Lacombe County officials have applied for funding to build a walking and cycling trail on the east side of Gull Lake, where off-highway vehicles have been damaging wetlands. (Advocate file photo)

Walking and cycling trail proposed for Gull Lake

Lacombe County applying for grants to build trail on east side of lake

Lacombe County hopes to tap into federal and provincial funding to create a walking and cycling trail on the east side of Gull Lake.

The county holds a number of reserve lands stretching along the lake from Gull Lake Centre north to Wilson’s Beach Campground.

“These lands support biodiversity, water quality, wildlife habitat, and public recreation opportunities near Gull Lake,” said a report to county council from Mike Bates, manager of agriculture and environmental services.”

“Over time these lands have been damaged due to the use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and other human activities including mowing, material storage and tree removal causing an adverse effect on the function of this ecosystem.”

To both protect the area and allow the public to enjoy it, the county wants to restore wetland and build a trail with a gate and other natural barriers to prevent access from off-highway vehicles such as ATVs, dirt bikes and quads.

Interpretive signs would also be installed highlighting unique plant and wildlife species in the area and its environmental benefits.

It is estimated the project would cost $367,850.

But all of that could be covered if the county is successful in a pair of grant applications. A federal Natural Infrastructure Fund grant would cover up to 80 per cent of the cost or $294,280. The $200 million fund was established in the 202 federal budget.

A provincial Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program grant could cover the remaining $73,570.

County council directed staff to apply for the grants at its meeting last week.

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