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NEWS RELEASE · 3rd June 2010
Ministry of Environment
The B.C. government officially launched the "Parks 100" celebrations today to highlight the historic role and legacy of BC Parks as the incredible parks system gears up to celebrate its 100th birthday on March 1, 2011.

"This will be a province wide celebration in commemoration of 100 years of B.C.'s provincial parks," said Environment Minister Barry Penner. "British Columbians are rightly proud of our parks and I encourage everyone to get involved in celebrating Parks 100."

In 1910, B.C. Minister of Lands Price Ellison led a team of 23 people on an expedition of the Buttle Lakes region on Vancouver Island (now a part of Strathcona Provincial Park). Following the 39-day exploration, Ellison gave a glowing report to then-Premier Richard McBride and the B.C. government of the day and the approval to create a park was granted.

Strathcona Provincial Park was established on March 1, 1911 as the first provincial park in British Columbia. Since then, BC Parks has grown to be one of the largest and most impressive park systems in the world.

To celebrate this historic expedition, the Strathcona Centennial Expedition and BC Parks will partner to re enact the original 1910 expedition through Strathcona Provincial Park to Port Alberni, including an ascent of Crown Mountain in July 2010. The expedition will follow the original historic route as closely as possible.

"As a proud lifelong resident of the Comox Valley, I think it's important to celebrate our history," said Don McRae, MLA for Comox Valley. "Retracing the footsteps of the park's original exploration party will be a unique and special experience for the hikers involved, and it pays tribute to the original exploration party that founded our first provincial park."

"This is an exciting opportunity to celebrate the history of B.C.'s first provincial park and pay homage to the foresight of Ellison and Premier McBride in establishing the parks system we now know and love," said Philip Stone, head of the Strathcona Centennial Expedition. "As pressures increase worldwide on natural places, British Columbians have a special duty to conserve and treasure Strathcona and all our provincial parks for the future."

Parks 100 celebrations and events will be held in parks across the province throughout 2010 and 2011. The celebrations will engage a diversity of rural and urban communities, First Nations, youth and sector areas such as arts, heritage, and tourism and conservation projects.

The mission of BC Parks is to protect representative and special natural places within British Columbia's Protected Areas System for world-class conservation, outdoor recreation, education and scientific study.

Just this year, the B.C. government established seven new class A provincial parks. Today, a total of 14.27 per cent (more than 13.5 million hectares) of British Columbia is protected - more than any other province in Canada. This is an area equal in size to the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. combined.

Over the past five years, the B.C. government has invested approximately $107 million to improve park infrastructure and acquire additional parkland.