Column: On the hunt to find region’s environmental gems

Sooke's surrounded by beautiful nature all around - why not explore?

The Sooke region is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

The fact was brought closer to home last week when the Sisters of St. Ann donated a 23-hectare parcel of land adjacent to East Sooke Regional Park to the CRD.

The land is located in the Juan de Fuca Area, adjacent to the regional park, near Anderson Cove on the Sooke Basin. The parcel features 300 metres of frontage along East Sooke Road.

With the donation, the park is now 1,457 hectares, providing a popular outdoor recreation destination for residents and tourists.

The park received more than 145,000 visits in 2014 and features more than 50 kilometres of trails, exceptional marine bird and mammal viewing, and spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic mountains.

East Sooke is truly one of the many jewels in the CRD park system.

But it isn’t the only one we should embrace.

Last year more than six million people visited regional parks from Albert Head Lagoon to Witty’s Lagoon.

Let’s not forget the provincial park system and the numerous city parks both in Sooke and other Greater Victoria municipalities that we can all enjoy.

Isn’t it time we celebrated these gems a little bit more?

In my short time as editor with the Sooke News Mirror I’ve managed to venture into some of these areas. Checked off my list so far are Witty’s Lagoon, Sooke Potholes, Jordan River’s Sandcut Beach and Albert Head Lagoon.

There is so much more to see.

And that’s where you come in.

It’s time to identify some of the true wilderness gems in our area from Sooke to Port Renfrew. They can be the well-known ones to lesser outdoor getaways to escape the sun-loving crowds.

The Sooke News Mirror will publish your favourites in a special page sometime this summer.

We are very fortunate in this part of the world to have such an array of parks that we can do everything from walking to hiking to mountain climbing and trail running.

I’ve done a lot of trail running in many local parks and mountains in Greater Victoria over the last few years, and I’m still totally in awe of the grandeur of it all.

The parks offer me a sense of peace and serenity that I can’t find anywhere else – whether its winter or summer running.

I’d love to hear of your experiences and what makes the woods such a special place for you.

So get writing!

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Kevin Laird is editor of the Sooke News Mirror. He can be reached by email at klaird@blackpress.ca or by phone at 250-642-5752.