Coquitlam conservationist honoured with Wilderness Committee Environmental Award

Saturday, November 01, 2014

News Release - November 1, 2014

VANCOUVER – The Wilderness Committee is proud to announce that Port Coquitlam conservationist Don Gillespie is the winner of the 2014 Eugene Rogers Environmental Award, for his outstanding volunteer efforts over the past several decades to clear hiking trails into endangered wilderness areas in southwest BC.Since 1992, the Eugene Rogers Award has been presented to individuals recognized by the Wilderness Committee for their exceptional contributions to environmental protection in British Columbia. The award is granted once a year at the Wilderness Committee’s Annual General Meeting, along with a $1,000 prize.

“Don Gillespie is a wonderful example of how effective volunteer work can be at protecting nature and leaving a legacy to future generations,” said Wilderness Committee National Campaign Director Joe Foy.

Gillespie, a long-time member of the Burke Mountain Naturalists, began his volunteer trail building on Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain three decades ago. He spent many days on Burke Mountain brushing out old logging trails and discovering new vantage points where people could enjoy the stunning views. Many of the area’s most popular trails – such as the Woodland Walk and the Coquitlam Lake View Trail – are trails he created.

In 1993, Gillespie helped blaze a hiking route from the Widgeon Valley through the DeBeck, Bull and Boise Creek Valleys north of Pitt Meadows. This entire 38,000-hectare region was eventually preserved as the Pinecone Burke Provincial Park, co-managed by BC Parks and the Katzie First Nation. This park is currently going through a public planning process.

In 1995, Gillespie joined a crew of Wilderness Committee volunteer trail builders to clear a trail through the Elaho Valley, north of Squamish. This area was eventually protected as a provincial conservancy, co-managed by BC Parks and the Squamish Nation.

In 1996, Gillespie was helping to set up a trail building camp on the west side of Flores Island near the village of Ahousaht in Clayoquot Sound. The resulting Wild Side Trail is considered one of the finest on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Then in 2007, Gillespie was hard at work clearing trail on the Ghost Pass Trail east of Hope. The forest along the trail is spotted owl habitat and was in danger of being logged. Thanks in part to the trail building project, the area was eventually protected as a Wildlife Habitat Area, off-limits to logging.

“These days Don is involved in many nature-saving projects,” said Foy. “We are very happy he has taken the time out of his busy volunteer schedule to receive this award today.”

– 30 –

For more information, please contact:

Joe Foy | National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee


Photo: Don Gillespie in the Stoltmann Wilderness, 1995.