Letter: National park offers ‘boots on the ground’

Why we must say 'Yes' to the national park

To the editor:

Here is why we must say ‘Yes’ to the national park.

I have been following the rhetoric perpetuated on us by the opponents of the national park for many years now and struggle with their position on how they are going to protect these very sensitive, ecologically fragile ecosystems.

Their latest version seems to be that they are for an area managed by an amalgamation representing B.C. Parks, the indigenous community and local stakeholders. How could this possibly be the solution? Where would the funds come from? What would prevent landowners selling out to developers?

Today, the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area, a class three provincial park, receives very little in the way of protection from B.C. Parks. At best, a parks person visits there on a very limited basis. As a matter of fact, B.C. Parks is a shadow of what it once was—its annual budget in 2018 was just $50 million.

Following are several examples why we need boots on the ground.

In May 2012, at Turtle Pond, I came across two adults who were shooting skeet. When they finished they simply drove off leaving all their broken clay pigeons everywhere. At this spot, there is a bale of blue-listed Painted Turtles and many bird species in full breeding cycle.

In June of 2008, the graduating class of the high school had their year-end party at Blue Lake leaving the site in deplorable condition.

One year while standing on the summit of Mount Kobau, here comes an individual driving his pickup truck, to get there he would have to have driven over sagebrush.

What about the number of times that individuals have dumped their construction debris to avoid paying a nominal fee at the landfill?

While walking through the fragile forest near Blue Lake to visit the stand of old growth ponderosa pine trees I encountered an individual on his All-Terrain Vehicle.

Perhaps the worst event that I have observed occurred on June 13, 2010 when the earthen dam on Testalinden Lake (on top of Mount Kobau) failed and caused a mudslide that eventually fell to the valley floor crossing Highway 97, which was closed for several days while crews moved a wall of mud off of the road surface. This was totally preventable if the rancher who had responsibility for maintaining the culvert in the dam had been vigilant. The dugout was on Crown land where a lease was in place for the rancher to collect water for his cattle. The final cost to clean this up and restore the damage done to orchards, vineyards and private property cost the taxpayers of B.C. $9 million.

There is only one feasible solution and that is to allow the creation of the national park be put in place in the hands of Parks Canada. This land must be set aside in perpetuity for future generations.

Greg Byron

Osoyoos

Keremeos Review

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