Trail work to begin with FRBC money By Andy Stonehouse A new and wide-ranging phase of trail construction and renovation throughout the valley is set to begin as soon as possible, thanks to an arrangement between the RMOW and Forest Renewal B.C. Whistler council recently approved an expenditure of approximately $55,000 in Valley Trail funding to help match some $300,000 in labour costs provided by FRBC. Pooled together, the money will allow three crews of five people to get a jump on seven trail projects identified through public consultation and the Whistler Local Resource Use Plan for local forests. Heather Beresford, environmental supervisor for the municipality, said she hopes to have work crews hitting the trails within the week and working through the summer. "We've just signed the agreement with the Ministry of Forests and the paperwork to FRBC is now in the mail," she said. "I had hoped I would already have people in the field by this point." The FRBC program, which is designed to provide employment to out-of-work forest industry employees, will likely involve crews from Squamish and Pemberton, although some locals may be added to the teams. FRBC has established its own company, New Forest Opportunities, as a labour organization for Sea to Sky projects, with Squamish's Richard Dawson as the project administrator. Beresford said the priorities for construction will include a three kilometre reconstruction project on the Rainbow Trail, much of which has become badly eroded. "They'll be working on the section through the forest, before the boardwalk. It's getting really wet in there." Crews will also be upgrading sections of the Ancient Cedars trail and the Alexander Falls recreation site, as well as building a trail between the Showh Lakes and around Madely Lake in the Callaghan area. Work will also be conducted on a trail to the Jane Lakes. Beresford said higher elevation projects will likely be the first priority, given the chance of snowfall later in the construction season, while extensive work in the Whistler Interpretive Forest will wait until later. Workers will be upgrading trails with new gravel, fixing erosion, and installing more than 100 informational and warning signs throughout the Interpretive Forest. As part of the joint arrangement with Forest Renewal B.C., the municipality submitted its wish-list of trail projects in the form of the Whistler Region Forest Development Plan. The municipality's contribution to funding will help make up the difference in operating, transportation and administration costs, as well as providing radios, tools and covering Workers' Compensation costs. Beresford said the radios and tools purchased will be used on future projects. She also said that Whistler is one of only a few municipalities across the province selected to participate in the program, and that other FRBC-related projects may be possible if the trail work is successful.