Steeves/Trail Mix: Thanks to those with the foresight to create parks

As we prepare to celebrate Canada Parks Day Saturday, let's take stock of our Okanagan parks, and give thanks for them.

From some of the trails in Rose Valley Regional Park you can look waaaay down on the reservoir below

From some of the trails in Rose Valley Regional Park you can look waaaay down on the reservoir below

Whether it’s panoramic views, dramatic waterfalls, rare plants, unusual natural features, variety of birds or wildlife, our parks always have something special to offer.

They can be local, regional, provincial or national; waterfront, upland, down in the valley or on hilltops; pocket parks in neighbourhoods, vast expanses of wilderness, or marine.

All are to be not only valued, but revered, because they provide an opportunity for the public to explore, gather, learn, enjoy the outdoors, expand their horizons and see new things.

Generally, they protect and preserve wild habitat; homes for birds, fish and wildlife. As we keep building on it and destroying it, it becomes even more important that some of that natural habitat is kept in its natural state.

Such protection of natural habitat is invaluable for humans as well, both in terms of its contribution to the health of the air and water we require for life, but also in its contribution to our mental state, with its calming, relaxing and distracting qualities.

There’s nothing like a hike through a wild spot to help you get your thoughts in perspective, but even sitting still in a natural oasis of green is calming in itself, however brief.

On a hot day, a walk through the forest is not only calming, but also cooling.

Views out over lakes and valleys provide context to our busy lives and help with perspective; with getting the whole picture, instead of focusing just on the here and now.

Celebrate Canada Parks Day this Sat., July 20 by heading to a park for the day.

I joined a regional district hike up into Rose Valley Regional Park a few weeks ago and, as always, I found the views after that tough climb, simply awe-inspiring and exhilarating.

Those along for the hike were there for a variety of reasons: to keep in shape, get fit, breathe some fresh air, learn something new, meet different people, take some photos, learn about local plants or just to fill a few hours—and I think all were satisfied.

I found I was able to do all those things, and I managed to get re-acquainted with several people I hadn’t seen in years, as well.

With its rocky, hilly terrain, that park has an immense variety of different ecosystems, from damp and marshy to sere and rocky, with almost everything in-between, so there’s a huge variety of wildflowers.

That draws a wide variety of insects, birds and wildlife, so you have a very biodiverse slice of the Okanagan there.

Add to that the lakeshore habitat provided by Rose Valley Reservoir, and the opportunities for canoeing and fishing in the reservoir itself, and this park is a real gem.

This year the regional district has re-defined/restored the trails and created some new ones, and is working on directional and interpretive signage, which will make it a much more enjoyable park for newcomers to visit.

Benches at scenic outlooks are a restful delight.

Such regional parks as this and the ever-popular Mission Creek Greenway, Scenic Canyon, Kalamoir, Hardy Falls, Glen Canyon, Robert Lake, Woodhaven Nature Conservancy and the new Johns Family Nature Conservancy are all gems of parkland; bits of wild land that will still be there for our grandchildren to enjoy, in their natural state—some more natural than others, of course.

With several communities working together to acquire and maintain these larger parks—as a joint effort under the regional district banner, it has been possible to conserve important-sized pieces of the Okanagan’s natural beauty.

It would be much more difficult for any one of the individual communities to do so, and we all get the benefits.

Our regional parks system is the envy of other regional districts, and has led to others emulating what we’ve had the foresight to do here in the Central Okanagan.

Congratulations to our regional board for what you’ve achieved, with the assistance of individuals and non-profit groups in the community. And, thanks.

The regional district is celebrating Canada Parks Day with a Snakes and Games program in Bertram Creek Regional Park from 1 to 3 p.m.

On Sat., July 27, you have an opportunity to join local historian Bob Hayes for an interesting hike through Trepanier Creek Greenway called The Trepanier Saga. Meet at Trepanier Road just off the Okanagan Connector at 9 a.m. Pre-register by calling 250-469-6139.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.

Twitter: @OutsideOkanagan














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