News Release: Tip-to-tip trail closer to reality

The Vancouver Island Spine Trail Association (VISTA) set an ambitious goal this week to complete 75 per cent of the Island’s tip-to-tip trail this year.

By linking existing trails and adding new trail where needed, the volunteer group, now in its 9th year, has already completed about 450 km of the planned 700-km-long wilderness route from Victoria to Cape Scott.

At the association’s 8th annual general meeting held March 8 in Victoria, Operations Director Terry Lewis said projects planned for the south, central and north sections of the Island could add another 75 kilometres of trail in 2017.

On the south Island, the so-called Malahat gap will finally be closed with new trail built by the Capital Regional District and the Cowichan Valley Regional District linking the Galloping Goose to the south end of the existing Trans-Canada Trail at Shawnigan Lake. The Spine Trail will share that route with the TCT until branching off to the west at the town of Lake Cowichan.

Other projects in the Beaufort Range and in the north in the Port McNeil and Port Hardy area will include cutting new trail and adding to the total by clearing overgrown old logging roads.

“The goal may be a bit optimistic but it is doable, depending on fund-raising efforts and volunteer turnout,” Lewis said.

Last year, volunteers logged 500 hours doing everything from brushing out existing trails and clearing new trail to creating GPS tracks to mark the trail and flagging new routes. VISTA also contracted out several sections of new riparian trail through old-growth forest along streams and rivers, particularly in the White and Salmon River drainages west of Campbell River. In all, about 100 km of trail were added.

Incoming president Ken Milbrath, who is taking over the role from VISTA founder Gil Parker, said: “It’s an honour following in Gil Parker’s footsteps or rather hiking boot-steps.”  Parker will remain on the 11-member board as past president.

“VISTA has received nothing but support and positive feedback, especially these past few years,” Milbrath said. “I’m grateful for the dedication and passion of our Board and volunteers.  This trail is totally dependent on volunteers. If you’d like to become a member or even volunteer for just a few hours, please contact us.”

Along with Milbrath and Parker, who are Victoria residents and Lewis, who is from Courtenay, eight others were elected to the VISTA board. They are: Bill Feyrer,  Andy Ogle, Elena Elder, Liz Bicknell and Peter Berrang from Victoria, Steve Sterling from Port Alberni, Ross Collicutt from Nanaimo and Doug Goodman from Port Hardy.

For more information go to vispine.ca or contact Caroline Williams – volunteer@vispine.ca.

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