It was originally slated for logging, but now with the help of an entire community, the Ancient Forest/ Chu T’Oh Whudujut Provincial Park is seeing huge improvements.
Dignitaries gathered Saturday morning for the unveiling of the park’s new sign. Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training for Prince George-Valemount, Shirley Bond, calls this one of the greatest highlights of her career. “As an MLA you work on a lot of projects, but so many people have been a part of bringing this to community park status,” she said.
Improvements to the park include an accessible boardwalk, increased funding from the Province to improve the parking lot, and safer turning in and out of the park.
The boardwalk trail is in fact named after President of the Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Society, Nowell Senior. He says he’s overwhelmed. “We had a small box of nails and a huge box of optimism and we started and 6,500 hours later, four years down the road, we have a universal boardwalk.”
Peter Bickford is a regular user of the trail. He says it’s an integral part of protecting the area. “The general public will follow the boardwalk and not walk all over the place and not destroy the growth so it will stay there for generations.”
As for the park’s name in the traditional Carrier language, Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dominic Frederick, is happy to keep his language alive. “It’s an honour to have this part of the territory recognized and also to be working together with the province,” he said. “It’s an attraction for tourism so I think that’s one of the reasons we want to be part of this, we want to be part of what’s going on around the territory and the park and hopefully there will be other things that will be happening around here.”
Moving forward, Bond says plans are already in the works to make the area a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Our next step is to work towards world heritage status,” she said. “We believe this is obviously a unique place in the world and knowing the group of people that brought it this far, I have every reason to believe we will make that happen.”