The winners of the 2016 BC Parks Volunteer Awards are:
Volunteer of the Year recipients Don Scott and David Webb have been volunteering in the South Fraser area maintaining over 200 kilometres of trail annually, and contributing over 750 hours of time in 2016. They have worked in two BC Parks regions, four provincial parks (Chilliwack Lake, E.C. Manning, Skagit Valley and Cathedral parks) and two ecological reserves (Skagit River Cottonwoods, Skagit River Forest). They have mentored a number of volunteers and staff over the years and provided invaluable insight and advocacy with local community groups. They have also donated equipment that has been leveraged to finance multiple large-scale projects including two bridges in Skagit Valley and E.C. Manning parks and 100 metres of boardwalk in Cathedral Park.
Volunteer Group of the Year recipients the Caledonia Ramblers have worked tirelessly to make the Ancient Forest/ - Chun T’oh Whudujut Park and protected area a reality, saving a globally significant area of the province. They were involved in meetings with government officials and collaborated with local First Nations and the University of Northern British Columbia to highlight the cultural and scientific significance of the area. While regularly maintaining the area, the Caledonia Ramblers also built a 456-metre-long universal access pathway so people with all abilities could enjoy the ancient cedars. They also built another 2,210 metres of boardwalk to features such as Tree Beard, Radies Tree and Big Tree, along with an extension to a magnificent waterfall. In their spare time, the Caledonia Ramblers, under the umbrella of the Prince George Back Country Recreation Society, clear the trails in Eskers, Bobtail Mountain, Stuart River, Giscome Portage, Mount Pope, Evanoff, Fort George Canyon, and Sugarbowl -Grizzly Den parks.
Volunteer Group of the Year recipient Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society has been involved with promoting and enhancing the trestles and trail in Myra Canyon since 1992. The collective has been an integral partner of BC Parks since Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park was established in 2001. It was integral in lobbing for the Myra Canyon to be established as a provincial park and also applied to the National Historical Sites and Monuments Board to have the canyon designated as a place of national historical significance of which it was designated in 2003.
The Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society helps to maintain 18 trestles and 12 kilometres of trail that have more than 80,000 visitors a year. The society provides essential services by clearing brush, fallen rocks and tress throughout the operating season. It also supports and helps facilitate many of the biking and running events that are held in Myra Canyon, providing volunteers for some of the larger running and biking events to help manage the participants and park visitors.
Ruby Dunstan, Volunteer Legacy award winner, has worked to protect the Stein Valley for more than 30 years. As a key negotiator in the formation of the park and current elder of the Lytton First Nation, Dunstan’s direct involvement officially began with the signing of the Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park Co-Management Agreement between the Lytton First Nation and the Province of British Columbia in 1995. Since the signing of this agreement, Dunstan has been the co-chair for the Stein Management Board – along with being an advocate on many varying issues, both locally and nationally. Dunstan, whose main vocation was as a social worker, continues to provide guidance and knowledge, particularly to children in the area. She visits the local Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux School often, to provide cultural education, which includes the history and values of the Stein to the students.
Living Oceans Society has worked under a partnership agreement with BC Parks since 2013 through its Clear the Coast Initiative. One of the Living Oceans Society’s initiatives is to raise awareness of, locate, assess and, where possible, responsibly remove and dispose of marine debris around Northern Vancouver Island. Living Oceans Society has gathered over 10 tonnes of marine debris from the west end of Cape Scott Park. It also mounted an effort to collect and remove debris from the beaches and coves of Lanz and Cox Islands Park, providing habitat for diving ducks, white-winged scoters, great blue herons, bald eagles, Peale’s peregrine falcons, fulmars, shearwaters, and petrels, oystercatchers and gulls, some of which are dependent upon foreshore habitat for foraging. The impact the volunteers have had on the communities on the North Island has been broad and immense, from engaging park visitors and community members to participate in the passive collection program, to engaging volunteers to help in the two-week clear-the-coast expedition. They do all this while raising public awareness of the marine debris on the West Coast.
In addition to the volunteer awards, BC Parks also recognizes an outstanding park operator. The 2016 Park Operator of the Year recipient is Mount Assiniboine Lodge Ltd.
Mount Assiniboine Lodge Ltd. has been the park operator providing recreation service delivery in the core area of Mount Assiniboine Park since 2011. Andre Renner and Claude Duchesne provide management for Mount Assiniboine Lodge. They go above and beyond their contractual obligations by demonstrating a true desire to maintain park facilities in the best shape possible and provide the best service to their clients. They maintain great communications, not only to their direct clientele, but also to the diverse user groups that the park attracts, including hikers, mountaineers, campers and photographers. Their willingness to support park facility improvements and take innovative paths to improve their operation has benefited all park visitors in the area.