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Posted: January 15, 2012

Access Guardian Program to continue

On the heels of a successful two-year pilot program, the Access Guardian Program Service in the Elk Valley has been formally established.

The Regional District of East Kootenay board of directors Jan. 6 signed a five-year agreement with the Conservation Officer (CO) Service for delivery of the program, which will be known as the Access Management Compliance and Enforcement Program (AMCEP).

“Through the agreement we have with the CO Service, a Conservation Officer in the Elk Valley will spend six months of the year dedicated to the program,” explained Electoral Area A director Mike Sosnowski. “The pilot program was successful and I’m very happy to see it continue for another five years.”

The program will run from May 15 to November 15 each year, during which time the focus will be on backcountry education, public relations, and enforcement within Electoral Area A.

“Having that extra person who can talk to people in the backcountry, meet with different groups and organizations and be a resource is a tremendous asset,” added Sosnowski.

The Conservation Officer Service has assigned Patricia Burley as the Conservation Officer responsible for the AMCEP. Burley recently relocated to the Elk Valley as a CO from Dawson Creek; however, she is no stranger to the Valley after having spent seven years in Fernie as a ski instructor at Fernie Alpine Resort prior to pursuing her education and career in the CO Service. She will continue to work as a CO out of the Elk Valley during the six months she is not focusing on the Access Guardian duties.

“I would like to thank the Columbia Basin Trust and all three Elk Valley municipalities for their support of the program, and the RDEK staff and CO Service for the work they put into making this a reality. I have no doubt the program will have a positive impact on everyone who uses and recreates in our backcountry,” she said.

“A tremendous amount of effort went into preparing this agreement from all parties involved which demonstrates the importance of the program,” added CO Service Kootenay Region Inspector Aaron Canuel. “The BC Conservation Officer Service values the partnership between the RDEK, Columbia Basin Trust, and Elk Valley Municipalities in support of the AMCEP and is committed to making this program successful.”

RDEK board chair, Electoral Area C director Rob Gay, expressed a touch of envy for the Elk Valley.

“Most of us would wish we could afford this in our areas, too,” he said.

Meanwhile, it’s good news for Sparwood residents, said District Mayor Lois Halco. “I’m glad to hear about the Access Guardian Program,” she said.

The five-year agreement with the Conservation Officer Service for delivery of the Access Management Compliance and Enforcement Program ends December 31, 2015.

Pictured are: Conservation Officer Patricia Burley and RDEK Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski. Photo courtesy RDEK

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