From trails to toads, volunteers strengthen BC Parks
Individual volunteer – Rachel Shephard
Since the spring of 2019, Shephard has been the project co-ordinator for the Alice Lake Western Toad Monitoring Project – an ongoing and successful citizen science project that monitors western toads in Alice Lake Provincial Park near Squamish. The goal of the program is to gather data throughout the toad’s breeding cycle and pinpoint when they are close to migration so BC Parks can mitigate potential impacts by notifying the public about toadlet routes and close portions of trails if necessary.
Co-ordinating the project on behalf of the Squamish Environment Society, Shephard works closely with BC Parks to recruit and train volunteers, conduct field surveys, maintain ongoing project communications with volunteers, media and the public, and write detailed reports about the project. She is not a trained biologist, but through her curiosity and research, she has become knowledgeable, offering insights that have made the scientific aspects of the project better. Without her leadership, enthusiasm and hard work, the Alice Lake Toad Monitoring Project would not be possible.
Volunteer legacy – Freeze family and friends
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.
Volunteer group – Comox District Mountaineering Club (CDMC)
The CDMC was formed in 1927 by a few people interested in exploring Forbidden Plateau on Vancouver Island. These pioneers were the original route finders and trail builders in this area, and as the years went by, club members extended their trails further into Strathcona Provincial Park. Most of these trails are still in use today.
In 1999, the CDMC became a non–profit society. It has continued to promote conservation and appropriate use of parks and wilderness areas, organize hiking/expedition programs and teach leadership skills. Local conservation efforts are supported by members through donations and volunteer time.
Community partner – Sovereign Lake Nordic Club (SLNC)
For more than 30 years, the non-profit SLNC has been an active partner with BC Parks, operating the Sovereign Lake Nordic facilities within Silver Star Provincial Park near Vernon. Volunteers and staff have grown the club from its meagre beginnings to one of the largest cross-country ski clubs in Canada and one of the top Nordic facilities in North America. During the winter, more than 50,000 people use the facilities the club maintains, making it a key recreational feature for the greater Vernon area and visitors from across North America.
Park operator – John Hiebert
Peace Arch Provincial Park showcases manicured gardens and the historic Peace Arch at the Canada-U.S. border. Hiebert has worked as the park operator for 41 years, maintaining the flawlessly manicured lawns, colourful flowerbeds and facilities for visitors to enjoy. He has a sense of pride and ownership for the park that has been his life’s work. His hard work ethic has been shared and stewarded with his staff.
Over the years, Hiebert has also built a strong relationship with Semiahmoo First Nation. During his retirement luncheon in October 2020, Elders from Semiahmoo First Nation showed their gratitude for Hiebert and his role as a steward of their traditional territory by presenting him with a blanket ceremony.