Ashnola River corridor to be declared protected area by Lower Similkameen Indian Band | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Ashnola River corridor to be declared protected area by Lower Similkameen Indian Band

An aerial view of the Ashnola River.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/wikipedia.org

Lower Similkameen Indian Band is going to formally declare the Ashnola River Corridor as an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area during a ceremony later today, April 29.

The large section of land sits along the U.S. border between Cathedral Provincial Park and Manning Provincial Park.

It is currently being managed by a “hodgepodge” of efforts between several different levels of government, according to Lauren Terbasket, parks communications coordinator with the Lower Similkameen Indian Band.

Other levels of government are not relinquishing their authority to protect the area, but the Smelqmix First Nations are making the changes they believe are needed, she said.

“We are going to declare it for ourselves... Some changes might upset some folks and that’s OK with us because the land needs healing, and there is no one to step up for it,” Terbasket said.

READ MORE: Similkameen artist carves pictographs into outdoor class to ‘indigenize’ school

For recreational users, she said there may be a toll booth and a fee charged for day-use. And for industries, there will be little to no logging or mining in the future. The land will be protected and managed according to syilx law and through syilx/Smelqmix standards.

“The trail systems and lands throughout the Ashnola corridor have been travelled and managed by our people for 1,000 years prior to contact,” she said. 

But the area has already been so heavily logged that there is not much left to harvest, despite having once been an old-growth forest, she said. Most of the timber that wasn’t logged ended up getting lost to wildfire in recent summers. 

Despite the damage that’s been done, the Lower Similkameen Indian Band wants to restore it to its former glory, and they see this declaration as an important step in making this happen.

“The Similkameen people will remain in this place for the next 1,000 years, and we have the most powerful vested interest to ensure the lands are managed sustainably,” Terbasket said.

The declaration ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, April 29, at the Ashnola pow-wow grounds in Keremeos.

A declaration of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area will apply to the Ashnola River corridor, which is one of three areas highlighted on this map that the Lower Similkameen Indian Band is dedicated to protecting.
A declaration of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area will apply to the Ashnola River corridor, which is one of three areas highlighted on this map that the Lower Similkameen Indian Band is dedicated to protecting.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/similkameenipca.com

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