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Community Forest looks to new year

The Chilliwack Park Society seeks continued community support to tackle big trail-building plans for 2016. Input welcomed Jan. 28.  - SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Chilliwack Park Society seeks continued community support to tackle big trail-building plans for 2016. Input welcomed Jan. 28.
— image credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

It was a white Christmas on the Eastern Hillsides, and the Chilliwack Park Society found some tremendous gifts under their trees.

The trail building group has recently received funding from three outdoor activity groups.

Sea to Sky Parks operates provincial parks along the Sea to Sky Corridor and in the Fraser Valley, including Chilliwack Lake and Cultus Lake. The organization generously contributed $3,400 to the Community Forest project this week.

The society also received $3,000 from Mt. Waddington's Outdoors, funds which were generated through the film series ticket sales and one per cent of store sales.

Lastly, they received a $4,000 grant from Vedder Running Club, proceeds which were raised from the Give'R Take 30 Around The Lake event in October.

That financial support will have an incredible impact for society members and volunteers as they gear up to tackle two big projects in the new year.

"We've scouted a line from the Community Forest up to join the Elk-Thurston saddle," said project manager Marc Greidanus.

This 5.5 km route will have a 1200 metre elevation gain, and is expected to be completed by summer 2016.

With help from Carrielynn Victor of the Sto:lo Shxweli Language Program, the 1.5 km beginner trail was named "Pi:txel" meaning salamander, and the 2 km moderate loop was named "Chólqthet" meaning dropping in, like a bird falling out of the nest for the first time.

"Sk'íkw'étsel," Halq'eméylem for cut fish, has been selected as the name for the forthcoming 5.5 km route. It references the hanging valley above Elk Falls, which visually resembles a splayed salmon, as well as the abundant slate in the area which historically was mined for slate knives.

The other big project for the year will be an alternate down track off Elk Mountain. Sam Waddington has been performing some topographic "air recon" in a paraglider over the area, estimating it to be about 8 km one way. This mountain bike friendly, multi-use route will flow down from the ridge to Ryder Lake.

"Our plans are all scalable," Greidanus explained, in regards to the project scope and speed of completion. "We work with what we've got."

But thanks to the generosity of local individuals, businesses, and organizations, the Chilliwack Park Society is starting 2016 with a bang.

In combination with the dedicated work of their volunteers, continued community support will ensure that the non-profit society has the tools and resources necessary to bring these new trails and more to life.

"We know the trails in the Community Forest will be well used and appreciated by our community and by visitors to our community alike," said Acting Mayor Chuck Stam.

"The Chilliwack Park Society is very thankful for the commitment of Mayor Gaetz, Council and City staff to our project," said Greidanus. "Their infrastructure support, help and expertise has proven invaluable."

The Community Forest (51996 Allan Road) is currently open for hiking, biking and dog walking. The entrance gate to the parking lot will open April 16.

In the meantime, City staff ask visitors to drive slowly on Allan Road, park respectfully and to observe basic backcountry safety rules when hiking.

Dress for the elements, bring food and water, make lots of noise, stay on the trails, tell someone where you're going, and avoid the forest during high winds.

The public are invited to attend the Chilliwack Park Society open meeting at Cheam hall (52203 Old Yale Rd) on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. to learn more about these plans and provide feedback.

Keep in touch at chilliwackparksociety.ca for upcoming trail building dates. View the Community Forest map below.

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