CPAWS Welcomes the BC Government’s Announcement to Reengage with Parks Canada in the South Okanagan

  • Published on Jan 27 2017 |
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Vancouver - CPAWS Welcomes the BC Government’s Announcement to Reengage with Parks Canada in the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve Process

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC) welcomes the news that the government of British Columbia has committed to reengage with Parks Canada on the creation of a National Park Reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

“A national park reserve will forever preserve the ecological integrity of this stunning landscape while maintaining the delicate balance upon which it relies,” said Bruce Passmore, Executive Director of CPAWS-BC. “To be successful, the process requires all levels of government to participate, including First Nations, BC, and the federal governments.”

The grasslands of the South Okanagan-Similkameen is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with habitat and species found nowhere else in Canada. 30% of Canada’s species at risk are found in the South Okanagan-Similkameen, including iconic wildlife like the American badger and burrowing owl. It is also severely threatened, with less than 10% of the historic grasslands in their natural state.

A National Park has been proposed for the region since 2002. However, the BC government pulled out of negotiations with Parks Canada in 2011. Since that time support in the region for the national park has grown with local First Nations, regional governments, conservationists and chambers of commerce coming out in favour of the proposal. In 2015 the provincial government announced a new conservation framework for the region, but did not re-open negotiations with Parks Canada around a national park.

“A National Park Reserve for the South Okanagan-Similkameen would be an amazing legacy for this region,” continued Passmore. “It would help protect Indigenous culture and land use values, promote lasting economic development, and conserve some of our nation’s most unique and stunning ecosystems. We are heartened by today’s news but know a lot more needs to be done to realize this vision.”

For more information:
Bruce Passmore, Executive Director, CPAWS-BC
bruce@cpawsbc.org, (604) 685-7445 x 23