BC Adds 276,000 Hectares to its Parks System

Lynsey Kitching
The available real estate here in BC has declined, as recently the BC government adding 276,000 hectares to the BC Parks system through legislature.
Central to the legislation is the Cariboo-Chilcotin Land-Use Plan Goal 2 process related to special natural, cultural and recreational features which results in the establishment of 17 new Class A parks and additions to five existing Class A parks in the region.
Ne’áh’ and Hanna-Tintina conservancies in the northwest of the province also are hallmarks of the bill while private land acquisitions result in two new parks; Denman Island Park and Gerald Island Park.
The new legislation doesn’t include any areas in the Peace Region. Ken Morrison, Manager of Planning and Land Administration for BC parks says, “Many of the Land Use Plans for the area you reside in have been completed, such as the Robson Valley Land and Resource Management plan, Prince George Land and Resource Management plan, Dawson Creek. Many of the protected areas were dealt with in that area of the province previously in the late 1990s.”
Though surely, much has changed since then.
The new and expanded BC Parks are thanks to Bill 5 – The Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2013.
“The BC government has been establishing parks and protected areas for more than a century,” says Environment Minister Terry Lake. “Through this legislation we are helping to protect our environment, including spawning habitat for sockeye salmon and a unique mineral source used by mountain caribou and other wildlife, which is the result of an extensive land-use planning process we have undertaken with First Nations, stakeholders and the public.”
BC’s total provincial protected areas system is 13,986,106 hectares the third-largest in North America (after the Canadian and the US national park systems) and the largest provincial/territorial parks system in Canada.
Could we create a provincial park to help sustain our archeological treasures around Tumbler Ridge?
Morrison says, “Land Use plans usually don’t focus on an individual area, they focus on a broader region or area. It looks at more than just protected areas it looks at all the land uses. It is normally done and co-ordinated by the Ministry of Forest, Land and Natural Resources operations and public consultation.”
“If there was an area someone believes merits protection, there are a number of ways it can be looked at. The easiest one is to make a specific proposal to a ministry, such as Ministry of Environment. Much of how it will be addressed depends on what uses are currently on the land. Is it crown land or is it private land? It can be considered on a site by site basis.”
One site which has been chosen for protection is being created for the enjoyment of the caribou. The Long Creek Park is a new park which has been created about 96 kilometres northeast of Williams Lake and spans 254 hectares. This new park is being established as a result of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Land-Use Plan Goal 2 (Special Feature) process. It protects a unique mineral lick used by mountain caribou and other wildlife. The lick is located in a low, wet, sub-alpine meadow at the confluence of a number of small streams. It is believed to be one of the few mineral licks used by mountain caribou in this area.
“The mineral which is in the proposed park, if the legislature passed Bill 5 that area will become a Class A park. The park act for a Class A park is quite restrictive and it would preclude future roads going in, forestry activity, no mining activity,” ensures Morrison.
Another interesting adding to an established park will include an area to grow medicinal plants…and not the kind you’re thinking of. The Moose Valley Park will undergo an addition of 161 hectares. This addition to Moose Valley Park is being established as a result of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Land-Use Plan Goal 2 (Special Feature) process. The park is located about 18 kilometres west of 100 Mile House. The total area of the park will now be 2,500 hectares.
Morrison says there will be two types of medicinal plants being protected. One is Swamt tea, which is used by First Nations to boost the immune system if for example you had a cold. The second one is, Soopolallie Berries, “which are used for cleansing the body, if someone is ill,” explains Morrison continuing, “These two plants are naturally occurring in the proposed park and the park will protect them. First Nations have the right to gather plants for cultural, ceremonial and social purposes. These are naturally occurring and First Nations may have made use of these plants for centuries.”