April 11, 2013 - 12:23 PM
Over 800 acres of land beside Cedar Mountain will become new park space in the Central Okanagan. The generous land donation was announced yesterday by the Regional District for the Central Okanagan and is said to be the largest donation of its kind for the Okanagan - possibly the province - with an estimated $7.8 million in market value.
The park will be named the Johns Family Nature Conservancy, in honour of the two siblings, Nancy and Alfred Johns, who bequeathed their properties to the Central Okanagan Land Trust. The district has decided to amalgamate the land with the existing Cedar Mountain Regional park to create a 402.5 hectare park.
Bruce Smith, Regional District of the Central Okanagan spokesperson says the area used to be all forest, before the 2003 fires ravaged the woodland. It has since become a sensitive grassland ecosystem, he says.
A wildlife inventory revealed a number of birds, snakes, deer, moose and insects inhabiting the region, as well as a potentially at risk species of dragonfly. Smith says creating the Nature Conservancy will allow researchers to study how ecosystems recover after wildfire events.
The donated land will link up with adjacent parkland, including the Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park. “It creates a huge corridor for protection for wildlife and ecosystems,” Smith says. By designating the area as conservation land, Smith says it will be protected from the sprawl of new housing developments.
“That's what the Johns wanted, to ensure it would be protected,” Smith says.
Eventually the park will be open to the public, but it will take another year before the district finalizes the trails and decides what kinds of recreational uses will be permissible.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013