I must thank Bob Handfield (Penticton Western News, Oct. 23, Nature Wise column: You can fight the government and win) for reminding us that there is indeed a federal Species at Risk Act (of 2002), and its importance: it is in principal a mandate to stem the all-too-rapid decline in native species, which indeed should also include restorative steps to enhance the habitats in which they thrive.
Bob discusses legal approaches to forcing a so-far negligent federal government to live up to its legislated obligations; a class action suit on behalf of all species is a thrilling idea. It might work. It would give focus to the huge issue of endangered species and raise awareness to the broader Canadian public.
Additionally, and I know Bob would agree with this (right Bob?), that one doesn’t save species without saving their environment, i.e. their own home and native land. To save species, we must save the ecosystems which are the world in which they live and move and have their being. So, back to the feds. Low and behold, we have Parks Canada. They have been working for years with a brilliant group of regional activists whose hearts and souls have laboured diligently toward the goal of establishing a national park in the South Okanagan. Yes, it will enhance tourism (just think Banff and Jasper); it will preserve and aid First Nations interests; and it will provide interpretive services, well-kept trails, and other amenities. But, principally, in the view of the many actively involved (including I believe, also, much of the regional and even national public), it will preserve, and even enhance the ecosystem in which so many species (many endangered or threatened with extinction) thrive.
What a thrilling mandate to fulfill; do I exaggerate in saying it is life over death for precious, no, priceless, fauna, flora and the unique ecosystem in which they live.
Please, dear reader, take the next step, and visit www.yesnationalpark.com and please respond to the request for your input from the provincial government: send them an email at ENV.Mail@gov.bc.ca after absorbing the gist of the website. You can also fill out, (after informing yourself as just stated), a questionnaire from the B.C. government, planning division, ‘intentions paper’ by going to the link: www.env.gov.bcparks/planning/protected-areas-framework-s-okanagan.html.
Provincial government support is absolutely essential to the realization of the national park project, and they have appealed for public comment, note, until Oct. 31. So, let’s go for it!
Frederick Van Seters