The letter by Dale MacNeill, Friday, April 27, is a case of shoot the messenger. It declares that “typical of Frank Dwyer, the Kamloops Naturalist Club, Grasslands Council and others of their type . . . complain after the fact.”
First off, Dale’s letter seems to state that our belated concerns are all about trail building. In fact, I spoke about illegal digging on a steep hillside in the centre of a residential area, for the purpose of mountain bikers building ramps or jumps, only obliquely about trails. In meeting with The Daily News reporter, I pointed out jumps, ramps and banks created on the outrun trails and the deep pits dug to make them.
And whoa, maligning the Kamloops Naturalist Club and the worthy B.C. Grasslands Council. Way back in 1991, the Kamloops Naturalist Club held a seminar, attended by City staff, entitled “Land for Nature.” Subsequently, in 1992 KNC experts identified areas critical for the conservation of nature and a map of these zones was given to the City. While some aspects of City planning changed as a result, there has been no consistent effort to preserve bio-diversity.
Not many years later, as a director of the KNC, I met with the then-director of City parks for the purpose of proposing interpretive nature signage in McArthur Park. His blunt response to me was, “Don’t expect anything for nature in McArthur Park. It’s for sports.” Yep, that blunt and I would repeat that under oath. Draw any extension you wish from that attitude.
I am proud that in June 2004, I, along with the then-KNC president Margaret Graham, succeeded in having City council adopt the Mariposa Lily as a symbol of nature in Kamloops. As a part of Kamloops’ winning the national Communities in Bloom award, I personally raised in excess of $4,000 to help create a supplement on nature in Kamloops and designed a project about caring for nature aimed at school children.
The primary message was to encourage kids to cycle on established trails and have as little adverse impact as possible (prescient, eh!). I have also been a provincial director of B.C. Nature.
There is some merit in MacNeill’s proposals — drivel aside. The City of Kamloops, the KNC and other groups should actively take up what was first begun 20 years ago. They should update and add areas worthy of protection in Kamloops.
City planners know that urban nature is a critical part of sustainability. They should know that often the only contact many kids have with nature happens within the city. Plans should be developed to protect areas and education, signage and boundaries are all important.
To conclude, Dale MacNeill proclaims that I preach total abstinence from nature while sitting in my pretty subdivision home. In fact, I live in one of the older parts of town. My house backs on the grasslands and I almost daily walk on dirt trails through the grasslands.
I teach and encourage nature photography. I have written a number of articles on nature for The Daily News. I also join and help with KNC nature-related field outings which are open to the public.
And yet, I am a kid at heart. I was out at the bike ranch on Sunday watching and photographing the great stunts pulled by the young mountain bikers. It was like totally sick.
So, the kids are all right. It seems it’s us adults who have to get our act together. I mean about preserving vital parts of nature, working together and still giving the kids room to play.