Trail volunteers put in long, tough days repairing Dorian damage

After post tropical storm Dorian hit the Island September 7, hiking trails across the province were in desperate need of attention after hundreds of trees were knocked down during the storm.

'It's rewarding work when you see hikers come through and say thank you'

Volunteers have been hard at work since Dorian hit removing hundreds of fallen trees on hiking trails across the province. (Island Trails)

Since post-tropical storm Dorian hit P.E.I. Sept. 7, volunteers have spent four to five a hours each day clearing trees from and repairing hiking trails from Tignish to Souris.

"Mother Nature has quite a way of pruning itself," said Greg McKee, president of Island Trails.

"Any trees that had any weakness in it, Dorian took care of it. So it's been quite a combination of smaller immature trees and mature trees that maybe have hit their best-before date."

"This is the worst we have ever had," added longtime volunteer Preston Wotton of the damage. 

'Trees have been weakened'

One of the worst-hit areas was Breadalbane in central P.E.I., where volunteers say they had no choice but to reroute the trail around fallen trees.

Volunteers have been working four to five hours a day since Dorian to remove fallen trees and debris from trails. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"There was so many trees that we now have a roundabout in Breadalbane," Wotton said. "There's just too many trees to take out."

"It's very hard work," added McKee. "You're back 10 kilometres carrying a chainsaw and materials, it gets quite hefty."

McKee said it's only thanks to dedicated volunteers that trails have been cleared as quickly as they have.

There were so many trees down in Breadalbane volunteers had to reroute the trail building a new one around the fallen trees. (Island Trails)

"We really benefit from a good core group of volunteers," he said. "It's hard work, it's rewarding work once the trail is done and it's rewarding work when you see hikers come through and say thank you."

'We don't mind a little physical work'

Most of the trails have now been cleared but there is still work to do.

Some trails like this one at Winter River were completely impassable because of fallen trees. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Volunteers will spend the next few days in the St. Peters area clearing the Forest Hill Hiking and Equestrian Trail.

"I think our work is always ongoing," McKee said. "As we stand here today, the wind is blowing, trees have been weakened, we have hikers out all the time that are keeping us updated. People keep us on our toes and we try and accommodate as best possible." 

'We don't mind a little physical work,' says volunteer Preston Wotton, who helped remove brush and fallen wood at Winter River Trail. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Wotton said it is rewarding to lend a hand.

"We all enjoy being out in the woods and we don't mind a little physical work. We're getting in good shape now."

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Tom Steepe

Video Journalist

Tom Steepe is an award-winning video journalist with CBC P.E.I.


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