Flooding causes $86K in damage to Sydney hiking trails

The community groups that maintain two nature trails around Sydney are facing tens of thousands of dollars in repairs as a result of the Thanksgiving Day rain storm.

The Baille Ard Recreation Association manages a network of 3.5 kilometres of trails that wind around two brooks in Sydney’s south end. A third of the group’s trails were impacted and the cost of repairs is estimated at $50,000.

David Gabriel, the association’s president, said the trails have flooded before in the 25 years since they were developed, but never like they did in October.

“For some of it, it was just a matter of taking off the surface stone, and we’ve experienced that before. But for a lot of it, it was almost as if you took a machine across it and gouged it out,” he said.

Worries about ice

Bridges and walkways were lifted off their moorings, and trees fell on the trails and in the brooks.

Gabriel is concerned that if the debris isn’t cleared from the brooks before winter, it could lead to further damage.

“Right now it looks sort of benign and pretty, but when the ice gets behind it, it floods,” he said.

Coxheath Hills Wilderness Trail in Coxheath

The Coxheath Hills Wilderness Trail’s access road is a way for seniors and people with disabilities to reach the upper part of the trail system. (Submitted by Andy Pittman)

 

The Coxheath Hills Wilderness Trail — a 10-kilometre trail system that reaches an elevation of 385 metres — is also facing a daunting repair job.

Andy Pittman, a long-time member and former president of the association that maintains the trail, got a preview of the damage on the day of the storm.

“The brook had moved. It was just like a flood coming down the trail, taking out the parking lot at the hall,” he said.

“Our access road — which we use for seniors and those with disabilities to access the upper part of the trail system — was heavily damaged.”

Coxheath Hills Wilderness Trail in Coxheath

Flood waters washed away gravel on the Coxheath Hills Wilderness Trail’s access road. (Submitted by Andy Pittman)

Looking for help with repairs

He said the main trail is washed down to the rock in some places and the gravel is gone. Pittman said the estimated cost of repairs  — excluding the damage to the parking lot  — is $36,000.

Both groups are applying for government funding to cover a portion of the repairs.

They’re hoping the community will help with the rest  — whether in the form of monetary donations or voluntary labour.

“Of course, some serious things have been going on in people’s personal lives, and so that would take precedent over anything we’re doing here,” said Gabriel, referencing the flood damage many people suffered to their homes.

“On the other hand, this is something that people enjoy.  And it’s not something that we want to let go.”

Andy Pittman

Andy Pittman says the access road to the Coxheath Hills Wilderness Trail was ‘heavily damaged.’ (Holly Conners/CBC)

 

Article Source: CBC News

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