The directors of Friends of Strathcona Park (FOSP) have decided to complete the Bedwell/Buttle Trail as a Strathcona Park Centennial Project. They say the trail, which traverses the mountains and valleys between Buttle Lake and Bedwell Sound, will make it possible to hike from Buttle Lake to the west coast in approximately 3-4 days.
FOSP volunteers have already worked for two years on the project, first repairing an important bridge, and then constructing a very scenic section of trail along the Bedwell River. All work so far has been from the west coast side, requiring boat trips from Tofino. The final stage will be completed this year, and is intended to involve two crews working toward each other from both sides of Vancouver Island, linking up in the middle.
Karl Stevenson, a spokesman for the Friends, says the Friends have always fought for public involvement in park decisions, and the Bedwell/Buttle Trail is intended to promote this. He says that the Friends believe strongly in the principle of minimal human impact for the park, and that the trail conforms to this principle. He says the work is being done entirely by a very dedicated group of volunteers, and will cost the public nothing.
Stevenson also says the park has suffered badly from unilateral government decisions throughout its history. He says the Friends hope the trail will serve as a reminder to current and future governments that parks belong to the public, not to governments and their friends. By symbolically joining the two sides of the island, he says FOSP intends the trail to serve as a reminder that things always work much better when all parties are involved in decision making, and this includes decisions involving governments, parks, and the public.
According to Stevenson, in the 100 year history of Strathcona Park, the public has rarely been involved in decisions to do with park policy. He says Strathcona bears many lasting scars to prove this. He says that in 2011, on the 100th birthday of Strathcona, the first provincial park in BC, the Friends think it’s time for a change. They also hope that the people travelling the Bedwell/Buttle Trail will be reminded of the fragility of of Strathcona Park, how valuable it is, and how easy it is for thoughtless actions by governments and others to cause lasting harm to something that’s infinitely more valuable than any number of dollars.