Mystery solved on who put up blockade on Okanagan road

Land owner says trespassing with quads and motorcycles threatens wildlife and old growth trees

The mystery of who put up cement barricades on Mount Kobau has been solved, with the property owner coming forward to say he did it.

“People wrongly assume that the land is public or already a park, posing a great risk to wildfires by trespassing with quads, pickup trucks and motorbikes,” said land owner Shawn Baenzger on Monday.

“It is important that people know the land is private and that we need to protect the old stand of trees and livestock, and we will continue to restrict the access.”

In a news release put out by Parks Canada on Friday, (Sept. 25), they said that a road on private property adjacent to the Fairview-Cawston road that connects to Mount Kobau has been blocked.

“While the area in question falls within the working boundary for the proposed National Park Reserve, Parks Canada has no jurisdiction or involvement in this matter,” the release stated.

READ MORE: We didn’t put up blockade, says Parks Canada

“The federal government has no jurisdiction over property rights on privately owned land within or adjacent to national parks.”

The land is within the working boundary for the proposed National Park. The blockade had created a lively discussion in the community and on social media as to why it was put up and by whom.

Unknown persons trespassed, vandalized, dismantled and removed the roadblock only days after it was put up, said Baenzger.

“Over the last couple of years with talks of a national park, there has been much more traffic using the private road,” he added. He’s worried this increases the risk to livestock and old growth of timber.

“With the Testalinden Creek fire in 2015 still fresh in our memories and an average of 46.3 per cent of person-caused wildfires in B.C., I had to do close the private road.”

READ MORE: National Park gets green light to go ahead

Baenziger, from Kelowna, has owned the land for the past 15 years. He recently consulted with the Wildfire Service in Penticton to find ways to mitigate the wildfire risk.

“No Trespassing signs have been in place for years but were but constantly disregarded by people trespassing. When the fire danger rating this summer was hovering between high and extreme, he closed the private road section to Mt. Kobau.

“Unfortunately, the vandalizing of the roadblock will now call for stricter measures,” he added.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


 

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