Thanks to a multi-level partnership to enhance the Okanagan's outdoor recreation opportunities, the Highland Trail is receiving upgrades to make it safer and more accessible for residents and visitors.
The first phase of a multi-phase improvement project is now complete. The trailhead, in the northeast corner of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park at Cosens Bay Gate, has been cleared of debris and widened. A new trailhead sign has been installed. The upgrades are a partnership between the Ministries of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Environment for a 42-kilometre trail enhancement project from Vernon to Kelowna.
Upgrades to the trail are being conducted by crews from the Wildfire Management Branch's Vernon Fire Zone when they are not responding to wildfires. The project is allowing crews the opportunity to contribute to the local community while increasing their fire fighting and prevention skills by performing tasks like danger tree identification, brush clearing and chain sawing.
Local contributions have played an important role with getting phase one to completion. Inspired Precision Machining Inc. donated materials for the new trailhead sign and Postill and Sons Ltd. helped haul gravel and provided use of their trucks.
The next two-year phase of the project is expected to begin in Spring 2014 and will include pruning, spacing and removing select trees to further improve trail access.
B.C.'s recreation sites and trails hold significant benefits for users and communities, including both improved quality of life for residents and increased tourism revenue. Since 2004, B.C. has invested more than $26 million to maintain and rehabilitate B.C.'s recreation sites and trails system.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson -
"This improvement project is a win-win situation for everyone involved. The community benefits from an improved trail to enjoy the region's natural environment and the crews of the Vernon Fire Zone get to practice and hone skills that are essential in their regular duties fighting forest fires."
Minister of Environment Mary Polak -
"The majestic grasslands and unique biodiversity found in this area are something to be treasured and shared. Situated close to the city of Vernon, this improvement project will give local residents and area visitors better access to the scenic beauty of this region."
Eric Foster, MLA, Vernon-Monashee -
"Restoring the Highland Trail is great news for both Vernon and Kelowna. In a day and age where more people are spending time indoors - in front of a screen - providing an improved, quality recreation opportunity like this promotes healthy living and B.C.'s beautiful outdoors."
Aaron Peters, owner, Inspired Precision Machining Inc. -
"I strongly believe it is important to be active outdoors. My family and I frequently use the trail network in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, and I was excited about the opportunity to contribute."
- The five-kilometre section of the Highland Trail, in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, is also known locally as High Rim Trail.
- Highland Trail is a multi-use trail used mainly by walkers, cyclists and horseback riders.
- Every year, more than nine million residents and visitors alike take advantage of our vast network of forest recreation sites and trails.
- B.C. offers more than 1,300 recreation sites and 800 trails to enjoy throughout the province.
Photos of recent trail upgrades: http://flic.kr/p/h7GYh9
Recreation Sites and Trails BC: http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/default.aspx
BC Parks: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations