Public input required to provide informed park policy direction

Prior to 2002, management and policy direction for Wells Gray Provincial Park included the broader citizenry

Editor, The Times:

Prior to the current B.C. provincial government’s leadership, beginning in 2002, management and policy direction for Wells Gray Provincial Park included input from the Wells Gray Public Advisory Committee, Friends of Wells Gray Park and the broader citizenry.

Today decisions affecting the management of Wells Gray Park are being made from a very narrow scope of input and outside of an adequate and informed public and stakeholder consultation process.

Overall, land use plans outside of BC’s protected areas are also severely out of date and decisions that are made today are based on realities from well over a decade prior.

Needless to say much has since changed. One prime issue that has emerged recently includes the lack of accurate information about forest inventories which has triggered a special review committee to look at considering opening up B.C.’s protected areas, visual landscapes, endangered species habitat, sensitive riparian zones and tourism resource areas for timber harvesting.

Many issues have arisen in both B.C.’s protected areas and on Crown land including land use conflicts that are putting public safety at risk, jeopardizing the recovery of endangered and threatened species and associated ecosystems as well as having profoundly negative impacts on tourism operator confidence when conflicting uses put one operator or user group at a great disadvantage.

Clearly established designated use areas are especially important in regards to the necessary separation of motorized and non-motorized recreation. As with other regions of the province, the North Thompson clearly needs to implement designated use areas to ensure that the desired experience for each activity is optimized.

This overriding policy to limit information to the public creates conflict, creates misinformation and it soaks up valuable time and resources that would otherwise be used for production and a healthy sustainable economy and community.

This letter is to urge voters to question their current MLA and the opposition candidates on how they would move forward to re-instate public advisory bodies, land use planning groups and much needed public and stakeholder processes to update land and recreational use plans prior to the next provincial election in May 2013. Everyone deserves to be informed and to be given adequate opportunity for input on land use decisions – it is a right, not a privilege.

Dana Foster

Clearwater, B.C.