Statement on South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve announcement

Statement on South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve announcement

Conservation Northwest / Jul 02, 2019 / British Columbia, News Releases

On July 2, 2019, the governments of Canada and British Columbia, the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, and the Osoyoos Indian Band announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that establishes the initial terms for the South Okanagan-Similkameen (SOS) National Park Reserve. Conservation Northwest Executive Director Mitch Friedman attended the announcement in Osoyoos, B.C.

The proposed South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve would benefit local communities and endangered species.    Photo: Graham Osborne

“A new National Park Reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen will permanently protect shrub-steppe habitat unique in Canada, as well as wildlife corridors connecting to Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness, Loomis Forest and Okanogan Valley,” said Mitch Friedman, Conservation Northwest Executive Director.

The announcement included the working boundary for the proposed national park preserve, which encompasses significant cultural and ecological landscapes including Mt. Kobau, Spotted Lake, Kilpoola areas of South Okanagan and Similkameen, and the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area. Containing some of the only shrub-steppe in Canada, the SOS National Park Reserve will protect several of Canada’s at-risk species and benefit the local economy.

“After years of working with the Lower Similkameen Indian Band and Canadian conservation groups to protect this important area, we’re thrilled by today’s announcement of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining the path to the park,” Friedman said. “A new national park will benefit people and wildlife in both southern British Columbia and north-central Washington.”

Conservation Northwest has long supported the proposal to establish the SOS National Park Reserve. We’ve worked with the Wilderness Committee, the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network and other partners to get the proposal to where it is today, and will continue to help move things forward. The proposed national park reserve is also a vital northern anchor for habitat connectivity in our Sagelands Heritage Program.

This Canadian national park reserve will have tremendous benefits for wildlife habitat connectivity, outdoor recreation and local economies on both sides of the international border. We’re looking forward to the permanent protection of this important landscape and the wildlife inhabiting it.

British Columbia’s South Okanagan Region. Photo: Parks Canada