Dynamite Trail Association (DTA) Tree Clearing Policy
Version 5.0 – 2022-02-01
Intent – The intent of the Board in setting this Tree Clearing Policy is to provide some guidance to all DTA Stakeholders on the set of expected standards and limitations under which the DTA operates in maintaining the trail for the benefit of all users. The DTA Board believes that the adoption of this Policy will, over the long term, allow the DTA to sustainably meet its obligations to the DTA Stakeholders in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner.
Scope / Limits of Authority – LOA 2001-042 issued by the Nova Scotia government on September 17, 2001 and titled “Recreational Trail – Abandoned Rail Corridor from Martins River to the Town of Mahone Bay”, allows for the construction, maintenance and operation of a recreational trail and related facilities along an approximately 10 km stretch of the abandoned rail corridor. This same LOA requires the DTA to maintain the trail as suitable for the uses intended.
In determining the standard of care that should be applied in the clearing of trees from the abandoned rail corridor, and in making this Policy statement, the DTA Board takes guidance from, among other things, the NS Trails document Construction Standards for Multi-use Trail on Abandoned Rail Corridors.
DTA Stakeholders – the “User Group” – Aside from the Department of Lands and Forests (as owner of the abandoned rail corridor) the DTA recognizes the following potential uses of the trail corridor which need to be accommodated:
- Bi- directional, year-round, multi-use human traffic; including motorized vehicles, horses and bicycles.
- Motorized equipment to mow the rail corridor
- Dump trucks, excavators, graders and similar equipment necessary to maintain the trail surface
- Heavy equipment access for bridge rehabilitation
- Emergency vehicles, including fire trucks
- Adjacent landowners and other interested parties in the region.
- Wildlife, including seasonal birds
The “Tree Clearing Envelope” –To meet the needs of the User Group, the DTA recognizes the following criteria. Other than for major capital projects, the DTA believes this to be satisfactory for all Trail User purposes and for maintenance/emergency vehicle access.
- A “Clearing Width” As shown in Appendix A, The DTA will be targeting the following minimum criteria:
- A horizontal tread width of 3.5 m, plus 1.5 m shoulders, resulting in a minimum cleared surface of 6.5 m in the absence of ditching.
- Where ditching is required, tree clearing will be extended laterally to the top of the backslope of the ditch to insure proper drainage and absence of root intrusion on to the travelled surface.
- A “Clearing Height” of 3.5 m – thought sufficient to accommodate all vehicular traffic.
- A “Stump Limit”- All tree trunks should be cut as close to the ground as reasonably practical to enable safe operation of the mowing machinery.
- A “Horizontal Sight Distance” As there is motorized vehicles allowed throughout the trail, the DTA adopts a target of 400’ Horizontal Sight Distance. The DTA also recognizes that the practicality of this “target” is somewhat speed dependant and that, on a site- specific basis, selective limbing of trees along certain “inside” curved portions of the trail and/or other traffic calming measures (including signs indicating “Restricted Vision Ahead”) might be more effective in this regard. The DTA recognizes the guidance that a 150’ horizontal sight distance is sufficient if “cycling and pedestrian traffic” are the dominant activities.
Safety – When felling trees, attempts will be made, through posting of signs or otherwise, to inform the public travelling on the trail of the presence of that activity.
Seasonal Limits – All tree clearing is to be conducted during the period from Sept. 15 – May 15. Unplanned tree clearing as necessary to meet safety / access concerns will be conducted when needed. In areas of the Trail where many trees must be felled to re-establish the Tree Clearing Tunnel, consideration will be given to conducting such activities over multiple seasons.
Wood Waste Disposal – All hardwood trunks and major limbs to be bucked and stacked for collection on “first come” basis. Unless otherwise agreed to in advance with one or more third parties, all softwood logs as well as hard wood and softwood slash shall be removed from the travelled surface and adjacent drainage areas of the Trail. Such waste shall be deposited elsewhere in the abandoned rail corridor, taking care to ensure that the resulting waste materials do not affect drainage of the trail surfaces as well as adjacent ditches and watercourses. The DTA does not do any controlled burning of or chipping of wood waste from the Trail ROW.
Adjacent Landowners / Interested Parties– The DTA views the abandoned rail corridor as a shared common resource with a potential value to be gained by a form of cooperative management of the vegetation growth in that corridor. The DTA encourages adjacent landowners and other interested parties to offer to maintain certain sections of the abandoned rail corridor on their own account. On a case-by-case basis, the DTA will consider the merits of any offer and, where seen in the best interest of the whole User Group, will discuss the terms and conditions under which such offer can be implemented within the scope of LOA 2001-042.