Time to enjoy Grand Forks’ trails

Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy Grand Forks' trails. Spend a morning or late afternoon along the Old Black Train Bridge Trail, in the heart of town, and you’ll see for yourself.

Deanna Hnatiw and Erich Zimmer plant poplars along the Old Black Train Bridge Trail behind Interfor’s Grand Forks mill.

Summer is here and it’s great to see the community out being active and enjoying the trails. Spend a morning or late afternoon along the Old Black Train Bridge Trail, in the heart of town, and you’ll see for yourself.

The City of Grand Forks has been putting the finishing touches on the trail over the last few months, on works that started last year. Instream, dozens of boulders and rock projections were placed by Argosy Construction Inc., providing breaks in the quick flow and make hiding places for trout, whitefish and speckled dace.

These structures were designed to be of most benefit to fish when water levels in the Kettle River are at their summertime lows – a time when fish are most stressed.

Up on the banks, roses, alders, cherry and dogwood shrubs were salvaged while reshaping the bank to engineered specifications and replanted, once again providing habitat for insects and songbirds.

While constructing the trail and bank protection works, some hazard trees had to be removed to satisfy worker safety regulations.

A dozen trees were topped or taken down but not taken away.

Fallen trees were left in the riparian area to provide habitat for ground dwelling critters and allowed to decay and add organic material to the riparian – an essential building block for high quality riparian habitat.

Some live tops of poplars were also buried in the riparian. Live poplars are vigorous, contain lots of water and, if left buried, may actually send up new growth leading to new trees.

To offset the loss of riparian trees, several wildlife poles – graciously donated, along with planting mulch, by Interfor Grand Forks – were erected throughout the Old Black Train Bridge trail.

Crows, woodpeckers, raptors and other species may use these perches. It is hoped the poles may eventually provide nesting habitat for our local rare species – the Lewis’ woodpecker.

Sixty cottonwood X balsam poplar trees have been planted this past spring and will also become future nesting habitat.

Next time you are in the area, take a closer look and see if you can spot the different habitat features the city has constructed in the area and see how they change throughout the seasons.

Rumour has it there are also a few geocaches hidden in the area. So grab your bike, walking shoes, GPS, camera, or binoculars and take a wander along one of the City’s best trails and see what other creatures are using it.

– Submitted by Michael Zimmer