The Shuswap Trail Alliance’s Lori Schneider Wood, centre, receives help from Salmon Arm Secondary Sullivan campus students in decommissioning a trail in Salmon Arm’s Pileated Woods park. (File photo)

The Shuswap Trail Alliance’s Lori Schneider Wood, centre, receives help from Salmon Arm Secondary Sullivan campus students in decommissioning a trail in Salmon Arm’s Pileated Woods park. (File photo)

Column: Shuswap Trail Alliance co-founders helped create a legacy to be proud of

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

The last time I encountered Lori Schneider Wood it was, fittingly, on a trail.

It happened last summer on Salmon Arm’s foreshore trail. She was walking south as I was cycling towards Raven. It was an opportunity to catch up on things, including her health, which had been out of sorts following a slip on ice in January 2020. The fall required her to take a leave from her work with the Shuswap Trail Alliance (STA), who she’s been with for about as long as I’ve been with the Observer, which has been a good while.

As always, I enjoyed our chat, as well as seeing her outside doing what she loves.

At the May 18 Shuswap Trail Alliance (STA) AGM, a tribute will be held for Lori and fellow STA co-founder Phil McIntyre-Paul, who I’ve also had the privilege of speaking with on a number of occasions over the years.

As one of the many people who frequently use and enjoy our local trail systems, I very much respect and value these two Shuswap trails trailblazers whose vision, persistence and passion has benefited our physical and mental health, and given our region bragging rights for some spectacular outings.

Read more: Shuswap trails trailblazers to be honoured

Read more: Trails offer outdoor escapes

I’ve had a number of work-related outings with Lori over the years. In 2011, I met her on the Eagle River Nature Park trails east of Sicamous where she introduced me to the late John Coffey. Both of the STA members shared their love of the region’s various trail systems and their untapped potential. Referring to the Anstey Range, Coffey said most people in Salmon Arm (myself included) had no idea we have world-class mountain glaciers to hike just north of where we live.

On another occasion I returned to the Eagle River Nature Park to photograph a trail cleaning blitz. I found only Lori working away, not appearing discouraged by the turn out.

I think it’s fair to say Phil has put in an extraordinary effort to get people involved with building the Shuswap’s trail systems, both the physical trails and their reputation. He has a terrific skill for bringing people/parties together on the same page to make things happen.

Word of the upcoming tribute was included in a recent announcement that Phil, after 15 years with the STA, would be stepping away from his executive director role with the organization as of June 1. Jen Bellhouse, who began working with the trail alliance last year, will be the new executive director, while Phil will become a senior consultant.

Not one to pin the successes of the Shuswap Trail Alliance on any one person, Phil champions the organization as a collaborative effort, with a leadership assisted by an extraordinary team of project leaders and stewards. I think it’s fair to say, though, that the STA rests firmly on foundation Phil and Lori helped to create, and they should be proud of their legacy.
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