Bridge is vital

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Star forum — By Ray Broughton

Dear editor: The purpose of this letter is to bring immediate attention to the matter concerning the removal of a bridge by Nalcor near the town of Howley that may transpire quickly without intervention or review by proper authorities.

There is a bridge located approximately 18 kilometres from Howley on an extremely well-travelled roadway known by many as the “Hinds Lake Road.”

The bridge was originally installed by Corner Brook Pulp and Paper about two decades ago. Since that time, many interest groups made good use of this area, via this particular bridge which crosses over Hinds Brook, the brook used by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro for release of excessive water flow for the Hinds Lake Reservoir during high water levels.

This bridge remained in excellent condition until two years ago during the early summer when we received a period of heavy rains which, caused Hydro to release excessive amounts of water from the reservoir, causing the bridge to be washed out. At that time, we communicated with Hydro and they graciously agreed to replace the bridge with a higher and newer type structure.

Again late last fall, there was an excessive release of water from the reservoir, which did cause some erosion from one of the supports.

Instead of assessing the damage and estimating repairs for the bridge, Nalcor appears to be attempting to remove the bridge completely with no plans of an alternate route or crossing. Without permission from Hydro to pass directly over the Hinds Lake dam itself, there is no other passage available for the public to be able to access the area the bridge once provided access to.

This area has been open for access for several decades and has become a haven for many interest groups in the area. Some in particular include local hunters, berry pickers, nature enthusiasts, ATV operators, snowmobilers (recognized route by the Newfoundland and Labador Snowmobile Federation, outfitters and trappers.

This bridged crossing has even been recognized and incorporated in the route for the snowmobile federation.

Many hunters from the Howley, Deer Lake, Corner Brook and surrounding areas apply for moose/caribou licenses for this area, which is known as Moose Management Area 12 Buchans. In actual fact, the bridge in question is the very boundary where this MMA12 begins its border. Without this bridge, all of the hunters who have applied for this area and were successfully awarded licenses, would not be able to access this area should this bridge be removed.

There are also two outfitters from the Howley area that use this roadway to access their commercial camps and without this bridge, would have to resort to commercial helicopter transportation, which is quite costly and would most definitely have a negative impact on the business for those camps.

Between both outfitters, I would estimate the number of people seasonably employed would represent 12-15 people and translate into a great deal of revenue for the Howley and Deer Lake area through travel accommodations, and employment.

Another major area of interest is the tourism, which is generally located through the use of this well-established trail system from Howley to Buchans via the Hinds Brook Bridge.

Each year, thousands of ATV operators and snowmobilers use this trail system and generate much needed tourism, dollars which in turn create employment through supplying such things as fuel, groceries, accommodations and other mechanical services which all add up to keeping small towns such as Howley alive.

The latest bridge at Hind’s Brook is only two years old and — with just some simple repairs — has the ability to continue to provide surrounding areas such as Howley and Buchans with at least 20 years of spin-offs from the local tourism the roadway generates each year.

For the Department of Natural resources to allow the removal of this bridge would have a serious negative impact on several businesses in the area and financially cripple an already struggling town.

We need your support to communicate the importance of this bridge to the local area and help all parties work together to find a solution. We are willing to provide whatever support we can to ensure this bridge remains in place and are open to any and all communications from Hydro and any other parties involved.

Thank you for your help and co-operation.

Ray Broughton, owner/operator, Ray’s Hunting and Fishing Lodge

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Newfoundland and Labador Snowmobile Federation, Department of Natural resources

Geographic location: Howley, Hinds Lake Road, Buchans Deer Lake Corner Brook Moose Management Area

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Recent comments

  • Judy Ann Kelly Murphy
    July 14, 2014 - 11:47

    Dear Sir, I have personally travelled this road since its existence; possibly near 30 years. I am an outdoor enthusiast ; from Hunting, Quading, Skidooing ; whatever our great uoutdoors has to offer. This road in Winter is now used to snowmobile to Buchans and surrounding areas; where in the past the Lakes were travelled. This reason alone provides a much safer route while Snowmobiling . I have Hunted this area for Moose just as long. My Moose licence this year is for this area. Myself and a group of Friends make several trips on Quads to this area and we take our Families to enjoy this great asset. I have Family who come home every year with their Family, who has a favorite swimming hole in this area; which I might add, we just visited yesterday. As Mr. Broughton stated, this area generates much business, all year long, for our small Town that is stuggling to survive. Mr. Broughton, I commend you on your excellent letter that speaks the truth and I only hope that our local Council will get involved in trying to preserve this great piece of Tourism that we have in our back yard and that all of you outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy this area also speak out.

  • Don Shea
    July 12, 2014 - 21:01

    Since moving back to NL. I have found a province divide. The Avalon Pen. and the other people. Well the " Other People " make up the other 50 % of the votes in NL.

  • Don Mc Lean
    July 10, 2014 - 08:14

    I agree with Mr. Broughton. This bridge is a vital link to Moos hunting area 12 and is used extensively by snowmobilers , and is a vital link for the snowmobile trail to Buchans and is used by people ,not only from the Howley area, but from practically everywhere. Closing this bridge would be the same as closing the bridges on the railbed to the public . It seems as there is no happy medium. It goes from one extreme to the other and there is no consideration given to the impact of closing this bridge on towns and everyone that use this link. I hope that our elected officials will intercede on our behalf and get this decision reversed.