Gabriola Lands and Trails Trust was formed in 2004 with the stated purpose:
"…to secure, develop and sustain a network of parkland and trails on Gabriola Island for the benefit of the public, and to preserve sites of environmental, historical, and social importance".
GaLTT's constitution specifies many ways the Society can achieve these goals, and we employ them all. We have achieved some great successes and are continuing to pursue projects that aren't finished as well as new ones. GaLTT's members and Board worked together in 2014 to develop a Strategic Plan for 2015 through 2020. The results are summarized here.
Trail-building and managing invasive plants
Building the Yogi Trail in Cox Community Park was GaLTT's first project in 2004, and trail-building continues to be a major part of GaLTT's work, along with removal of invasive plants. GaLTT holds regular (usually twice a month) work parties of volunteers to clear, mark, and maintain trails, to build boardwalks to protect wetlands, and to manage invasive species on public land. We periodically hold special initiatives such as "broom-bashing" sessions, in which volunteers remove invasive plants on public land and urge private owners to clear invasives off their own properties. The trail-maintenance team led The trail-maintenance team led by Rob Brockley also loans out specialized tools such as Extractigators™ to help in this work.
Descanso to Drumbeg trail system
GaLTT has a multi-year plan to establish a continuous system of public trails from one end of the island to the other, running between Descanso Bay and Drumbeg Park. We're very close to our goal now but a few negotiations with private landowners and government bodies are still in progress, and we hope to achieve our goal SOON.
Promoting our ideas and goals
GaLTT strongly supports the formation of parks and the preservation of wetlands and other representative and precious ecologies on Gabriola. We promote these ideas locally and we work with the parks departments of the Province of BC and the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) to extend and maintain Gabriola's parkland. GaLTT is very proud to have worked with Islands Trust (IT), the Gabriola Land Conservancy, and the Snunéymuxw First Nations to help preserve Gabriola's only significant remaining stand of old-growth forest in Elder Cedar (Su'l-hween X'pey) Nature Reserve.
Communication & community engagement
As well as managing this website, and our Facebook page, GaLTT's communications committee publishes printed brochures, trail maps, and newsletters. We offer practical guidance on identification and removal of invasive species in our brochures, on our website, and in the local newpapers, coordinating with regular work parties organized by the trail maintenance team.
The community engagement committee presents public speakers, holds occasional workshops such as mushroom identification and foraging, and organizes guided walks. Volunteers operate a display table at the weekly summer Gabriola Market and at some other community events. GaLTT also supports the work of Gabriola Streamkeepers, and, whenever possible, works with other local organizations with compatible interests, such as the Commons, the Museum, and Sustainable Gabriola. We have also worked with groups of students at Gabriola Elementary School to investigate our wetland and streams, and with Girl Guides to manage invasive plants.
GaLTT holds an annual management contract with the Islands Trust Fund to ensure Elder Cedar Nature Reserve conforms with the management plan and to manage the trails and signage.
We are also working with the RDN to help with trailwork, signage and invasive plant control in 707-acre Park, and hope to be involved with the management of Coats Marsh Regional Park.
Covenants & trail licences
In 2010 GaLTT was legally approved to hold covenants and we are also able to issue trail licences. GaLTT provides the liability insurance when private landowners allow public trail access across their land. GaLTT trail-work parties maintain these trails and build boardwalks over swampy and muddy areas to avoid riparian damage and make walking easier and more pleasant. If necessary they can re-route an existing trail to protect the licensing landowner's privacy.
In March, 2011 GaLTT signed its first agreement as co-covenant holder with the Islands Trust Fund on a tract of forested land near Brickyard Hill. The land remains in private hands and public access is not part of the covenant agreement, but the covenant protects the land in perpetuity against development, preserving it in its natural state. GaLTT is co-holder of the covenant on Elder Cedar Nature Reserve, and we were a key player in achieving British Columbia's first cross-border covenant held by American Friends of Canadian Land Trusts (AFCLT). The property, Robinson Woods, is owned by an American citizen who achieved a US tax advantage by placing a covenant on her Canadian land. GaLTT continues to pursue the possibility of placing other covanants to protect property on Gabriola.
Several trail-licences have been completed or are being negotiated as part of our Descanso to Drumbeg trails initiative. In October, 2011 GaLTT signed its first trail licence allowing public access on foot, bicycle and horse across private land connecting Barrett Road to Rollo Park. Since then, over 10 more trail licences have been signed: one on an extensive trail system in Haven Woods, connecting via two other trail licences to Cox Park; two more on a trail system running between Cooper and Thompson Roads; a connector from South Road to 707-acre Park; a trail from McConvey Road to Malaspina, and several linking neighbourhood trails in the Berry Point area.