Army Lends a Helping Hand to Birch Brook Ski Club

MCpl Dan Robinson marks a point along Birch Brook Ski course with his global positioning system devices. This will help him produce an accurate map of the Club's trail system.
Publication Date 
30 Mar 2012

By Cpl Krista Blizzard - 5 Wing Goose Bay

MCpl Dan Robinson and Pte Ryan Jackson are Geomatics Technicians (GEO TECHs) with Four Engineer Support Regiment (4 ESR). They were here in Goose Bay in February for NORTHERN SAPPER, an exercise hosted by 5 Wing Goose Bay. While MCpl Robinson and Pte Jackson were in the area they volunteered their time and skills to Birch Brook Nordic Ski Club by accurately mapping the trail system for the facility.

GEO TECHs are members of the Military Engineering Branch of the Canadian Forces. Basically they are map makers. It is their job to capture, process, manufacture and release information on geographic locations and characteristics of the intended area. They do this by using cutting-edge technology including satellite imagery, Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and survey equipment. They can then produce digital and hard-copy maps, three-dimensional models and other geospatial products to help others understand, and manoeuvre in any targeted area.

Birch Brook Nordic Ski Club is a beautiful recreational area located just outside of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. It is a non-profit facility that has been developed and operated by volunteers for over three decades. It boasts 30 kilometres of challenging ski trails that are groomed in winter, and maintained as hiking trails in summer. It is truly a world class facility that we are blessed to have in our backyard.

Betty Anne Fequet has been part of Birch Brook for over twenty years. She and the other volunteers jumped at the chance to have the trails accurately mapped.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” Ms. Fequet said. “The maps we had before were not really exact, as my husband and I had hand drawn them from memory over a topographical map, these new ones will be much better.”

Locations can now be pinpointed, very important from a safety mindset. An inaccurate map could cost someone’s life in a medical emergency.

Members of 4 ESR had used the facilities at Birch Brook during exercise NORTHERN SAPPER. Volunteering to make new maps was a way of giving back for the amazing service they received at the club. The staff at Birch Brook went out of their way to make sure everyone was comfortable, and had what they needed.

Everyone from 4 ESR were amazed by the pristine beauty of the area, and some like MCpl Robinson even expressed an interest in coming back on their own someday. “Throughout my career I’ve been all over the world and have seen pretty much every type of landscape imaginable,” said MCpl Robinson. I was immediately blown away by the unique and rugged beauty of Labrador, and by the world class trails that Birch Brook has to offer.”

The members of 4 ESR like so many of us who live here, became enamoured with the Labrador landscape, the snow, and everything that comes with it, from ice fishing, to snowmobiling, and skiing. I think it is safe to say they fell victim to the allure of the Big Land, and all it has to offer.

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