New National Park Reserve finally underway to protect BC’s threatened grasslands
Osoyoos, BC — The South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network (SOSNPN) welcomes today’s tri-government announcement to enter discussions to create a National Park Reserve in the South Okanagan–Similkameen. This announcement demonstrates strong leadership from the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the federal government, and the B.C. government, and is a significant milestone in the long history of this proposed national park reserve.
“We’re very encouraged that all three governments are now actively involved in the park establishment process, after nearly two decades of hard work to get everyone at the same table and on the same page,” says Doreen Olson, Coordinator of the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network (SOSNPN). “This commitment to advancing the establishment process really reinforces how important it is to create this park, for people locally as well as for all Canadians. It is our global gift to grasslands conservation.”
Creating this park will forever safeguard a rare and unique ecosystem that is disappearing around the world, and will help North America’s grassland species adapt to a changing climate and an evolving landscape. It will provide permanent jobs in local communities, recreation opportunities and a much-needed boost to local tourism. The National Park Reserve will also help Canada meet its international commitments to protect 17% of our lands and inland waters by 2020, and will fill in a significant gap in the national park system for unrepresented ecosystems.
As park discussions unfold, SOSNPN strongly urges the inclusion of critical areas around Txasqin (Mt. Kobau) in park establishment discussions. SOSNPN also supports the inclusion of biologically and culturally important lands in Akspaqmix (White Lake Basin), and Nkl’pula?xw (Kilpoola and Chopaka grasslands) near the US border as part of the National Park Reserve.
“These areas are incredibly important for biodiversity and habitat connectivity across the broader landscape, particularly in light of anticipated pressures from a changing climate. A National Park Reserve that connects these places will protect a critical piece of this unique ecosystem and will help preserve the values of this area in the long term,” says Jessie Corey, CPAWS-BC’s Terrestrial Conservation Manager.
“We look forward to engaging with governments, local communities, and people across Canada to ensure that we’re leaving a lasting legacy in these grasslands for future generations to experience and enjoy,” says Olson. “A well-managed and properly designed and designated National Park Reserve, with boundaries and a management plan grounded in science and Indigenous knowledge, will help us get there.”
For interviews, contact:
Doreen Olson, Coordinator, South Okanagan Similkameen National Park Network: email@example.com, 250-490-6663
Jessie Corey, Terrestrial Conservation Manager, CPAWS-BC: firstname.lastname@example.org, 778-288-6066