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Plans for a park reserve in southern B.C. revived by First Nations, B.C., Ottawa

Osoyoos Lake
Image Credit: Contributed/Neil Bousquet
October 28, 2017 - 6:30 PM

OSOYOOS, B.C. - The federal and British Columbia governments as well as members of the Okanagan Nation have agreed to resume work to establish a new national park reserve in the south Okanagan.

Plans for the park have been under discussion for almost 15 years but little has been done since 2012 when members of the Osoyoos and Lower Similkameen bands completed a feasibility study and issued a final report.

Joe Foy, national campaign director of the Wilderness Committee, says in a news release his members are "celebrating wildly" after federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said there is the political will to protect the region.

Parks Canada, B.C.'s Environment Ministry and the Syilx/Okanagan Nation say the proposed park reserve could cover a region ranging from near desert to forests of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.

The Wilderness Committee says the arid south Okanagan-Similkameen region is among the most endangered ecosystems in Canada.

It says the area is home to 30 per cent of B.C.'s endangered species including badgers, rattlesnakes, bobolinks and burrowing owls.

"By renewing our commitment to work together to establish a national park reserve in the south Okanagan, we can conserve this incredible landscape for future generations," says McKenna, who is also the minister responsible for Parks Canada.

She says working towards the establishment of a park also recognizes the important role of Indigenous Peoples of the region and their traditional use of the land.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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