The Revelstoke ATV Club is applying to build a three-kilometre long trail that will connect the ghost town of Arrowhead with a nearby forest service road, allowing for motorized access to the site.
Arrowhead is located across from Shelter Bay on the Arrow Lake Reservoir and is currently only accessible by boat or backcountry trek. The completion of the Hugh Keeleyside Dam in the late 1960s flooded out most of the historic mining and forestry town, though it had been in decline for some time after a railway connecting it to Revelstoke was decommissioned.
The former town-site contains ruins, heritage plants leftover from gardens and a significant historic cemetery.
Revelstoke ATV Club president Tom Kohlman submitted an application for the new trail in early 2012. The plan calls for the trail to be linked to a nearby forestry road. Parking areas will be located at both ends of the trail, which will be gated at the forestry road. The parking area at the Arrowhead end will be located some distance from the townsite itself.
The plan is to have the gate locked except for special events sanctioned by the Revelstoke ATV Club. The proposal calls for a trail that will allow ATV access but not access for larger vehicles. Non-motorized use will be permitted at all times.
Kohlman was not available for a direct interview, but responded to questions about the proposal via email.
He said the trail will improve access to the historic site. “We see the trail having the ability to remove the accessibility barriers for those individuals wishing to visit their loved ones in the Arrowhead cemetery, who would otherwise only be able to visit by way of boat on the Arrow Lake,” Kohlman wrote. “It also removes accessibility barriers for disabled or elderly individuals. We see the trail as an opportunity to enhance public awareness, interest, understanding and appreciation of our provinces’ past.”
Kohlman said the trail is intended for uses such as hiking, biking, research, horseback riding and ATVing. “It is not intended as an ATV destination; it is there for all to enjoy,” he said in a statement. “We anticipate its main usage will be for local[s] and local connections to Arrowhead.”
If approved, the club is targeting completion of the trail by 2013. Kohlman said the Revelstoke ATV Club was planning to use in-kind labour and donations as well as grants to complete the work.
Province of B.C. Recreation Officer Ken Gibson said he’s nearing a decision on the application. The project is a ‘Section 57’ application under the provincial forestry act, used for public projects such as mountain bike trails. The process does not involve a public review. “If we did this for every application we wouldn’t get anywhere,” Gibson told the Times Review. Stakeholders are being consulted, Gibson said, including the Arrowhead Conservation Society.
The conservation society is seeking to maintain the heritage of the ghost town and has conducted surveys and other research in recent years. The Times Review spoke with a member of the ACS, but he wasn’t available for comment by press time.
Kohlman said the ATV club would work with the conservation society on the trail project. The ATV club application calls for consultation with the conservation group only after the project is approved — although the provincial referral process has already alerted conservation society members to the application.
“We are certainly are sensitive to the same concerns and will take every measure possible to eliminate any issues surrounding negative effects,” Kohlman said in a statement. “The Revelstoke ATV Club will work very closely with the Arrowhead Conservation Society to advocate for the protection and enhancement of the lands in and around the historic town site and its cemetery.”
Motorized access to Arrowhead caused significant local controversy in the past. Seasonal access was possible via the Columbia Flats, but was blocked off by landowners who sought to limit motorized travel across their property. This proposal takes a different route.