A Vernon society is celebrating two decades of successful trail advocacy.
The network of trails in Greater Vernon has grown considerably since 2000, when a group of local citizens got together to form the Ribbons of Green Trails Society.
Working closely with local municipalities, the society promotes a vision for a system of parks, pathways, and bikeways that tie urban areas to parks and scenic landscapes.
“One of ROGTS’s original goals was to create a multi-use path which connects the three local lakes: Okanagan Lake, Kalamalka Lake, and Swan Lake,” said Ingrid Neumann, the society’s director.
Another goal was to create a vision for the Grey Canal Trail, connecting Lavington to Okanagan Lake along the historic irrigation canal. The 19 km trail can be hiked from Coldstream Valley Estates to the northeast end of Swan Lake.
The Turtle Mountain portion of the Grey Canal Trail is a 4 km from the Blue Jay subdivision to Turtle Mountain. The Bella Vista section has recently been extended to include 3 km of trail. Completion of a few more sections will provide a continuous trail from Coldstream to Okanagan Lake.
The society has had a hand in a number of other major projects, including the Polson Park Boardwalk, Middleton Mountain Park Trails, the 90-acre Farnsworth Nature Reserve and the Okanagan Rail Trail.
Twenty years in, the society’s original goals are nearing completion. Ribbons of Green has updated its mission statement to include: encouraging connectivity with trails in the Greater Vernon area and with those in neighbouring communities; supporting best practices for trail design, construction, use, signage and maintenance; promoting community trail stewardship; adapting for changes in climate, transportation methods and lifestyles; and assisting with natural, cultural and historical interpretation efforts on the trails.
Over the years, Ribbons of Green has brought plenty of local organizations into the fold to help bring trails to life. The list includes Vernon Rotary, Vernon Outdoors Club, Allan Brooks Nature Centre, North Okanagan Naturalists Club, North Okanagan Cycling Society, North Okanagan Coalition for Active Transportation, Armstrong Spallumcheen Trails Society and Friends of the Okanagan Rail Trail.
Ribbons of Green is always looking to educate people about local trails. To that end, the society created a website to keep local trail users informed, as well as an online interactive map that neatly displays trail locations, features, parking and directions in the Greater Vernon area.