Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | July 31, 2011

Bedwell Centennial Trail and Strathcona Wilderness Festival Update

Dear Editor

From August 20-25 the Friends of Strathcona Park are organizing two events which are very important in our overall strategy to create meaningful protection for Strathcona Park.  One event, the Strathcona Wilderness Festival, will only last a day, but we’d like everyone who cares about the park to come and be counted.  Carol Hunter of Comox, and Mick Taylor of Gold River, who were both  Bedwell Trail volunteers last year and are now on the FOSP executive, have done a massive amount of organizing to make the event possible.  For details on the Festival (and the volunteer Bedwell  Centennial Trail project for this year) go to the FOSP web-site:

From my perspective, the reasons for the Festival are totally  “political,”  (governments see people as votes, and if sufficient numbers of people are willing to donate a day of their lives to support their park, the government will definitely take notice, especially now, with a provincial election coming up very soon) and I have trouble seeing it any other way.  My message is simple:  To protect Strathcona Park for yourself and future generations, please come, and please bring your family and friends.

But that’s my perspective, and not necessarily how others see it.  For others, the Strathcona Wilderness Festival will decidedly not be a political event.  It has been created as a day of fun, learning, and enjoyable free activities, all facilitated by qualified knowledgeable people who have given their time because they think Strathcona Park is worth it.  Please match their contribution.  Come and enjoy a wonderful day in a beautiful park.

The second event, the Bedwell Centennial Trail, (also “political”  for me, but not necessarily for others) will be happening from August 20-25, and will involve volunteer trail work from Bedwell Lake to Ashwood Creek in the Bedwell Valley in Strathcona Park.  We have official permission to do this work, and we’re officially allowed up to 45 volunteers.  When completed, the trail will allow hikers to travel across the spine of Vancouver Island to Bedwell Inlet on the west coast.

Last year, volunteers created a major section of trail leading from the head of Bedwell Inlet toward Bedwell Lake.  This year, we’ll do another major section from Bedwell Lake toward our work of last year, leaving (for unclear official reasons) a very short uncompleted section in the middle.  To date, we have about 20 volunteers.  We want more.

The work isn’t physically hard or technically demanding,  (it mainly involves brush clipping) and it’s an unbelievable amount of fun to work in a non-pressured way with others on a worthwhile project.  Volunteers work at whatever level is comfortable for them.  It’s an excellent way to do something for the park, to learn about it first hand, and also to spend time with people who have hiked in the park for most of their lives, care for it deeply, and have knowledge to share for those interested.   Volunteers must have a certain level of physical fitness and must be able to carry their own food, shelter, etc. to the height of land (at Bedwell Lake) and beyond.  For more information, including phone numbers, etc., go to the FOSP website shown above.

Thanks very much, and we hope to see you for either or both event(s).

Karl Stevenson



Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | July 5, 2011

Strathcona Centennial Trail and Centennial Celebration Update

Current Bedwell Trail Situation

Kel Kelly and Karl Stevenson recently had a very co-operative meeting with Ron Quilter and Andy Smith from parks.  Kel is currently drawing up an agreement for trail work on the Bedwell, from Bedwell Lake to Ashwood Creek, and will present the agreement to parks for approval when he’s done.  To meet WBC guidelines there will be 3 separate work parties, (consisting of up to 15 people each) working on the trail, so we would like to have a total of 40-45 trail workers from August 19-24.  We have decided to officially call the trail the “Oinimitis Centennial Trail” after the original people who lived in what is now called the Bedwell Valley.

We are also planning a Strathcona Park Centennial Celebration in conjunction with the trail work party but separate from it.  The centennial celebrations will mainly centre around August 20th, which is a Saturday.  We’ll offer hiking, picnicking, and learning opportunities in unspoiled areas in Strathcona Park for families and people of all ages and abilities.  This will be a chance for people to donate one day of their lives to show their support for a non-commercial Strathcona Park in an enjoyable, educational, totally legal, non-confrontational, and positive way.  In other words, we want LOTS of people, so the government receives an unmistakable message that people are willing to come out to support their park.

We’ll be offering day hikes, overnight hikes, and hikes of one hour or less.  All hikes will have knowledgeable leaders, so there’ll be opportunities to learn about Strathcona history, flora and fauna, geology, etcetera.   For work party members, as well as others who are interested and capable, we’ll also offer a trip across the spine of Vancouver Island to the west coast when trail work is completed around August 24th.

Obviously this will take a large amount of organizing, both for the Oinimitis Centennial Trail and for the Strathcona Park Centennial Celebration, so we’re reaching out for help, which means we need people, lots of people, of all talents, capabilities, and strengths.

To do a good job on building the trail, we’re hoping for at least 40 people who are capable of carrying their own food and shelter (we may be able to provide some help in this) for approximately 5 days.  Believe it or not, the trail crews will probably have the most fun and learn the most of any of the people who turn out in August to show their support for the park.  No trail work experience is necessary, and everyone gets to work at whatever speed, task, or energy level suits them.  We’re asking people to commit early and let us know, so we can plan.   Much more detail will be provided (and periodically added to) on the FOSP website and our Facebook page.

The Strathcona Centennial Celebration is intended primarily to give people a chance to learn about their park from inside, in whatever way suits them best.  FOSP will organize car pooling from specified sites and times in Courtenay and Campbell River, and buses if necessary.  We’ll be doing our best to attract people from all over Vancouver Island as well as the Mainland, the more the better, so we’re asking you to plan to attend, at least for a day, and to tell your friends, groups, whatever.  The name of this game is NUMBERS, so let us know as early as possible that you’re coming so that we can plan.

We’ll need people with varying degrees of knowledge about Strathcona Park to act as guides and facilitators for groups of many levels of abilities and interests.  If people volunteering for this know something about park history, natural history, geology, geography, etc., so much the better.  We’ll also need people to help with organizing transportation and many other logistical necessities, both before the event and during, so if you’re interested, let us know pronto, because this entire centennial event will be organized, carried out, and over and done with in approximately a month.

We’re asking for help and public participation, and we’re asking for it quickly.  The upside is that we’ll need help and participation for only a short time. In most cases it’ll only be for a day or so, centred around August 20th.  People interested in helping with organizational and other details (advertising, transportation, event planning, providing first aid possibilities, etc.) may be required to spend more time, but it’ll still be for a relatively short period, depending on the time constraints of the volunteer and the nature of the task.  So again, if you’re interested in helping with organizing, planning, or guiding or facilitating, let us know as soon as possible so that we can begin to include you.

That’s it for now, more will come soon as plans develop, but basically we need help and we need numbers, both to organize and to participate in the FOSP Strathcona Centennial  Celebrations.  We intend to provide at least one day of fun and learning about Strathcona Park from inside for everyone who’s interested.  For the majority of people, we’ll only be asking for one day to show up, have fun, and support their park for the benefit of their children, grandchildren, and society in general.  We believe that if the commercial world can get 100,000 people to turn out for a drunken riot in Vancouver, people with less commercially based interests might be willing to spend one small day showing support for something as worthwhile to us all as Strathcona Park, the first provincial park in BC.

Please come, bring your friends, and let us know you’re coming.  We need you, and if there’s ever a time to show support, this is it.  This is one simple way we can encourage good, non-commercial changes in our park systems.  Thank you all,  Karl.

Oinimitis Centennial Trail work party: August 19-24.

Strathcona Park Centennial Celebration: centred mainly on Saturday, August 20.

For more info on a continuing basis:  and our Facebook page.

Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | June 13, 2011

My Perspective

My Perspective

In this blog, I’m going to try to explain at least a bit of my perspective about the current battle which is being fought out in Strathcona Park.  I’m fully aware that it’s only my perspective, and it’s almost certainly wrong in the minds of the current crop of bureaucrats and politicians who are presently making the decisions about the park I love.

To start with, I think the machinery, customs, educational systems, etc., of our current society are much too focussed on money.  I won’t enlarge on this, because it’s much to big a topic to go into here, but I believe it’s time to divert the direction of our society away from the pursuit of money and toward some of the things that are much more worthwhile to us as human beings.

In some way, Strathcona Park must strongly symbolize what I’ve found to be really worthwhile in my life.  When money enters the picture, these worthwhile things always seem to evaporate.  There are many examples of this occurring in Strathcona Park but there’s no room for that here.

Changing the direction of our entire society is much too big a job for me to even contemplate, but the park is a part of our society, and for me it’s a place to start, partly perhaps because I  think I know the park pretty well and it seems small enough for me to affect in a concrete way.  I also love it, and I feel all sorts of pain when bureaucrats and politicians who know nothing about the park start to carve it up for their own ideological, political, and monetary reasons.

For me, an essential part of the value of Strathcona Park is that we created it to be a place where the focus was on preserving the natural world, rather than destroying it to make money.  Since I’ve spent most of my life watching the park being eroded bit by bit in this insidious process, a lot of my time in the park hasn’t been particularly enjoyable for me.

I happen to believe that we can afford to preserve at least one small corner of our society from our habitual scrabble for money.  I also think the park is a manageable and very logical place for us to start.  I believe as well that it won’t be easy, but it’ll be very worthwhile in the end for us as human beings, and also for our society, now and into the future.

In the end, it comes down to emotions, to feelings.  For me, a little money is nice to have, but it’s not my reason for living.  The government, as usual, seems to be focussed on money, but  money will never give me what the park has given me, in fact, in my experience, it always destroys it.

That’s my perspective, and that’s why I’m fighting.  The government can say what it wants.  I want a park, not a commercial enterprise.

Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | June 6, 2011

Letter to Ed #2

Dear Editor

I’m a director of Friends of Strathcona Park, but these thoughts are entirely my own.

This summer, unless things change, we’ll be working to complete a very low impact trail through the Bedwell Valley, and we hope that a large number of volunteers will join us.  For myself, I’ve never wanted a trail through the Bedwell, and I still don’t , but I’ll be working as hard as anyone to create one.  The reason I’ve never wanted a trail is because the Bedwell was totally trashed by logging in the 1960’s, when the government sold the timber in the valley to private concerns, and I believe it deserves a chance to heal itself without further interference from us humans.

That’s my personal bias, but I’ll be working on the trail nontheless.  I’ll be working because I hope it’ill help create the type of park I (and many others) want, rather than what the government appears to want. The government is going through the final stages of allowing a private resort to build a high impact commercial horse trail in the Bedwell for the benefit of the resort and its clients.

I believe the government has violated two extremely important principles in the process of forcing this operation into a public park.  These two principles are: Meaningful Public Input, and Minimal Human Impact.  These principles are still firmly embedded in the Strathcona Park Master Plan despite recent government changes to the plan (against 85 – 90% of public opinion) to allow the resort and its high impact operations into the park.

The commercial trail proposed by the resort will affect the valley hugely, and it will seriously erode important values of the park for the majority of park users.  One very important question is :  Why are the wishes of a single commercial operation more important to government than the stated wishes of thousands of  “ordinary”  park users?

The effect of what we are calling the Oinimitis Centennial Trail on the Bedwell Valley will be absolutely minimal, and it will be extremely sensitive to the nature of the valley and the principles of the Strathcona Park Master Plan.  As I said, I believe the valley deserves a chance to be left alone, but if it comes to a choice between a high impact trail to serve commercial interests as opposed to a minimal impact trail to serve the interests of the park, the choice for me is obvious.

I believe the government is gambling that people won’t come out to support their park.  They may be right.  If you’d like a chance to prove them wrong, join us this coming August 19 – 24.  It’ll be a combination work party and Strathcona Park Centennial celebration and it’ll provide an opportunity for people to help Strathcona Park in a meaningful way.  It will also provide governments with concrete proof that the public neither needs nor wants high impact commercial trails in wilderness parks, and that low impact, non-commercial trails serve the public and suit the park much better.

This is an extremely important and complicated issue.  It has very little, if anything, to do with horses. For more info, go to

Karl Stevenson

3825 Laurel Drive


V0R 2V0

Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | May 28, 2011

Letter to Ed

Dear Editor

My dad first took me into Strathcona Park in 1955, when I was 7 years old.  Since that time I’ve seen a lot of horrible things take place in the park, and over the years it’s made me somewhat cynical about governments and parks.  I started out believing that parks were set aside from a lot of human activities like logging, mining, damming lakes, etc., and that parks were protected from such activities by our government and our legal system.

Of course this wasn’t true, and for most of my life I’ve watched Strathcona Park being logged, mined, dammed, etc., so that someone could make money by destroying something I loved.   I realize now that this is pretty much a normal situation for us humans, and it doesn’t just happen in parks, it’s going on all over the world.

What’s happening in the larger world bothers me, so I try not to think about it too much.  I even try not to think too much about what’s happening in the Comox Valley where I’ve spent my life.  Entire runs of salmon which used to spawn in the rivers when I was a kid have almost completely disappeared.  Many things we took for granted when I was growing up are disappearing more and more quickly these days as people step up the pace to get more and more money to buy more and more stuff.

This has always seemed senseless and disturbing to me, that we work so hard to destroy the only home we have, and I’ve always valued the wilder and less disturbed areas of Strathcona Park, because the natural world actually seemed to make sense.  Over the years I’ve also become angry and upset in my trips into the park as I watched various government friends destroy chunks of Strathcona for their own financial benefit.

In 1988, I took part in the Strathcona Blockade.  The government of that day had created an industrial corridor through the centre of the park and a drill rig was doing exploratory drilling.  We blockaded, and the government finally backed down after 64 people were arrested in a peaceful protest which carried on for two months.  We worked incredibly hard and it was very scary for us all, but out of it came much that was worthwhile, including, for the first time in history, a master plan for the park.

The creation of the Strathcona Park Master Plan came only after huge effort from many people over a period of several years, but when it was finally completed the park had a good set of meaningful guidelines and principles.  The master plan was such a good and well thought out document that it kept peace in the park for 18 years.  The peace came to an end recently, when the Campbell government decided to change the master plan to fit plans of their own.  The changes to the master plan allowed the government to grant a permit to a private concern to run a high impact commercial operation in the Bedwell Valley in Strathcona Park.

The master plan was changed despite close to 90% opposition from a concerned public.  The changes were unanimously opposed by the Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee, which was a government appointed body.  Ironically, even as park administrators were saying the master plan didn’t allow the high impact activity, other people in government were claiming that it did.  Meanwhile, the government was busy changing the plan even as they were earnestly claiming the changes they were making were unnecessary.

Of course, this is nothing new for Strathcona.  There are numerous such events in park history.   In the end, I believe it always comes down to differences in perceptions about the purpose of our parks, especially wilderness parks like Strathcona.  Most government decision makers know virtually nothing about parks because they live in a money world.  Historically, governments and their friends have always gone for the money, which is perhaps understandable, because money is what they know best.  When confronted with something they don’t understand, they naturally try to turn it into money.

For people like me, (and there are thousands like me) the park has values much greater than money, and much greater than all the shiny trinkets that money can buy.  Unfortunately, like so many of the most worthwhile things in our lives, these values don’t translate well into words.  The only way to learn these values is through direct experience.  They’re also very fragile, and money-driven human activities destroy them very quickly.

This letter started out as an attempt to provide a short, clear explanation for the (peaceful) battle which looks to be shaping up in the Bedwell Valley this summer, but it’s an extremely complicated issue, and I’m not sure how successful I’ve been.  It might come as a surprise to some that the controversy doesn’t really have much (if anything) to do with horses.  All possiblities for controversy could have easily been avoided if the Campbell government had simply heeded the master plan.

If you want to work positively and concretely toward a better park for your children and grandchildren, and/or you’re unhappy with the way the Campbell government overrode the wishes of the public to allow a private commercial concern to violate the principles in the Strathcona Park Master Plan, join me and others in completing the Oinimitis Centennial Trail in the Bedwell Valley this August 19 -24.

For more information, call Karl Stevenson 250 897-6499, or e-mail me at

Karl Stevenson

3825 Laurel Drive


V0R 2V0

Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | April 27, 2011

Volunteers Wanted For Bedwell Centennial Trail in August

Volunteers Wanted for Bedwell Centennial Trail in August

I and others have decided to complete the Bedwell River “Source to Mouth” Trail as our Strathcona Park Centennial Project.  The first phase of this project was finished 2 years ago when volunteers repaired the Gayle McGee bridge over the Bedwell River.  The second phase was completed last year when 20 volunteers built the trail along the river as far as Sam Craig Creek.  This year, with a bit of luck and enough volunteers, we intend to finish the remaining section, from Sam Craig Creek to Bedwell Lake.

We believe that if we can gather 40 volunteers who are willing to donate 5 consecutive days of their time in the last 2 weeks (exact dates to be decided) of August, we’ll complete the project and have a lot  of fun in the process.  The more volunteers the better, so we’re asking people to consult their calendars and plan to take part.

The project will probably involve  2 crews, one going in from the mouth of the Bedwell River on the west coast of Vancouver Island and the other working from the east coast, via Bedwell Lake.  The trail will be completed where everyone comes together in the middle.  All ages are welcome, with the proviso that a certain level of physical fitness is necessary, because at this stage it takes at least one day to hike to where work starts at either end.

Some mention must be made of the fact that, although we believe that building the centennial trail is a worthwhile project in its own right, it’s also intended as a political gesture, which will be nothing new in the history of Strathcona Park.  It must also be said that the trail will be a very low-impact trail, and will be completely in keeping with the philosophical goals for the park as outlined in the Strathcona Park Master Plan.

As most people know, the government has been trying for years to allow one of their political friends into the Bedwell Valley to pursue his commercial schemes, and they’ve seriously eroded the Master Plan to make it possible for him to do so.  Our dream for the park seems to be in direct opposition to government plans, which seem to centre on commercialization and privatization.  With these differences in park philosophy coming to a head, the government may not view our Centennial Project with favour.

We believe the political and ideological story which is currently being played out in the Bedwell is extremely important, not only for Strathcona Park, but for the future of our entire provincial park system.  The Bedwell Centennial Trail is intended to show that it’s neither necessary nor desirable for the government to donate pieces of our provincial parks to their commercial and political buddies in order to provide trails and facilities for our parks.   Not only are volunteers more than capable of providing and maintaining facilities such as park trails, (as they’ve frequently done in the past) but people genuinely enjoy doing so, and develop an enriched sense of stewardship as well as many other side benefits as a result.

Actions speak louder than words.  So far, thousands of people have used thousands of words, with absolutely no discernible effect on the government.  We believe it’s time to demonstrate, in a concrete and positive way, that we care about Strathcona Park and we’re willing to work actively and constructively to prevent them from giving the Bedwell Valley to their political friend to satisfy his intrusive commercial desires.

Plan to join us in the Bedwell in August.  We offer rewarding work, good conversation, and lots of fun.  We’ll provide more info as it comes available, but  if you already know you’re interested and want to be kept informed, please tell me.

Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | April 27, 2011

Karl’s theory on Media, Parks, and Why People Don’t Vote

Karl’s Theory of Media, Parks, and Why People Don’t Vote

When I start out to write this stuff, I never know whether I’m going to be able to spit these ideas out in some way that’s semi-comprehensible to others.  I  also never know whether others will find the ideas completely whacko, or so totally ho-hum and old-hat that they’ll wonder why I bother trying to explain things that are so elementary to everyone but me.

Anyway, here’s Karl’s Elementary Theory of Media, etc., and why we need to understand media if we ever want to create a real provincial park system or anything else that’s worthwhile in our society.

I’ll start by listing a few media rules or precepts that I believe to be true:

1)  Most media exists to sell ads. In other words, media exists to make money.  The money comes when media sells space to advertisers.

2)  In order to sell space, each media outlet needs to convince advertisers that their particular media outlet has access to lots of people.  Therefore, all media outlets work to gain large audiences.

3)  Violence attracts viewers.  Media outlets know this very well, which is why media outlets are so attracted to violence.  There are, of course, different types and grades of violence, (or potential violence) and some types and grades are more interesting and palatable to the public than others.  Reporters are able to sell the more “newsworthy” types of violence to more media outlets for more money because these types of violence are more attractive to more viewers, and the resulting larger viewer numbers attract more advertisers, which means the media outlets can then sell more ads to more advertisers for higher prices… and on and on it goes, a beautiful example of our wonderful capitalist system in action.

4)  Most large media outlets are owned by people who have lots of money and want to make lots more.

5)  A lot of the opinions and beliefs of the public are shaped by the media.

So what does this mean for those of us who want to do something to create a better society, or at least a society that works better for those of us who are more interested in living a good life than in acquiring money?  Well, perhaps the most important of these precepts (or at least the precept that everything else seems to hang on) is that media outlets (like so much of our society, and perhaps many of us as well ) exist mainly to make money.

It’s pretty simple.  If we accept what I’ve just written, it means we live in a “democratic” society where rich people control the sources of information which have a very large influence on how we view our society, our political system, and our world in general.  With this fact in mind, I really wonder why so many of our political “leaders”  appear to find it so mystifying that so many people (particularly younger people) don’t bother to vote.

But that’s another story, (or another part of the same story) and for now I’ll try very quickly to say what this means to someone like me who would like to help create a society which is less focussed on cash and more interested in the so-called simple things which lead to more fulfilling lives for those of us who want to go in that direction.

I guess I must think that Strathcona Park holds a lot of those more fulfilling things for me, because I’ve been fighting to remove the park from the hands of the money-grubbers for most of my life.  During most of my time on earth, conventional media has had a very strong grip on most of the opinion-forming mechanisms of our society and so that’s the type of media I’ve always focussed on.  (Social media appears to be another thing entirely, and it’s  hugely important, but I’ll leave it out for now because this ramble is plenty long enough for most people already.)

As I see it, there are perhaps four ways for me to gain access to a television media outlet.

1)  Own a TV station.

2)  Be somehow friendly or affiliated (like governments and large corporations) with those rich enough to own TV stations.

3)  Be rich enough (like governments and large corporations) to buy advertising space from a TV station.

4)  Create an event which would seem (at least to the media) to have enough potential for violence (or at least confrontation) to be deemed “newsworthy.”

Obviously, my “choices” are the last one.

It’s my belief that all governments crave and fear media attention more than almost anything else.  It’s one of the very few “levers” available to a public which is being bulldozed by an elected government.  Media attention can sway public opinion in ways that are either good (more votes) or bad (less votes) for governments.  I believe we won the Strathcona Blockade of 1988 only because it attracted enough media attention, (I’ve just outlined my beliefs about what attracts media) and it was much too late for the government to spin things in their favour.

Finally, after years of trying, we were granted enough space by the media so that we could reach a big enough audience to do some good.  I  believe we were granted the space because the media was attracted by what they saw as the confrontational possibilities of the blockade, but for those of us who took part, it was always intended as a totally non-violent action, and a lot of us planned and worked extremely hard to keep it that way.

So it’s possible (sometimes) to gain a bit of space in our “free” media for those of us who are interested in moving toward a less money focussed society, but the way is often down a very hard road.  Some say the system is designed this way, and they may be right.  It’s certainly true that all major media outlets are owned and controlled by people who have understandable interests in keeping our society firmly on the money track.

I definitely don’t mean to say that I think good goals for our society are impossible to attain.  After all, ordinary people did win the 1988 battle for Strathcona,and I still have hopes we’ll win this current one in the Bedwell.  I wrote this ramble to try to outline, as clearly and simply as I could, some aspects  of one of the systems I believe we’re up against.

There’s always hope.  I’ve seen ordinary people overcome this media/government/corporate system at least once, and I believe it can happen again.  It may be that one of the current answers lies in social media.  Best wishes,  Karl.

Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | March 20, 2011

Temporary Departure

Dear People

At the time of the 1988 Strathcona Blockade, there were approximately 250 mining claims in Strathcona Park.  Now there are none.  At the time of the blockade, the park was chopped in half by an industrial corridor, and the Bedwell Valley and other areas had been dumped from the park.  The blockade forced the government to put the park back together again.  From 1911 to 1988, any shaping of Strathcona had been done by the wealthy commercial friends of one government after another.

To me, the blockade marked the first time in history that people who loved the park for what it was, rather than for the money it could make, were able to have a hand in shaping the park that supposedly belonged to them.  Now the government is once again trying to shape the park to suit the commercial purposes of one of their wealthy friends, and that’s what I’m fighting against.

I’m fighting against something, but I’m also fighting for something.  Together with many others, I’m fighting to keep Strathcona Park as free from human disturbances as possible.  I want this because there’s a quality to be found in truly natural places that I’ve never found anywhere else.  In ways that I can’t explain, this quality feeds some very important part of my being, and I value it very much.  It’s a quality that’s becoming more valuable to many more people every day, as  commercial interests gobble up larger and larger chunks of our diminishing natural world.

The trouble with our commercial society is that we want to commercialize everything, even qualities that don’t survive our efforts to commercialize them.  I value these fragile qualities very much, and despite all the commercial damage which is ongoing, I can still sometimes find them in the wilder areas of the park I love.  Unfortunately for Strathcona, commercial activities are one of the most effective ways to destroy these priceless qualities, and the worst damage isn’t  always physical.

I’ve often wondered why it seems so hard for governments to grasp the idea that we create park boundaries to exclude our destructive human activities, not to include them.  If we wanted to include these activities, we wouldn’t need boundaries at all.  If we create a park, and the government then works very hard against public wishes, using public money to allow one of their wealthy supporters inside park boundaries to further his destructive commercial activities,  what does this mean?

To me, it means that after 100 years, governments still don’t understand what parks are for.  It means there’s still a huge job ahead for the people who actually love Strathcona and appreciate the park for what it is.  I think, after 100 years, we’re only just beginning the process of creating a real park, with real boundaries, which will work, among other things, to protect the park from governments and their wealthy friends.

Strathcona has given a lot to me, for almost all of my life.  I guess that’s why I still think it’s still worth working and fighting for.

Right now, I’m burnt out.  I’m going to go somewhere in my boat for about a month where I don’t have to think about slimy governments and their slimy friends and their slimy schemes.  Best wishes to all,  Karl.

Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | March 1, 2011

Apologies to Martin Luther King

Read More…

Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | February 22, 2011

Karl’s Strathcona Park Trail Philosophy

Karl’s Strathcona Park Trail Philosophy

I think all parks have personalities, and what’s right for one park may not be right for another.  For instance, what I call “big” trails might belong in places like Banff, which has relatively low rainfall and many gradual transitions in terrain.  But Banff-style trails in Strathcona lead to erosion and maintenance problems, because Strathcona has an entirely different personality.  Strathcona has much higher precipitation than Banff, and terrain changes are often quite abrupt.

I think the existing “big”  trails in Strathcona illustrate this very well.  The trails on the Forbidden Plateau, originally built big for horses, have suffered horribly due to the wet climate.  What might work in Banff  hasn’t worked on the plateau.  The plateau trails have eroded until many of them are little more than boulder-strewn creek beds.

Big trails are very expensive to build and maintain.  The recently built  government-financed trail to Bedwell Lake is an excellent example of this.  Although costs were huge and the trail is only a few years old, it’s quickly falling apart and will soon be as bad as the Forbidden Plateau trails.  Because the design called for it to be wide, (a la Banff, of course) erosion was almost inevitable.  The big design also prevented the trail from taking advantage of the natural flow of the country.  Instead of following the natural flow, the trail forced it’s way, which necessitated blasting, and dangerous eyesores such as steep steel staircases, (many of which have been twisted into even more dangerous and useless shapes by snow) as well as causing erosion problems which are rapidly growing worse every year.

Although it may seem out of place to bring it up here, I think there are obvious parallels with the “leaky condo” fiasco.  The condos were all built to a code which originated elsewhere, where the climate was drier and the designs worked well.  They didn’t work well here, and the costs were huge.  The bureaucrats who devise many of our codes, systems, and rules usually spend most of their lives in universities and behind desks, and they often end up being responsible for areas of human activity where they have no actual experience.  It’s probably safe to say that most bureaucrats have little or no hands-on experience with building condos or trails.

So we see the problem.  These days, we often call this sort of problem “a disconnect.”  Luckily for me, I don’t live in a condo, but my dad first took me hiking in Strathcona Park in 1955, and I find it very hard to watch the park I love being ruined by people who know very little about it.   Strathcona isn’t Banff, and it’s not the Chilcotin or anywhere else.  Strathcona is Strathcona, and it’s both impractical and wrong to try to treat it the same as any other park.  Strathcona, like all parks, has a very distinct personality, and I think trails in Strathcona should accentuate and respect this personality, not work to destroy it at great public expense.

When I was in my teens, I worked with people who had then been hiking in Strathcona for most of their lives.  They’d spent enough time in the park to learn some valuable lessons.  They didn’t try to force their will on the park.  Their trails didn’t ignore the terrain, they used it. These trails are still being used, and they’re still in good shape.  They haven’t become costly eroded messes.   What’s more, they were created at no public expense and they were a lot of fun to build.

Strathcona Park is for us, the people of BC.  It’s not for the government or its friends.  It’s for us.  The Strathcona Park Master Plan was created by us, the public, and it’s worked very well for a great many years.  The government has now eroded the Master Plan against public wishes so that a wealthy government supporter can be granted access to the park to build an erosion-prone commercial horse trail in the erosion-prone Bedwell valley.

They keep saying they’re doing this to benefit the park.  I believe they know nothing about Strathcona and they care even less.

They do care about votes.  All politicians desperately wish to be elected.  This wish is our only weapon against government mistreatment of our parks.  An election is probably looming, and so is the granting of a park use permit which will ruin the wild nature of the Bedwell Valley.  The government is more vulnerable right now than it’s ever been.  It’s time to really let them know that the way they’re treating Strathcona and other provincial parks will hurt them politically.

Thanks,  Karl.

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