News Release: October 8, 2017
Shuswap Trail Alliance issues open letter on the recent Eagle Pass Lookout structure
To our Secwepemc, Provincial, Regional/Municipal and Community Partners,
Given the recent media publicity on the Eagle Pass Mountain Lookout, the Shuswap Trail Alliance has been asked to provide a position statement on the structure recently rebuilt on the old stone lookout foundation. We are happy to do so. The old mountain fire lookouts throughout the Shuswap are unique historic destinations accessed by trails, and provide welcome recreational destinations for people to experience the remarkable backcountry alpine landscapes of our region.
Most recently, a group of local citizens rebuilt the Eagle Pass Lookout. While we understand the process for approval is under review with the Province, this letter is to confirm the Shuswap Trail Alliance is supportive of local leadership and community partners working together to restore the Eagle Pass Lookout as part of this legacy of historic alpine locations. The STA remains a resource available to support collaborative initiatives like this.
The Eagle Pass Lookout is a remarkable location. The STA has been fortunate to be working with community leaders and the Provincial Recreation Sites and Trails BC officers on an upgrade plan to address improvements to the historic pack trail to the lookout now used as an alpine backcountry hiking trail. The historic lookout is a key destination for the trails there. We are keen to ensure the trail plans complement the plans for the lookout, and that all the plans are consistent with maintaining the local alpine eco-system.
To this end, the Shuswap Trail Alliance supports a working solution with the local group along with regional and provincial leadership to complete and manage the site. We certainly do not advocate dismantling the new Eagle Pass Lookout structure (if that is an option being considered), particularly given the significant donation of time and funds from the local community.
While we acknowledge there was clearly confusion in the initial process for planning and approving recreational projects like this within the province, we have spoken with the proponents of the new structure and believe their intent was in keeping with the values of the area.
We also hope this can be an instructive opportunity for both the Province and ourselves locally to clarify the appropriate process for projects like these as we continue to work together to better manage ourselves within the land. We recognize this is an evolving process. The Shuswap Regional Trails Roundtable has been created to assist with this.
As part of our Shuswap Regional Trails Strategy, we acknowledge the Eagle Pass Lookout’s place within Secwepemc Nation Territory and the traditional area of care of the Splatsin. We understand Splatsin leadership have reviewed the current structure and have written a letter acknowledging the current work will be of benefit to the wider community.
We have been fortunate to work collaboratively with many partners on many projects throughout the Shuswap over the last 12 years. We welcome the opportunity to work with leadership involved both locally and within our Provincial land agencies to realize another positive project for the Shuswap.
If anything, the real story here may be in the need to better resource and support our understaffed and often overwhelmed land managers (but I’ll leave that to another letter.)
The Shuswap Trail Alliance welcomes further opportunity to participate, provide input, and support the Eagle Pass Lookout restoration effort.
The Shuswap Trail Alliance