Posted by: friendsofstrathcona | October 12, 2009

Friends of Strathcona Park Build Bridges (Kel Kelly)

FOSP note: the following media release appeared in the Campbell River Mirror on Oct 13, and the Comox Valley Record on Oct 14, 2009.

October 8, 2009
Friends of Strathcona Park

Media Release

Friends of Strathcona Park Build Bridges

The provincial government’s recent decision to allow private commercial horse use in Strathcona Park has generated a significant amount of discussion about the future of the BC Parks system.

Even though the decision has been made by Environment Minister Barry Penner to amend the plan and open the park to horse use, the Friends of Strathcona Park are continuing their efforts to overturn the amendment and prevent horse use within the park’s boundaries.

“We are waiting to see what conditions the Minister will be applying to horse use in the park and we stand ready to defend the park in the event that its wilderness values are put at risk”, says Kel Kelly, a director with the group. “We see the Minister’s decision as ideologically based, another step in the government’s program of privatizing BC’s public assets, and not a decision that helps or supports the park in any way”, says Kelly.

In the meantime, the Friends are literally working to build bridges in the Bedwell Valley, near Tofino, where the issue of horse use first reared its head (pun intended). They will be working to restore the Gail Mcgee suspension bridge, which crosses the Bedwell River, just outside the park boundary. The bridge was built by the Friends in 1993, to provide access into the Bedwell Valley and to highlight the importance of that area of the park. Last year it suffered a partial collapse as a result of extremely wet and heavy snow conditions.

“We are going to rebuild the bridge before it falls into the river”, says Kelly. “We want to assure continued public access into this beautiful part of the park.” An assessment of the damage has been done and a repair party has been scheduled to do the necessary work to repair the bridge and clear a section of the Bedwell trail.

The group is inviting anyone who would like to help in the reconstruction to join them. They will be departing from the Comox Valley in the early morning of Friday, October 16, returning in the evening of Sunday, October 18.

“No special skills, other than enthusiasm and good intentions are required”, says Kelly. “We will have all the experts that we need. People who join us can help with the bridge repair or in clearing the trail into the park.”

A very diverse group has answered the Friends’ call for help, including members of the Comox District Mountaineering Club, the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC, the Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee, and Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, the private company that triggered the application for horse use in the first place.

“We welcome this diverse response”, says Kelly. “The Friends first choice is always to work with people, not against them.”

Participants will be responsible for their own food and shelter. Transportation by water taxi will be provided free of charge by the Friends.

For more information contact Kel Kelly at 250 337 8348 or email kelkelly55@yahoo.ca

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