SOSNPN welcomes Province’s paper on protection of the endangered South Okanagan-Similkameen

For Immediate release:

SOSNPN welcomes Province’s paper on protection of the endangered South Okanagan-Similkameen

National Park a key component of Provincial protection plan

Kaleden – Today the Ministry of Environment released a paper that considers creating additional protection of the South Okanagan-Similkameen region, including a national park component.

“We are pleased to see that the Province is moving forward with much-needed protection for this region. It is clear that the government has heard the voice of the vast majority of locals that support the creation of a National Park,” said Doreen Olson, Coordinator of the South Okanagan- Similkameen National Park Network. “We welcome the opportunity to comment on the intentions paper, and urge all BC citizens to do the same.”

This announcement is accompanied by a sense of urgency, as this is one of the most endangered ecosystems in Canada, home to a third of all BC’s species at risk. This area is extremely important in light of climate change, as it is an important corridor that could allow grassland species south of the border to move northward as temperatures rise. In this way, it presents a unique opportunity for transboundary conservation.

“What remains of this ecosystem is being encroached upon on all sides, so we are glad to see this move forward. We desperately need strong protection to keep it intact and prevent these areas from being irreversibly lost,” said Peter Wood, Director of Terrestrial Conservation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “The areas considered in the paper coincide with those recommended for inclusion in the national park under the study approved by the Provincial-Federal Working Group in 2011. These areas were selected to provide habitat for rare species and ensure connectivity,” said Wood.

In April, an independent poll confirmed that support has surged to 3 to 1 in favour of establishing a national park. In addition, a number of regional governments, tourism associations, First Nations and economic interests have passed formal resolutions supporting the resumption of talks between the Federal and Provincial governments to establish a national park.

“We agree with the Province that this area has enormous tourism potential. Having a National Park will really put this area on the map and give it the recognition it deserves,” said Olson. “After a great deal of research we concluded that a national park offers the greatest economic benefits and ecological protection, and we look forward to working with the Province and First Nations to achieve these multiple objectives for this region.”

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For more information:

Doreen Olson, Coordinator, South Okanagan- Similkameen National Park Network: 250 497 6889,  threegates@telus.net

Peter Wood, Director of Terrestrial Conservation, Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society at 604 761 3075, peter@cpawsbc.org

 

Background information:

BC Government’s Intentions Paper:http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/planning/protected-areas-framework-s-okanagan.html
Recent poll on support for park:https://sosnationalpark.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/local-support-for-national-park-grows/
National Park Feasibility Study: http://cpawsbc.org/upload/South_Okanagan-Similkameen_National_Park_Feasibility_Study.pdf