By Kim Reeves
On June 20th, 2017, Rec Sites and Trails BC advised me that the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) under the direction of the District Engineering Officer, would be closing the Cypress Lake Forest Service Road to 4×4 and ATV as of June 30th, citing unrestricted access and existing potential public safety concerns at the Cypress Lake Dam as the main concerns, thus removing legitimate access to the Eagle Mountain wheeling trails.
June 25th, I arranged a meeting for July 11th with the District Manager and engineering staff to assess the situation and determine if a solution could be reached for continued access to this favourite wheeling destination, arranging for a “stay of execution” until that time.
After representatives of the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC met with the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the City of Coquitlam, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Mossom Creek Hatchery, it was agreed that Cypress Lake Forest Service Road (AKA Eagle Mountain) will remain open. The parties mentioned above will be working together to address environmental concerns, hydrology issues as well as some safety issues.
To secure the long term future of Cypress Lake Forest Service Road, we will need to enter into a road maintenance agreement (RMA) with the Ministry. This agreement will need to address a number of things.
The reason for the RMA is that the government is trying to reduce it’s liability exposure so without this agreement, the road would be completely decommissioned. What does it mean to take over the liability of this road with an RMA? This is what we will be exploring.
We will be required to make a maintenance plan for the road which will require us to address the following;
– Environmental concerns, including hydrology plan to direct water flow to Noons Creek and Mossom Creek
– Some consideration of public safety, while considering the difficulty of the road is what we wish to maintain.
– Safety of our volunteers and workers during maintenance
In essence, we would become designated maintainer of this road.
In the short term, the ministry will be installing lock blocks on the north east side of the paved road, just past the gate to stop vehicular traffic from dropping down into the hydro easement. We, working with the Ministry, will also be exploring the idea of our volunteers removing any existing culverts on the road and water barring with the goal of maximizing the water into Noons Creek and Mossom Creek.
We will also be working with the city of Coquitlam to set new requirements to get a key and then a change of the lock on the gate. This will require everyone who has a key and wishes to get a new key to come to the office and do a swap, following the new requirements.
It is of utmost importance that we respect this area and stay on the roads, stay off the forest floor, be super careful around the creeks, and lock the gate religiously! Also, PLEASE avoid using the “back door” route. If we’re going to be responsible for this, we as a group of wheelers need to BEHAVE responsibly.
We will be working with the City of Coquitlam to develop a new requirements list for those wishing to get a key. Once we have this, a new lock will go up and new keys will be available. This should be straight trade for the keys we have, but those details are still being worked out.
To do this, we will require the services of a Registered Professional Forester, a road builder/engineer or a geotechnical engineer. If you are one or know one who wheels, please have them contact firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to hear from them and hopefully engage them in this project.