The information and comments on this website are through research. The opinions expressed on this website are those of the website owner, Arlene Nora Arlow, unless otherwise indicated.
The original commentary was published in consecutive editions of the Similkameen News Leader* newspaper beginning on August 25, 2015. Or click on the link at the bottom of this page to open a full PDF of the August, 2015 commentary.
Note: Comments from other parties will be marked as “Contributed” and will appear in bolded, centered text to set them apart.
*The Similkameen News Leader ceased publication in August of 2016 when the owner retired.
December 28, 2016 – MLA Linda Larson provides update on park potential citing the fact that Parks Canada is not interested in developing a park where ranching, hunting, fishing and helicopter training are permitted. The Province of British Columbia is keen on protecting more land in the region:
January 6, 2016 – (Link contributed.) Guide Outfitter companies receive $3 million from Parks Canada after Parks Canada cancels their licenses in order to create a national park in Northwest Territories:
Contributed December 27, 2015 (updated February 21, 2016, February 29, 2016 & March 6, 2016):
By David Evans
Doug Fraser, Rangeland Stewardship Officer (BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) states that successful range management is adaptive management in practice. The four main principles are:
1, Distribute livestock over the range
2, Graze to the right use level
3, Allow enough rest during the growing season
4, Graze at the right time (and for the right duration).
My own observations are that the grazing tendencies of cattle are helpful to sustain open range. In Spring, cattle graze on the flatter areas first leaving sloped areas until later, thus the grass on the uplands has a chance to establish and mature. The fact that cattle also avoid steep slopes in the rainy season helps in the prevention of erosion and trampling of new plant shoots until the plants are well-established. Wild sheep in turn will benefit from the grasses on very sloped terrain.
Spring range at low elevations offers natural Spear grass for early grazing for a limited time. Spear grass is very good at preventing erosion. When ripe, it turns a special golden-brown colour all over the hillsides.
Bunch grass provides very good feed for cattle and is still the dominant grass species for forage on open ranges. Cattle use their tongue to twist off the top of the Bunch grass therefore leaving the crown intact. Some seed clusters are preserved to re-seed. Deer eat the crowns left by the cattle. Sheep and rodents in the early spring also browse on the crowns.
In the Fall the grasses begin to tiller (new plants emerge). To prevent plant stress, emerging grass plants should not be grazed. I have observed that Knapweed and other invasive plants are held in check by cattle grazing. This is very evident in the Reed Creek area.
Update February 21, 2015:
In this section I will discuss mineral claims and critical areas that would require many thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to satisfy public demand for security and safety if the area became a National Park.
There are numerous dangerous pitfalls (literally) from old mining claims in the proposed National Park zone. I have a list of 116 claims from Osoyoos to the White Lake area. Some of the mines I am aware of being open or boarded up are: Morning Star, Smuggler, Stemwinder, Brown Bear, Fairview, Tinhorn, Orofino, Victoria, Suzie, Wide West, Joe Dandy and Dominion. These mines occur at all elevations of terrain in the proposed National Park zone. For the public’s safety, Parks Canada would have to spend the money to fence off these mining pits if the area was designated a National Park.
There are many critical areas dangerous to public travel by any convenience including walking, horseback or on wheels. The landscape abruptly ends on downward cliffs from various heights of land. No less treacherous are abrupt banks along creeks. Active and abandoned pits left from miners digging are numerous therefore travelers must stay on a road or wide trail before and after dark. Many of the old mine diggings are in dense forested areas, are practically invisible and thus hard to avoid. Other sites could potentially cave in.
Travel is interrupted by numerous creeks and cliff sides and only seasoned Cattlemen and local Hunters know the trails well enough to travel these areas. The recent fires west and south of Oliver have made many trails impassible.
Time will return the land to natural vegetation and the grasslands will be expanded as nature intended. Ultimately, the cycle of fire and renewal in the extended grass land and desert will support more species of birds and animals. The proposed National Park zone is an important watershed for both the South Okanagan and South Similkameen.
Left to their own devices, Provincial ministerial staff, ranchers and outdoor sportsmen have and will continue to draft, modify and implement annual plans for this watershed. The Province is asking off road ATV and 4x4s to remain on the well-marked Fairview to Kobou road for their own safety because of the devastation from the 2015 wildfires.
Update February 29, 2015:
In my view the addition of National Park would restrict public access even more when it is already a real problem.
Update March 6, 2016 (photo and caption courtesy of David Evans):
This is the Tinhorn Mine. The shaft runs almost straight down. There are small animal trails into the mine. When I pitched a rock in I never heard it hit anything. Scary.
David Evans was born just below the historic Fairview townsite into the pioneer family of David and Georgiana Evans. Fairview was a mining community between 1892 and 1926 west (and up) from what would become Oliver, BC. His wife Lorraine is the great granddaughter of Theador Kruger who, in 1885, was stationed in the Osoyoos area by the Hudsons Bay Company. David and Lorraine live at the foot of Mount Kobau 8 km south of Oliver.
Comments from David Evans can also be found in his February 5, 2014 editorial in the Osoyoos Times: http://www.osoyoostimes.com/second-generation-pioneer-says-there-are-many-reasons-we-dont-need-national-park-in-this-region/
December 10, 2015 – (Link contributed.) Golly, things are changing fast and furious. The news media reports that the park concept might be dead:
December 10, 2015 – It seems that MLA Linda Larson has stepped in ca-ca. Somehow the news media figured out (or were told) who four of the five people are (were) on the confidential committee (the chosen few) established by Linda Larson. So much for “Confidentiality”. The committee members themselves can be held partly to blame because they shouldn’t have confirmed their participation to the media nor should they have disclosed their position on the national park proposal. They should simply have, “Shut up about it” until their job was done. Apparently the people on the confidential committee couldn’t see fit to keep things confidential.
The “Yes” people (those in favour of the proposed national park) say the committee was stacked. Good grief, it’s just a committee, people! The chosen few were to summarize the submissions for the “Protected Areas Framework”. Those chosen few would have had no say in the final decisions nor would they have had any say in the tangent that the Minister of Environment Mary Polak would otherwise take as a result of the public surveys. Minister Mary Polak would be absolutely foolish to accept the summaries of “the committee” without looking at everything herself.
But, much like a cat will play with a mouse until its dead, the news media has not given MLA Linda Larson any credit for involving average folks like you and me in the process. Nope, no credit for trying to keep things from getting wrapped up in a red-tape ribbon, buried in some government filing cabinet.
It hasn’t occurred to anyone that the biggest criteria for selecting the “chosen few” shouldn’t have even been whether they were “for” or “against” the proposed national park but should have been their reputation as upstanding, community-minded people.
I can personally vouch for one of the people who it seems was hand-picked for the screening committee. Mr. Mark Pendergraft is one of the most upstanding people on planet earth. He is fair, calm under fire, and has an impeccable reputation for considering everyone’s point of view before making a public decision. He is currently the Chair for the RDOS-Regional District Okanagan Similkameen and was voted into that capacity because of his intellect and fair play. Why don’t the news reporters focus on the personal characteristics of the screening committee instead of getting exercise jumping to conclusions? We wait to see how this all plays out:
December 8, 2015 – (Original link was contributed). Goodness, gracious, there is a flurry of people posting misinformation as a result of an article in The Globe And Mail. It saddens me to see how quickly people put their name to information without checking whether it is true. An example is one post in this link (see below) that adamantly states the majority of biodiversity is not in the valleys but is in the uplands where the park is proposed. That person clearly needs to do their homework.
The Province of British Columbia has public documents available on the internet that show the bulk of biodiversity in the valleys where we humans are expanding the most. Anyhoo, this link will provide you with lots of food for thought. There are dozens of replies – and replies to replies. I would prefer that both sides keep to the facts because facts can’t be disputed and they keep things relevant. Alas, this link shows how good intentions can deteriorate into a simple clash:
Here’s the Biodiversity Maps (once the map loads click on the plus + sign to make the map bigger). It takes a couple of minutes for each one to load:
December 7, 2015 – Osoyoos Times published my Letter To The Editor (text follows):
To The Editor:
Proponents of a national park in the South Okanagan-Similkameen are clearly ruffled to be shut out of direct influence on the committee reviewing the submissions to the Province’s “Protected Areas Framework”. Doreen Olson – the self-appointed spokesperson for anyone who thinks the national park is a good idea – has once again taken to enlisting radio and print media across Canada.
Park proponents continue to imply they represent “the community”. Many park proponents – including rancher Ace Elkink, the Osoyoos Indian Band, the Lower Similkameen Indian Band and anyone who could financially benefit from creating a national park – are in a Conflict-Of-Interest. I would ask that in the future, anyone who publically states they are in favour of a national park in the South Okanagan-Similkameen be sufficiently forthcoming to state whether they are in a Conflict-Of-Interest and what that conflict is.defines Conflict-Of-Interest as: “the circumstance of a public officeholder, business executive, or the like, whose personal interests might benefit from his or her official actions or influence”.
I have no vested interest in the area that may ultimately be more protected than it already is, whether that protection is at the Provincial or Federal level. My only interest is not to bite off our nose to spite our face: imposing a national park could well cripple the economy in the South Okanagan and South Similkameen.
December 6, 2015 – MLA Linda Larson has announced a confidential committee whose task is to review the submissions to the Protected Areas Framework public consultation. The park proponents are once again using every news outlet they can muster. The Globe And Mail is on their side:
The Penticton Western is on their side:
Doreen Olson – the self-appointed voice for the park proponents – apparently contacted CBC Radio to complain that the names of committee members selected to review the submissions is not public information. I have no doubt Doreen Olson knows at least one person on the committee. She might consider giving her peer a ring-ding-ding to get the inside scoop.
October 30, 2015 – Another link was emailed to me today. The commentary is my own:
Gwaii Haanas National Park is co-managed by the Government of Canada and the First Nations Council of Haida Nation. It is the darling that many proponents of the proposed “South Okanagan Similkameen National Park” allude to when they suggest a national park stimulates the economy. The economy in the Haida Gwaii was suffering because logging revenues had fallen off. A national park seemed like a good idea.
Currently, the Okanagan Nations Alliance wants a co-management contract with Parks Canada to manage the proposed “South Okanagan Similkameen National Park”, similar to that of management relationship in Gwaii Haanas National Park. The ONA-Okanagan Nations Alliance and other park proponents have not admitted that the proposed park region in BC’s Southern Interior – unlike the Haida Gwaii – already has an active economy of farming, ranching and recreation.
Can First Nations can be relied on to be good stewards of the environment? Three forestry companies were recently fined for blatant violations of forestry practices in the Haida Gwaii islands. One of those companies – Gwaii Wood Products Ltd. – contracted out logging in the Haida Gwaii with the result that considerable fish habitat was destroyed. President of Gwaii Wood Products Ltd. is Arnie Bellis, former vice-president of the Council of the Haida Nation. He maintains he shouldn’t be blamed for the devastation perpetrated by a company that he contracted with. The destroyed habitat could take centuries to recover. Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/company+owned+haida+among+those+convicted+destroying+prime+fish+habitat/11463379/story.html#ixzz3q6t2pTRl
The deadline for input to the Province of BC on the proposed park zone has been extended to October 31, 2015. Visit this web page to make your position known:
“This Just In!” This link was contributed September 10, 2015. It seems that Parks Canada was asleep at the switch regarding a proposed ski development that would double the capacity of Lake Louse ski resort (and eat up protected wilderness): http://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/national-parks-in-crisis-caused-by-development-says-parks-group/ar-AAe9rvM?li=AA59G3&ocid=mailsignoutmd
Contributed September 4, 2015:
To all metropolitan-dwelling elites in British Columbia who want a National Park:
Remember when you used to work from sun-up to sun-down just to produce enough food to keep your family fed? No… of course you don’t.
You were born after the invention of the internal-combustion engine, the development of modern farm machinery, the discovery of the ammonia-synthesis process, and the advent of hybrid and genetically-engineered crops.
You have no idea what it’s like to produce food, and yet you think you can waltz down from your highrise condo and tell people in the Okanagan-Similkameen what’s good for them, whether we like it or not.
Well here’s something to take note of before you go any further with the confiscation of land that’s been used by rural families to produce food for over a century now. There is no better steward of the land than a farmer. None!
No… farmers do not despoil the land or destroy the environment. If any did, they went bankrupt decades ago. And frankly, given your education, we’re all a little surprised you never figured this out on your own. Creating a park won’t just shut down a rural economy – it will take people off the land who have cared for it for longer than you’ve been alive.
Look, we know it’s easy to lose sight of this when you’ve never worked a day on a farm, never reunited a cow with her hungry calf as the sun rises over the mountains. We get that. But here’s the bottom line: If you take away the livelihood of farmers in the Okanagan-Similkameen, what’s next? Are you going to take away the logging, mining and fishing rights of British Columbians as well? Oh, sorry, I forgot, you’ve pretty much already done that.
If you don’t live and earn a living in the Okanagan-Similkameen, get the hell out of our business! Please and thank you. Because, you see, if you’re anti-business, anti-industry, anti-farming, anti-development and anti-innovation, well then you’re anti-human, plain and simple. And we – the ones working hard to provide for you – don’t have time for people like you.
Go back to the city and start a National Park there. Leave us be. And please leave our land be.
Offended? Now you know what it’s like.
Mischa Popoff, Royse City, TX USA, Author of the book “Is It Organic?”
September 2, 2015 – Global News Okanagan picked up on the “No National Park” topic today. I was pleased with their coverage: http://globalnews.ca/news/2200435/national-park-opponents-bring-issues-online/
You can bet Doreen Olsen has now checked out this (my) website. I have been checking her out since 2011. Perhaps her claim that the “province” doesn’t have the money to look after their own crown land is another lie, being that the Globe And Mail reported BC is the only province in Canada to have a balanced budget http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/only-british-columbia-sure-to-boast-balanced-budget/article23020041/
Based on the financial statements of Parks Canada (available on the internet); based on the annual audit reports of Parks Canada (available on the internet); and based on numerous news stories of the budget woes of Parks Canada (available on the internet) you can bet that Parks Canada does not have the money for this proposed park.
September 2, 2015 – Here’s the position of the federal candidates in the South Okanagan West Kootenay riding (on the east side of the proposed park zone): http://www.oliverchronicle.com/federal-candidates-express-views-on-national-park/
Contributed September 2, 2015:
If you are so lucky as to have a horse you could ride it in the park…providing you have filled out the proper paperwork in advance of when you are planning your ride. No more will you be able to say, “Gosh what a great afternoon for a quick trip up Fairveiw”. People who have resided here for years would no longer go for a spontaneous cruise on bike or quad up the trails. Those of us who grew up making trips up the mountain and who learned how to hunt, fish ride a quad or bike, camp and respect for the land would likely face locked gates. So much for passing on the experience to our kids.
Eugene Deschamps, Keremeos, BC
Contributed September 1, 2015:
Here in Willowbrook there’s a lot of speculation as to how a national park would affect us as we’ve never been given answers to many of our questions such as being able to drive to our properties, being able to build new out buildings, being able to rebuild our homes after a fire or other disaster, and many more. We’ve been told that the land and buildings within a National park come under a “federal fire fighting team” and they are located in Banff or Jasper, and that any fires withing said boundaries are the responsibility of national parks and that our local fire hall would no longer be able to operate which would easily triple our home insurance policies if we can even still get them so you can imagine what this would also do to our property values? Can you imagine how many bad fires we’d have in the area if our local firehall was not able to respond as they do now in a timely manner?
Many of us have home based businesses, myself included, and a park would potentially mean that none of our existing customers would be able to visit us unless they were to be shuttled in or were to purchase a permit if that’s allowed. This would potentially be the end of our livelihoods and those of others here with businesses, would be the destruction of our property values, and essentially the loss of all we’ve all worked our lives to build, all so that someone can create a national park, most of which is already protected lands!
Another concern, would be that of adding yet another level of government overseeing our private landholdings. Between the ALR, RDOS , City and Rural governments and Interior Health, it has become almost impossible to even build a shed for my gardening tools. Heaven forbid my house burns down. It would take years to have permits approved with special variances, costly environmental studies, and approvals by all levels of government, etc. I may not even be able to get/claim homeowners insurance or a renewed mortgage. My home, where it stands today may not even be able to be rebuilt!
People here do not want this park because we are aware of how it will destroy our lives. A national park is not an acceptable proposal.
Sincerely, Tony Iannella, Willowbrook, Oliver, BC
August 31, 2015 – Other folks are beginning to send information to me as a result of visiting my website. Here’s some info just received in my email inbox today:
- Did you know that 31 of the National Parks in Canada are identified as suffering from significant to severe ecological loss as a RESULT OF HUMAN ACTIVITIES? What’s that? Creating a “National Park” can actually endanger the environment?!!! “I did not know that.” Did you know that visits to Canada’s National Parks has been dropping since 1995? If you want to read about the abysmal record of Parks Canada to protect wildlife and wild places, read this article. Better yet, read the book “The Grizzly Manifesto” referred to in the article: http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/policy-and-politics/all-sizzle-no-stake
- And here’s the link to the book “The Grizzly Manifesto” referred to in the prior comment. Among other places, grizzly populations in Banff National Park are on the decline due to interaction with humans (and their cars/buses/trains/motorcycles): http://www.gailus.ca/grizzlymanifesto.html
- Did you know residents of Willowbrook (the same neighbourhood evacuated recently because of wildfires that started in the proposed park zone) were advised they would have to rely on fire protection from Parks Canada crews stationed in Jasper and Banff if the proposed National Park went through? Their own local volunteer fire department would not be permitted to stop a wildfire until it exited the proposed national park at their property’s edge. “I did not know that.”
- Here’s a link to the 2013 Canadian Auditor General’s report on “Ecological Integrity in National Parks”: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/docs/parl_cesd_201311_07_e.pdf
August 29, 2015 – Story on the No National Park published by InfoNews.ca. Visit this link to read the story: http://infotel.ca/newsitem/keremeos-resident-launches-anti-national-park-website/it22521
What has happened since Senator Ross Fitzpatrick’s 2003 powerpoing presentation? The Osoyoos Indian Band has become – through brilliance and persistence – one of the wealthiest Indian Bands in Canada. They have an interpretive centre, desert nature walk, resort, golf course, winery, vineyards and orchards. A provincial prison is under construction on the OIB reserve. And they are planning to build an upscale racetrack for the average joe who has a fast, expensive car and can put his (or her) money where their mouth is. Downside: other than the interpretive centre and nature walk, all of these developments are eating up the natural desert.
The Town of Osoyoos allowed development of expensive, multi-story condos. Downside: family campgrounds were sacrificed; long-standing businesses in Osoyoos are complaining that there aren’t as many tourists as there used to be; and almost every condo owned by an “affluent tourist” that Senator Fitzpatrick alluded to sits empty between October and April. The only net inputs to the local economy from an empty condo are the electrical meter and the gas meter.
The Town of Oliver approved a commercial development with a Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, Mark’s Work Wearhouse and other retail shops. Downside: there are empty stores in downtown Oliver.
There are more vineyards in the South Okanagan and South Similkameen now than ever before. Wineries in the South Okanagan and South Similkameen are bringing in national and international wine awards every year. Downside: the wineries are eating up natural desert.
The Historic Grist Mill And Gardens now has a bright future: in early 2015 a 10-year contract was signed whereby the Province of BC would provide seed money until the facility can stand on its own two feet. Downside: the facility needs a lot of sweat and money to make it profitable.
The LSIB-Lower Similkameen Indian Band has built a state-of-the-art community building. Downside: it will take years to pay off the debt. All this has happened without a National Park.
The RDOS-Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen passed a motion supporting the park proposal in-principle. Some directors abstained from voting as a form of protest, believing that such a decision was not in their jurisdiction. Directors whose jurisdiction includes the same areas as the park proposal voted against the motion.
I could throw myself into my work, or choose to watch TV, or go camping (currently allowed in the proposed National Park area), or go 4-wheeling (currently allowed in the proposed National Park area), or go hunting (currently allowed in some of the proposed National Park area), or go horseback riding (currently allowed in the proposed National Park area), or watch wildlife (currently allowed in the proposed National Park area), or stargaze (Mt Kobau is one of the best stargazing mountains in Canada), or work to protect the environment (there are many protected areas in the proposed National Park area), or otherwise not speak up. I think you get the picture.
I am not afraid of those who support the national park. But I am afraid of destroying the ranching industry and sporting pursuits (yes, international sportsmen spend money here); I am afraid of lies because once a lie perpetuates, it just keeps getting bigger; I am afraid of people’s egos, because most honest folks won’t want to admit that they’ve been duped; I am afraid of Parks Canada not being up to the task because they don’t have proper policies in place and they don’t have the money; and I am afraid of betting tourists will bring millions of dollars to the local economy when there won’t be any paved roads up the mountain to draw them away from Whistler, Jasper, Banff, Radium Hot Springs, West Edmonton Mall, the beach, whitewater rafting, wine tours, Starbucks, their tablet… I am a bookkeeper by trade and I am not in favour of biting off my hand to spite my arm.
You owe it to yourself. If you buy the “Gateway To The National Park” shtick of Senator Ross Fitzpatrick and Chloe O’Loughlin of CPAWS; if you believe that there hasn’t been a darned good effort at protecting the uplands; if you believe there is more biodiversity in the uplands than the valleys; if you believe the bad guy is the business owner or the rancher; and if you don’t believe we all have an ulterior motive, you are guilty of being a sheep.
Speaking of sheep, here’s one for you: Domestic sheep and wild sheep must not make contact with each other. The former carries pneumonia and diseases that kill wild sheep. That’s just another “truth” to give you pause when it comes to pacifying your sense of guilt.
My comments are my own and are not sanctioned or otherwise endorsed by anyone else. I have offered this information to you because my ulterior motive is the truth. It’s very liberating. Thousands of years ago, somebody said, “Truth Will Set You Free”.
Deception and one-sided propaganda prevail because our egos attach to them. For those who want to give voice using truth and research, I tip my hat, whatever “side” they might be on. To throw insults to your detractors touting a half-baked, spin-doctored phone survey that takes double-double, whopper, “Super Size Me” leaps of faith, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
If you want to do your own research, drop me a line [replace “(at)” with the “@” symbol here and send me an email]: aarlow(at)telus.net and I’ll send you a list of resources to get you started.
Or you could throw yourself into your work, or choose to watch TV, or go camping (currently allowed in the proposed National Park area), or go 4-wheeling (currently allowed in the proposed National Park area), or go hunting (currently allowed in some of the proposed National Park area), or go horseback riding (currently allowed in the proposed National Park area), or watch wildlife (currently allowed in the proposed National Park area), or stargaze (Mt Kobau is one of the best stargazing mountains in Canada), or work to protect the environment (there are many protected areas in the proposed National Park area), or otherwise not speak up.
Click here to open my full August 2015 commentary as featured in the Similkameen News Leader newspaper beginning on August 25, 2015.