Open houses will be held this month in Baynes Lake, Jaffray, Grasmere and Elko in order to provide citizens living in the area around Lake Koocanusa to discuss and learn more about the recreation management for the popular tourism and important Indigenous location.
These four open houses will be hosted by the Koocanusa Recreation Steering Committee and their intent is to give residents, stakeholders and general users of this area a chance to share their feedback on the current and proposed strategies in place for improving recreation management there.
The committee is in partnership with the BC Government, the Ktunaxa Nation Council, the Tobacco Plains Indian Band, Columbia Basin Trust and the Regional District of East Kootenay.
“We want to converse with the public, as well as provide current information, about the ongoing development and maintenance of the Koocanusa Recreation Strategy, which will be updated over the next few months to address changing conditions and trends,” said Jeff Zukiwsky, coordinator of the Koocanusa Recreation Steering Committee. “The updated strategy will be informed by the feedback we receive at the open houses, as well as a number of other meetings and consultations with First Nations and stakeholders.”
The press release highlights the high volume of usage Koocanusa experiences, stating each year over 100,000 people visit the region. It is both a highly sought out tourism and recreation destination which attracts outdoor enthusiasts for many different activities as well as an area of traditional use and interest for multiple Indigenous nations.
According to the release, the development and maintenance of the Koocanusa Recreation Strategy aims to sustain the important recreation opportunities in the area and support local economic development while reducing negative impacts and also addressing safety concerns which arise due to increased recreation on Crown land.
“With so many people enjoying this area, it’s important that we all do our part to keep this place clean and safe for all users while also protecting sensitive ecosystems, wildlife, historical sites and cultural heritage, as well as help reduce the spread of invasive species,” said Ken Walburger, resource manager with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
The public houses will take place at the Grasmere Pioneer Hall on Nov. 20, the Baynes Lake Community Hall, Nov. 21, the Jaffray Community Hall, Nov. 27 and the Elko Community Hall, N0v. 28 — all meetings run from 6 to 8. p.m.
To view the current Koocanusa Recreation Strategy, developed in 2017 and based upon public feedback, visit www.koocanusarecreation.ca.
The Koocanusa Recreation Steering Committee has been implementing this strategy since 2017, with some of the work they’ve done including: installing signage to educate recreation users about appropriate behaviour on Crown land, creating and distributing the Koocanusa Recreation brochure, increasing the presence of enforcement officials in the area, completing recreation and trail inventories of all roads, trails camping and staging areas, improving garbage and sanitation facilities and more.