By David F. Rooney
After a couple of years spent languishing in the wilderness the BC Interior Forestry Museum is making a comeback with a strategy aimed at not only reinvigorating it but attracting a new fan base, too.
“The brand we’re moving towards is as a Forest Discovery Centre,” says Brian Sumner, chairman of the museum’s board of directors.
The 15-year-old museum, which is located off Highway 23N by the Revelstoke Dam, had tenure on 28 acres of second-growth forest along the river just below the Revelstoke Dam and wants to establish a set of trails and displays that will permit self-guided tours through the forest. That could be complemented by school tours guided by professional foresters, he said.
“We’re developing a plan that we can take back to the various (government) ministries that would be involved in this,” Sumner said in an interview on Wednesday, June 18.
That patch of forest is key to re-branding the institution as not just a museum about the past exploits of loggers and forestry companies but as a forest discovery centre that teaches the public about the value of our forests and the smart way to manage them.
One of the other keys to this strategy is the forging of closer links between the museum and local residents.
Much of that work is in the hands of Museum Manager Anna Minten.
“We have applied for a New Horizons grant to get seniors more involved,” she said in the interview. “There’s a lot of forestry knowledge here and it’s amazing how much passion you see in people involved in forestry. It’s in their blood.”
She said the museum wants organize public talks involving seniors with a lifetime of experience in the woods and is discussing ways to collect their personal stories. This could involve making videos of retired foresters and loggers “telling their own tales of the forest.”
They’d also like to involve seniors by asking them to help out at the museum and “bringing their practical talents to bear,” Sumner said.
While involving retired people is one leg of the strategy, the other involves creating ways to make the museum and forest discovery centre relevant to the so-called “new demographic of younger people too,” he said.
Towards that end, Minten is organizing Friday night bonfires with roasted s’mores starting on Friday, June 27, from 6 pm until 9 pm.
“I’d really like people to bring guitars, sing songs and make it a true campfire experience,” she said.
That sounds like fun, and of course, there is a dynamite view of the dam from the museum’s backyard.
“We’re going to take advantage of that by building a viewpoint,” Minten said.
The museum is open for family gatherings, wedding photos and other events and on Saturdays the museum offers forestry demonstrations from 2 pm until 5 pm by local foresters.
Here are some photos from the BC Interior Forestry Museum and Forest Discovery Centre we hope you’ll enjoy: