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BC Parks 100th anniversary - Kiwanis rescued Beaver Creek

Vandalism almost forced BC Parks to give up site
From the mountain vistas to the crackling creek to the boat launch accessing the Columbia River

By Brian Seifrit

Times Correspondent

The story of Beaver Creek Park might be one of renewal.

Almost destroyed by vandals, the park now flourishes thanks to the work of the Trail Kiwanis club.

Located off Highway 22A and along the Columbia River, the park, established in 1953, has been in the guiding hands of the Kiwanis since 1994.

It was around the same time that B.C. Parks was considering abandoning the site.

“People were smashing beer bottles, littering, and generally being a nuisance. They showed no respect to the area at all,” said Kiwanis member Wayne Hodgson.

“It was established as a park in 1953. At that time there were no picnic tables or camping. It was known to locals only as a place to go,” said WW II veteran Harold Branton.

He explained Cominco donated the land to B.C. Parks with the intention that it always remains a park. The Kiwanis club operates the park on a renewable contract basis.

Branton has been involved with the Kiwanis for 44 years and played a big part in rescuing the park from dilapidation and the constant vandalism and partying it endured.

“The vandalism today is next to nothing,” said Hodgson, adding  “due to the Kiwanis efforts at maintaining it.”

“The Kiwanis have invested over $400,000 since taking over the park in 1994,” said Branton. “When the Kiwanis took over the park, there was so much knapweed, that it would tangle you up,” Branton adds. “It was the Kiwanis that added the picnic tables and toilets, there were none of those at the beginning.”

Today the knapweed is under control and the park is everything it is meant to be. The spectacular views of the Columbia River and the rising and setting sun add to the serenity. There is a hiking trail at the south end of the campground that follows the riverbank.

It leads to a picturesque grassland and level plateau that overlooks the Columbia River. Hikers have a real chance at seeing some of the magnificent wonderments this area of the Kootenay’s hold.

Beaver Creek Park is made up of Cedar and Hemlock and is classified as a bioclimatic zone. There are only two such places in the entire province of British Columbia, one, which is north of Creston, and the area of Beaver Creek Park down to the north shores of the Pend d’Oreille

It is a unique and well-kept park.

Hodgson spends as much time there as he can.

“If my wife notices I am missing, she knows where to look,” he chuckled.

A government boat launch is available to all and is regularly used. The soccer field has been in development for almost five years. It will be complete and ready for soccer teams to play on this September.

The annual Canada Day celebration, hosted by the Kiwanis since 1995, is consistently the park’s busiest day of the year.

The quiet surroundings and easy access to the river make the park a popular destination for seniors and retirees, especially in the fall. The months of May and June also prove to be busy time for the park as fishermen search for early bites.

The campground boasts not only of 19 secluded campsites, but a picnic area that has parking for approximately 40 vehicles.

BC Parks is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

It is the second largest parks system in Canada, after Canada’s national Parks, and, along with protected areas, encompasses almost 15 per cent of B.C.