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Trails reopen for now, but closures may return

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A wet weekend lowered the fire hazard for the Squamish Forest District to moderate from extreme, resulting in the reopening of Crown land to the public on the morning of Sept. 9.

In effect from Aug. 29, the backcountry travel restriction was to last until Sept. 14, and could have been extended indefinitely. The closure of the backcountry impacted on the operations of backcountry tour companies, hikers and bikers, and organizers of Whistler events like the West Side Wheel Up and the Sea to Summit Adventure Race.

Some municipal lands were also closed due to the fire hazard by Whistler Fire Services.

While trails are currently opening, Whistler Fire Chief Bruce Hall is urging people to use caution. Campfire bans are still in effect, and people are being asked not to smoke in park lands.

In addition, unless there is more rain, there is a chance that the backcountry travel ban could be reinstated as early as this weekend. According to Starr Munro, the Fire Information Officer for the Coastal Fire Centre, most areas of the coast needed two to three days of straight rain to make a significant difference, while other areas required as much as five days of rain.

During the ban, the only hiking and biking trails open outside of Whistler-Blackcomb were in Lost Lake Park, the Emerald Forest and Nesters Hill. The Valley Trail was also open.

Barricades to forest service roads will also be reopened with the suspension of the ban, and all activities, including construction, are allowed to resume.

The West Side Wheel Up, which was scheduled for Sept. 6, has not been rescheduled as of yet.

The Samurai of Singletrack has been rescheduled to Oct. 4. If you were signed up to ride in the Samurai or as a volunteer, contact organizer Tony Horn to let him know that you can still make it on the new date at anthony_horn@hotmail.com or 604-938-1680. Do not call the Slope Side Supply number.

The Sea to Summit Adventure Race has been moved all the way from Sept. 6-7 to Oct. 25-26.

The Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic Mountain Bike Race will still be held on Sept. 20, barring any additional backcountry closures. If another closure does take place, the event will be moved to Sept. 27.

Other forest districts to have their backcountry bans lifted include South Vancouver Island, Rocky Mountain, Columbia, Arrow Boundary and Kootenay Lake.

Areas still closed at press time include Chilliwack, Cascades, Kamloops, Okanagan-Shuswap and Headwaters.

The government of British Columbia is asking everyone to immediately report any wildfires by calling 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cell phones.

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