Enhancing our Provincial Parks

Charles Helm, Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark

 

Monkman Provincial Park, Gwillim Lake Provincial Park… two acknowledged jewels in the crown of the parks in northeastern British Columbia. They both contain important geosites within the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark. Monkman Provincial Park, Gwillim Lake Provincial Park and four other provincial protected areas lies within the recently designated Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark. Is it possible for us as volunteers, who cherish our parks, such as Monkman and Gwillim, to enhance them for the benefit of residents and visitors?

Indeed it is. Applications can be made by volunteer groups to what is known as BC Parks’ Park Enhancement Fund. The Park Enhancement Fund supports BC Parks in earning revenues and attracting donations which can be reinvested in the provincial parks system. If the application is successful, a partnership with BC Parks then ensues, and a win-win situation results.

This process was started for the first time in the Tumbler Ridge area in the summer of 2014. The Wolverine Nordic & Mountain Society made the application, supported by the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation and the Tumbler Ridge Geopark. Northern BC Tourism and the Tumbler Ridge Visitor Centre had identified areas for potential enhancement in the information being presented to visitors travelling to Kinuseo Falls in Monkman Provincial Park, so these organizations also became partners in the process. Within just a few weeks, the response was received: the application had been successful for the entire proposed amount of $5,000, and the enhancement projects could begin!

The results speak for themselves: new signage at the start of the short trail to Kinuseo Falls, interpreting the geology and history of the falls, plus a detailed fold-out brochure for anyone making the journey from Tumbler Ridge to the falls, explaining points of interest en route. The artwork of talented local artist Darcy Jackson was incorporated into the signs and brochure. One of the interpretive signs is large, 6 ft by 4 ft, and a duplicate copy was made, which will be installed in Tumbler Ridge. This will encourage people to make the journey, and therefore spend more time in our community and B.C.’s provincial parks. In addition the interpretive hiking guide for the Stone Corral trail in Monkman Provincial Park was revamped and 2,000 copies printed, to be available in town and at the trailhead.

Now that this project has been successfully completed (the signs will be installed at the earliest possible opportunity in the spring) volunteer groups are working with BC Parks to find other ways to further enhance our provincial parks. Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society volunteers are meeting with BC Parks to discuss helping with trail maintenance in the parks. The Tumbler Ridge Geopark will fund similar signage at Gwillim Lake Provincial Park.

The work of the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society in developing the hiking trail system to many geosites forms one of the anchors of the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark. The achievements of this group, in working with BC Parks in securing and using this funding to enhance our provincial parks, provide a significant step towards fulfilling our potential.