Shuswap Trail Alliance technical specialists Veda Roberge (left) and Jacob (Sutra) Brett will provide volunteer technical trail design support in Chile.

Shuswap Trail Alliance technical specialists Veda Roberge (left) and Jacob (Sutra) Brett will provide volunteer technical trail design support in Chile.

Conservation efforts go global

The idea of “thinking globally and acting locally” found new meaning with the sold-out annual Shuswap Trail Party and Fundraiser Friday

The idea of “thinking globally and acting locally” found new meaning with the sold-out annual Shuswap Trail Party and Fundraiser Friday.

The Shuswap Trail Alliance is catching international attention through a growing relationship with the AMA Torres del Paine, in Patagonia, Chile. The AMA is a non-profit conservation organization that works with the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile.

“We’ve been sharing a conversation between our two organizations for several months now,” said Shuswap Trail Alliance executive director Phil McIntyre-Paul, thanks to a connection made by Ross Cloutier with the Thompson Rivers University faculty of adventure, tourism, and culinary arts.

Cloutier connected the two organizations through TRU Adventure’s international partnership with eco-tourism organizations in Patagonia.

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, is recognized as one of the top trekking and climbing destinations on the planet. It is visited annually by travelers from around the world. The AMA Torres del Paine works with the Chilean National Parks service providing conservation and educational programs. Part of their work includes maintaining the trail system.

“We have an internationally known trail system,” said AMA president, Mauricio Kusanovic. “But many of the trails originate from old cattle trails. So we have significant issues with erosion and a need for restoration, but we don’t have the technical trail building knowledge.”

Enter the Shuswap Trail Alliance and two of their technical support specialists, Veda Roberge and Jacob (Sutra) Brett.

Roberge and Brett are volunteering two weeks of their time this month to visit Patagonia and share technical knowledge with the AMA Torres del Paine leadership.

“We are super excited to be able to experience this beautiful part of the planet and also share with others who are trying to do similar work to the Trail Alliance,” said Roberge.

In return, they will be learning about the partnerships and work of the conservation organization, and making international connections for the Shuswap Trail Alliance.

“This is really an amazing opportunity to learn from an organization that has a long history of collaborating with international partners,” said McIntyre-Paul, noting their sponsors include businesses like Patagonia Clothing and Outdoor Gear.

“We’re humbled to be able to share a little of our own knowledge in return.”

Roberge and Brett will share insights from their visit to Torres del Paine, Patagonia, at the upcoming Shuswap Trail Alliance Annual General Meeting on March 2, 7 p.m., at Okanagan College Salmon Arm.

This year marks the beginning of a new decade for Shuswap Trail Alliance regional partners growing trails and greenways throughout the region.

The coming season is poised to bring new milestones with projects in every region and municipality, including completion of the North Fork Wild Conservation Park trails with CSRD Parks in Area E, new additions to the Larch Hills Traverse, Rubberhead, South Canoe, Mt. Baldy, North Shuswap, launch of the new Shuswap Trails Strategy and Roundtable, and the very real potential of major new legacy projects like the Sicamous to Armstrong Rail-Trail.

The Shuswap Trail Alliance will also welcome trail leadership from around the province this year for the annual Share the Trails Workshop hosted by the Outdoor Recreation Council and the Horse Council BC (May 6 and 7).