 2021

Enviro-alliance clears barbwire from Community Forest

By Dan Hicks

On the warm clear morning of June 27 (Sunday), the Cranbrook Community Forest’s new Padawan Trail vicinity at Eager Hill became a safer playground for people and critters alike when 16 volunteers from three Kootenay outdoor societies – gloved and armed with wire cutters – aligned to sever, coil, and remove 1.1 kilometers of dangerous derelict barbwire fencing strands.

The coils were piled high onto a trailer pulled by an all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) trailer which made multiple unloading trips back to the highway pullout. The presidents of the three societies involved all participated; Joseph Cross of the Cranbrook Community Forest Society, Brian Marriot of the East Kootenay Backcountry Horsemen – he ran the ATV barbwire coil deposit shuttle, and Chris Bullock of the Kootenay Orienteering Club.

Although people moving cautiously in daylight through terrain with derelict barbwire strewn about can usually avoid it, creatures that have either been spooked into quick action or are moving in lowlight conditions risk being lacerated by the barbs; self-propelled hardcore adventurers traveling swiftly overland off-trail are susceptible to the same fate – mountain- biking bicyclists and racing orienteers (ironically, Ironmen have it so easy in this regard).

Horses are ever susceptible to panic when they encounter an unexpected threat (and jettisoning a dude rider is always a good first defence). So thanks to these determined enviro-volunteers, an area of our community forest is now as benignly open to easy traversing as it appears (note lead photo), devoid of any hidden artificial hazards lurking within; a little Kootenay heat can never collapse a worthy cause in the service of Mother Nature.

Derelict barbwire fencing is emblematic of the threat we humans pose to the natural world as we become ever more sophisticated.

Once upon a time, when old log fences fell into disuse and disrepair, like dead trees – they crumpled and decayed into the good earth quite naturally; but when barbwire fences fall into disuse and disrepair, they remain a threatening presence on the land forever unless proactive measures are undertaken to remove them, as happened Sunday on the lower eastern slopes of Eager Hill.

Prospective enviro-cleanup volunteers need not despair of having missed an opportunity to contribute to creating a better world, a further 1.4 kilometres of derelict barbwire fencing remains to be coiled and removed upon a later date.

Even where cleared, an ugly legacy of the original fence-line were dead trees which had been barbwire-wrapped as makeshift fenceposts, the wraps strangling the trees as they grew; and the enviro-cost of improvised budget fencing being a pattern of lineal snags through the forest.

Volunteers and an ATV pulling a trailer loaded with derelict barbwire coils; near the Padawan Trail on Eager Hill, Cranbrook Community Forest. June 27.

Lead image: An open pastoral Rocky Mountain Trench Douglas fir forest where sheep may safely graze, along with assorted other critters.  Near the Cranbrook Community Forest’s new Padawan Trail on Eager Hill, coiled strands of derelict barbwire fencing hang on an old tree-fencepost; awaiting pickup and removal in an enviro-cleanup project undertaken by volunteers from the Cranbrook Community Forest Society, East Kootenay Backcountry Horsemen and Kootenay Orienteering Club on June 27.. Photos courtesy Dan Hicks

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