B.C. government honours unsung heroes who make provincial parks and hiking trails so spectacular

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      On this long Victoria Day weekend, British Columbians will be heading out in huge numbers to provincial parks.

      So it's timely that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy would choose this time to recognize volunteers who play such a big role in keeping these destinations so magnificent.

      In 2016-17, more than 2,000 of them donated more than 30,000 hours of their time maintaining trails, offering educational and interpretive programs, performing ecological monitoring, and doing other good deeds.

      The B.C. Parks Volunteer Awards, which have just been announced, went to Brian Moorhead (individual), Mitlenatch Island Stewardship Team (group), and Konrad and Gerda Feldmann (legacy).

      B.C. Parks has also named the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society—B.C. Chapter as the community partner of the year.

      Sandstorm North Contracting is the award winner as park operator of the year.

      The minister of environment and climate change strategy, George Heyman, called the volunteers' passion for the parks "truly inspiring".

      "Congratulations and thank you for protecting and enhancing the spectacular natural environment that British Columbians cherish in our parks and protected areas," Heyman said in a news release.

      The individual winner, Moorhead, is an octogenarian who's spent thousands of hours as a trail builder, climbing enthusiast, and mentor in the Squamish area.

      He's volunteered his time to improve the Murrin Loop Trail, Jurassic Park extension, Baseline Trail, and Malamute Trail. He's now focusing his efforts on making the Shannon Pools trail safer.

      The group winner, the Mitlenatch Island Stewardship Team, includes 70 to 80 volunteers who help maintain the island sanctuary in the Strait of Georgia.

      "Formally created in 2010, the Mitlenatch Island Stewardship Team (MIST) provides volunteers who participate in a range of activities, such as offering tours of accessible portions of the island, mentoring university students and youth, conducting conservation activities, reporting illegal fishing and maintaining facilities," the government stated. 

      The 155-hectare Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park is off Central Vancouver Island between Comox and Powell River.

      Volunteers bring a week's supply of their own food, equipment, and water to the island for those interested in seeing the largest seabird colony in the area.

      The Sunshine Coast Trail includes plenty of beautiful scenery.
      Stephen Hui

      The legacy award winners, Konrad Feldman and the recently deceased Gerda Feldman, have been hosting visitors in the 650,000-hectare Spatsizi Plateau Provincial Park since 2001.

      This has involved driving 650 kilometres from their Burns Lake home and then taking a 20-to-30-minute flight by float plane, or hiking approximately 50 kilometres.

      "The pair welcomed visitors, ensured the facilities and cabins were clean, and carried out whatever small maintenance tasks B.C. Parks staff asked them to do," the government stated. "They also went above and beyond what is required, taking on carpentry projects to fix up facilities and sometimes build new ones, and contributed to the maintenance of existing trails."