The proposed territory of the South Okanagan- Similkameen National Park Reserve is located in the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys in southern British Columbia, currently comprised of five Provincial Protected Areas. These areas include the 4700 hectare Mt. Kobau Site situated on the height of land between the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys; the 1850 hectare Chopaka East Site situated on Black Mountain, between Richter Pass and the International Boundary; the 470 hectare Chopaka West Site situated between Richter Mountain and the International Boundary; the 2350 hectare Kilpoola Site situated north and south of Highway 3 including the southeast slopes of Mount Kobau, Blue Lake and Kruger Mountain to the International Boundary; and the 25889 hectare Snowy Protected Area situated between the Lower Similkameen Indian Reserve. These areas, with the exception of Snowy Protected Area, compose the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area. Potential future additions of Crown and private lands would possibly see large tracts of land north and south of Mt. Kobau along with tracts north and east of the existing boundaries of Snowy Protected Area.
The Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys have been extensively settled centered around the nearby towns of Keremeos, Oliver and Osoyoos . The Okanagan-Similkameen region’s census population, as of 2006, was 79475(((1))) people, has the fastest growing population rate of any other river valley in Canada, and has seen a 137% increase in population in the last 30 years. Some of the borders of the proposed area touch existing private land used in agriculture and ranching operation.
The Southern Okanagan-Similkameen is located in the Interior Dry Plateau. One of 12 natural regions in Canada not currently represented by a national park, the Interior Dry Plateau is characterized by rolling plains located in the rainshadow of the Coast and cascade mountain ranges. In the deepest valleys where the rainshadow effect is strongest lie open pine forests and grasslands where a semi-arid climate has created one of the most ecologically diverse regions in Canada. Being a unique area, the Interior Dry Plateau is deserving of research attention and ecological support, especially in the
sub-region of the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.
The designation of an area as a national park can carry with it a range of positive and negative economic impacts that may or may not be consequences of the designation itself. Positive impacts might be economic in nature with additional funding of the area, creation of new park management jobs, an increase in visitor numbers to the local communities which leads to higher tourism employment, an increase in surrounding property values and the ability for the surrounding communities to further themselves with the adoption of the national park “brand”. Negative economic impacts include higher property values leading to affordability issues with local housing, seasonal employment shifts...