OKANAGAN FALLS, BC, Nov. 14, 2014 /CNW/ -Dan Albas, Member of Parliament for Okanagan—Coquihalla, announced today that the Government of Canada is improving public access to Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area.
The Government of Canada will be investing a total of $8 million over five years and $725,000 on an ongoing basis in 10 National Wildlife Areas across Canada that have been selected as suitable for increased public access. This initiative plays an important part in the National Conservation Plan, which was launched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier this year.
Funding will focus on connecting Canadians to nature by: improving basic infrastructure to make sites more accessible; creating new or expanded trails and viewing platforms; providing on-site programs delivered through collaborative partnerships; and supporting a variety of low-impact public uses, such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing, or wildlife observation and photography.
Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area is located 25 km south of Penticton, between Oliver and Okanagan Falls. Old ponderosa pine and Douglas-firs located throughout the 812 hectares of land create habitat for threatened birds such as the Lewis's and White‑headed Woodpeckers. The area also includes unique grasslands and a variety of rare plants such as Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Antelope Brush and Red Osier Dogwood.
- A key pillar of Canada's new National Conservation Plan is to connect Canadians with nature.
- Since 2006, we have added an area nearly twice the size of Vancouver Island to the network of federal protected areas. This includes establishing three National Wildlife Areas, bringing the total to 54 across Canada.
- National Wildlife Areas are owned by the federal government and are an effective tool for promoting biodiversity and protecting habitat for species at risk.
- More than half of the National Wildlife Areas provide a home for species at risk.
- Vaseux-Bighorn in particular takes its name from the Vaseux Lake reservoir and the California Bighorn Sheep, a key species in the area.
- Public access is currently limited to a few designated trails, a wildlife viewing tower and boardwalk.
"Our Government is committed to connecting Canadians to our country's rich, natural heritage. This initiative plays an important part in our Government's National Conservation Plan. By providing Canadians the opportunities to experience nature, we will foster an appreciation for the outdoors and build a "community of stewards" among Canadians of all ages."
– The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council
"The National Conservation Plan represents our Government's commitment to conserve and restore Canada's lands and waters while connecting Canadian families to our natural spaces. Improvements to Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area will enhance public access while protecting this area's unique natural heritage."
– Dan Albas, Member of Parliament for Okanagan—Coquihalla
For more information and to view a backgrounder on this announcement, please visit the Government of Canada's website.
Learn more about the National Conservation Plan.
SOURCE: Environment Canada
For further information: Contacts: Ted Laking, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of the Environment, 819-997-1441; Media Relations, Environment Canada, 819-934-8008; Environment Canada's Twitter page, Environment Canada's Facebook page