In recent weeks and months supporters of a national park reserve (NPR) in this area have asserted that opposition has waned. We beg to differ.
None of the negative impacts imposed on stake holders by a NPR have been resolved. Those impacts include increased risk of catastrophic wildfire with the removal of cattle grazing and fine fuel management (did we learn nothing from 2003 and 2015?); loss of critical training opportunities to HNZ Flight Training School; elimination of hunting and subsequent impact on horticulture and forage crops without regulated population control of mule deer and black bear; loss of outdoor recreation opportunity including hunting, fishing, hang gliding, horse trail riding, mountain biking, motorized recreation, mushroom picking and even restricted hiking.
The Grassland Park Review Coalition, with our mandate “to balance the hype and identify the true impacts of establishing a national park” in the South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen Valleys, has worked hard for more than a decade to represent those issues to all levels of government and will continue to do so.
Provincial Minister of Environment Mary Polak has embarked on a process to find balance in protecting and conserving our unique environment. As a result of meetings and input on an Intentions Paper which recognizes the values of all, including First Nations, the province is pursuing a process to best reach our common goal.
We believe our communities were built on a foundation of inclusion and co-operation not single minded exclusion. We remain committed to the principles found in the Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP), which recognizes all values and includes all stake holders. The LRMP is still there and has been stalled for 15 years because of the NPR issue.
Let’s start moving forward.
The Grassland Park Review Coalition — George Bush, RDOS, Area B, Cawston; Dave Casorso, Rancher, Oliver; Doug Cowe, outdoorsman, Kaleden; Tom Dellamater, flyfisherman, Penticton; Ernie Dumais, interface resident, Oliver; Joan Lindsay, B.C. Wildlife Federation, Okanagan Falls; Ernie Marvin, outdoorsman, Keremeos; Greg Norton, interface resident, Oliver; Mark Quadvlieg, rancher, Keremeos; Dave Schwartzenburger, manager, HNZ Helicopters Penticton; Brian Thomas, rancher, Okanagan Falls; Norm Toszak, motorized recreation, Oliver.