Aerial Lifts and Copters Predicted in Strathcona
Aerial lifts may some day be used in Strathcona Park to carry travellers to the start of mountain ridges trails. That is one idea being studied by parks planners for a master plan they are now compiling for future recreational development of Vancouver Island's 561,179-acre Strathcona Park. Aerial lifts are wonderful in wilderness areas where there is mass use, George Wood, who is in charge of long range planning for the provincial parks branch, told a meeting of Island Mountain Ramblers in Nanaimo.
He explained the aerial lifts can be used for carrying people in summer and winter, they don't necessitate clearing of huge sections of timber from the park area, they require no parking lots, and present no snow clearing problems. Parks director Robert Ahrens, who accompanied Mr. Wood, told the Ramblers there will be some adjustment of Strathcona Park boundaries, including an extension of Forbidden Plateau ski areas. The master plan should be ready this year.
Both Mr. Ahrens and Mr. Wood warned about pushing roads into Strathcona Park. "Let us be careful how far we push roads into Strathcona Park," warned Mr. Wood. "Availability does change the wilderness aspect," he added. He said trails will be key to the use of wilderness areas in Strathcona Park and invited limited building of trails by volunteer groups like the Ramblers. But he emphasized they would have to be built under parks branch supervision, according to the master plan, and to parks branch standards, such as the trail the Ramblers now are building to marble Meadows, above Phillips Creek and Buttle Lake. "We visualize an integrated system of trails," he said. Adirondac-type open shelters, pit-toilets, designated camp areas and standard aluminum trail markers would all be part of the trail system.
Heliports will be included in the planning and helicopters could be used to provide access to high areas. "They can lift people and packs to high areas. They are a wonderful means of access, but there has to be controls," he said.
The existence of nature conservancy areas means the wilderness is being preserved, said Mr. Wood. "There will be zones of heavy use, but protection of wilderness values will be fundamental in the Strathcona Park planning," he added.
Mr. Ahrens said a park headquarters will be developed at the north end of Buttle Lake with swimming facilities concentrated on little warm water Darkis Lake and campgrounds around both Darkis and adjacent Buttle, where there already is a 50-unit campground adjacent to the Gold River road. He said youth crews for parks work will be doubled this year.
The real problem which makes a park as big as Strathcona difficult to administer is that there is something about people which want us to develop everything, Mr. Ahrens said. "Resources represent money. There is money to be made in resources."
There is a difference of opinion among recreationists. A large segment supports roads, he said. "If grandmother can't get there it is not a democratic system. I think we should ask what about Johnny? In a push-button world we need these places for Johnny. There are still lots pf places where grandmother can go," he explained.
Snowmobiles and trail bikes are big problems. Between the two they can go almost anywhere, winter or summer, he explained. "Our approach is to make them illegal in parks and then zone them back to certain areas," he said. "There is only one protection for a parks system public familiarity with the parks," he said.
of alpine meadow country is one of the big problems of wilderness use,
Mr. Wood explained. The trails break the cover and erosion of the meadows
starts. As the trails become muddy hikers skirt around the trail and new
erosions start. This summer the parks branch will try out a new aluminum
mesh that will be placed along wet areas in Garibaldi Park trails. The
section can be pegged down and locked together and may be an answer to
the erosion problem.