GOVERNMENT MUST INVOLVE COMMUNITY & STAKEHOLDERS IN CARIBOU AND LAND-BASE DECISION MAKING

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This petition is initiated by the Arrow Lakes Caribou Society (ALCS).

The ALCS is a non-profit organization based in Nakusp and supported by the local and regional governments. It is composed of local groups and organizations who use the backcountry and/or are dependent upon access to the backcountry for their livelihood. Membership includes representation from hiking, biking, ATV, snowmobiling, hunting, trapping, forestry, heli skiing, and mining.

The goal of the ALCS is to build and maintain a local area organization; to facilitate information sharing and involvement during the development and implementation of caribou recovery efforts and activities; and to advocate for ongoing, transparent, and meaningful community and stakeholder communication, consultations and involvement in the federal and provincial governments caribou recovery efforts and activities.

The federal and provincial government are developing caribou recovery strategies across BC using a flawed process that is being rushed, is fundamentally wrong and is disrespectful to the citizens affected by the plans. Government can no longer be relied on to act by itself in our interests or the interests of caribou. Government needs to step back and recognize that we, as citizens of BC, have rights to due process and meaningful consultation and involvement with the development and implementation of recovery plans that affect our way of life.

Therefore, we ask that you please read the background information, sign, and share this petition. We need your support so that we have a greater collective voice, which governments can no longer ignore.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at: al.caribou.society@gmail.com with any questions. This is a serious issue that will ultimately affect communities and families in this area.

We expect that all negotiations and recovery planning stop until the federal and provincial government:

1) Respect the rights of the local communities and stakeholders affected by caribou recovery efforts to be involved in the development and implementation of caribou recovery plans;

2) Consult openly with all users, stakeholders, businesses, and local government affected by caribou recovery plans;

3) Conduct a socio-economic impact analysis on the Kootenay region before approval of any recovery plan, and share the results with the communities affected;

4) Provide community stakeholders with base line data on populations and access to relevant science based studies that support recovery plans.

 

Background Information

In the northern part of the province the provincial and federal governments drafted an agreement between them and first nations. The agreement set aside large tracts of land from development and public access. Communities and stakeholders who depend on access to these areas were not consulted or involved in developing the strategy. No socio-economic impact of the strategy was conducted. Only after the negotiations were concluded did the government decide to meet with the communities, stakeholders and families affected.

A similar process will likely occur for the Central Selkirk (Nakusp) herd. Currently, it is unlikely that communities and stakeholders affected by a recovery strategy will be involved with recovery planning other than token community meetings.

This is a repeat of a similar process a decade ago. In 2006 caribou populations were in decline. A science team identified management strategies (e.g., management of recreation, primary prey, caribou population, habitat and predators) that if fully implemented would have a realistic chance for successful recovery.

In 2008, the provincial government recovery effort in this area was primarily limited to setting aside 220,000 hectares of forested land for caribou habitat. Identification of these areas was done without community or stakeholder involvement, without input by local herd experts or local knowledge, and without discussing the significant socio-economic impacts of the habitat management strategy.

Unfortunately, other than habitat management and some recreational management (largely initiated by the recreational users themselves) government did not implement the rest of the science team strategies and the populations continued to decline - locally, regionally, provincially (including in parks) and globally.

Now, at the eleventh hour, government is proposing additional restrictions on the land base by restricting activities in the Matrix Habitat. Matrix habitat refers to areas outside of the existing caribou habitat set aside where conditions drive predator-prey relationships that influence caribou population dynamics. In this area, matrix habitat is all low elevation forests, primarily operable forest. Matrix habitat between Nakusp, Trout Lake and the Fish River account for an additional 70,000 hectares of forested land that may have industrial and recreational restrictions placed on it.

Government has not defined what restrictions will be placed on the matrix habitat but expect us to provide input into its recovery plans. Without knowing what the matrix restrictions and other management strategies are, government will not be able to conduct a socio-economic analysis or reasonably assess the probability of success of recovery plans.

The federal and provincial governments need to step back and recognize that we, as citizens of BC, have rights to due process and meaningful consultation and involvement with the development and implementation of recovery plans that affect our way of life.

Image Description: Map 1:  Central Selkirk Population comprised of the Nakusp and Duncan herds. The existing caribou habitat is shown in grey and brown, the matrix habitat is shown in pink.

Please note, when asked to donate you are not donating to Arrow Lakes Caribou Society - you are donating to change.org and it is not required.