China Ridge has gone from a local secret to a expanding web of paths good enough for snowshoers, skiers, hikers and bikers from all over the world.
Now locals have taken on another new project. It is one that connects the old with the new. Hoping to forge a partnership with the Vermilion Forks Field Nauralists (VFFN) who have been instrumental in the preservation of the protected Swan Lake area, Area H Regional Director Brad Hope, took a group out for a leisurely Saturday morning walk. Leading the way was local trail expert and history buff, Kelley Cook. The VFFN showed up well represented. All in all, over twenty early risers wandered through the forest just moments from town to discuss the possibility of adding Martin Lake into a park proposal that would join it with Swan Lake and the KVR. The proposal brought enthusiasm and hope to those present.
Cook had recently attended a tourism conference and said that one of the main ideas that were being discussed was the need to have green space close to communities. “Gas prices are going to continue to go higher and higher,” stated Cook. “People are not going to drive for very far to get to a recreational area.”
Hope said the idea is not a new one, but rather one that has taken on renewed strength as of recent following some vandalism. Trucks did damage to the Martin Lake property last year and then, this spring one local resident decided to use the site as his private dumping area. “If this was park,” said Hope, “RDOS could have taken immediate action against the people involved in these incidents.” It seems that the only way to stop some of these thoughtless people is through fines. They just don’t get it otherwise. They don’t think about what they are doing or how it affects the ecology of the area they are damaging. A park would change things.”
Princeton has a high population of residents who enjoy “playing” in the outdoors on a regular basis. “After some discussion,” said Hope, “we though why not bring Martin Lake into the park system?” Hope further stated that the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen is already on board with the idea and now just need a management plan and an outline of the borders of a proposed park before anything further would be considered. “If VFFN can do the plan, we will do the paperwork,” said Hope. “With Diane Vaycovich our special project manager helping us through the process and Ed Abels from the Ministry of Natural Resources on board the process is already leaps and bounds above some of the proposals out there. VFFN needs to file and application and we need to try moving our idea forward.”
VFFN member and excursion of the day leader Joan Kelly said, “We are really excited about the park proposal.
VFFN would be the stewards for the park and we all see it as a wonderful asset to our community that we can expand on. I am very hopeful we can make a go of it.”