The nature parks of Cumberland, Comox, Courtenay and Campbell River are living classrooms that foster an understanding and appreciation of nature through direct experiences. Educational programs for all ages encourage responsibility for the care and protection of the natural environment. Managed by the Village of Cumberland, Town of Comox, City of Courtenay and City of Campbell River, these city, town and village refuges provide an exceptional opportunity to bring people and nature together.
All of these nature parks share something in common that sets the stage for a perfect classroom…they all have a wild, natural environment with a great diversity of plant and animal life, some with second growth forests of towering cedar, fir and hemlock trees, and some with beaches and salmon bearing streams…and that’s just what a child’s eye can see! Imagine the effect of these environments on the rest of a child’s senses; all that a child’s nose can smell, that a child’s ear can hear, that a child’s hand can touch and that a child’s spirit can feel! These parks are not only the gateway to the Beaufort Mountains and where water and land gather, but also the gateway and meeting grounds to building the foundation for a life-long love of learning. Guided by their own process of thought and imagination, here a child can explore ideas, define goals, enhance memory, identify local flora and fauna, increase strength, test theories, improve communication and build perseverance…gifts that will stay with a child throughout their life!
These are just a few of the many developmental benefits that will strengthen a child’s appreciation for nature, understanding for the environment and stewardship for the future.
Hand-In-Hand Nature Education was created so children could flourish while becoming strongly attached to the land so they become stewards of nature and wild places in the future…for what a child’s hand holds today affects what they reach for tomorrow!
Coal Creek Historic Park is the gateway to the Beaufort Mountains. The 40 hectare wilderness park encompasses “wetlands, salmon bearing streams, lush second growth forests, towering Douglas-fir trees, magical red cedar groves and rare western yew trees…and a variety of flora and fauna. The wetlands provide habitat for numerous bird species and are well known as a bird watching area. With headwaters in the Beaufort Mountains and fed by the ponds and wetlands in Coal Creek Historic Park, Perseverance Creek ultimately drains into Comox Lake. Fish species found in the creek include Coho salmon, Cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden and sculpin species. A covenant on the park protects these unique ecological values” (Welcome to Coal Creek Historic Park map; Village of Cumberland Parks and Trails).
Cumberland Lake Park is located on the shores of the glacier-fed fresh water Comox Lake, offers sandy beaches and 24 hectares of pristine and ecologically diverse wilderness. The park’s natural setting of mature forest is located within the Coastal Western Hemlock very dry maritime biogeoclimatic zone, which was created by the north slope of the foothills of the Beaufort Mountains. The site includes numerous rock bluffs, stands of Douglas-fir and arbutus trees, several ephemeral creeks and one perennial stream with a scenic waterfall.
The Filberg Park is known for its extensive gardens, with a stream running through the natural ravine. The park boasts various annuals and perennials, and hundreds of rhododendrons. With its particular microclimate, it offers the perfect environment for heathers, spring bulbs, flowering shrubs and dwarf conifers.
Mack Laing Nature Park is a second-growth forest with the lushly vegetated and active salmon stream, Brooklyn Creek meandering through the property and entering the ocean under the Brooklyn Creek Bridge. This woodland is known for its large bird population, spring wildflowers and First Nations’ middens. At the waterfront, there are salt marsh plants, a huge population of birds and a rich coastal seashore ecosystem.
MacDonald Woods Nature Park is known for some of the oldest cedars in the Comox Valley, growing alongside fawn lilies, skunk cabbage and other lush plant life commonly found within coastal forests.
“With 40 acres of developed grounds and nature park, the Comox Valley Exhibition is situated on the bank of the Tsolum River in the scenic Comox Valley and nestled between the Beaufort Mountains and the Strait of Georgia where fertile farmlands are in abundance” (Welcome to the Comox Valley’s Exhibition website page). “The Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds (CVEG) has for many years played a central role in the life of the Comox Valley. It has primarily focused its services and events on serving the agricultural and equestrian organizations in the Valley. The recreation areas provide a green and pleasant environment for the region’s residents to walk, ride and enjoy the treed banks of the Tsolum River” (Master Plan for the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds, p. 2). The CVEG’s woodlands, mature forest canopy, riverbanks and riparian ecosystems offer the perfect environment for our “Outdoor Classrooms”!
The Sportsplex is a multi-use facility located in Willow Point Park, a popular year-round recreational destination that offers a playground, picnic area and a network of easy walking trails. Adjacent to the park are the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands (BLFL), which are “located on the southern side of Campbell River, within the Simm’s Creek watershed. The BLFL are located within the Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimactic zone, which is typical for Vancouver Island. The drier portions of the forest grow species adapted to fire cycles such as douglas fir, big-leaf maple and red alder. Wetter areas favour red cedar, grand fir and sitka spruce. Due to experimental forestry practices in the 1930’s, several tree species now grow in the BLFL. This has created several diverse habitats, including areas with ‘old growth’ characteristics such as multi-level tree canopies and a well developed under story. ‘Snags’, or standing dead trees, create important habitat for cavity nesting birds and insects. Decaying logs on the forest floor provide habitat for plants, insects and other animals, as well as helping restore nutrients to the soil. The BLFL is home to several animal species including coho salmon and cutthroat trout in Simm’s Creek, as well as blacktail deer, black bears, bald eagles, owls, small birds and waterfowl” (Map and Information Guide; Greenways Land Trust, Beaver Lodge Forest Lands).