For the love of Mount Royal, stay off the mountain’s secondary forest trails.
Three weeks after a major ice storm, tree trunks and branches continue to block many of the trails, making them dangerous, according to Les amis de la montagne, a non-profit group that coordinates activities and reforestation projects on Mount Royal.
“People are risking their own safety and harming the integrity of these precious, natural spaces by venturing off the trails to get around branches piled on the ground,” the group said in late April 2023.
“The ice storm happened at a very bad time of year: the spring thaw, when natural areas are fragile.”
Many mountain-goers are “trampling the undergrowth and widening the trails. This compacts the soil, contributes to forest fragmentation and increases the potential for erosion, which seriously damages vegetation.”
It will take weeks to prune branches and remove hanging tree limbs. Specialists must first assess the damage and secure sites.
Les amis urged visitors to stick to the only paths that have officially reopened: Olmsted Rd., the Peel St. entrance and the summit loop in Mount Royal Park.
The latest ice storm is expected to change the face of Mount Royal.
“But the breaks in the forest cover will also give young trees the chance to take root and grow quickly,” Les amis said.
“The large quantity of fallen or damaged wood will attract an abundance of insects over the next few years, which will benefit insectivorous birds such as woodpeckers.”
Remnants of trees left on the ground “will put nutrients like carbon back into the soil on the forest floor.”