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Callaghan Park plan comes to school

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The Ministry of Environment is looking for public input on the draft management plan that has been prepared for Callaghan Lake Provincial Park.

The 2,667-hectare parcel, which includes Callaghan and Cirque lakes, was designated a Class A Provincial Park in 1997. It was one of the 23 protected areas announced by the province in 1996 to complete the Protected Areas Strategy for the Lower Mainland region. Until now, it has been without a management plan.

The draft plan will be presented at a series of open houses in Sea to Sky country and in North Vancouver this month. The first open house has been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 22 between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the Toad Hall room at the Myrtle Philip community centre.

The next step will be to compile and review the public feedback and determine what changes should be made to the plan based on that input, said parks extension officer, Vicki Haberl.

The plan then goes to the Parks Management Committee, at a provincial level, for approval before it becomes a signed-off document. This could take several months.

A corridor that allows for snowmobile access through the park to backcountry terrain beyond is likely to be the most contentious aspect of the management plan.

"We hope we have proposed an option for snowmobile access that is going to be acceptable to both sides of that debate," said Haberl.

"We didn’t want to cut snowmobilers off from a traditional access route. We are just proposing that snowmobiling not occur throughout the park because that would, in effect, eliminate other recreational opportunities."

Any commercial operators in the park would still, however, need to apply for a park use permit.

Because of the location of the park – close to Whistler with easy access off Highway 99 – it plays an important role as a local and regional recreation destination.

The Ministry of Environment says the park significantly contributes to the recreation opportunities within the Sea to Sky corridor and the Lower Mainland region, offering hiking, fishing, backcountry camping, snowmobiling and backcountry skiing. The draft plan emphasizes protection of the area’s natural features and resources while permitting a variety of summer and winter recreational activities.

The Whistler open house will be followed by another on Jan. 23 at the Pemberton Community Centre, one on Jan. 24 at the Sea to Sky Best Western and another on Jan. 25 at the North Vancouver Holiday Inn, all between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

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