2020 Fall Newsletter

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Enjoy and share our 2020 Fall Newsletter.

PROGRESS REPORT
2020 WORKPLAN AND VOLUNTEERS
Once Covid-19 social distancing rules were relaxed this spring and warmer temperatures returned, visitors flocked to natural areas all over the Province. A few Kimberley Forest visitors were eager to volunteer; these personal connections as well as responses to our website invitation led to a
significant increase in volunteer numbers. Our new volunteers enthusiastically pitched in to help complete the 2020 Work Plan. We added more wayfinding signage and made trail improvements including brushing, mowing, repairs and placement of a few strategic boardwalks on the middle and lower forest sections. This followed up on the 2019 projects: mapping trails, installing signage and emergency numbering, and brushing, mulching, and mowing the upper section grass trails.

FUNDING AND DONATIONS
We are grateful for Community Grant Program funding from the Municipality of Grey Highlands (MGH) that enabled us to complete this work. We also thank individuals who donated money and/or materials for our projects. In response to questions from donors about tax receipts, we have now formalized an arrangement with MGH to issue tax receipts on behalf of The Friends of the Kimberley Forest Committee (KKF). If you would like to donate to FKF, refer to instructions on the Donations page of our website.

DIGITAL SUPPORT VOLUNTEER
Jason Petznick started volunteering with FKF two and a half years ago. In addition to helping with trail maintenance, Jason set up and manages our website, coordinated Trailforks data collection for base map use, and designed the FKF logo. Jason has been a tremendous asset to FKF and we
thank him.

LANDOWNERS AND STAKEHOLDERS
The Kimberley Forest comprises Crown Land managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNRF), Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) property, Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) property and some MGH land. FKF is grateful for the support and cooperation of our stakeholders.

Beaver Valley Bruce Trail Club
Throughout the Spring, FKF volunteers worked with the Beaver Valley Bruce Trail Club (BVBTC) to develop the Kimberley Forest Blue Side Trail. The trail traverses the Beaver Valley Ski Club property and is open year-round thus maintaining the continuity of the Beaver Valley Bruce Trail even during the Beaver Valley Ski Club (BVSC) ski season. We also worked with BVBTC to create single-track bypasses around some sections of the shared Bruce Trail to avoid pinch points between hikers and bikers. These were excellent hands-on experiences for both groups and it bodes well for future collaborative efforts.

Grey Sauble Conservation Authority
Following the resignation of our GSCA representative, we are looking forward to working with the new Manager of Conservation Lands, Rebecca Ferguson.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
The Province is the main landowner in the Kimberley Forest; the property is managed by MNRF. Craig Todd was the MNRF Partnership Specialist who sat on our committee until his retirement this past spring. Craig brought a wealth of experience and was instrumental in the development of our
MOU with MNRF. We thank him for his service and wish him well. Unfortunately, this position is not being filled and we have lost contact with MNRF for the time being. This is a significant challenge.

The County of Grey
While not a landowner, Grey County takes an interest in the Kimberley Forest from a tourism and planning perspective. FKF has provided input for the Grey County Cycling and Trails Master Plan process on several occasions. Recently we met with Manager of Tourism, Bryan Plumstead, to
discuss mutual interests and some recent funding opportunities. FKF looks forward to supporting the roll-out of the Master Plan and strengthening our relationship with the County.

CURRENT AND FUTURE INITIATIVES

Trails
Considerable effort this year has been devoted to restoring original XC double track trails in the mid level created in the 70’s. Several sections of these trails have been closed as they have been damaged and eroded beyond the point of restoration. In most cases bypass trails, bridges and
boardwalks have been created for continuity and safety of all users. We estimate we now have about 80% completed and should finish the remainder over the next two years.

Kimberley Forest Map
Over the years, FKF volunteers have been using GPS to map trails and produce versions of maps for various user groups. However, with the recent growth in interest and real progress on the ground, the executive committee has determined that a professional, high-quality map for permanent wayfinding signage, trailhead signs, and individual and website use is needed. We have retained Chrismar Mapping Services to produce a base map that will be user friendly and available later this year. In a couple of years, we anticipate completion of the final version of the map that will reflect user feedback, incorporate any necessary trail modifications and include information such as safety and etiquette guidelines, emergency locator numbering, and a natural and cultural history of the area.

Organizational Structure
As we continue to grow, transparency and accountability become increasingly important. We are researching comparable organizations as models in the development of a constitution and bylaws, and tracking and accounting processes. Stay tuned for updates and opportunities to comment.

Parking
From the very beginning, a significant challenge has been locating and creating safe access to the Forest. We are focusing on two potential parking lot locations and investigating the regulatory process and costs in order to move forward.

Bridge
One parking lot option requires a bridge across the Beaver River. FKF has received an engineer’s opinion on feasibility. We have sourced a reputable, local manufacturer of fully engineered bridge structures. We anticipate holding a site visit of major stakeholders this Fall to further discuss feasibility, regulatory process and potential costs to move ahead on both bridge and parking.

Accessibility
Our wish list includes a wheelchair-accessible trail along the Beaver River offering spectacular views up and down the Beaver Valley. We continue to highlight this opportunity in discussions with stakeholders.

PLEASE STAY SAFE
Of course, everything we do now is in the context of Covid-19. We are fortunate in Grey County to have had relatively few cases but we acknowledge that our individual experience of the pandemic is dependent on our individual circumstance. The Executive Committee of the Friends of the Kimberley Forest extend our best wishes for the safety and good health of you and your families.

Kind regards from your FKF Executive Committee,
Chair, Don Churchill; Vice Chair, Jill Smith-Brodie; Treasurer, Brian McCulloch; Secretary, Cathy Little.

“TOGETHER WE GET THROUGH THIS”
Municipality of Grey Highlands

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