Balsam Hollow Trail improvements - Green Gables Heritage Place
Parks Canada received funding under a special project to improve ecological health in Prince Edward Island National Park and national historic sites in Prince Edward Island. Making gains in ecological integrity is a priority for Parks Canada. As such, we are pleased to invest in a project to address ecological threats to the Balsam Hollow brook, along the Balsam Hollow Trail at Green Gables Heritage Place. This work, which began at the end of the 2013 season is continuing into the spring of 2014.
Prior to the commencement of this project, the design of the Balsam Hollow Trail negatively impacted the ecosystem by simply having too many crossings and being built too close to the brook. This resulted in erosion, siltation, trampling of sensitive riparian vegetation, channelization, bank destabilization and a lack of coarse woody debris in the stream. These issues combined represent threats to the health of the stream, including its fish populations.
By modifying the design of Balsam Hollow trail to lessen its impact on the stream, the health of the stream and surrounding forest ecosystem will be improved. While redesigning the Balsam Hollow trail, Parks Canada received advice from the International Mountain Biking Association to ensure best practices in sustainable trail development were employed.
© Parks Canada
© Parks Canada
© Parks Canada
This project has resulted in changes to the design of the Balsam Hollow trail. Some of the changes include rerouting the trail in a number of places to result in fewer stream crossings, as well as the creation of a buffer between the trail and the freshwater stream. Reducing the number of bridges will reduce the environmental risks to the stream and associated ecosystems caused by footings and support structures. The newly-created buffer will help protect the stream by reducing the occurrence of trampling and subsequent erosion along the shores of the brook. Trees will be able to grow beside the stream. They will stabilize the channel and banks while contributing nourishment and structure by dropping leaf litter and wood into the streams channel.
Despite the changes to the trail, visitors will still have ample opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the forest and hear the sound of the brook in multiple locations along the Balsam Hollow trail. Additional changes near the southern end of the trail will re-route visitors away from the adjacent golf course, thus restoring the historical feel of the walk.
Work has been underway on this project since the fall of 2013. To date a number of trail re-routes have been completed, six bridges have been removed and three bridges have received upgrades.
In the spring of 2014, Parks Canada will be making finishing touches on the trail and constructing a new stairwell to be placed along one of the newly created trail re-routes before the trail re-opens on June 30 2014.
The final stages of the project will see the original footprint of the Balsam Hollow trail restored through the planting of native Acadian forest tree species. This work is expected to take place during the spring and summer of 2014.
July 8, 2014 - It’s open!
Parks Canada is pleased to report that Balsam Hollow Trail at Green Gables Heritage Place has been re-opened! With the construction work on the trail complete, visitors are once again welcome to explore this beautiful pathway. As previously reported, the trail received a number of ecologically-improved upgrades to minimize the impact of visitors on the brook that passes through the area. Old infrastructure was removed and, in some cases, replaced. A new set of stairs was built near the end of the trail and placement of interpretive signage has been adjusted so as to better suit the trail’s new composition.
Those who were familiar with the route of the trail in the past will find that the new trail has retained all of the beauty and mystery of its predecessor with a number of improvements that will go a long way to preserving the plants and animals that called the brook home. With the danger of erosion much decreased, silt levels can return to a more normal range which is good news for the brook trout and plant life native to the brook-edge can regenerate without the interference by the troubles caused by curious footsteps. All will agree that the move away from the boundary with the golf course was a good one with the heritage feel of the trail much improved by the placement of the new trail route.
The final component of the project involves the planting of native Acadian forest tree species alongside the pathways, an activity which will likely begin in the fall when planting conditions are more favourable.
Other ecological restoration projects in Prince Edward Island National Park