BC Interior Forestry Museum director Glenn Westrup was looking through old files in the museum when he stumbled across a list that included information about land located below the museum. Following up with museum board chair Brian Sumner, Westrup discovered the museum had a 30-year lease on the land. The land was leased with the intentions of completing a project that never came to fruition, but the lease remained.
Westrup began walking around on the leased property and was joined by a few of the museum’s directors who started plotting and planning the creation of a forest walk. There were some trails already in existence, but Westrup said many people aren’t aware they exist. The only barrier to completing the Riverside Forest Walk? A separate, city-owned parcel of land between the museum grounds and the leased property. The museum arranged with the city to take on a lease on that land, which has lent itself to creating walking trails leading directly from the museum itself. The main trail takes you on a 1.5-kilometre loop that includes a one-kilometre walk along the Columbia River through a hemlock, cedar, and white pine forest. Westrup said the eventual goal is for the museum to offer daily walks and tours, similar to those offered by the Royal Tyrell Museum, but on a much smaller scale.
Westrup said the museum is planning a soft opening at the beginning of September. The museum was just in the process of commissioning a local artist to create wayfinding signage and develop an icon style map of the property. The museum is also working with a forest specialist who will help to develop signage that includes educational information describing the different plant species found in the forest, and what is happening with the forest due to global warming.
Westrup says creating the trails is the first stage of what will become a community space the public can access. In September 2017, a strong windstorm blew through Revelstoke knocking down numerous trees in the area. That windstorm tore through the middle of the forest where the museum was planning to build the trails. Rather than being brought down by the massive clean up ahead of them, the museum is choosing to see it as a positive situation as it provided the catalyst to begin creating the community parkland.
“It’s an ongoing project. Where the wind event occurred it’s fairly flat so it lends itself to community usage for smaller events or picnics,” said Westrup.
The BC Interior Forestry Museum is located on Highway 23 North, beside the entrance to the Revelstoke Dam Visitor’s Centre.