Slack line provides thrills and views at Skaha Bluffs Park in the South Okanagan. (Penticton Western News)

Slack line provides thrills and views at Skaha Bluffs Park in the South Okanagan. (Penticton Western News)

Historic ranches, waterfront, trapline part of B.C.’s latest park expansion

Land worth $9.7 million bought or donated to preserve ecosystems

The B.C. government has added 650 hectares of land to its provincial parks and protected areas, one of the largest park systems in the world.

The environment ministry spent $6.8 million to acquire strategic properties to add to 16 parks and protected areas in 2019-20, according to its annual acquisition report released Jan. 13. Property donations from individuals, corporations and conservation groups brought the total value of the land acquired to $9.7 million.

• Chasm Park: Two historic ranches were donated to the park north of Cache Creek along Highway 97. Chasm Park protects the river canyon of Chasm Creek and the Bonaparte River, and the two holdings within it, valued at $420,000, were donated under a federal ecological gift program in memory of two pioneer ranchers.

• Tweedsmuir Park: A private holding near Bella Coola west of Williams Lake was purchased for $575,000 and added to one of B.C.’s largest parks. The purchase prevents it from being logged and enhances salmon and grizzly bear habitat.

• Octopus Islands Marine Park: The Marine Parks Forever Society donated $1.5 million to buy 20 hectars in the Okisollo Channel off Quadra Island, north of Campbell River. The boat-access park includes several small islands with paddling, hiking, fishing and wilderness camping.

• Cowichan River Park: A donation of $395,000 from the B.C. Parks Foundation allowed acquisition of two hectares to add to the north edge of the park west of Duncan. The park protects sections of the Cowichan River, a heritage-designated salmon and steelhead river, and the latest land is part of a larger land assembly for the recreation and conservation corridor.

• Cape Scott Park: Two properties within the northern Vancouver Island park were purchased for $515,000. One has waterfront on Guise Bay, adding to 115 km of ocean frontage and remote beaches west of Port Hardy.

• Naikoon Park: Two private holdings within the park at the northern tip of Haida Gwaii were bought for $411,000. The park, northeast of Masset, includes 100 km of beaches as well as bogs, sand dunes, wetlands and rainforest with hiking, fishing and wilderness camping.

• Okanagan Mountain Park: A 21.2 hectare parcel on Okanagan Lake across from Peachland was donated as part of a rezoning and subdivision, providing a buffer between the park and an adjacent residential area. The property was valued at more than $1 million.

• Skaha Bluffs Park: A 65-hectare property near the north end of Skaha Lake, valued at more than $1 million, was donated to add to the park south of Penticton. Skaha Bluffs offers rock climbing and hiking, with protected habitat for bighorn sheep, western screech owl and other rare species.

• Landstrom Bar: Across the Fraser River from Hope, the park has hiking and public access to about one km of river frontage. A one-hectare parcel was bought for $762,500 to develop public access and a parking area.

• Jewel Lake Park: A 16-hectare parcel at the south end of the lake was purchased for $615,000 to add to the camping and fishing opportunities. Located north of Greenwood and Grand Forks, Jewel Lake is a popular spot to fly fish for rainbow trout.

• Valhalla Park: A 32 hectare holding within the park west of Slocan was purchased for $175,000 to prevent incompatible uses from occurring. A trapline tenure was also bought out for $50,000, to prevent fur-bearing animal harvesting in the park on the west side of Slocan Lake in the Selkirk Mountains.

• Purcell Wilderness Conservancy: Part of an ongoing acquisition in the mountains north of Nelson and Cranbrook, 18 hectares of waterfront on Kootenay Lake was purchased for $640,800. The remote, undeveloped region is considered the only intact ecosystem in southeastern B.C.

• Mount Pope Park: A day-use park on Stuart Lake, northwest of Fort St. James, the area is popular with hikers and rock climbers, with limestone rock formations and caves. Land valued at $220,000 was acquired to use as a parking area for trail users.

• Mount Robson Park: A 0.9 hectare right-of-way bought for $50,000 protects a portion of the Overlander Trail along the Fraser River north of Valemount. Mount Robson is the second oldest park in B.C. on the western slope of the North Continental Range.

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• Cathedral Park: Two properties totalling 82 hectares were transferred from Okanagan College for $1 to add to the park southwest of Keremeos. The park is located between the dense forest of the Cascade Mountains and the desert-like South Okanagan Valley.

• West Twin Protected Area: A 59 hectare parcel along the Fraser River was bought for $120,000 to add to the only protected corridor across the Robson Valley trench, northwest of McBride.

• Muncho Lake Park: A 2.5 hectare lakefront property was purchased for $590,000 to provide a campsite at Muncho Lake, at Mile 463 of the Alaska Highway, west of Fort Nelson.

• Lac du Bois Grasslands: Eight hectares of land north of Kamloops was donated to the protected area, which covers three distinct grassland communities considered unique in western North America.


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