STA Photo Contest 2021

It’s that time of the year again! The Saskatchewan Trails Association will be running its month-long Give Us Your Best Shot photo contest during the month of June.  The photo contest begins on Saturday, June 5 — Saskatchewan Trails Day – and concludes on Wednesday, June 30.

Rules for Entry:

The contest is available for all residents of Saskatchewan.  STA board and staff may submit their pictures, but are not eligible to win the contest. While photos may be submitted multiple times using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or email, there is only one entry per unique photo.  You may enter as many photos as you wish to the contest.

To enter the STA Give Us Your Best Shot photo contest, you must submit your photos by posting on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #SaskTrailsPhotoContest2021 or email them to us at info@sasktrails.ca. We must be able to see your picture in order to be entered in the contest, so be sure to check your privacy settings.  Posts must be made public to be counted as an entry. When posting, if possible, format the photo in the highest resolution possible to ensure we are able to use it in printed materials. The winning photo may be used to promote trails in Saskatchewan through brochures, annual reports, social media and more.

Prizes:

The winners will be chosen at the end of the month, announced on all our pages, and will be contacted to arrange and claim their prize. Pictures will only be accepted into the contest until June 30th, so be sure to get your pictures in before the deadline. The top photo winner will receive a $200 gift certificate to Cabela’s and two honorary mentions will also be rewarded with Cabela’s gift cards valued at $50 each. As pictures come in they may be featured on our page, with credit to the photographer. We wish all who enter the best of luck, we can’t wait to see your adventures!

Additional Rules for Submissions:

If you do not want to grant Saskatchewan Trails Association (STA) these permissions, please do not submit your photo. In order for STA to use your photo, you confirm that (a) your photo is your own original work; (b) you own all the rights in the photo, including copyright; (c) you have the right to give STA the permission to use your photo for the purposes specified in these rules; (d) the photo is not defamatory and does not infringe any Canadian laws or violate the rights of any third party; (e) you have the consent of anyone who is identifiable in your photo or the consent of their parent or guardian if they are minors; (f) you waive any moral rights that you may have in the photo; (g) you indemnify STA against any claim, demand, action, suit, or other proceedings against STA arising out of the use of the photo or any false or inaccurate statements.

By entering, contestants agree to abide by the contest rules which shall be applied by Saskatchewan Trails Association.

(2020 Photo Contest winner Dean Kewaluk)

2021 Member Trail Grant Recipients

The STA is pleased to announce the recipients of our Member Trail Grant Program. We will be providing $500 grants to the Resort Village of Candle Lake, Town of Outlook, Town of St.Walburg and Resort Village of Manitou Beach.

The Candle Lake Trails Advisory Board (CLTAB) is comprised of volunteers appointed by the Resort Village of Candle Lake Council. CLTAB meets regularly, and works with Council to plan new routes and maintain existing trails in an effort to ensure the opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy a safe and varied outdoor experience year-round.

New trail head signage and directional signage for new trails, as well as repair and maintenance of existing signage, is an ongoing priority. Their Deep Bay to Telwin Trail, West Side Trail and West End Trail are all in need of main head structure repairs. Their trail names and activity signs are also in need of repair.

The Town of Outlook is a walking community and over the years the beautiful trail along the river has been neglected. They have an amazing group of volunteers and recreational staff that feel passionate about maintaining their walking trails so it can continue to be used safely.

Due to a high concentration of Dutch Elm disease in their area, removal of overgrowth on the trails is needed as well as the removal of Dutch Elm branches. They are also in need of loose gravel along the trail, a bench and a new map of the trail.

The trail in St. Walburg is part of The Great Trail and they have done significant improvements with new drainages and substates. They are in need of a new rustic sign that will enhance the entrance to their wonderful trail. They are also in need of new signage and new solar lights.

Manitou Beach established their trail system 6 years ago and have, along with the Resort Village of Manitou Beach and volunteers, have maintained, improved and added to the trail system over those years. The current trail system consists of 3 trails, 5+km, 2km and 1km in length.

The trail head sign has faded and needs to be renewed due to a change of location along with changes and additions to their existing trails signage. Trail signs give the users their location as well as sights in the area.

Four years ago, a borrow pit was created at the east end of the Village because of a need for clay for a flood protection berm to protect the low-lying areas of the Village. The Recreation Board has expanded the trail system to incorporate the borrow pit and they created a pond as a feature of their trails system. Their plan is to complete filling the dugout and stock it with fish as well as develop the trail around it. For the last three years, they have utilized the pond in the winter as an outdoor skating pond as well as an outdoor Crock curl surface.

Saskatchewan Trails Day

Come out and celebrate the beauty of the prairies during Saskatchewan Trails Day on June 5!

Quarantine fatigue is a reality for many of us as the pandemic continues. Many people find turning to nature helps curb feelings of isolation. The Saskatchewan Trails Association (STA) invites all residents to get out and enjoy the province’s trail network on Saskatchewan Trails Day on Saturday, June 5, while at the same time adhering to provincial health standards.

“We are pleased to be able to offer a slice of the outdoors through our many hiking trails,” said STA President David Powell. “It’s a great way to spend a day with family and friends, or even make your own solo adventure. As you are out on your exploration, we encourage you to share your experience and photos with us by using #SaskTrailsDay. You can follow us and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”

If by chance you run into other trail lovers on your hike, the STA advises that you adhere to the guidelines set out by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). You can help protect yourself and others by practicing physical distancing, while also avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth as well as any other surfaces others may have come in contact with. It is also important to practice good hand hygiene.

If you’d like to find trails throughout the province, then check out the STA’s on-line trail directory at sasktrails.ca/trail-directory/.  The directory provides information about trails, locations, difficulty, length, photos and maps. This information can help you get from point A to point B and back, on your journey to experience nature on the trails.

As part of the Saskatchewan Trails Day celebrations, the STA is launching a month-long photo contest. Take lots of photos while hiking the trail you picked, and submit them to us through Instagram using #SaskTrailsPhotoContest2021. You can enter as often as you like, and there are prizes! The best images, as selected by the STA board of directors, can win a first prize of a $200 gift card or one of two honorary mentions valued at $50 each. All photos become property of the STA and will be used to promote your favourite trails. The contest begins on Saskatchewan Trails Day and wraps up on June 30 as part the province’s June is Recreation and Parks Month. A decision on the top photo prizes will be made the following week.

After you’ve experienced the trail system, the STA encourages you to make a donation to the trail of your choice, and to help support trail development and maintenance programs in Saskatchewan. Memberships for a STA member are also available for as little as $25 per year for an individual.  STA members have access to trail funding and other resources, and can attend and vote at meetings of members. Visit Sasktrails.ca to find out more information about trails and activities available in your area. Every new trail offers a unique adventure!

For more information, contact Pat Rediger at (306) 522-9326 or email prediger@sasktrails.ca.

Cathy Watts Volunteer Award Recipients

Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the Cathy Watts Volunteer Award. Curt Schroeder and Tom Landine were co-recipients and have made long-term commitments to the trail community.

Curt’s experience with trails dates back to the 1990s when the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association (SPRA) was the lead agency for the Trans Canada Trail for this province. SPRA formed a Saskatchewan Trails Council of trail stakeholders and Curt was one of the original members of this group. He then went on to organize and become President of the Great Plains Trans Canada Trail, which was responsible for developing the trail in the Regina area.

When the Saskatchewan Trails Council evolved into the Saskatchewan Trails Association (STA), Curt was one of its founding members and became a board member. Serving as President from 2007 to 2011, he led the development of the first strategic plan for trail development in Saskatchewan.

Later, as the Secretary to the Canadian Trails Federation he was nominated to serve as Secretary-Treasurer of the National Trails Coalition (NTC), which was recognized for implementing a dedicated trail funding program for motorized and non-motorized trail users throughout the country.  Curt remains an active board member and currently serves as the President of Regina Search and Rescue.

Tom has been involved in trail building for more than 15 years. He began his trail-building career in the Qu’Appelle Valley as a member of the local mountain bike club, the East Qu’Appelle Cartel (EQC). He and a small group of volunteers built some of the best mountain bike trails in Saskatchewan over a period from 2006-18. The trails were also used by the EQC to host an annual mountain bike race from 2008 to 2019.

In 2013, Tom began organizing a project to build a walking/biking trail within the regional park in Esterhazy. He began by endorsing the project, followed by the approval of the town. Next, he led the fundraising efforts, planned a roughed-out provisional route for the first stage, and hired a trail-building contractor. The first section of trail was completed in 2016.

Upon completing the first half of the trail, Tom and a group of volunteers carved out the remaining half of the trail so that it would be a full loop. He even went through the effort of purchasing a mini excavator to build the trail and was successfully able to complete the other half prior to the first snowfall in 2020.

Under his leadership, the trails continue to expand and improve steadily. Every year he organizes a trail clean-up and mowing program which then moves on to track setting in the winter.

           

First recipient, Curt Schroeder               Second recipient, Tom Landine

Welcoming Corman Park Horse Riders Association

We are pleased to announce that Grasswood Horse Park/the Corman Park Horse Riders Association (CPHRA), located south of Saskatoon on the corner of Baker Road and Preston Ave., has recently become a member.

The Grasswood Horse Park is managed by CPHRA, a volunteer non-profit group. The riding facilities include a natural trail obstacle course, two fenced arenas – one contains a permanent working equitation course and dressage arena, a perimeter trail and a polocrosse field.

Horse riders/handlers must purchase a CPHRA and Sask. Horse Federation membership to enter the park. The Natural Trail Obstacle Course requires an additional membership for access to that area. All membership fees go towards maintenance and development of the park.

The Park features and amenities include:

Arena #1
140’ x 200’ wood fenced arena

Perimeter Fence and Trail
Providing safe and contained riding

Camping during events
Camping only while attending an organized event (max. 3 nights)

Water Hydrant
Not potable in 2 1000L tanks around the park

Arena #2 Working Equitation and Dressage arena
200′ x 300′ metal fenced arena

Announcer Stand
With power supply

Parking Area
Mowed and marked for more than 50 rigs

Pens for Horses
For temporary holding, overnight only while attending an organized event

Natural Trail Obstacle Course
Over 30 elements, including a trestle bridge and pond

3 Bleachers for Spectators
Polocrosse Field
Port a pot

For more information visit https://grasswoodhorsepark.ca/

September Grasslands Hike

Russ Hodgins took a trip with his family to Grasslands National Park for another hike and spent a night in the badlands. Temperatures are starting to cool off as we head into the fall season. Without the worry of the summer heat, it is a great time to head out and enjoy a trail! Here are a few photos from their Grasslands adventure:

   

   

Wildfire Prevention Safety during Hiking

Fortunately, it is uncommon for hikers to experience a wildfire while out on a trail. However, with an increase of people adventuring in back country, and the affects of climate change and drought, it is important for hikers to be knowledgeable about a wildfire scenario.

One of the greatest threats to the environment is a wildfire, but they are also extremely dangerous for individuals as well. Here are some easy to follow tips to avoid wildfires and keep yourself safe if you were to come across one.

Be Prepared

Before hiking a particular trail, the smartest precaution to take is to check an online map indicating active forest fires across the country. You can also visit a local ranger station who can warn you about certain high-risk trails. If an official chooses to close a trail in response to a fire, do not ignore the warning even if the fire does not seem close by. Wildfires can change directions and speed at anytime without sufficient warning.

Be Well Equipped

It is important to note what type of clothing you are wearing. Cotton material is fine, but fabrics made of polyester, for example, will melt and stick to your skin. If you are hiking in a more high-risk area it is a good idea to bring along a cotton bandana or n95 mask in case you encounter fire smoke. Taking along a topographic map and a compass as well are great navigation tools to avoid and escape wildfires. Noting the direction of escape routes and large bodies of water is important.

Do Not Panic

If you are out on the trail and see smoke or fire, it important not to panic but to refer to a map to find the best escape route plan. However, not panicking does not mean you wait around and assume the fire will go away in the opposite direction. Get away from it as quickly as possible. Once you are safely away you can notify authorities immediately.

Avoiding Fire and Smoke Inhalation

If fire or smoke is close to you, look for areas away from trees, bushes, and other vegetation that are fire fuels. Find surfaces like dirt roads, trail gravel, asphalt, or rock. If you have to enter a smoke-filled area, cover your mouth with a bandana, mask, or piece of clothing, and lie on the ground or stay as low as possible. Air quality is usually better at lower elevations.

It is best to travel upwind and downhill when trying to avoid a fire. Avoid high areas like hills, mountains, canyons, ravines, and drainage areas because they act as chimneys for the fire. Try to find low areas, a streambed is the most ideal if possible.

Knowing the Characteristics of Fire

White or gray coloured smoke means the fire is burning light, but it usually means the fire will move fast. Brown smoke usually means burning brush, and dark brown or black means the flames have set fire to oily vegetation or a material that burns at a much slower pace.

If you see the smoke of a fire spiraling upwards it is an indication that there is low wind and the direction the fire will go is more unknown. If the smoke arcs in a particular direction, that is a good indication that the fire will travel in that direction.

Protecting Yourself if Escape is Impossible

If you are unable to flee a wildfire, try to find a ditch, gully, streambed, or water source with as little vegetation possible. If you have time to remove vegetation like brush or grass from the particular area you should do so. The more vegetation you remove the more protection you will have.

It is recommended that you lie on your stomach with your feet facing the direction of the fire and dig a hole for your face in addition to covering your mouth. Covering yourself in dirt is another recommendation for protecting yourself against the flames.

We always want to ensure hikers have the best and safest experiences on the trails. Wildfires not only cause destruction, but severe burns can be fatal for hikers. Inhalation of smoke also poses a great risk. Health effects like headaches, eye irritation and shortness of breath can occur. In more severe cases impaired lung function, bronchitis, asthma, and heart failure can also occur.

STA wants to make certain hikers are educated about nasty environmental hazards so dangerous wildfires can be avoided by adventurous hikers.

Trail Building Planning Steps

If you are looking at potentially adding a trail to your community, there are several steps to consider. Successfully funding, building, and maintaining a new trail can be a tough task. Here are a few different preparation steps to consider and plan for before you start building a trail.

Concept

Before starting into trail design and construction, the first step is to lay out a concept for your trail.  A good concept consists of a few sentences or statements to define your mission and objectives. Design a rough goal that you wish to achieve.

Study area

The next step is to study the area where you want to build. Sketch or photocopy a rural municipality ownership map or topographical map to gain an idea of the location, ownership, and terrain.

Why is this trail a good idea?

The next step is to better understand what makes this trail a good idea. What aspects make this trail unique? What is the need for this trail? What target audience or demographic will use this trail? Are adjustments possible to incorporate a greater user group? All of these questions aid in creation of a successful trail. Trail knowledge and ideas can be gained by talking to other trail operators or organizers, these contacts can be found on Sasktrails.ca.

Try discussing the idea with friends and family to see potential opportunities or risks that you might have missed. Keep track of those in support of a trail to add to a mailing list as well as your community’s recreation director. A walk down the desired trail location and route can help to point out any potential problem areas such as cliffs, bogs, rivers, or other difficult to pass areas. As well, consider any environmental concerns like heritage sites which should not be disturbed.

Route evaluation checklist

Creation of a route evaluation checklist helps to compile the vast diversity of the area such as the vegetation, topography, natural features, built features, infrastructure, wildlife, slopes, views, intersections, and access points. Gathering this information into a checklist will assist in designing the path for the trail and potential features to set your trail apart from others.

Contact any outdoor clubs and talk to key people

Grow your stakeholders and connections by contacting outdoors groups and key people who can help to get the trail built and backed. Some of these groups are the Saskatchewan Snowmobiling Association (sasksnow.ca), Saskatchewan All-Terrain Vehicle Association (satva.ca), Saskatchewan Cycling Association (saskcycling.ca), and Saskatchewan Horse Federation (saskhorse.ca). Making these connections will be a huge step towards gaining funding and volunteers.

Call a meeting to clarify your group’s vision

Call a meeting for all potential trail supporters and finalize questions such as: general type of trail, how it will relate to existing trails, approximate route and length, type of uses allowed, preferred surface material, theme or prominent subject of area, name for the project (a catchy name will often attract users).

Managing tasks

 Select a person for each of the following tasks:

  • Research history of site
  • Put together a list of influential people in area
  • Start to consider where the funding could come from
  • Compile a list of recreation, cultural, historic and tourist sites which would be supportive
  • Explain how this trail relates to the provincial trail network and other nearby routes
  • Have a local artist “add” a trail to a large photo of the site
  • put the research material together into a display, emphasizing the community benefits
  • put research material onto a map of the area, at a scale of 1:50,000 or more detailed
  • compile text information, with reference to the distance from one end and start a scrapbook of all the promotion and support received

Go public!

This step involves meeting more influential people, organizations, and the general public while recording their contact information. This also includes writing a media release and contacting the media such as newspapers, radios, and televisions to get the word out and gain more supporters.

Expand and formalize the concept

Write a program statement to obtain formal endorsements and funding. The program statement will consist of a one-page narrative documenting the vision and schedule. You should already have some influential supporters and contacts, so now is the time to use them. Contact target groups or people such as an MP, MLA, Mayor, City Council, or Major Industry in search of endorsements.

Project proposal

The project proposal requires a detailed site investigation to determine exactly what work is required. This will be one of the largest steps and require time to document all of the information and build an in-depth report.

Expenses

Have the financial person start a project budget of anticipated expenses. Getting written quotations at this stage will allow more efficient fund-raising and reduce the approval time.

Design

The design step focuses on land acquisition, path clearing, placing material, obtaining required equipment, creation of maps, creation of signage, and other required design tools.

Funding

 Have someone start to search for funding. Indicate to all organizations how much you are requesting from others. Everyone wants to see commitment from others. (A great place to start your search for funding would be to visit sasktrails.ca or National Trails Coalition at ntc-canada.ca). Record all of the organizations you have asked for funding, their reply, and the amount donated, this will help to keep the books.

Approvals

Obtain all approvals including land ownership (lease, licence of occupation, or purchasing), municipality, funding organizations, operating organizations. Sample landowner agreements can be found on the SaskTrails’ website.

Insurance

Determine the need for liability insurance and acquire a policy if required. (Oasis Insurance — oasisinsurance.ca — located in North Battleford offers a discount rate to all SaskTrails members.)

Official opening

Congratulations, you have officially opened the trail and made a huge impact on your community. Now it is time to plan the opening, recognise the efforts of the group, and thank the supporters and funders. Once opened it is important to focus on ongoing trail maintenance and to continue to evaluate and follow up with trail issues and feedback. By following these steps, you can more accurately and reliably plan out the creation of your trail.

These steps and the full Trail Planning Workbook can be found at https://sasktrails.ca/trail-builders/.

Need to Know of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac

Well this is a blog I have just been itching to write! As we all know, we can only control nature so much, and occasionally on a nice hike through your favorite trail, you can come across some less than pleasant wildlife and plant life. Learn how to identify, avoid, and treat yourself or others if you happen to bump into one of these less than friendly plants!

Facts

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac grow everywhere. These plants grow mainly in North America in wooded and marshy areas. There are many myths and misconceptions about these plants as well. The three “poisonous” plants are not really poisonous, they have a sap like oil that covers their leaves that is to blame for the nasty rashes they leave behind. This sap is called urushiol and causes extremely itchy and quite painful rashes on the skin.

These rashes consist of streaks of red raised blisters and while unpleasant, often do not show up for hours to days after contact with the plant’s oil. While the rash and itching are not contagious, if in contact with the plants, wash it off immediately to avoid spreading the oil.

Note: pets (dogs and cats) can be harmed by poison ivy, oak, and sumac as well. An animal that comes in contact with the oils of these plants may not show symptoms immediately because it has to work its way through the animal’s fur. Animals can also transmit the sticky oil to humans.

How to Avoid

Seeing as these plants can be anywhere, the best way to avoid them is to be aware of your surroundings and knowledgeable about their appearance. The rhyme “leaves of three, let them be”, however, is not true, poison ivy has only three leaves, but the other two can grow in leaves of seven to thirteen.

Another precaution to take is simply wearing clothing that covers your skin. If the oil cannot touch and stick to your skin, it cannot harm you. However, you should always be careful and wash any clothing or tools that come in contact with these plants as the oil may still be on them.

Treatment

Another dangerous misconception or myth about poison ivy, oak, and sumac is that you do not need to visit the doctor to get treatment. In minor cases, you may not need to see a doctor, but it is smart to go anyways. If the rash is close to your face or eyes, or if the rash is accompanied by nausea, fever, shortness of breath, extreme soreness, or allergy like symptoms, you should visit the ER immediately! Doctors can prescribe pills and/or cremes to reduce the rashes, swelling, itching, and any other accompanied side effects.

While there is no substitute for seeing a doctor and receiving treatment, along with treatment, there are some home remedies you can use. Aside from washing the area with water and soap, keep the infected area cool, dry, and clean. Lotions like calamine lotion, diphenhydramine cream or hydrocortisone can help control itching. Cool compresses, baths with baking soda/oatmeal can also soothe the rash to help avoid the terrible itch. Avoid scratching the rash or blisters because it will only make it hurt and itch more.

Nobody plans to come into contact with these plants, but accidents happen when you least expect it. Hopefully this information can help you, your friends, or your family on your next trip through the trails in Saskatchewan!