August 13, 2015 - 11:00 AM
PENTICTON - As calls for a national park in the South Okanagan continue, the province is inviting public input to provide feedback for an intentions paper proposing how land might be protected in the South Okanagan region.
The policies proposed in the paper will be applied only to three distinct areas in the region. The province proposes Areas one and three be considered by Parks Canada for inclusion in a South Okanagan National Park Reserve, while Area Two is protected as a conservancy provincially, under the Park Act.
Area one consists of portions of the area west of Osoyoos towards the Similkameen River and south of Highway 3 to the U.S. border. The area includes the Osoyoos Desert Centre, Spotted Lake and South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area, east and west Chopaka and South Kilpoola.
Area two includes portions of the area west of Oliver towards Cawston, north to Highway 3 to the southern extent of the White Lake Grasslands Protected Area.
Area three includes portions of the White Lake Basin south of Okanagan Falls. It also includes areas in the vicinity of Vaseux Lake and the White Lake Grasslands Protected Area.
Conceptual maps of these areas can be viewed on the intentions paper webpage of B.C. Parks.
A land protection framework listing five key principles has resulted from initial discussions with First Nations and other stakeholders. Principles guiding land protection policy include:
- Additional protection will be beneficial
- Management is shared with First Nations
- Existing users are recognized
- Respect is given to private land holders
- Tourism is actively promoted
The final policy will be developed after after taking into account the protection of First Nations values and cultural sites, tourist expansion, protection of species at risk, recreation and agricultural activities. Protection of ranching and existing grazing tenures is also part of the criteria.
A 60 day period for the public to provide comments on the intentions paper will see final responses due by October 12.
B.C. Parks will then review comments and publish a consultation report along with final recommendations in the first part of 2016.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015