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Mountain enthusiasts may come across a few closed trails this fall, but this is good news. Antonin St-Jean, Head of Conservation Services at Les amis de la montagne, explains why.
 
Montréalers may have reaped the health benefits of having access to green spaces during the pandemic, but the same can’t be said for the mountain. The increased presence of runners, walkers and cyclists, sometimes in non-permitted areas, has multiplied rogue trails on Mount Royal. The result: seriously weakened ecosystems, compacted soils and degraded undergrowth! To help nurse these fragile habitats back to health, the City of Montréal is closing 3.6 km of these unofficial trails between September 1 and November 15, 2021, to plant 4,650 native shrubs and trees. True to its mission to protect and preserve Mount Royal, Les amis de la montagne will be on hand to support the operation and to raise awareness among users.


One more or one less trail, what's the difference?

Trails are not all created equal. Official trails have been carefully positioned in areas where their use has the least impact on the park's flora and fauna. This is not the case with unauthorized trails. They are the result of an insidious ripple effect. Consider this scenario: a few people go off the beaten track to do a little exploring or to take a shortcut. This "innocent" passage damages and breaks shrubs and bushes. Worse still, it creates a visual corridor that encourages other passers-by to follow it, gradually widening it and voila, a new trail is born. The problem is that it fragments the habitat into small patches and weakens the plant and animal populations. It has a detrimental effect on vegetation through direct trampling of plants. The resulting soil compaction leads to erosion and sediment accumulation, which creates a hostile environment for most plants. Finally, the edges become fertile ground for invasive and unwanted exotic plants that soon compete with the local native flora.

The City's revegetation operation is therefore essential to restoring the health of the mountain's natural environment. The regeneration zones are recognizable by the installation of temporary fencing and signage, as well as the increased presence of Les amis de la montagne. Our information booths and patrols will help to inform  and educate visitors about environmental issues and the cumulative effect of their actions.


The two areas of Mount Royal Park where informal trails will be closed for revegetation

So whether you're on two legs, four legs or two wheels, please don't go off the beaten path - for the love of the mountain!
For more information, see the City of Montréal's announcement.
 
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