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Let's talk South Okanagan – Similkameen

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South Okanagan Similkameen Landscape

National park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen moves forward

On July 2nd, 2019, the Governments of Canada and British Columbia and the syilx/Okanagan Nation signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formally work toward establishing a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen. This is a significant step towards the establishment of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

The iʔ sc̓ax̌ʷtət / Memorandum of Understanding – which confirms the working boundary for the proposed national park reserve, outlines next steps and provides a framework of naqscn/knʔxtwix / collaboration as negotiations begin for an establishment agreement – was signed by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable George Heyman, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band, and Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band. Working together, the Governments of Canada and British Columbia and the syilx/Okanagan Nation are taking action to protect this iconic natural and cultural landscape for future generations.

Click here to learn more.

National park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen moves forward

On July 2nd, 2019, the Governments of Canada and British Columbia and the syilx/Okanagan Nation signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formally work toward establishing a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen. This is a significant step towards the establishment of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

The iʔ sc̓ax̌ʷtət / Memorandum of Understanding – which confirms the working boundary for the proposed national park reserve, outlines next steps and provides a framework of naqscn/knʔxtwix / collaboration as negotiations begin for an establishment agreement – was signed by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable George Heyman, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band, and Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band. Working together, the Governments of Canada and British Columbia and the syilx/Okanagan Nation are taking action to protect this iconic natural and cultural landscape for future generations.

Click here to learn more.

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    Pluto the education burrowing owl

    This section provides an overview of key aspects related to land management within the proposed national park reserve and addresses views and questions that have been identified through past consultations.

    Read the topics that interest you most or read them all.

    Add your comments, participate in discussions or ask us a question.

     

    This section provides an overview of key aspects related to land management within the proposed national park reserve and addresses views and questions that have been identified through past consultations.

    Read the topics that interest you most or read them all.

    Add your comments, participate in discussions or ask us a question.

     
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    Meeting

    Proposing the establishment of a national park reserve versus a national park allows for the recognition of title and rights held in the South Okanagan – Similkameen region by the Syilx/Okanagan Nation. The South Okanagan – Similkameen Steering Committee demonstrates the provincial and federal governments call for renewed, nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

    There have been questions from local communities on how cooperative management within a national park reserve would work. Indigenous relationships with the land will continue as they always have...

    Proposing the establishment of a national park reserve versus a national park allows for the recognition of title and rights held in the South Okanagan – Similkameen region by the Syilx/Okanagan Nation. The South Okanagan – Similkameen Steering Committee demonstrates the provincial and federal governments call for renewed, nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

    There have been questions from local communities on how cooperative management within a national park reserve would work. Indigenous relationships with the land will continue as they always have and locals and visitors will continue to access the land. We only need to look to the large majority of national parks, and national park reserves in Canada that are already cooperatively managed between Parks Canada  and local First Nations, where surrounding communities continue to access and use the places they have always used. Cooperatively managed national parks and national park reserves remain places for the community and all Canadians.

    What can Parks Canada do to promote respectful and cooperative relationships in the South Okanagan - Similkameen?


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    Kilpoola grasslands

    Working Boundary: This term is used to describe the boundary of the proposed national park reserve, where private lands, along with Crown lands are also present within the boundary area. The line on the map is what Parks Canada proposes to achieve at some point in the future, however, it will take some years to realize.

    Privately owned lands will remain under the title of the private owner(s); a national park reserve designation would not apply to private lands. The regional district will remain as the administrator of by-laws on privately owned lands. Private lands...

    Working Boundary: This term is used to describe the boundary of the proposed national park reserve, where private lands, along with Crown lands are also present within the boundary area. The line on the map is what Parks Canada proposes to achieve at some point in the future, however, it will take some years to realize.

    Privately owned lands will remain under the title of the private owner(s); a national park reserve designation would not apply to private lands. The regional district will remain as the administrator of by-laws on privately owned lands. Private lands may be considered as part of national park reserve at some point in the future, but only on a willing-seller willing-buyer basis. No lands will be expropriated as part of a national park reserve establishment.

    See maps for private lands parcels around Spotted Lake and Fairview - Cawston Road.

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    Nuttall's cottontail

    As directed by Parliament through the Canada National Parks Act, the Government of Canada cannot expropriate private property in order to enlarge or establish a national park or national park reserve. Private lands would only ever be purchased on a willing seller-willing buyer basis, based upon independent property appraisals in conjunction and agreement with private land owners and once the proposed national park reserve is established. The federal government has no jurisdiction over property rights on privately owned land adjacent to or within the boundaries of a national park or national park reserve.

    ...

    As directed by Parliament through the Canada National Parks Act, the Government of Canada cannot expropriate private property in order to enlarge or establish a national park or national park reserve. Private lands would only ever be purchased on a willing seller-willing buyer basis, based upon independent property appraisals in conjunction and agreement with private land owners and once the proposed national park reserve is established. The federal government has no jurisdiction over property rights on privately owned land adjacent to or within the boundaries of a national park or national park reserve.


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    Sk gra 2016 026 200x150

    If your property is in the middle of the proposed national park reserve, it will still remain your property, under the by-laws and regulations of the regional district, and where applicable provincial statutes. In order for you, guests, family, friends or patrons to access your property, you will not need to pay fees, toll road fees or the like.

    Parks Canada has no jurisdiction over how you manage your private land. Bordering a national park reserve can have immense benefits and, as good neighbours, Parks Canada welcomes the opportunity to work with private land...

    If your property is in the middle of the proposed national park reserve, it will still remain your property, under the by-laws and regulations of the regional district, and where applicable provincial statutes. In order for you, guests, family, friends or patrons to access your property, you will not need to pay fees, toll road fees or the like.

    Parks Canada has no jurisdiction over how you manage your private land. Bordering a national park reserve can have immense benefits and, as good neighbours, Parks Canada welcomes the opportunity to work with private land owners towards common objectives.

    Knowing access and private property rights will remain unchanged, what concerns are still on your mind?


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    Grazing cattle on mount kobau

    Long-term relationships with ranchers are critical to the future success of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan – Similkameen. Although commercial livestock grazing is not typically allowed in a national park reserve, Parks Canada is committed to working with ranching families to provide certainty and stability on their respective Crown grazing tenures. Ranching families within the proposed national park reserve will be able to continue operating as they are today with a similar regulatory framework. Parks Canada is in a position to assist grazing tenure holders with capacity funding to work together to...

    Long-term relationships with ranchers are critical to the future success of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan – Similkameen. Although commercial livestock grazing is not typically allowed in a national park reserve, Parks Canada is committed to working with ranching families to provide certainty and stability on their respective Crown grazing tenures. Ranching families within the proposed national park reserve will be able to continue operating as they are today with a similar regulatory framework. Parks Canada is in a position to assist grazing tenure holders with capacity funding to work together to address common stewardship objectives. A transition plan is currently under development.

    If you are a rancher and/or a holder of a grazing tenure in the proposed national park reserve boundary, the project manager will be in contact with you to discuss next steps and go over questions in greater detail.

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    06 yellow breasted chat auricollis subspecies

    A small amount (14 percent) of the total lands within the proposed national park reserve boundary are considered as part of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Approximately 80 percent of these ALR lands are under private ownership. This means three (3) percent of the total hectares within the proposed national park reserve are designated as ALR provincial Crown land. These ALR lands will not be developed or lost from the landbase if transferred to Parks Canada.

     

    A small amount (14 percent) of the total lands within the proposed national park reserve boundary are considered as part of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Approximately 80 percent of these ALR lands are under private ownership. This means three (3) percent of the total hectares within the proposed national park reserve are designated as ALR provincial Crown land. These ALR lands will not be developed or lost from the landbase if transferred to Parks Canada.

     

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    02 naturalist club at blue lake

    The shrub steppe ecosystem found in the interior of British Columbia, including the South Okanagan – Similkameen, is recognized as one of the country’s most endangered natural systems. These rare pockets of semi-arid desert are the only occurrence of this ecosystem in Canada; they form the northern tip of North America’s Great Basin desert. By establishing a national park reserve in the South Okanagan – Similkameen, Parks Canada will protect and represent this rare and endangered ecosystem in the national park ‎system, and protecting this area would support recovery of 30 federally-listed species at risk,...

    The shrub steppe ecosystem found in the interior of British Columbia, including the South Okanagan – Similkameen, is recognized as one of the country’s most endangered natural systems. These rare pockets of semi-arid desert are the only occurrence of this ecosystem in Canada; they form the northern tip of North America’s Great Basin desert. By establishing a national park reserve in the South Okanagan – Similkameen, Parks Canada will protect and represent this rare and endangered ecosystem in the national park ‎system, and protecting this area would support recovery of 30 federally-listed species at risk, and protect habitat for a substantial number of other species.

    What species and spaces within the proposed national park reserve boundary are most meaningful to you?

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    Mrg res con 2014 s hunt parks canada001

    Wildfire management and the use of prescribed fire and fuel reduction will require a collaborative approach. Syilx peoples have managed the landscape through controlled burns for millennia. The role of the British Columbia Wildfire Service is to mitigate impacts of wildfire on life and assets, Crown forests and grasslands, and prioritize fuel management and wildfire suppression in interface areas where communities and forests come together. Local and volunteer fire departments have lifetimes of experience protecting homes and community. Parks Canada is a leader, with more than 125 years of experience using fire management to prevent catastrophic...

    Wildfire management and the use of prescribed fire and fuel reduction will require a collaborative approach. Syilx peoples have managed the landscape through controlled burns for millennia. The role of the British Columbia Wildfire Service is to mitigate impacts of wildfire on life and assets, Crown forests and grasslands, and prioritize fuel management and wildfire suppression in interface areas where communities and forests come together. Local and volunteer fire departments have lifetimes of experience protecting homes and community. Parks Canada is a leader, with more than 125 years of experience using fire management to prevent catastrophic wildfire, naturally restore and maintain the ecology of national parks and manage fire and fuel sources to protect important resources and infrastructure.

    Parks Canada eagerly awaits the opportunity to learn from and cooperatively work with the Syilx peoples, British Columbia Wildfire Service and local community fire departments and municipalities to develop fire and vegetation management plans for the proposed national park reserve to protect the places and spaces that we all love.

    What are your biggest questions about how Parks Canada manages fire?


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    Kilpoola grasslands

    Visitation numbers to the national park reserve over the first 5 years following establishment are expected to be less than 100,000 persons/year, with 56 percent of visitation attributed to local residents and 44 percent to tourists. The majority of tourists will already be in the region for other purposes, with modest growth between 2,000 to 4,000 extra visitors per year who are attracted by the proposed national park reserve. Visitation is modest in the first five years as park infrastructure and visitor services are in the planning and development phase. It is anticipated that visitation will increase sustainably and...

    Visitation numbers to the national park reserve over the first 5 years following establishment are expected to be less than 100,000 persons/year, with 56 percent of visitation attributed to local residents and 44 percent to tourists. The majority of tourists will already be in the region for other purposes, with modest growth between 2,000 to 4,000 extra visitors per year who are attracted by the proposed national park reserve. Visitation is modest in the first five years as park infrastructure and visitor services are in the planning and development phase. It is anticipated that visitation will increase sustainably and strategically over time as the as the proposed national park reserve becomes more established.

    With respect to law enforcement, an increase in staff and capacity will result in more "incidents" that are tracked, but the bulk of these would be offenses that can be addressed by Park Wardens. The number of Criminal Code infractions referred to the local RCMP are not expected to be significant (ranging from 1 to 4 infractions per year), based on information from national parks or national park reserves with similar characteristics.