The Outdoor Recreation Council of BC (ORBC) is wishing Merrittonians and British Columbians alike ‘happy trails’ as their second annual BC Trails Day landed on Saturday, June 4, encouraging community members to make use of public recreational trails.
With the goal of celebrating and stewarding BC’s astounding 44,000 kilometres of recreational trails, the annual event promotes the use of these trails, as well as the benefit of having access to them. Use of recreational trails promotes physical activity, environmental stewardship, and the community’s natural and cultural histories. The ORBC says recent years, dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, have seen a significant increase in the use of trails.
??“Over the last few years, more people have realized the importance of getting outside and discovering their local trails and parks, to the point of more than a 150% increase in trail usage in some areas,” said Louise Pederson, executive director with the ORBC.
“BC Trails Day is an opportunity to rally around these essential community assets, to celebrate and care for them.”
While the use of trails is encouraged and of great benefit to local communities, this increase in usage of public spaces, and climate caused weather events, has put additional pressure on trail infrastructures. The ORBC is stressing the importance of volunteerism and personal action to maintain and respect trail systems in the communities, as budget constraints don’t allow for much additional funding to address the issue.
“Volunteer trail stewards are crucial to the success of our provincial trail system,” added Pederson.
“It is volunteers from community-based trail organizations who perform most of the crew work on many trails. As more people venture outdoors, our trails need more regular maintenance and cleanup, and the need for volunteers continues to grow.”
Merrittonians can take action to support their favourite local trail, such as the recently reopened Coldwater River Trail, or the Tom Lacey Trail, nestled above the neighbourhood of Bench. The ORBC recommends trail users take the following actions this BC Trails day, and every day:
-Go for a walk, ride, or paddle and have fun. If you’re taking any four-legged friends along, don’t forget a leash and waste bags.
-Pack a small garbage bag and some gloves with you, and pick up any trash you may see on the trail. This helps keep trails clean and safe for other users and the wildlife who live nearby.
-Show support for your favourite trails by joining a local outdoor group. Your membership will contribute to trail maintenance and advocacy for your community’s trail systems.
There are many trail systems for hiking and biking in the Nicola Valley, and more information for those wishing to access local trails can be found at tourismmerritt.ca.