August 13, 2015 2:00 pm
Updated: August 13, 2015 3:04 pm

Province considering national park in south Okanagan again

Kimberly Cafferky - Osoyoos

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SOUTH OKANAGAN — The south Okanagan is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, and contains many of the world’s red and blue-listed species. It’s also identified as a significant cultural area to First Nations, containing sacred and traditional use sites.

However, the region is also facing development pressure and increasing population. In response to this, the B.C. government has identified important areas and is now asking the public on how the land can be protected.

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“The south Okanagan is a special and unique region that our government is committed to protecting. I encourage my constituents and all British Columbians to provide feedback and let us know what values are most important to them as we move forward with our proposal,” says Linda Larson, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen.

The B.C. government has identified three distinct zones: Area 1, Area 2 and Area 3.

It’s proposing that Parks Canada consider Areas 1 and 3 in a South Okanagan National Park Reserve and Area 2 be protected as conservancy under the Park Act.

The proposed national park reserve designation is welcomed news for the Wilderness Committee, a wilderness preservation organization.

“I am grinning ear to ear,” said Gwen Barlee, the group’s policy director. “I grew up in the south Okanagan and every time I go back I see another piece of wilderness gobbled up. Establishing a national park reserve here will be something our children and grandchildren will thank us for.”

After discussing with First Nations and stakeholders, the provincial government is proposing a land protection framework based on five key principles:

  • Additional protection will be beneficial
  • Management is shared with First Nations
  • Existing users are recognized
  • Respect for private land holders
  • Tourism is actively promoted

 

The public has 60 days to provide comments on the intentions paper. Responses are due October 12, 2015.

B.C. Parks will review the comments and provide its recommendations in early 2016.

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