After almost five years and hundreds of hours of volunteer effort, the Back Country Horsemen Society of British Columbia’s North Vancouver Island Chapter (BCHBC-NVI) has two reasons to celebrate.
Earlier this year, BCHBC-NVI received notice that the Government of British Columbia had ‘officially designated’ the Salmon Brewster Equine Campsites and Trail Corridor Project located in the Sayward Valley, north of Campbell River. This designation ensures that these facilities, built by BCHBC, can be enjoyed by equine enthusiasts and other outdoor recreational users in perpetuity.
On Feb. 19, the volunteers will gather to celebrate that achievement and the release of a new book chronicling the project’s history.
“Trail Blazers: The Creation of the Salmon Brewster Equine Campsites and Trail Corridor Project is the story of how members, who reside from Parksville to Port McNeill, engaged community and government to turn this project from a dream into reality,” said BCHBC-NVI’s chapter chair, Sharon Pickthorne. “In co-operation with Recreation Sites and Trails BC, and other community stakeholders, BCHBC has built two campsites with facilities to accommodate horses, connected by a 40-kilometre wilderness trail network.
“The project is a significant historical achievement on Vancouver Island, as these are the first equine-friendly public recreation campsites on Crown-owned land,” adds Pickthorne. “Since their development, the campsites have been enjoyed not only by equestrians, but hunters, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts from across Vancouver Island and beyond. These facilities exist as a testament to the spirit of cooperation and a commitment to environmental stewardship.”
The book captures the history and personal anecdotes of the project visionaries, Rick Phye and Gerald Whalley, and the many dedicated volunteers who worked on the project.
It takes readers back in time, to learn the history of the region, and then follows the ‘paper trail’ of how the volunteer task force secured the support of community stakeholders.
The 100-page paperback features more than 60 photographs and maps of the Sayward Valley and is a true ‘Made on Vancouver Island’ project.
It was written by Terri Perrin, a Comox Valley-based freelance writer and BCHBC member.
The Trail Blazers public book launch and project celebration will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19, at Grantham Oddfellows Hall, 6040 Old Island Highway North, Courtenay. Books will be available at the event, for $20 (cash or cheque).
Trail Blazers will also be available on Feb. 20, from BCHBC by mail order, or at Laughing Oyster Books or South Country Feed and Supply in Courtenay.