WNMS AND TRMF TEAM UP FOR MONKMAN MEMORIAL TRAIL PROJECT, BURLINGTON ANNOUNCES MAJOR SUPPORT
Press Release
For Immediate Release
Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation
Box 1348 Tumbler Ridge, BC V0C 2W0
Contact: Dr Charles Helm, Vice President – 250 242 3984

November 2, 2005

Individually the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society (WNMS) and Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) have already been responsible for diversifying the regional economy and enhancing the lifestyles of residents and visitors, through the hiking trail system and palaeontology products respectively. Now these two Tumbler Ridge volunteer organizations are teaming up for another ambitious project, the Monkman Memorial Trail.

It is a natural fit for these groups that already work closely together. WNMS is spearheading the initiative, with its track record in trail construction, while the TRMF will provide support with its research into and knowledge of natural and pioneer history. And the project could not be more fascinating: the creation of a multi-day, multi-activity adventure that will not only celebrate the amazing history of the area, but lead through some of the finest scenery in Canada.

The Memorial Trail celebrates and honours the phenomenal achievements of the Monkman Pass pioneers in the late 1930s. Faced with government intransigence, they decided to build a road through the mountains to give themselves a route to export their grain. Only the outbreak of World War II, and subsequent political apathy, eventually defeated them.

The Monkman Memorial Trail will have two major components, the road tour and the hiking trail. The road tour, which will be enhanced with signage, a booklet, and a CD, will include eighteen attractions between Rio Grande in Alberta and Kinuseo Falls in B.C. Rio Grande was the starting point for the original Monkman Pass Highway in 1937, and a memorial plaque has already been erected there, with funding from the County of Grande Prairie. These attractions include little-known lakes beside which the original campsites were made, waterfalls and the remains of cabins which were important attractions for the first tourists in 1938 and 1939. Some of these attractions are beside the existing road, others will be accessed via hiking trails, canoe, or ATV and mountain biking routes.

The hiking trail will lead from Kinuseo Falls, through the Monkman Pass via Monkman Lake, then down Fontoniko Creek to Hobi's Cabin, from where the trip can be completed to Prince George or McBride by jetboat. En route lie the Cascades, one of the world's least known major scenic attractions, where the waters of Monkman Creek fall ten times in succession. Here WNMS has already been busy for the past two years, building campsites and trails between these falls.

Ministry of Forests and Range has kindly made available its 1960s air photos of the area the original route passed through. These may help identify the route in those areas in which it has become unclear.

Enjoying the Monkman Memorial Trail in its entirety may take up to a week, and parts of it will be demanding and will require navigation and GPS skills. Satellite phones will be mandatory on the section through and beyond the pass.

WNMS Monkman Project Co-ordinator Kreg Alde's enthusiasm has been a main driving force for this initiative. Kreg explains, "The Monkman Pass not only has great history, but it is an area that is still untouched by mankind. It is an area that can freeze time and allow you to just enjoy the natural beauty of the area. I feel that a project like this will enshrine the Monkman Pass Highway Association’s dream and also allow more people to experience this area."

Rob Bressette of BC Parks welcomes this drive, "The pristine environment of Monkman Provincial Park is the backdrop to an area rich in recreational and cultural values. This memorial trail project will highlight these values tremendously."

Burlington Resources has recognized the importance of this project for the region through a fantastic donation of helicopter time for two days for surveying the hiking trail. Other fundraising initiatives are underway, and both Encana and Talisman have pledged support. The project will move forward in phases, with work on the road tour hopefully being completed in the summer of 2006. The hiking route has already been surveyed, and trail work will begin in 2006. The Monkman Memorial Trail may be ready for use as soon as 2007.

The trail will be dedicated to the people that dared to follow a dream and take control over their own destiny. They did not just live in the Peace Country, they created it.

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