As is largely the case from those opposed to the national park reserve in the South Okanagan Similkameen, Mr. Smuin’s letter of Feb. 27 contains much that is quite untrue and the rest poorly informed. For starters, the NPR is slated for more than the Kilpoola (note spelling) area; it reaches from the border, over Mt. Kobau and to approximately the Cawston Fairview Rd, an area that includes much Crown provincial lands.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Sage and Sparrow Grasslands, along the border south of Kilpoola estates, will not become part of the new national park reserve as they cannot sell to other agencies. And yes, these lands are home to many threatened and endangered species, but the habitats these and other wild creatures need stretch well beyond even the area that will become the national park reserve. Wild creatures do not conveniently stay where humans would like so we can exploit the rest for ourselves. The NPR initially will encompass only a small part of the area that needs to be protected for these wild creatures, but it’s a start.
The Nature Trust of BC lands will also remain under TNT management.
I find the melodramatic assertion from those opposed, that the valley will be overrun with tourists coming to see the new park, amusing. When the park was first proposed, their assertion was “nobody will want to come to a grassland park.” One really should decide which argument to use even if neither has merit.
We already have thousands and thousands of tourists and I don’t hear businesses complaining about that. Parks Canada has also said that, from their experience, most visitors to the new park for a long time will be residents and people who already visit the valley; until the park has significant infrastructure, few tourists will come chiefly for the park.
Past governments have so decimated BC Parks of funds and staff that they are able only to carry out the most basic of ‘protection’ on the land. Forget restoration or proper patrolling to stop illegal activities. The extensive Crown provincial lands adjacent to private and BC Parks lands lack even this minimal level of protection. The patchwork of different managements and levels of protection does not promote effective wildlife conservation. The national park reserve won’t be perfect, but is the last viable chance of saving some of the habitats and wildlife unique to the Okanagan Similkameen valleys.
At bottom, of course, the objections to the NPR are based on human selfishness and greed. Of the Earth’s total biomass, 90 per cent is humans and our domestic animals; for the other few billion organisms, 10 per cent. Our society’s blathering about balancing the economy (ours only) and environment (what we don’t want) would be a belly laugh if it weren’t so sick.