lakes and parks plan 

Public comment on parks invited If you'd like to get your oar in on how local lakes and parks are managed you have until March 9 to put forward your opinion. The Ministry of Environment is inviting comment from the public on the future management of Birkenhead Lake and Duffey Lake parks. The draft management plans are available in the Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish libraries as well as the B.C. Parks office in Squamish. Both parks are located between Pemberton and Lillooet and play host to all kinds of wildlife, including black bear, blacktail dear, mountain goats, wolves and cougars, with grizzlies making appearances in the Duffey Lake park. The lakes contain rainbow trout, kokanee and Dolly Varden char as well as mountain whitefish. So far the strategy blueprints take two forms, a master plan overseeing the vision for the park's role in the next 10 to 15 years and annual plans that will take the little steps they need to follow the overall scheme. Senior park planner Brian Bawtinheimer says the plans provide recommendations on each area and how appropriate use would fit into the system. They also want to maintain appropriate conservation values. The key to the whole process is making sure that the local Sea to Sky community have their views included in the future direction of park management. "We'll determine through the public if we are going in the right direction, or if there's a completely different view out there," says Bawtinheimer. The current direction seeks to encourage access to the parks but at the same time keep the natural integrity of the parks intact. "Recreational and conservation management could clash. We have to identify areas for both and avoid a situation where the two might conflict. For instance if there's a high value bear habitat you have to ensure you don't have trails running through it." Development in Duffey Lake might include expanding the camping facilities. "It is more of a roadside stop at the moment as opposed to a destination. There is a limited camping left over from a forest rec site but that is small. We have to examine the feasibility of establishing camping in the park. The highway runs on one side and there are steep mountains on the other. The locations are limited." The Birkenhead Lake park is more remote and Bawtinheimer says there is an opportunity at that location to maintain the character of backcountry camping as well as interpretation through recreational activities. "The main feature is the lake. It's known as a good location for small recreational boats like canoes and cartoppers. We wouldn't advocate the use of high powered speed boats. We want to determine the kind of facilities we need and ensure from year to year that our actions are guided that way." The public's comments and opinions will be compiled into a report. The final management plans for Birkenhead Lake and Duffey Lake provincial parks are expected to be available in April.

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