There's been more than 10,000 visitors to the Ancient Forest Interpretive Trail this year, said Nowell Senior, president of the Caledonia Ramblers Club of Prince George.
"We've had a researcher out from UNBC doing surveys, along with the trail counter that we have out there to confirm those numbers," said Senior. "There's visitors signed in from almost every part of Canada, 33 states and 27 countries."
The Ancient Forest, 133 kilometres east of Prince George, is an inland wet-temperate rain forest that has a unique forest ecosystem combining characteristics of both the coastal rain forests of B.C. and the boreal forest of the far north.
"There's been $103,00 put into building and maintaining the trail and that includes more than 1,800 hours of volunteer labour," said Senior. "Over the past while we've also traveled 35,000 kilometres back and forth to do the work on the trail and 23,000 of that was done by volunteers."
The bigger project the Ramblers have been working on for the last two years is the
The Ramblers, with the help of sponsors, are building a 400-metre long Universal Boardwalk at the Ancient Forest Interpretive Trail. The boardwalk will enable visitors with mobility issues, including those in wheelchairs and other challenges, to experience the unique forest.
"Our goal was to open the completed Universal Boardwalk this Thanksgiving," said Senior. "We've decided not to do that. We're still working on the boardwalk and completed 1,100 feet and we've 400 feet to go. Last week we actually reached the parking area and it's taken two years and two months to reach that point. Even though we expect to have the boardwalk completed across the parking area by the middle of October."
There's still some things that need to be done to fully complete it, added Senior, including cement work to stabilize the native rocks used to support the boardwalk, he explained.
The trail was started at its ultimate destination point, overseeing a beautiful stream 400 metres from the parking lot and the platform still needs to be built there.
"We've decided not to open the trail until next summer," said Senior. "We estimate we have about 1,000 hours more to do in order to open the boardwalk. We're going to continue to work on it right through the fall and complete as much as possible."
Another reason for putting it off is the weather. Just this past weekend there was fresh snow seen in the area and by mid-October the weather could be off-putting to some people. Senior said he would like to have as many people come to the opening next summer as possible, including the volunteers and sponsors that helped make the creation of the Universal Boardwalk possible.
One of the club's goals is to show the value of this type of forest as a recreational and educational resource. That conservation of the attributes that make this forest type special and unique is a worthy cause and one that future generations deserve an opportunity to appreciate and enjoy.
"The response we've had from the community has been just great," said Senior. "People coming off the trail have also walked on the boardwalk and they say they just can't believe that a group of volunteers has built it. So great responses from people."
What it takes to make a boardwalk
More than 100 volunteers
Total of 39,000 kilometres traveled
4,000 hours in labour to date, with about 1,000 to go
120 trips out to the Ancient Forest in two years, two months
52 trips made this year
$90,000 in grants, donations and in-kind donations in addition to the $40,000 in volunteer labour