A short drive from Mission, the Stave River watershed and the area now referred to as the Stave West Forest & Recreation Area (SW) has a rich history and legacy. This breathtaking expanse of mountainous forested land borders the large Stave Reservoir and includes five smaller lakes, groves of second growth rainforest, beautiful waterfalls and streams, diverse wildlife, a network of well-maintained forest access roads, managed forest sites and trails, and popular recreation areas. This 50 square kilometer area is also the western portion of Mission’s Tree Farm Licence (TFL#26), and has been given provincial designation as an Interpretive Forest. It is the acknowledged traditional territory of the Kwantlen, Leq’amel, Katzie, and Matsqui First Nations. For countless generations it has been home to local Indigenous groups and an important area for fishing, hunting, gathering, trading, and cultural use.
Until recently, however, this area had the reputation as being the “wild west”, where garbage dumping, vandalism, and general misuse kept families away. A few years ago, a vision was created to attract a more “family friendly” group of users through the development of new recreation and education experiences. The District of Mission is proud to be working on this vision in close collaboration with the Kwantlen First Nation and the Province of British Columbia. The Stave West Leadership Team is consulting with other local First Nations and recreation user groups to guide the transformation of this special area into a destination for safe and friendly outdoor recreation and learning – one that co-exists with sustainably managed forestry operations. New trails and outdoor recreation amenities are now in the works. The new gateway sign to Stave West includes the following message; mekw’wa’t a’xwest ikw’elo’ that in the local hәnqәminәm language means “everyone shares here”. It is meant to remind us of important connections shared in this beautiful area in the past. It also reminds us of our collective responsibility to respect and protect these shared values for future generations.
Today, there are signs of positive changes at Stave West. The road has been upgraded to the Zajac Ranch turnoff. There are now approximately 220 new campsites in SW that are built to Ministry of Forests standards, and cater to different users including the equestrian-focused campground at Kearsley Creek, a campground for motorized vehicle users including a staging area at Rock Creek, quiet lakeside camping at Sayres Lake and some new group camping spots on Stave Lake itself. The project team is collaborating with recreation user groups and stakeholders on plans for future campground and trails development.
“Build it and they will come!” With this new popularity has come some challenges and valid concerns on busy weekends — with increased traffic and parking congestion at the entrance to SW and at the BC Hydro managed boat launch on Stave. We are working on an overall Visitor Management Strategy to help address these challenges and to identify opportunities for the positive transformation of Stave West.
For information on SW, please visit: https://www.stavewest.ca/