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Telegraph Trail Plan
Table of Contents

Acknowledgements i

1.0 Introduction 1

1.1 Purpose 1

1.2 Administrative framework 1

2.0 The Dominion Telegraph Trail 2

2.1 Location 2

2.2 Access 2

2.3 History 3

2.4 Description 4

2.5 Climate 5

2.6 Vegetation 5

3.0 Resource Values and Uses 7

3.1 Heritage 7

3.2 Recreation 7

3.3 Landscape 11

3.4 Timber 11

3.5 Water 11

3.6 Wildlife 12

3.7 Fisheries 12

3.8 Minerals 12

4.0 Guidelines for Resource Development 14

4.1 Heritage 14

4.2 Landscape 14

4.3 Recreation 15

4.4 Access 16

4.5 Timber 16

4.6 Water 19

4.7 Wildlife 19

4.8 Fisheries 19

4.9 Minerals 19

5.0 Implementation 20

6.0 Conclusions and Recommendations 20

7.0 Glossary 21


A number of individuals and groups have contributed significantly to the development of this plan. Kathy Coupé would like to thank Linn Andersson, B.C. Environment, Rena Buniak, Bulkley Valley Museum, Margaret Clay, Hazelton District Public Library, Doug Herchmer, Norm Larson, Ministry of Forests, Kispiox Forest District, Brian Ness, Fred Oliemans, Skeena Cellulose Inc. - Carnaby Operations, George Shultze, Telegraph Trail Preservation Society, Melissa Todd, and Chris Walker for all of their help. Sara Jaward would like to thank Egan Wuth, Bruce La Haie, Darren Fillier and Maggie Marsland for their help.

Kathy Coupé

Resource Planning Co-op

July 1995

Amended by:

Sara Jaward

Resource Planning Technician

May 2000

1.0 Introduction

Historic routes are becoming increasingly recognised and valued in our society as important heritage resources. This is evident in the reaction of the residents of the Kispiox Valley to the destruction and/or loss of parts of the Dominion Telegraph Trail within the Kispiox Forest District. This plan is the result of their interest in preserving the remaining sections of the Dominion Telegraph Trial for future generations of historians.

1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this plan is to:

  • Provide for appropriate management of the trail, trail corridor, and viewshed within the Kispiox Forest District by establishing heritage, recreation, and landscape objectives

  • Ensure those objectives are met by establishing guidelines for resource development and monitoring activities and

  • Ensure that activities in sensitive areas adjacent to the trail corridor are compatible with those objectives, through co-operation with other planning processes and agencies

1.2 Administrative framework

The Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Small Business Tourism and Culture jointly manage heritage trails under the auspices of:

  • The Heritage Conservation Act:

Provides for the designation of land as a Provincial Heritage Site

  • The memorandum of Agreement between the Minister of Forests and the Minister of Small Business Tourism and Culture:

Provides for the overall coordination of the two ministries.

  • An approved management plan:

Provides a framework for maintaining the integrity of the trail as a heritage site

  • The Forest Practices Code Act:

To designate the Heritage trail as a forest recreation trail

2.0 The Dominion Telegraph Trail

2.1 Location

The Telegraph Trail connecting Vancouver to Hazelton approaches Hazelton from the Southeast following the north bank of the Bulkley River. The Telkwa High Road has taken up a large portion of this trail near Smithers. From Hazelton, the line goes north staying to the East of the Skeena River until it crosses over to the West at Kispiox Village (Fort Stager of the 1864-66 attempted construction of the Collings Overland Telegraph [Western Union Extension]). From Kispiox Village, the trail continues north along the east bank of the Kispiox River a few kilometres south Cullon Creek. At this point the trail breaks free of all major waterways continuing in a northward direction until it once again reaches the Skeena River north of Deep Canoe Creek. The trail leaves the Kispiox Forest District heading north towards Telegraph Creek, following the west bank of the Skeena River.

2.2 Access

The Telegraph Trail can be reached from many points along the Kuldo Forest Service Road.

Access Points:
14 km Kuldo FSR

It is at this point that the Kuldo F. S.K and the Dominion Telegraph trail break from each other. To reach this, the existing head of the telegraph trail, drive up the Kispiox trail and turn off onto the Kuldo F.S.R. at 45 km. The Trail takes off on the left hand side of the road.

Deadhorse Lake

Access to the Trail is also available from the 22 km Branch road (Watoosie) on the Kuldo FSR. The Watoosie branches off on the left hand side of the Kuldo at the southern end of Deadhorse Lake. The Trail crosses the Watoosie at approximately 600 m in from the Kuldo F.S.R.

Deep Canoe Creek

Following the Kuldo F.S.R. past 22 km up to 27 km will bring you to the point at which the Telegraph trail crosses Deep Canoe Creek. The crossing is downstream of the bridge and is marked by a short tramline strung across the creek.

29 km Kuldo F.S.R.

This section of the trail parallels the Kuldo F.S.R., but crosses the 29

km branch road approximately 100 m from its junction with the Kuldo F.S.R.
Kuldo Bridge

The Telegraph Trail comes in contact with the Kuldo FSR between the

37 km board and the 38 km board where the Kuldo bridge spans the creek.
39 km Kuldo F.S.R.

The Kuldo F.S.R. is once again crossed by the trail, this time at 39 km.

Kuldo North Rd.

The telegraph trail crosses the Kuldo North Rd. at approximately 40 km

Damsumlo F.S.R.

The Trail crosses the Damsumlo F.S.R. at 0.5km. The Damsumlo branches off the Kuldo F.S.R. at 45 km.

Kuldo Interpretation Trail

The Kuldo Interpretation Trail is accessed at 51km on the Kuldo F.S.R. The Telegraph trail is crossed approximately 2km from the start of the interpretation trail.

57 km Kuldo F.S.R.

Access to the Telegraph Trail can also be obtained through the access road to Block 40, CP620 at 57km on the Kuldo.

2.3 History

In the mid 1800's there was a growing desire to establish faster and more efficient communication between North America and Europe. An attempt was made in 1864 to link the continents with underwater cable across the Atlantic but this was not successful and the general opinion was that it would never work. As an alternative the Overland Telegraph Line was planned by Western Union Telegraph. This enormous under-taking envisioned a line starting in San Francisco, running north through the States and British Columbia, across Alaska to a short underwater crossing of the Bering Sea and then connecting with the already constructed Russian telegraph system to link eventually with the European system. Construction was started and by 1866 a fifty-foot wide right-of-way and an excellent trail had been constructed as far north as Telegraph Creek on the Stikine River. Unfortunately for the project in June 1866 news came to the construction crews that another underwater cable had been laid across the Atlantic and was operating successfully. On hearing the news, work on the Overland Telegraph Trail was abandoned and the section north of Quesnel was forgotten. The line from Quesnel south was put into operation.

Although the Telegraph Line itself was not used north of Quesnel, the trail proved to be a great asset and according to a report to the Minister of Mines many years later has ever since been the main thoroughfare through the Northern Interior and from it trails branch off to various districts.
The Yukon Gold Rush of 1898 opened up new frontiers and brought a surge of people who soon decided they wanted a fast, efficient and year round method of communicating with the rest of the world. The Dominion Government was reluctant to comply with their request for an extension of the telegraph from Quesnel to Dawson City, but finally decided to go ahead, partly spurred on by the hope there would be other mineral discoveries to open up the Yukon further. The line was completed in 1901 and was the last wilderness project until recent times. It cost several million dollars to build and served the North well for nearly fifty years.
Once the Yukon Telegraph Line had been constructed it had to be maintained. The construction foreman was given the responsibility of locating operators cabins along the line which would theoretically be a day's walk apart. Sometimes his judgement was at fault so that additional cabins were built by the linemen when they discovered that they were incapable of covering the distances between the original cabins. Ultimately there were also three shelters between each main cabin.
The section of the Line between Hazelton and Telegraph Creek was considered to be the loneliest and most dangerous. During the winter there was a phenomenal snowfall and the men stuck long poles beside their cabins so that they could find them again under the snow. There were snowshoes in the passes which snapped off poles and buried wires. Many of the men grew to love the lonely fife and stayed far longer than they had originally intended. They filled their spare time with many occupations and when they felt in need of companionship played chess or checkers over the wire with other operators. Food was an absorbing interest for some of them and there was fierce competition to see who was the best cook. Some of the men died in the service of the Telegraph Line and some could not stand the loneliness. Parts of the line stayed in operation until after the Second World War, but the section north of Hazelton was closed in 1936 when a flood destroyed some of the facilities.
In the present day much of the Hazelton-Telegraph Creek section is grown over but is still used by a surprising number of hikers. The Stewart-Cassiar Highway crosses the Trail several times thus providing convenient access for those who do not wish to travel the whole section.1

2.4 Description

Since the Dominion Telegraph Trail was shut down in 1936, the actual trail in the southern part of the Kispiox Forest District has largely been reworked into gravel road. The existing trail head can now be reached around 14 km on the Kuldo Forest Service Road. For approximately 30 kilometres, the trail travels north through mature timber. The trail tread here is still in good condition, and the gentle slopes make for easy hiking (see Figure 1.). Although wet areas, brush patches, and windfall are found to cross the trail at irregular intervals, the trail is still easily distinguishable from the surrounding forest floor. Past this section, the trail becomes almost indistinguishable. Overgrown with vegetation, the trail's lack of use becomes evident. The only sign of the trail's existence is the telegraph line running through the moss on the forest floor and the occasional insulator, or blazed tree.

2.5 Climate

This portion of the Dominion Telegraph Trail is located in the interior, continental climate dominated by easterly moving air masses that produce cool wet winters and warm dry summers. Periodic inundation by dry, high-pressure, continental air masses result in a few very cold winter days, and a few very hot summer days. Mean daily temperatures in July average 16.2C with the average mean daily temperature for January being -4.5C. The wide latitudinal extent of the region is reflected in the annual temperatures which range from 20C to 8.7C. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 500 mm to 1200 mm, 25-50% of which falls as snow. The temperature averages below OC for 2-5 months and above 10C for 3-5 months of the year.2

2.6 Vegetation

This portion of the Dominion Telegraph Trail Res within the Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone of the Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification of British Columbia. Mature climax forests are dominated by Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). A white X sitka spruce hybrid, also known as Roche spruce (Picea lutsii), joins Subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), and sometimes Western red cedar (I'hujaplicata) in many climax stands. Various Spruce hybrids (Picea X), Subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), and Black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) are often edaphic climax species in moist to wet ecosystems. Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), Trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides), and Paper birch (Betula paperifera) are common seral species virtually throughout the zone.

Associated with the many lakes and waterways are abundant riparian and lakeshore marshes. The bogs and fens are generally non-forested or have only a few stunted Lodgepole pine (Pinus conforta), Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylia), hybrid White spruce (Picea glauca), or Black spruce (Picea marianus).3

3.0 Resource Values and Uses

3.1 Heritage

The Dominion Telegraph Trail played an important role in the development of northern British Columbia. It opened up the north bringing with it an influx of people and a new way of life. The majority of the trail, left untouched since the mid 1930's except by a few trappers and hikers, has not faired well in the hands of time and nature.

The remains of the many telegraph cabins and the telegraph line itself have special heritage value. These cabins should be protected from human disturbance as they may hold potentially valuable archaeological evidence of daily use by the men who worked the line. Another important heritage attribute of the trail are the culturally modified trees. Marked with axe blazes or native carved faces the trees are located along the entire length of the trail. Although these trees will not last forever, their existence adds to the trail's heritage, both native and nonnative.
Sections of the trail were traditionally used by natives before telegraph exploration even began in the area around 1866. Historical aboriginal use of the area along the Dominion Telegraph Trail is extensive. Traditionally used as hunting and fishing grounds, sections of the trail are now home to cache pits, village sites, and broken or lost tools.
To date, an archaeological survey has not yet been undertaken for this section of the Dominion Telegraph Trail.

3.2 Recreation

Recreation opportunities on the Dominion Telegraph Trail include:

· hiking/backpacking

· angling

· hunting

· gathering/collecting

· horseback riding

· nature study

· bird watching

· photography

· orienteering

· camping

· cross-country skiing

· snowshoeing

The section of the trail south of Deep Canoe Creek is fairly well defined, but orienteering skills need to be used north of the creek in order to locate the trail. The many creeks crossed by the trail provide good angling opportunity, with the area in general being good for all types of nature study. Cross country or back country skiing is a possibility as long as the trail is kept brushed out.

3.3 Landscape

Landscape values were inventoried as part of the overall district-wide recreation inventory completed in 1994. This inventory however did not include a specific assessment along the length of the actual trail. Landscape sensitivity is considered to be very high along the immediate sides of the trail due to the closed forest canopy through which most of the trail runs. The 200 m width of the trail corridor will insure that visual quality objectives are maintained.

3.4 Timber

There are significant timber values within and adjacent to the Dominion Telegraph Trail. The corridor itself encompasses a total area of approximately 1454 ha. The following licensees have harvesting tenures in the area.

· Skeena Cellulose Inc. - Carnaby Operations

· Ministry of Forests Small Business Forest Enterprise Program

Timber stands range from immature to mature, with wetlands, nonproductive, and inoperable sites scattered throughout.
The total productive/operable land within the corridor is approximately 1066 ha. With a stand volume of 300 m3/ha the total timber volume lost to the trail corridor is approximately 319,800 m3.

3.5 Water

The Skeena and Kispiox rivers as well as their numerous tributaries along the telegraph trail provide not only a valuable water supply to wildlife and downstream communities, but also spawning and rearing habitat for anadromous salmonids, and a means of transportation for recreationalists. It is important to maintain the quality of water in this drainage for all water users.

3.6 Wildlife

The area around the Dominion Telegraph Trail is home to many species of mammals, birds, and amphibians. Common big game species include moose and black bear, with grizzly bears being seen less frequently. Trap returns show beaver, marten, and weasel as being abundant with fewer numbers of coyote, fisher, fox, lynx, mink, otter, and wolverine. Possible bird sightings include the three-toed woodpecker, winter wren, swainson's thrush, goldeneye, bufflehead, coopers hawk, and northern goshawk, while spotted frogs and the boreal toad represent the amphibians.

3.7 Fisheries

The streams and rivers in the area of the Dominion Telegraph Trail are home to many fish species. They provide excellent spawning and rearing grounds for anadromous salmonids, and year round habitat for other resident fish species (see Figure 2).

3.8 Minerals

There is no mineral activity around the telegraph trail at this time. Mineral potential maps are in the process of being revised by Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources, and will be out in the next while. Upon availability of these maps, the mineral section of this plan should be revised to incorporate all new information.

4.0 Guidelines for Resource Development

The following objectives and strategies provide direction for management of the Telegraph Trail.

4.1 Heritage

1. To maintain heritage values of the trail and preserve the trail route and associated structures.

  • Ensure that B.C. Archaeological Impact Assessment guidelines are followed for any development activities within the trail corridor that may impact the heritage resources of the trail;

  • Ensure that improvements within the trail corridor are compatible with the traditional style of the trail;l

  • Poles, insulators and markings associated with the trail will not be disturbed in any manner.

2. To promote awareness, appreciation and conservation of the heritage resources by trail users.

  • Provide adequate signing to minimize human disturbance to historic and cultural resources;

  • Encourage heritage conservation and etiquette on trail maps and brochures.

3. To encourage heritage research and inventory work on the trail by qualified people in consultation with the Archaeology Branch.

  • Maintain communication with Archaeology Branch and First Nations groups regarding heritage research and inventory work on the trail.

4.2 Landscape

1. To manage visual quality adjacent to the trail corridor for present and future trail users.

  • Maintain 200m trail corridor width to limit viewscape opportunities;

  • Review all plans adjacent to the trail corridor;

  • Establish the Telegraph Trail as a known scenic area under the Forest Practices Code.

4.3 Recreation

1. To provide for a semi-primitive, non-motorized recreational opportunity.

  • Improve inventories of recreation resource values along the trail corridor and adjacent areas;

  • Monitor the condition of natural and recreational resources along the trail, on a yearly basis or when impacts are reported;

  • Prohibit motorized access along trail;

  • Maintain camping opportunities within the trail corridor;

  • Place signs informing users to pack out garbage at trailheads and camping areas.

2. To complete all maintenance activities necessary to ensure the safety of the trail user and the preservation of the trail environment.

  • Conduct routine trail maintenance and inspection of natural and recreational resources every two years along the trail following the procedures outlined in the B.C. Forest Service Recreational Manual for Trail Maintenance and Rehabilitation and the guidelines listed below:

- inspect corduroy and repair if needed;

- remove windfall, brush and hazardous snags;

- maintain drainage structures, i.e. ditches, cross ditches, and waterbars;

- replace signs and trail markings as needed;

- maintain tread width to within 0.5 - 1 metres;

  • cut back overgrown vegetation to a width not greater than 1.5 metres;

  • Trail repair will be conducted in the following priority:

- correction of unsafe conditions;

- correction of environmental damage;

- requirements necessary to fully restore the trail to the planned design standard;

  • Provide opportunities for trail rehabilitation and monitoring;

  • Make opportunities for maintenance and monitoring available to non-profit organizations and groups.

4.4 Access

1. To restrict opportunities for motorized access to the trail.

  • Require a permit for all forest access construction within the trail corridor;

  • Allow only non-motorized access, including hiking and horse use;

  • Install signs informing the public of permitted uses.

2. Use existing roads whenever possible and construct new access roads only if absolutely necessary and with minimal impact to the trail

  • Road crossings shall be kept to the essential minimum and shall be located at right angles to the trail, or as close as possible thereto;

  • Where crossings are required, the cable will be cut and carefully rolled back out of the way;

  • Promote concentrated harvest of each pass so that new roads that cross the trail will be rehabilitated after the each pass using Forest Service guidelines.

3. To identify the trail’s location and associated heritage status.

  • Signs, clearly visible from road crossings, are to be erected at trail entry and exit points (see Figure 3.);

  • Where a road location is required to follow the trail’s route, a sign identifying the former location of the Dominion Telegraph Trail will be erected on that spot.

4.5 Timber

1. To prohibit timber harvesting within the trail corridor (exceptions for timber harvesting within the trail corridor will only be made if absolutely necessary in the event of insect infestations, disease, fire damage, windthrow and safety considerations).

  • Maintain a no-harvest buffer strip of 100 metres on either side of the trail, measured from the trail centreline;

  • Prevent timber trespass into the trail corridor by imposing trespass actions/billings as appropriate and laying charges under appropriate acts.

2. To conduct low impact timber removal from within the trail corridor only after other efforts and options have been ruled out. Operations are to be designed for minimal aesthetic impact.

  • Maintain a machine free buffer of 20 metres from the trail when harvesting within the 100m buffer;

  • Use either single tree, small group selection or shelterwood harvesting systems whenever possible;

  • Remove all flagging tape used for harvesting operations along the trail corridor;

  • Leave standing and undamaged all timber not removed for the purposes of treatment;

  • Fall and skid trees away from the trail;

  • Limb all trees before skidding and clear all slash and debris originating within 15 metres of the trail;

  • Establish landings outside the trail corridor.

3. To monitor and control the impact of insect and disease infestations in the trail corridor.

  • Conduct aerial surveys;

  • A decision to remove affected stands within the corridor will be made only after considering the following criteria:

- degree of insect or pest infestation;

- potential for spreading to adjacent operable stands;

- potential for reducing the aesthetics of the area;

  • Bark beetle infestations will be controlled using the following measures as necessary:

- conduct annual aerial surveys and establish probe/survey lines to identify and confirm the extent of infestations;

- single tree disposal;

- pheromone baiting( will normally occur outside the trail corridor).
4. To use low impact method fire suppression activities.

  • Use heavy machinery/equipment on a fire within the trail corridor only after carefully considering all factors, such as:

- size of the fire;

- existing fire danger;

- difficulty of control;

- values being protected;

- proximity to archaeological sites;

  • Ensure that trail and fire guard rehabilitation, using hand tools, is carried out following any fire suppression activities within the trail corridor.

5. To use appropriate silviculture methods when necessary within the trail corridor.

  • Plant tree species to retain original composition and appropriate tree stock for quick green-up when necessary;

  • Refrain from herbicide use within the trail corridor.

4.6 Water

1. To protect water resources within the trail corridor from contamination.

  • Follow Forest Practices Code Act and direction is provided from Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks for resource development near streams, i.e. erosion control measures, culvert/bridge construction and road construction.

4.7 Wildlife

1. To address any wildlife concerns within the trail corridor.

  • Develop a public education program addressing bear - human interaction along the trail corridor (signing and brochures).

4.8 Fisheries

1. To ensure that trail rehabilitation and any resource development activities within the trail corridor are carried out in a manner that minimizes erosion and undue siltation of streams, and protects adjacent stream banks.

  • Follow Forest Practices Code Act and direction from Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks for resource development and rehabilitation near watercourses, i.e. erosion control measures, culvert/bridge construction and road construction;

  • A regular maintenance program will be conducted to include inspecting and clearing of ditches, culverts and any other structure along the trail that may affect water flow.

4.9 Minerals

1. To ensure mineral exploration, evaluation and development does not impact on the heritage, landscape and recreation values of the trail.

  • Identify all known subsurface values through consultation with the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources;

  • Establish a conditional reserve over the 200 metre trail corridor and to further consider establishing site-specific no-staking mineral and placer reserves to protect critical heritage and recreation values.

5.0 Implementation

This management plan will be implemented as follows:

  • Heritage Conservation Act permits will be used to control all activities;

  • A non-profit public sponsor will be sought to assist in or direct maintenance and protection activities;

  • This plan will be reviewed every five years or sooner as warranted.

6.0 Conclusions and Recommendations

The Dominion Telegraph Trail is very important to the people of the Kispiox Valley. It is hoped that the objectives and guidelines set out here will achieve what the public in the Kispiox Forest District have asked for - the protection of this valuable heritage resource. In order to accomplish this it is recommended that the Dominion Telegraph Trail (Collins Overland) be designated in its entirety a Heritage Trail under the Heritage Conservation Act; a designation for which it is now being considered. It is also recommended that the Dominion Telegraph Trail from kilometre 14 on the Kuldo Forest Service Road to Deep Canoe Creek, be established as a Forest Service Recreation Trail. This would mean increased management, maintenance, and monitoring of the trail by the Ministry of Forests.

7.0 Glossary

Anadromous salmonids: Fish of the family Salmonidae (Pacific Salmon), that spawn in freshwater but live their adult life in the sea

Cache Pit: Pit used by aboriginal people to store food and supplies.
Trail Corridor: The 200 metre wide corridor, 100 metres on either side of the trail centre line, designated as a heritage trail by the Heritage Conservation Act, as specified in the Memorandum of Agreement.
Trail Viewshed: The total area encompassing the broad landscape visible from locations along the trail.
Semi-primitive: A recreational opportunity spectrum classification that infers a high opportunity to experience solitude, closeness to nature, self-reliance and challenge.
Heritage: Something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth; in the context of ‘heritage’ trail: the human history and knowledge possessed by British Columbians in association with an early travel route

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