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Conservation, culture at the heart of newly protected areas

Press Release

Oct. 5, 2021

VICTORIA – A new provincial park on southern Vancouver Island will soon be established to protect a vital ecosystem important to the Cowichan people, honouring Indigenous cultural and spiritual history, and aiding in the conservation of threatened species.

Legislation has been introduced to establish a new 143-hectare Class A park near the Koksilah River in the Cowichan Valley. To recognize Indigenous connections in two other provincial parks, Chilliwack Lake Park will be renamed Sxótsaqel / Chilliwack Lake Park (Skot-sa-qel), and Newcastle Island Marine Park will be renamed Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park (SAY-sut-shun).

“Establishing this new park strengthens protection of these sensitive lands and ecosystems that provide important habitat for vulnerable and threatened wildlife species, such as Roosevelt elk, western screech owl and northern goshawk,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We are expanding and strengthening our parks and protected areas system to ensure these special places will be here for our children and grandchildren.”

Used by Cowichan people since time immemorial, the area of the new park includes pockets of old-growth Douglas fir forest, a sensitive grassland ecosystem, rare species of vascular plants, and limestone geological features. Cowichan Tribes have identified the name of the new park – Hwsalu-utsum (whSALA-utsum).

“Acknowledging Indigenous place names at provincial parks provides us with a deeper connection to the land’s history and culture, and supports ongoing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” said Kelly Greene, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment. “We are committed to working in partnership with First Nations to reflect Indigenous history and culture in provincial parks.”

The proposed legislative amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act would also add more than 2,258 hectares of land and/or foreshore to nine existing provincial parks and one conservancy. These consist of a combination of private land acquisitions, Crown land and foreshore additions.

Boundary modifications to enable land exchanges and make administrative corrections would also be made at Elk Falls Provincial Park near Campbell River, Peace River Corridor Park, Moberly Lake Park, the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park and Goat Range Park.

Amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act are regularly required to add land to parks and conservancies, modify or correct boundaries and improve boundary descriptions.

Quick Facts:

  • One of the largest park systems in North America, British Columbia has 1,036 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas covering more than 14 million hectares or approximately 14.4% of the provincial land base.
  • B.C. has one of the highest percentages of its land base dedicated to protected areas of all provincial Canadian jurisdictions.
  • The majority (629) of provincial parks in the system are Class A – lands dedicated for the preservation of their natural environment and for public use and enjoyment.

Learn More:

For a summary of the parks and protected areas system, visit: www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/about/park-designations.html

For more information about BC Parks, visit: www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks

A backgrounder follows.

Contact:

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Media Relations
250 953-3834


BACKGROUNDER

Descriptions of proposed amendments

Hwsalu-utsum Park, an area known as Eagle Heights, is within the southern-most portion of a broader ridge area called Hwsalu-utsum in the Hul’q’umi’num (hull-kuh-mee-num) language. The area was purchased by the Province in 2018 and is home to pocket grasslands and old-growth forest that provide important habitat for vulnerable wildlife species in the Cowichan Valley. The area has been used by the Cowichan people since time immemorial and is of spiritual and cultural importance. Certain grasses are still used in spiritual practices today and are found only in this unique grassland ecosystem.

Chilliwack Lake Park, located 150 kilometres east of Vancouver in the upper Chilliwack River Valley, is a popular place for boating, fishing, camping and hiking among 40 kilometres of trails. To reflect the Halq’eméylem (Halkomelem) place name, the park will be renamed Sxótsaqel / Chilliwack Lake Park, which means “sacred lake.” The area is also the ancestral homeland of the Ts’elxwéyeqw (chill-KWAY-uck) Tribe.

Newcastle Island Marine Park is a 10-minute boat ride from Nanaimo and has an extensive network of trails that lead to various historic points around the island. The park will be renamed Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park, which is the Snuneymuxw (snue-ney-mowck) First Nation’s name for the island – a significant and sacred place for the Snuneymuxw people.

Beatton Provincial Park addition (33 hectares): Located 13 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John, Beatton Park is a year-round destination situated on the shores of Charlie Lake. The park is popular for swimming, fishing and hiking during the summer months, and cross-country skiing during the winter. It is an important stopover for migratory birds. The addition, purchased from a private vendor, includes a 22-hectare parcel of land adjacent to the park and 11 hectares of lake foreshore. The total area of this park will now be 363 hectares.

Echo Lake Provincial Park addition (65 hectares): With clear turquoise water and excellent fishing for rainbow, lake trout and kokanee, Echo Lake is a popular destination for anglers in the Okanagan. The addition includes lake foreshore that will improve protection of the tree-fringed lake and riparian areas that are critical rainbow trout rearing and feeding habitat. The total area of this park will now be 219 hectares.

Chasm Provincial Park addition (101 hectares): Chasm Park near Clinton protects the unique river canyon of the Chasm Creek Valley and part of the Bonaparte River Valley. In 1995, the park was enlarged from 141 hectares to 3,067 hectares to further protect the area’s colourful geological formations and ponderosa pine forests. The addition, which consists of two parcels of land acquired through Canada’s Ecological Gift Program, are inholdings surrounded by the park. The total area of this park will be now be 3,246 hectares.

Bonaparte Provincial Park addition (1,708 hectares): Set on a large mid-elevation plateau lake setting with no roads, Bonaparte Park is known for its wild fish stocks, hiking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, hunting and adventure tourism. The park, located approximately 55 km northwest of Kamloops, protects unique geological features such as the volcanic plug of Skoatl Point and Stockton Hill. It also contains several trails and four fly-in fishing resorts. The addition of Crown land is in the area of Elbow Lake. The total area of this park will now be 13,541 hectares.

Dragon Mountain Provincial Park addition (0.3 hectares): Located 14 kilometres south of Quesnel, Dragon Mountain Park was established in 2013 and protects mule deer winter range, remnant old-growth forests, and provides outdoor recreation opportunities, such as mountain biking. The small addition is an area that is already surrounded by the park but was excluded when the park was established due to a commercial land-use permit that has since expired. The total area of this park will now be 1,773 hectares.

Granby Provincial Park addition (147 hectares): Spanning more than 40,000 hectares, Granby Park near Grand Forks is a wilderness area popular among hunters, horseback riders, snowmobilers and experienced hikers. The grassland meadows from an old burn are considered rare and valuable habitat for grizzly bear, deer and elk. The addition of Crown land is adjacent to the park and provides further connectivity from the valley bottom to higher elevations. The total area of this park will now be 41,317 hectares.

Mount Robson Provincial Park addition (one hectare): Mount Robson Park is the second oldest park in B.C.’s parks system. It is home to Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954 metres. With Jasper National Park as its easterly neighbour, Mount Robson Park comprises a portion of one of the world’s largest blocks of protected areas. The parking lot of the visitor centre is being transferred to BC Parks from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The total area of this park will now be 225,286 hectares.

Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park (65 hectares): Located near Penticton, Skaha Bluffs Park provides opportunities for hiking, world-class rock-climbing and wildlife viewing. It also protects habitat for a variety of species at risk, including bighorn sheep, fringed and small-footed myotis (bat) and Western screech owl. The addition is from a private land donation, acquired through Canada’s Ecological Gift Program. The total area of this park will now be 554 hectares.

Garibaldi Provincial Park (5.6 hectares): Located in the heart of the Coast Mountains 70 kilometres north of Vancouver, Garibaldi Park is known for its rich geological history, diverse vegetation, snow-capped mountains and abundant wildlife. The park has more than 90 kilometres of established hiking trails and is a favourite year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. This private land acquisition is an undeveloped inholding surrounded by the park that will allow BC Parks to address parking and road safety issues at the Diamond Head access point.

Lucy Island Conservancy addition (132 hectares): Located west of Prince Rupert off the coast of B.C., the Lucy Islands have been used since time immemorial by the Coast Tsimshian for cultural, social, ceremonial and economic purposes. The coastal hemlock forest on the archipelago is also a significant breeding area for a variety of seabirds, including the rhinoceros auklet, which is the most abundant seabird on the islands. The addition protects two islets on the west side of the conservancy and adjacent marine waters. The total area of this park will now be 338 hectares.

Contact:

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Media Relations
250 953-3834

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect

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