Coquihalla Summit Park Expansion Boundaries
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I've been updating the Coquihalla Summit ski and hiking map (which is now out - metric and a bigger scale) and in the process did a bunch of trips to the ridges north of Coquihalla Mountain. The area is stunning and offers outstanding alpine hiking. I've been to Illal and Coquihalla before but this year we poked around a bit more and it struck me that this area would be a perfect candidate for an expansion of the Coquihalla Summit Recreation area. The terrain is quite different than around Zopkios and offers more expansive meadow hiking and ridge walking with stunning views of Zopkios and Needle in the background.
This information page describes a proposal to expand the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area to include the adjoining area to the south surrounding Coquihalla Mountain.
The proposed expansion would include the mountains in the Bedded Range on the south and east side of the Coquihalla River from Coquihalla Mountain north to Britton Ridge (see map below). The unique undeveloped natural features, the outstanding visual resources and the stunning recreational opportunities of the proposed expansion would significantly strengthen the objectives of the recreation area and would be an important addition to the protected areas of southwestern BC.
Canada has committed under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to increase its protected areas to 17% from the current 10.6% by 2020. That's a 60% increase! The proposed expansion is a prime candidate to help meet this increase.
The Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area was established in 1986 in order to conserve the Coast-Cascade Dry Belt Landscape and to protect significant destination recreational opportunities such as hiking, rock climbing and backcountry skiing. The Recreation Area also serves the needs of the travelling public by protecting an attractive mountain environment for scenic driving and by providing convenient roadside recreational opportunities. More information on the existing Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area is available on the BC Parks webpage.
The expansion of the recreation area would strengthen its conservation objectives by protecting the unlogged valleys of Baldwin, Hidden and Carry Creeks together with the adjoining spectacular alpine areas. The old growth forest of these valleys is not suitable for logging because of the difficulties of building access roads through the steep unstable terrain. They present a rare opportunity to increase old growth and wilderness protection in southwestern BC. Furthermore protection of the unlogged valleys of Baldwin and Hidden Creeks will retain the outstanding scenic qualities of the Coquihalla Highway corridor.
Landscape diversity of the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area would be significantly increased. Coquihalla Mountain is an extinct volcano and the volcanic rocks of the Bedded Range contrast sharply with the primarily igneous rocks of Zopkios Ridge and the existing recreation area. As a result the geography of the proposed expansion is significantly different and provides a unique addition to the recreation area. The ridges and peaks of the Bedded range are characterized by rounded summits with gentle alpine slopes and extensive meadows. This is in sharp contrast to the steep narrow granitic domes and ridges of the existing Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area.
The proposed expansion would roughly double the size of the protected area from approximately 60 sq. km to 160 sq. km. This is especially important for wildlife where size is critical for more extensive travel corridors and habitat connectivity. The proposed expansion is also compatible with the objective of the 1990 Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area Management Plan to prepare the recreation area for Class "A" Park designation.
Recreational opportunities would be greatly increased. The Bedded Range offers outstanding outdoor recreational features including existing trails that offer spectacular alpine hiking and horseback riding opportunities that do not exist in the current recreation area. Other activities include mountaineering, wildlife viewing and hunting. In winter, although access is difficult, there is some backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. The area is also used for snowmobiling. The Coquihalla Snowmobile Club maintains groomed snowmobile trails and a warming hut to the east of the proposed expansion and more advanced riders venture into the high alpine terrain of the proposed expansion.
The Coquihalla Summit area is close to major population centers in the lower mainland and Okanagan and the proposed expansion to the recreation area would benefit many users. The expansion will help to increase the considerable economic benefits to the surrounding region and communities.
The proposed expansion will also serve to alleviate some of current the pressure on parks in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Coquihalla Summit is close to the lower mainland and since it offers comparable recreation activities to Garibaldi Park, and other areas along the Sea to Sky corridor, it will provide an alternate destination for many hikers.
Some of the current recreational activities in the area are shown on a commercially available topographic map.
The proposed expansion is very important as the opportunity to protect areas such as this is rapidly diminishing as we develop the province and will not be available in the future. Creating this addition to the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area will be an achievement for which future generations will be grateful and all of us who value our unique natural ecosystems can be proud of.
Write a letter telling the government you support the proposal to expand the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area.
Hon. George Heyman,
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Hon. Doug Donaldson,
Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development