University of Calgary

Outdoor Centre staff help rebuild bridges and trails in K-Country

UToday HomeJuly 31, 2013

By Kathryn Vincent, Outdoor Centre

University of Calgary Outdoor Centre staff worked on Fox Creek in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, with the Friends of Kananaskis as well as the trail maintenance team from Alberta Parks and Recreation. Photo by Kathryn VincentUniversity of Calgary Outdoor Centre staff worked on Fox Creek in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, with the Friends of Kananaskis as well as the trail maintenance team from Alberta Parks and Recreation. Photo by Kathryn VincentOne of the areas hardest hit by June floods was one of Calgary’s favourite mountain recreation areas, Kananaskis Country. Most of the waterways in Kananaskis overflowed their banks, creating a devastation that had to be experienced to be believed. Roads were washed out, bridges were destroyed, trails and pathways were completely blocked, and creeks were backed up with tons of debris.

Now that the water has returned to a normal level, the struggle to return the parkland to a usable state has begun. The aim isn’t to completely remodel the damaged areas, but make them safe and manoeuvrable for human visitors as well as wildlife.

The huge shift of silt, soil and solid debris made a muddy mess of many creeks. Natural dams and clogs block fish from getting downstream. Weakened banks make it dangerous for animals to get to the water. Human recreation is a difficult proposition.

As many University of Calgary Outdoor Centre programs and clients use the Kananaskis area all year long, it was important to the staff to get out to the damaged areas and assist in their recovery. The Outdoor Centre was fortunate to team up with the trail maintenance team from Alberta Parks and Recreation as well as the dedicated volunteers from the Friends of Kananaskis in order to restore some order to Fox Creek in the Peter Lougheed area.

Equipped with special woodland firefighting axes called “pulaskis,” the crew worked through the sun and mosquitoes to remove mud, sticks, stumps and rocks from the creek, and assisted the parks employees in clearing a new trail. The flood completely washed out the old bridge and destroyed the trail.

The sheer amount of effort required to clear even a small portion of the damage was a great reminder of how powerful and unpredictable the natural world can be. On the other hand, getting into the park also provided a reminder of how beautiful and pristine the land remains.

Despite the volunteer efforts of the team, there is still a huge amount of land around Kananaskis that remains damaged and unusable. The Alberta Parks and Friends of Kananaskis crews are still working around the clock in order to reopen the remaining closures and make the area safe again.

Needless to say, there are still plenty of opportunities left to volunteer. If you are interested in the cleanup efforts and you’re not afraid to get a little dirty, both the Friends of Kananaskis and Alberta Parks and Recreation are looking for volunteers. It’s a great way to get out and enjoy the wilderness and get some great exercise in the process.

Have a photo and story you would like to share with readers about how the flood affected you? Upload your photos and text.

Follow UToday flood coverage: More stories, photos on how the University of Calgary community responded to the disaster.

Keep up to date on University of Calgary flood advisories and learn more about volunteer opportunities.

Follow UToday on Twitter.
Check the UToday website for news about events, people and trends at University of Calgary.
Follow what’s happening on campus using our interactive calendar.