B.C. government plans to expand provincial parks system

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The provincial government has introduced legislation to add 350 hectares to the parks and protected areas system.

“People’s desire to interact with nature has never been greater. Parks provide the opportunity to connect with nature and strengthen our physical and mental well-being,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy, in a media release. “We continue to look for opportunities to add ecologically and culturally significant lands to our diverse parks system, and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation.”

The additions, proposed through amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act, include the following lands:

-Naikoon Park (Haida Gwaii): 123 hectares to protect wetlands and sand dunes;

-Blue River Black Spruce Park (near Blue River): 59 hectares to protect a wetland and the ecological integrity of the North Thompson River;

-Edge Hills Park (near Clinton): 50 hectares to enhance wildlife connectivity and protection of the Fraser River bluffs;

-Valhalla Park (near Slocan): 32 hectares to improve connectivity across the park.

-Okanagan Mountain Park (near Kelowna): 21 hectares to enhance wildlife connectivity and species protection, along with the addition of the Golden Mile Trail for recreation;

-Hole-in-the-Wall Park (near Chetwynd): 14 hectares to protect the culturally significant stream appearing from the base of a limestone cliff;

-Gladstone Park (near Christina Lake): six hectares to add additional shorefront lands on the north end of Christina Lake, which is an important kokanee spawning area;

-Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park (near Kaslo) 18 hectares to increase connectivity in the park that includes habitat for mule deer and grizzly bears;

-To further protect lake values, 27 hectares of lake foreshore would be added to Christina Lake Park, Kootenay Lake Park, Gladstone Park and Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park.

The legislation also calls for boundary modifications to correct administrative errors and address safety issues at Burnt Cabin Bog Ecological Reserve, Big White Mountain Ecological Reserve, West Arm Park and Omineca Park.

The province said it will consult with First Nations and stakeholders before making campground improvements such as walk-in sites catering to active transportation, like cycle touring, hiking or kayaking.

Since the establishment of the first provincial park in 1911 (Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island), B.C.’s parks and protected areas system has grown to cover more than 14 million hectares or approximately 14.4 per cent of the province.

Through the BC Parks Land Acquisition Program, the province acquires land each year to be added to parks and protected areas. The acquisitions are often augmented by partnerships with conservation groups, individual donors and corporations.

In 2020/21, the province acquired more than 229 hectares of land for $2.4 million. Amendments to the act are required to add new land to parks and conservancies, modify or correct boundaries and improve boundary descriptions.

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