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Posted: September 25, 2019

Creating destinations to be desired

People in the Columbia Basin now have even better reasons to get active outdoors and lead healthier lifestyles, and although we’re heading into fall, it’s still a great time to enjoy some upgraded trails and recreation sites. This summer, an enthusiastic group of youth gave a helping hand to these types of places in the Basin, improving the condition of several remote, high-use locations.

Thirteen students between the ages of 18 and 25 were split into three crews operating in the Kootenay-Boundary, Rocky Mountain and Columbia-Shuswap recreation districts and in the Village of Valemount. For 15 weeks, a leader and three or four crew members worked on projects like inspecting and maintaining sites and trails, collecting data, and installing tables, fire rings, outhouses and signs. The program was co-developed by the Trust and Recreation Sites and Trails BC.

Gabrielle Thompson is a student in the Fish, Wildlife and Recreation program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). She was one of the youth who received summer employment while gaining experience in recreation and natural resource management. “I am passionate about what I am learning in school,” she says, “and it drove me to apply for the Recreation Youth Crew job in Cranbrook, so I could expand my experience and knowledge that I was gaining at BCIT.”

In addition to learning skills like how to build various structures, use a radio and drive a large truck on active logging roads, she also improved her ability to be a leader and communicate effectively to complete a project efficiently. “Moreover, it gave me a better understanding of my interests and future goals, and it made me realize how much I love working outdoors!”

Kelsey Knoll is Program Coordinator for Recreation Sites and Trails BC. She says, “Our community partners have been very happy with the level of commitment of the students. Site operators, local trail societies and the BC Wildfire Service have all said the youth crews were great to work with. Their enthusiasm, hard work and willingness to learn created a synergy that spurred everyone involved to reach a common goal.”

The Cranbrook chapter of Trails BC was one of these community groups. It had a youth crew work on the Chief Isadore Trail near Cranbrook and the Cranbrook Great Trail Loop.

“It is a major asset to have this trained and equipped crew assist us with larger, multi-day trail rehab projects that are difficult to do with volunteer labour,” said Neil Shuttleworth, Board Director. “This crew was able to complete a number of projects from start to finish with a level of quality control that is often difficult to maintain with large volunteer projects.”

This was the first year of the program, which is helping the Trust fulfill its commitment to enhancing trails and helping people in the region live healthy lifestyles through recreation and physical activity. The Trust primarily covered wages, accommodations, some travel costs and materials, while Recreation Sites and Trails BC oversaw crew scheduling and training, program delivery and administration.

Photos courtesy Columbia Basin Trust

Columbia Basin Trust

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