Plans made for species at risk in B.C. park re­serve

The Prince George Citizen - - News | Weather -

OSOYOOS — A next step in pre­serv­ing one of Canada’s most eco­log­i­cally di­verse re­gions has been reached be­tween two British Columbia First Na­tions and the fed­eral and provin­cial gov­ern­ments.

The par­ties have signed a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on a work­ing bound­ary for a na­tional park re­serve in the south Okana­gan-Sim­ilka­meen.

The pro­posed re­serve is 273 square kilo­me­tres of moun­tains, lakes and grasslands and is home to 11 per cent of Canada’s species at risk, in­clud­ing Amer­i­can badgers, west­ern rat­tle snakes, north­ern leop­ard frogs and bur­row­ing owls.

The agree­ment was signed Tues­day by fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna, B.C. En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ge­orge Hey­man, Osoyoos In­dian Band Chief Clarence Louis and Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Sim­ilka­meen In­dian Band.

McKenna says the re­gion is an eco­log­i­cal won­der, a haven for wildlife and species at risk and a nat­u­ral legacy to pre­serve for our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

Char­lotte Dawe with the en­vi­ron­ment ad­vo­cacy group Wilder­ness Com­mit­tee says many peo­ple have worked for the re­serve since 2003.

The group says the re­gion is one of the four most en­dan­gered ecosys­tems in Canada and is home to 76 per cent of B.C.’s species at risk.

Ef­forts like pre­serv­ing the area are essen­tial if wildlife are to be given a chance at sur­vival, Dawe said.

“Habi­tat pro­tec­tion is the sin­gle most im­por­tant thing for sav­ing species at risk.”

Provin­cial parks are crit­i­cally im­por­tant for pro­tect­ing species and ecosys­tems not found else­where in the world, added Hey­man.

Crow said his peo­ple have al­ways pro­tected the land and this process is a way to work with part­ners to im­ple­ment cul­tur­ally in­formed man­age­ment prac­tices.

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