The free camping sites on the islands are back in business under a new ministry.
BC Forest Recreation sites and trails, such as Kagan Bay, Gray Bay, Rennell Sound and Mosquito Lake have been somewhat neglected over the past few years, due to shuffling of responsibilities among ministries.
Carl Johansen recently transferred from the Ministry of Forests to the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and the Arts and is the recreation officer now in charge of looking after sites on Graham and Moresby Islands.
He told Moresby Island Management Committee members at the July 12 meeting there is a three-year plan to rehabilitate every forest recreation site and trail in the system.
So far, Mr. Johansen has been busy at Kagan Bay putting in new gravel, repairing fire pits, toilets and tables. He also worked on the Bonanza Beach Trail and Cone Head site. He has plans to work at Sheldons Bay over the summer.
He intends to have all picnic tables replaced this year as well.
Mr. Johansen has had the help of high school students who are employed by the Ministry of Forests in Queen Charlotte for the summer.
The camping sites will be maintained on a weekly basis over the summer and no fees are charged for use.
Arrangements with some groups were made when the Ministry of Forests got out of the business of looking after recreation sites and trails around 2001. Mr. Johansen is in contact with these groups.
The Island Hikers Association have been in contact with him regularly and he is working with them to bring existing trails to a good standard.
The Moresby Island Management committee has been looking after Secret Cove and Onward Point trails on Moresby Island and agreed at the July 12 meeting to continue doing so.
Mr. Johansen said the trails need to be established as legal trails. He is happy to continue working in partnership with groups, saying the ministry can provide liability insurance and do inspections of trails. He would also organize the heavier tasks, like removing hazard trees.
He can also provide materials and signage to the groups.
“It is nice to see money being put back into recreation and infrastructure,” said Regional District Area E representative Travis Glasman.
Committee member Bill Quaas asked who would be maintaining the roads to these sites, with the downturn in logging?
Mr. Johansen said there are limited road funds for the Forest Service Roads, which run to Rennell Sound, Moresby Camp and to the Sleeping Beauty trail, but other roads are maintained by licensees or are non-status, such as the Gray Bay road.
He has no money for roads maintained by licensees, but can find patchwork pieces of funding for Gray Bay.
Committee member Duane Gould brought up the commitments made when South Moresby was made into a park.
“Tourism was supposed to be our saviour but the fight goes on ten years later. There is still constant wrangling and everyone says these things are not my responsibility,” he said of road maintenance.
Mr. Gould said years ago MIMC was promised the road to Moresby Camp would be done 19 times a year.
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