There are some land use issues developing in the Skaha region, specifically the new Mctaggart- Cowan Wilderness Management Area. Please make yourself aware of this new area which surrounds the whole area from Carmi to OK Falls. tp://www.soscp.org/2013/news/mctaggert-cowan-wildlife-area-created/
It covers considerable climbing areas outside of the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park ,with routes dating back to 1990. Areas affected; Rutopia,Brevity Wall, Retardant Wall, The Belvedere, Flake Cliff, Shady Lane, all the bouldering in the WMA ,routes and bouldering south of Skaha Park, as far as OK Falls.This area encompasses the majority of accessible crown land on the eastern side of Skaha Lake from Penticton to OK Falls.
Input and consultation by recreational user groups was extremely limited and did not consider or represent our historical use in the area .We are working with a group of local climbers on this issue, and soliciting support from MEC, and inviting other stake holders to join us in the consultation process.
Over the last few weeks we have been speaking with officials from the ministry of Forestry, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to ensure that the climbing community will have representation and input in the management plan for the WMA. After a less than positive first meeting , we now have assurances from Grant Furness, Ecosystems Section Head, that we will be recognized stake holders, and part of the process. There has not been any order made restricting specific activities in the McTaggart /Cowan WMA , and the management plan will be developed in the future.
Please be mindful of your activities within the WMA ,and consider best conservation practices when climbing there.
We have developed a 2012 Climbers financial impact study on the local economy, approximately $8- $10 million in direct and indirect economic impact at the critical shoulder season, and will be gathering, economic and social data, on regional and provincial self propelled recreational activities.
We need to stay actively involved in discussions, and the consultation process of the Wildlife Management Area. I feel our user group has the same common conservation goals as the ministry and hope we can arrive at an equitable solution, that also benefits recreational climbers and recognizes them as a valid stakeholder group.