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VIDEO: Group struggling to clear popular P.E.I. hiking trails weeks after storm topples trees

Jillian Clow, a part-time employee of the Trout River Environmental Committee (TREC), said the trees toppled over on the River Bend Trails and the Devil's Punchbowl trail in South Granville are blocking the trail system and, in some areas, destroyed river bank.
Jillian Clow, a part-time employee of the Trout River Environmental Committee (TREC), said the trees toppled over on the River Bend Trails and the Devil's Punchbowl trail in South Granville are blocking the trail system and, in some areas, destroyed river bank. - Millicent McKay

Trout River Environmental Committee is welcoming help to clear away the debris

SOUTH GRANVILLE, P.E.I. —

What would normally be a nice walk in the woods has turned into something akin to climbing a jungle gym for recent hikers of the Devil's Punchbowl. 

Members of the Trout River Environmental Committee (TREC) are still dealing with the fallout from post-tropical storm Dorian. The group is hard-pressed to find a large group of volunteers to help with cutting and clearing fallen trees along two trail systems the group maintains. 

"The trails were in great shape. And then, Dorian hit. And with an old agriculture field that's grown up full of older white spruce trees, the wind took most of them out," said Colin Jeffrey, the director of the organization. 

More specifically, the spruce trees have formed a blockade along the River Bend Trails, while small poplars have blocked the entrance to the Devil's Punchbowl and a large poplar is leaning over the trail's bridge. 

TREC is one of 24 community-based watershed groups on the Island. Its focus is on restoring and protecting rivers in the area around the west side of Cavendish, to New London and back around to Route 2. 

"We restore rivers that may have seen any kind of impact, which often includes run-off of sediment, and we plant native trees along the river banks," said Jillian Clow, an employee of the organization. 

The group relies on provincial and federal funding to complete necessary work and is supported through board membership as well as volunteers. 

"We hold a lot of workshops and events from learning about bats to landscaping with native plants. So for the very small staff, there's a lot on the go."

TREC is also responsible for maintaining two community parks.

Mature trees have fallen and are blocking the trail system at Devils Punchbowl park.
Mature trees have fallen and are blocking the trail system at Devils Punchbowl park.

"They're government property, but we work to maintain them. This includes the Trout River Park and the Punchbowl Park which has two trail systems in it."

Rochelle Sullivan, TREC board member, resident in the area and avid trail user, said coming across the trees was shocking.

"After talking with a board member I thought it was going to be bad, but I was expecting several trees down. Not trees on trees on trees."

Sullivan takes to the River Bend Trail about three times a week in the summertime. 

"I don't even know where we'd start. With the Punchbowl, it seems really doable. But with River Bend. I just don't know. There are hundreds of trees down."

Poplar trees have fallen across the Devil's Punchbowl trail in South Granville.
Poplar trees have fallen across the Devil's Punchbowl trail in South Granville.

Recalling her run of the Fundy circuit in September, Sullivan acknowledged they had 500 or so trees down. 

"But they're a large group. And other groups have the funding to call in a crew to clean up. But we don't and I don't know how we'd go about clean up without having heavy environmental impact."

For now, Jeffrey and Clow are hoping to organize a group of volunteers, some who know how to operate a chainsaw, to cut, clear, and carry away the trees and debris left behind from the storm. 

"We've got several projects we need to complete coming up due to funding we've received. But that doesn't include clearing the trees," said Clow. 

Jeffrey added, "If we could organize a group for a weekend afternoon, have a couple of chainsaws and a co-ordinator, we could probably clean up the park."


Interested in volunteering?

Contact troutriverec@gmail.com or call 902-213-9340 to help with the clean up of the park. 



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