Letter: They’re paving paradise

Bikes in Kalamalka Provincial Park are destroying this beautiful place

Well, the BC Ministry of the Environment is looking to carry out some “improvements” to Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, to expanding parking lots! Can you imagine that?

The intent behind the creation of the park in 1975 was to establish a sanctuary for the flora and fauna unique to this part of the Okanagan Valley. Human use was intended to be limited to just a few footpaths.

I would encourage anyone interested in the park to find a copy of the Guide to the Natural History of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park. It should be a revelation to realize what the park was like when first established, compared to its present state.

Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park today is in a sorry state, the result of overuse by inappropriate activities. The most visible example is mountain biking, which is steadily destroying significant areas of threatened grassland habitat. The original “limited” number of trails has exploded into several hundred trails that now crisscross the grasslands, the majority of which are biking trails. Unfortunately mountain bikes are frequently used off established trails, degrading grassland habitat severely. The very reason this park exists is being ignored. Walkers and hikers frequently report that their enjoyment of the park is being significantly diminished by widespread thoughtless, often dangerous, operation of mountain bikes on and off the trails.

Given that the irresponsible use by mountain bikers has so degraded the park, now they are actually proposing to pave over large chunks of it! How does that Joni Mitchell song go? About paving paradise?

The pressure for more parking is surely the pressure from bikers’ cars. One would think these fit young bikers wouldn’t need to drive to the park gates. Could they park elsewhere and ride a bus? Or — imagine this — they could bike from their residences!

All of this further advances my opinion that mountain biking, well, all biking, should be prohibited in the park. Since there isn’t a practical way to limit bike usage to a manageable level, the use of mountain bikes in the park should be banned.

I previously wrote a letter to the editor in 2012 decrying the horrible degradation of the park – urging a ban on bikes. Here we are in 2018 – so sad, so discouraging, so much worse. The park cries out for a lifeline!

I would also encourage you to contact your MLA, call BC Parks (Keith Baric, planner) at 250-490-8260, and complete the comment form on the BC Parks website (www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/planning/mgmtplns/kalamalk/kalamalka-lk-mp.html) regarding the planning process underway for our Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park by Feb. 28.

Sharon Lawrence


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