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West Arm Provinical Park to grow by 1,219 hectares — Caribou population benefits

Suzy Hamilton
By Suzy Hamilton
March 5th, 2015

Environment Minister Mary Polak has announced that the West Arm Provincial Park is one of six BC parks to be expanded under Bill 8 which was introduced on March 2.

The park will gain 1,219 hectares on the south eastern edge directly behind Ymir peak.

The land is owned by the Crown, which  acquired two parcels of land totaling 1,219 hectares on March 31, 2005 from Pluto Darkwoods Corporation according to the Minister.

“The 1,219 hectare addition protects old growth forests, some critical habitat for the South Selkirk Mountain Caribou population and the headwaters of Kutetl Creek,” said Polak.

Habitat is important because “the South Selkirk Mountain Caribou population is a small declining herd of Woodland Caribou estimated to be around 18 animals,” she said.

RDCK Area E Director Ramona Faust is pleased with the addition.

“I just learned about the expansion and am pleased that critical habitat has been added to the park,” she said.

“Darkwoods provided value to the park’s biodiversity over the long term and deserves thanks for their vision for the sustainability of the park.

“The combination of the West Arm Park, ministry of Environment Wildlife Management Area and Darkwoods creates a substantial conservation initiative for the benefit of many species of the animal and plant community.”

The West Arm Provincial Park extends along the shore of the west arm of Kootenay Lake from Nelson to Harrop and up to the peaks behind. The total area of the park will be 26,100 hectares.

Bill 8,  the Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2015, adds land to six parks, increases public safety along Highway 3, and makes administrative changes to clarify legal descriptions, according to the Ministry.

“B.C.’s treasured and world-renowned parks system continues to grow,” said Polak. “By way of this legislation, successful community and First Nation partnerships are being realized, helping to expand our parks, create more recreational opportunities, increase public safety and further protect B.C.’s beautiful and natural spaces for future generations.”

Other parks affected are Bodega Ridge Park, Denman Island Park, E.C Manning Park, Octopus Islands Marine Park, and Small Inlet Marine Park.

If passed, this legislation solidifies an agreement between the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) and the Province to officially rename two provincial parks of significant cultural value within OIB traditional territory. Haynes Point and Okanagan Falls provincial parks will officially be known by their traditional First Nations’ names.   

A total of 1,500 hectares was added to the six parks.

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