A letter-writer laments that the decommissioning of a forest service road is preventing access to the area around the Alpine mine.

LETTER: Reopen Sitkum Creek Forest Service Road

"The area may now be enjoyed only by those few hardy enough to hike in and out or more likely wealthy enough to afford helicopter access."

For many years now I and many others in this area have derived great pleasure from taking friends and family up Sitkum Creek Forest Service Road to the old Alpine mine, and showing them how incredible this area is. The Alpine mine and others near it date back to at least 1896, with the Alpine producing ore from 1915 to 1988. In that time it produced 11,457 ounces of gold as well as large amounts of silver, lead and zinc.

The road leading up to the mine was originally built in 1936 and had been kept open and used to access this beautiful and historic area ever since. Myself and many others have spent days exploring the historic mine workings and hiking the surrounding ridges. My family and friends have on many occasions hiked through the notch in the ridge and had lunch on a large tabletop rock overlooking the next valley.

Sadly those days are no longer possible. In early September, we attempted to drive up to the Alpine mine knowing that the bridge at approximately the eight-kilometer mark had been taken out in 2014.

On our arrival near the bridge site we were disgusted to find that not only was the bridge removed but hundreds of meters of road on either side of the creek were also destroyed at the same time. Hiking around the area in hope of finding a usable trail to detour we could find nothing that could be used by any vehicle be it bicycle, ATV, snowmobile or pickup.

In fact the area may now be enjoyed only by those few hardy enough to hike in and out or more likely wealthy enough to afford helicopter access.

Queries made by the Nelson Sno-goers last year to the local Ministry of Forests office were answered that the bridge was removed to alleviate silt in the Sitkum Creek water system. This was disputed by a board member of that water system as they had not had any silting problems.

Oddly enough this destruction is happening at the same time that a controversial heli-ski application in the area is pending. If no one can access an area, there can’t be other users can there? If there’s no other users there can’t be any conflict either. Isn’t it time British Columbia was for all British Columbians and not just for the wealthy?

I realize that the bridge was becoming a liability and had to either be removed or maintained but the road was not. It only received maintenance when there was active logging in the area or a few years ago when it was instrumental in fighting the Sitkum Creek fire. It was of no use with this year’s fires as it no longer exists.

Therefore I only ask that the road be put back the way it was so that inhabitants of this area may once again access and enjoy this area — and that this practice of destroying (rehabilitating) old logging and mining roads stop. Our taxes paid to put these roads in and are now being used to take these roads out, and deny residents access other than by helicopter.

I further understand that the next road system to be “rehabilitated” is Duncan Lake. I hope it’s not too late to stop.

Paul Moreau

Nelson

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