Rare grasslands in the Okanagan, a heritage river in the Cowichan Valley and the largest freshwater marsh in southwestern B.C. are among the unique ecosystems to gain more protection through planned expansions to B.C.’s parks and protected areas system.
The province said it has acquired more than 229 hectares of land intended to be added to seven provincial parks and one protected area.
“Our parks and protected areas are rich with biodiversity and provide critical habitat for numerous species,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy.
“By working with our partners, the ecological, recreational and cultural values of these unique and special places will be protected and enjoyed for years to come.”
The provincial government regularly adds to B.C.’s parks system, which it said is one of the largest in the world, through the acquisition of private land, partnerships with conservation groups, individual donors and the BC Parks Foundation.
The newly acquired land is valued at more than $2.47 million and will add to eight existing areas:
Edge Hills Park near Clinton
Blue River Black Spruce Park near Blue River
Pinecone Burke Park near Coquitlam
Cowichan River Park near Duncan
White Lake Grasslands Protected Area near Okanagan Falls
Wakes Cove Marine Park near Nanaimo
Gowlland Tod Park near Victoria
Cypress Park near West Vancouver
The province said it will consult with First Nations’ governments about adding these lands to the parks system and will undertake a number of additional steps to legally establish them as parks and protected areas.
“Growing our park system is important. Growing our understanding about our place and nature is just as important,” said Kelly Greene, parliamentary secretary for environment. “Increasingly, our parks offer us the opportunity to appreciate the importance of Indigenous knowledge and teachings to better understand the changes happening to the land.”
B.C. has 1,036 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas covering more than 14 million hectares or approximately 14.4 per cent of the provincial land base. During the past four years, BC Parks acquired 1,144 hectares of land to expand provincial parks and protected areas, according to the provincial government.