Parks Canada wants to hear from South Okanagan and Similkameen residents on a proposed national park for the region.

A public consultation on a proposed South Okanagan-Similkameen national park reserve opened online Monday. To participate in the consultation, please visit www.letstalksouthokanagansimilkameen.ca.

“Nature inspires Canadians,” said Parks Canada as it announced the consultation. “The wonders of our diverse landscapes and flora and fauna instill pride in our natural heritage.

“The South Okanagan-Similkameen region contains some of the most biologically diverse and rare ecosystems in Canada and has sustained Syilx/Okanagan communities for thousands of years.”

All Canadians are invited to share their views and ideas on the proposed boundary for the national park reserve and provide input on key aspects for consideration in the management of the lands.

Public input will be gathered online until February 28, 2019.

In spring 2019, once feedback has been collected and reviewed, a “What we Heard” report will be prepared and shared with the public, Parks Canada says.

The report will include a summary and analysis of the results of the consultation, which will inform future recommendations regarding the proposed national park reserve.

“The goal is to have an agreement on a boundary for the proposed national park reserve and an approach to the management of the land by summer 2019,” it said. “Once agreed on, the formal establishment of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen can begin.”

Last October, the Governments of Canada, British Columbia and the Syilx/Okanagan Nation announced a renewed relationship to explore the establishment of a new national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

The proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen will contribute to a network of protected and conserved areas, while helping to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The South Okanagan-Similkameen is one of the most ecologically diverse regions of Canada, with more than 60 provincially-listed species, including American badgers, flammulated owls, yellow-breasted chats, desert night snakes, and western rattlesnakes — more than 30 at risk.

For more specific information about the proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen, visit the Frequently Asked Questions on the Parks Canada website.

You can also visit nonationalpark for a counter view.

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