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Posted: June 7, 2021

Local family honoured by BC Parks

For 15 years, members of the Freeze family have voluntarily maintained trails in some of the most rugged and isolated provincial parks in the East Kootenay, making these beautiful areas more accessible for visitors.

Rachel Shephard has taken on the role of volunteer project co-ordinator for the Alice Lake Western Toad Monitoring Project, dedicating countless hours to recruiting, co-ordinating and training other volunteers to collect data about the toads using science-based protocols.

Shephard and the Freeze family are among the hundreds of groups and individuals who donate their time and energy to stewardship of the province’s 1,036 parks and protected areas. BC Parks values the contributions made by volunteers and recognizes those who go above and beyond through its biannual achievement awards.

The winners of the 2020 BC Parks Volunteer Awards are:

* Volunteer legacy: Freeze family and friends;

* Individual volunteer: Rachel Shephard;

* Volunteer group: Comox District Mountaineering Club;

* Community Partner of the Year: Sovereign Lake Nordic Club.

Members of the Freeze family have maintained trails in BC Parks for roughly 15 years. Together, they have spent more than 1,000 hours cutting trails in some of the most rugged and isolated areas in East Kootenay parks, making these beautiful wilderness areas more accessible for park visitors. Based in Cranbrook, the team now includes Al, Paul and MacKenzie. Their speed on the trail and backcountry skills are commendable, and bad weather, broken equipment and other deterrents do not impact these volunteers’ moods, work ethic or results.

“The passion our volunteers have shown for the protection and stewardship of our parks is profound,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Volunteers generously contribute their time and labour to parks in many ways, such as advocating for new parks to be established, contributing funds to buy land for parks and building and maintaining trails. Congratulations to our award winners and thank you to all of the volunteers for protecting and enhancing the spectacular natural environment we all cherish in B.C.”

The BC Parks Volunteer Program has more than 1,800 volunteers who are involved in a wide range of initiatives, such as trail maintenance, facility restoration, campground hosting, ecological reserve wardens, educational and interpretive programs, ecological monitoring and inventories, park management and planning.

BC Parks also recognizes the contributions made by park operators. The recipient for Park Operator of the Year is John Hiebert, who has worked at Peace Arch Provincial Park for 41 years, maintaining the flawlessly manicured lawns, colourful flowerbeds and facilities for visitors to enjoy.

“The volunteer awards are a reminder of how diverse our park volunteers are,” said Kelly Greene, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment. “From individuals who help monitor the health of park ecosystems, to families who commit together to maintain trails and organized groups who support our conservation efforts – we thank them all for the contribution they make to our world-class parks system.”

Lead image: Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park. e-KNOW file photo


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