Park Interpretation

No Government Funds for BC Park Interpretation in 2011

Manning Park Amphitheatre
Jerry’s Rangers participating at a Manning Park Amphitheatre show

It is disappointing to report – particularly during the year which marked the 100th birthday of the creation our provincial park system – that the BC Government did not provide funds for park interpretation.

In summer 2010, BC Nature hired 21 interpreters who delivered programs in 14 provincial parks to an estimated 49,000 park visitors. An additional 44,000 people interacted with roving interpreters and 49,000 people visited Nature Houses. This was achieved in partnership with the Park Facility Operators and the federal government’s summer student job creation funding, and with some funds and support from BC Parks.

The provincial government first cut funding to park interpretation in summer 2002. In 2004, BC Nature began hiring student interpreters through the federal government’s summer student job creation funding, with support from Park Facility Operators, and we have continued to coordinate program delivery for the past seven years. The 2010 Summer Interpretation Report details the many values of interpretation for human health, community support and tourism dollars.

Previous Interpretation Reports:

Salmon Run Goldstream Provincial Park
2008 salmon run at Goldstream Provincial Park

Despite the positive reception of these interpretation programs over the past seven years, BC Nature has always considered our role as a temporary “stop-gap” measure to ensure continuity in the hopes that the provincial government would again commit adequate and long-term funding. During the 2010 FGM, BC Nature Directors indicated that unless this support could be provided, BC Nature’s efforts were no longer sustainable and could not be continued. The situation however looked hopeful last fall when then Premier Campbell committed to reinstate park interpretation programs in his speech to the Union of BC Municipalities, and the then Minister of the Environment, Barry Penner, also committed to fund interpretation programs during his speech to BC Nature’s Fall General Meeting.

Interpretation has been a part of Provincial Parks since 1957. Interpretation provides many benefits, including engaging young learners, promoting an environmental stewardship ethic, and promoting healthy lifestyle outdoor recreation. Many park visitors report the memorable family and extended family experiences that the interpretation programs foster. Additionally, interpretation programs help attract visitors to our parks, and contribute to longer visits and repeat visits.

Although BC Nature is no longer able to support an unfunded park interpretation system, we continue to support the protection of nature and nature education in other capacities. We hope that government will recognize the proven value of interpretation programs for British Columbians and visitors to our province.