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Build a bridge over Bald Range Creek?

The Okanagan Trail Riders Association is in a fighting mood.

The OTRA says it has been forced to fight what it calls a 'propaganda campaign' perpetrated by the Lakeview Irrigation District and some local politicians.

Association President, Ken Umbarger, says the latest attacks came from West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and Councillor Carol Zanon.

Findlater pointed the finger at the Ministry of Tourism after touring an area of the Bald Range Creek Watershed he says had suffered significant damage by dirt bikers riding along a creek and riding up the hill.

"This really concerns me. We really need to engage in this issue," said Findlater at the time.

At a news conference Tuesday, Umbarger defended the OTRA, saying his organization is absolutely concerned about water quality.

We consider it a very high priority and I trust the information you have been given will evidence that," says Umbarger.

"It's one thing to say you care about something, but I think actions speak louder than words. I think it's time for the media to start asking some of these people why there isn't a bridge crossing, why there's isn't any engineered trails?"

Umbarger backed up those words, committing $500 of his own money to kick-start a private fund raising campaign to raise $40,000 to build a bridge over Bold Range Creek.

"I'm going to challenge James Mollar, I'm going to challenge their consultants, I'm going to challenge the motorized recreation community to step up and go to our website and make a donation."

He hopes to raise $20,000 over the next three days, which translates into $40,000 after the National Trail Coalition matches each donation dollar for dollar.

"That will allow us to deal with this problem once and for all."

Umbarger says the OTRA had the funds at one time to construct the bridge and also had the support of the Lakeview Irrigation District, however, once LID withdrew its support, the project had to be scrapped.

He says those funds were used to construct signs and sustainable trails.

Now, he says the time has come to move forward and build a properly engineered bridge and trail system to protect the watershed.


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