The BC government says it will spend an extra 35 million dollars the next three years, to improve conservation in its parks.
The funding will result in 25 more full-time park rangers, new programs to promote and protect the natural environment, as well as an initial endowment for a new BC Parks Foundation.
$25 million will go directly to BC Parks operations allowing for new park rangers throughout the province, with a focus on protecting and preserving the backcountry. The increase in full -time rangers is in addition to the seasonal ranger program where 87 temporary positions are filled during the peak demand season.
Park ranger duties vary from maintaining trails and campsites, to monitoring wildlife habitats and species at risk, to ensuring guests are aware of risks posed by dangerous animals such as bears and cougars.
The remaining $10 million will be an initial endowment to the new BC Parks Foundation. The foundation will help generate private revenue, to be spent on promoting and enhancing the experience in BC Parks.
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment, says the investments will help to preserve and strengthen the spectacular, natural environment of BC Parks.
“It’s an investment not only for British Columbians, but indeed for the entire world.”
Other conservation initiatives arising from increased operations funding will include:
* A Discover BC Parks program where the public can be engaged through interactive mobile learning spaces, mobile apps, online activities and projects for children, and volunteer-led outreach programs.
* Opening parks to universities and climate-related agencies as living laboratories, to measure and monitor the impact of climate change on ecosystems and wildlife. This, in turn, will help ensure provincial policies and programs are making a difference.
* Enhancing community and volunteer involvement through new community liaison rangers, who will establish relationships and partnerships throughout the province with local governments, community groups, businesses, advocacy organizations, school groups, and the public at large.
Eddie Wood, president, BC Society of Park Operators, says they are pleased there will be more park ranger staff available for the backcountry.
“With the exponential growth of hikers using the backcountry, there has been a noticeable void in ranger presence. While park operators work hard successfully managing and maintaining frontcountry campgrounds and day use areas, it is great news to see an improved approach to managing and maintaining the backcountry.”
BC’s provincial parks receive more than 23 million visits each year.
Photo: Mary Polak, BC Minister of Environment