The Koksilah River winds its way through the forest, northwest of Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island.

Just above through the trees is Eagle Heights, one of six new protected parks in B.C. announced by B.C. Premier John Horgan.

“Today I’m very happy to announce protecting more than 190 hectares of ecologically sensitive land right across British Columbia. This will be new parks or additions to existing provincial parks.” said the B.C. Premier

Provincial parks now cover more than 14 million hectacres, making B.C.’s one of the world’s largest park systems.

Six parcels of land were acquired through purchase, donation or subdivision dedication by the provincial government.

The Province purchased the property for $7.15 million, supported by a $400,000 contribution from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, via the Cowichan Valley Regional District, and a $225,000 contribution from the Cowichan Community Land Trust.

“It’s increasing the amount of protected areas in British Columbia at 14.4 per cent, which is world-leading in the scope and size of protected areas that we are keeping alive, and keeping going,” Horgan said.

The province spent a total of ten million dollars on the parks that include 2.5 hectacres at Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park on the Sunshine Coast; 9.5 hectacres at Dionisio Point Provincial Park on Galiano Island; 17 hectacres at Kikomun Creek Provincial Park in the Kootenays; 16.4 hectacres at Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park in the Okanagan; and four hectacres at Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park in the Kootenays.

Cowichan Tribes Councillor Albie Charlie said the purchases are critical in protecting the land on Vancouver Island.

“So now we are in the position where we really want to protect that the areas that are still left here are important. Spiritually important.”

Eagle Heights’ is habitat for many species of wildlife, including Roosevelt elk, cougars and black bears. It’s also home to many rare and endangered plants.

B.C.’s Environment Minister George Heyman said the timing is critical as the environment is under pressure.

“We’re conserving, and protecting sensitive lands, and eco-systems for our kids, for our grandkids, for the future.” Heyman said.

The lands for the six parks is valued at approximately ten million dollars.

Mary Griffin