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End of an era: Province moves in on management of popular recreational site

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
June 19th, 2023

It’s the ‘end of an era’ for one of the region’s recreational gems.

Last year Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative (SIFCo) was told by Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. that it had developed a new plan for Bannock Point recreation site — located 91 kilometres north of Nelson on Slocan Lake off of Highway 6 — and that improvements would begin in the spring of 2023.

From 2007 to 2022 SIFCo had been the primary caretaker of the recreation site after the cooperative obtained tenure over part of the land base in the Slocan Valley, but that came to an end this year.

“We want to let the community know that this is the first season that SIFCo will not be involved in site maintenance and we are no longer part of the team maintaining the site,” noted SIFCo manager Stephan Martineau in the notes of Bannock Point: The end of an era, a short video on the history and development of the popular recreation site (https://www.sifco.ca/videogallery).

“We truly hope that, as this transition occurs, that the community will feel that what is being done is aligned with what they wish to see happen on the site. It’s a beautiful place.”

The site was, historically, a very well used recreation site by the mid-Slocan Valley population but there was never a management strategy around it, Martineau explained in the video.

“So, the people that lived here at the time would remember people would park cars all over the forest; there were no designated trails and it was really the wild west of recreation sites,” he said.

Under a “gentleman’s agreement” with the Ministry of Forests, SIFCo took over the management of the site and the first thing created was a “nice upper walk to the viewpoint,” increasing the size of the recreation site in the process.

SIFCo then created maps of the area and designed an overall plan for the site, along with a parking lot, signage, bridges across some of the creek crossings that were existing on the site, and installed extra outhouses with the establishment of 14 permanent campsites and with fire rings.

In addition, SIFCo created two main trails — north and south trails — out of the myriad of trails that existed and made those the two primary trails that got people down to the lake from the parking lot. A day-use area with the camping area was also established.

Then SIFCo began to do wildfire mitigation on the site in 2009, at first just along both trails.

“It was also part of our introducing people of the valley to wildfire mitigation because it was really early on … and it was the very beginning of that type of work for us in the valley,” said Martineau. “And it was a way of educating people to that type of work that SIFCo was doing in terms of wildfire mitigation.”

In 2018 SIFCo got a grant through the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. and they ended up finishing the entire site for wildfire mitigation.

“It was really a nice relationship and the community was happy with the work and the site has remained free throughout the years,” Martineau said in the video.

Then, about five years ago, Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. started to have a greater interest in the site and formed a mutual maintenance agreement for the site.

“There was an unspoken agreement that we would co-host the site and then last year we were told they were taking it over,” said Martineau.

So the 2007-to-2022 window for SIFCo being the primary caretaker of the site is now over and the site is now being reverted back to Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. and maintenance will now be under direction of the provincial government organization.

There have been no announcements on what Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. has planned for Bannock Point.

Driving directions

Road access: From the bridge on Highway 6, in Silverton, travel south along the highway for 4.5 km. Turn right off the highway at the “Bannock Point Trail” sign. It is about 3/4 km from the highway to the parking.

Access the parking via the lane on the west side of the gravel pit. If you are driving a vehicle with a long wheel base, or towing a trailer, park at the gravel pit and walk down the road to the trail head.

Otherwise, you can drive past the gravel pit to the trail head. Park only in designated parking areas to avoid erosion, compaction, and damage to vegetation. Boat Access: From Silverton’s public boat ramp, travel south along the east shore of Slocan Lake for about four kilometres. Look for a sheltered bay and the “Bannock Point Recreation Site” sign on the beach.

Source: http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/

Site description

Bannock Point, on the shores of Slocan Lake has special appeal.

Walk-in camping is accessed via a 700-metre, moderately steep trail. A small day-use area and 14 campsites are spread out along the treed and rocky lakeshore.

Early in the morning expect to see eagles and osprey fishing. A small pebble beach catches the afternoon sun. A summer day can easily be whiled away diving in the clear water of Slocan Lake or sun bathing on the huge boulders.

At the end of the day, listen for Canada geese settling down for the night as you watch the sunset behind the Valhalla Mountain range.

Source: Source: http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/

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