BC Parks has begun a comprehensive replacement of all of the interpretive signs in the Highway 20 corridor of Tweedsmuir Park. Several years in the making, the first of 69 day-use area signs were erected at the bottom of the Hill (now known as the Atnarko Channel Day-Use Area) and at Burnt Bridge.
The signs are designed to be informational, educational, and up-to-date. They reflect the historical and present cultural uses of the area by Indigenous peoples and include natural history (such as geology and plant and animal species), BC Parks information, bear safety and settler history.
Three of the signs now gracing the kiosk at the bottom of the Hill were developed in cooperation with Bella Coola Valley Tourism and feature a welcoming message for tourists as well as describing the wide range of activities within the Valley and the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region.
“It is very exciting to see the new tourism signs erected at the BC Parks information kiosk at the bottom of The Hill. They are both beautiful and informative,” said Tom Hermance, President of Bella Coola Valley Tourism. “ We have been very pleased to be part of this collaborative effort to enhance visitor attractions within Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.”
Several of the signs were prepared by the Nuxalk Nation and include oral history (including the story of “Cry Rock”) as well as historic photographs and details of the traditional indigenous uses of the area. Other signs also detail Alexander Mackenzie’s journey and his contact with the Nuxalk people, as well as the more recent construction of the “Freedom Road” in the 50s.
“Our local BC Parks office has a close working relationship with the Nuxalk Nation,” said Bella Coola Acting Area Supervisor Mattias Morrison. “We are so thankful for their participation in this project on Nuxalk territory.
The project is large in scale and took months of preparation and consultation before finalization. These first sets of signs are just the beginning; as new information shelters are constructed, additional signs will be added in popular day-use areas such Fisheries Pool and Big Rock/Kettle Pond
Locals and tourists were invited to take part in a facility needs assessment survey in 2018 and many respondents pointed to the need for more interpretive signage in the Atnarko Corridor of Tweedsmuir Park.
“One of BC Parks’ goals is to help visitors make connections with the protected areas they find themselves in. In Tweedsmuir Park, we regularly see people impacted by this area; the new signs will help both locals and visitors gain a greater sense of place as they learn more about the natural and cultural values present in the Valley corridor,” Morrison explained. “Additionally, our Rangers are excited to install signs that provide information for recreation opportunities accessible in the area.”