It might be the nicest gift the Columbia Shuswap Regional District has ever received: a 51-acre parcel of park land worth $424,500.
Peter Jennings donated his land on the lower Perry River to the CSRD to be kept ‘in perpetuity’ for recreation and conservation. He will keep a small portion where his house is for the remainder of his life and then that piece will be added to the parkland.
Parks and recreation operator Kevin Clarkson told board directors the property, just east of Craigallechie, has a diverse terrain. “It’s extremely ecologically rich and diverse. It was last logged in 1968 so it has a lot of old growth, ancient cedar and hemlock.”
As Clarkson showed slides of the property at the board meeting he said Jennings, along with Gerald King, spent 40 years hiking the property and establishing an extensive trail network system.
“The nice thing about these trails is the construction from natural materials and Mr. Jennings is still maintaining them,” said Clarkson, pointing out wooden bridges and rails.
Clarkson said this property, which will be the CSRD’s largest park, is an important migration corridor for salmon, bear, caribou, as well as a resident wolf pack.
Directors were given a copy of Jennings’ impressive report on the property which is called North Fork Wild. The report includes a history, geography, weather records, and an extensive list of its plants and animals. There is even a glossary of place names with entries such as: “Duchess’ Bride, built 1997, rebuilt and named 2007; Duchess, a Shepherd-Labrador Retriever cross, lived from 1972 to 1987.”
“This is an exciting day for us,” said Area E director Rhona Martin. “I know Peter and Gerald and I know how hard they both worked to preserve this land. It’s a beautiful, beautiful site.”
Jennings, who attended the meeting, got a few rounds of applause.
Salmon Arm Director Kevin Flynn was a little emotional as he said it was times like this that make the “somewhat thankless” job of politics worthwhile. “Mr. Jennings, thank you and wow, what a gift.”
CSRD Chair Ron Oszust thanked Jennings for his years of dedication to the land. “Thank you for your contribution to future generations, this is truly what this is doing. Thank you for choosing us.”
Jennings was asked to say a few words but he declined. “I don’t have anything to say. I’m happy the CSRD will take over the land and to know it will be looked after well.”