Karyn Sharp has big plans for the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park that she says will bring more visitors to the world’s only inland temperate rainforest.
Sharp, project manager for the Ancient Forest Enhancement Project, says the main focus of the group is to build a large interpretive centre for visitors, a project put on hold in 2021 when lumber prices skyrocketed.
Funded by a $7.8 million provincial/federal Community, Culture, and Recreation infrastructure grant, the centre will provide the base for visitors to engage with Lheidli T'enneh members in storytelling, guided walks and self-guided tours.
The visitor centre, estimated to cost $3-4 million, is still in the design stage and the bid will be put to tender this spring, with construction to begin in 2024. It won’t be staffed year-round but will available in the off-season to provide overnight accommodation for academics conducting research projects in the area.
A new culture area close to the visitor centre is in the works this year at the west end of the park off Penny Road which will provide activities for visitors. That will connect to a riparian trail that leads to a wetland, which will highlight a different aspect of the Ancient Forest.
Also identified as a priority for this year is to upgrade the boardwalks built by the Caledonia Ramblers as part of a three-kilometre trail network to get the wooden pathways off the ground to keep people from stepping off the path onto sensitive lichen and other plants that grow under the tree canopy.
One of the first priorities is to set up a bus service that will connect Prince George visitors and local grade school students to the Ancient Forest.
An Ancient Forest logo developed by local artists Kym Gouchie and Jennifer Pighin will be unveiled later this year.