Wildlife Federation: Agreement Between Blueberry River, B.C. Province Might Impact Outdoor Rec in Northeast B.C

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The British Columbia (Canada) Wildlife Federation (BCWF) is worried that a tentative deal between Blueberry River First Nations and the provincial government could significantly affect outdoor recreation in Northeast B.C.

According to a report, the province, along with Blueberry River, signed an agreement to set up a CA$65-million fund to work on land and wildlife restoration activities after B.C. Supreme Court’s cumulative impacts case ruling seven months ago.

The judge determined that the province violated the treaty rights by allowing industrial development in the traditional territories.

The First Nation also agreed to allow 195 forestries, oil, and gas development projects, approved before the court decided to proceed.

The BCWF is concerned that the deal will lead to a 50% reduction of moose harvest and complete closure of caribou hunting in the northeast.

“We are gravely concerned that the province is negotiating away outdoor recreation instead of confronting the court decision dealing with cumulative effects of unsustainable resource extraction,” BCWF Executive Director Jesse Zeman said.

Zeman believes that the government will swap recreation to fund industrial projects, including Site C.

“The Peace region has the highest density moose populations in the province. The province‘s own data indicates hunting is sustainable and that licensed hunter harvest is extremely low,” Zeman added.

The federation claims it is supportive of those rights of First Nations and that the commitment to conservation and habitat restoration is shared between First Nations and non-First Nations.

“For years, both Treaty 8 Nations and the BCWF have pushed the provincial government to focus on wildlife management, controlled burns, and habitat restoration in the region. In a number of cases, our clubs and partners have done all of the work the province should be doing, even paying for controlled burns only to have the government refuse to approve them,” Zeman said.

“Now, after years of failing to do anything for wildlife, the province appears to be dividing First Nations and non-indigenous communities instead of bringing us together.”

The province in December imposed limitations on snowmobiling in South Peace areas that contain caribou habitat. This has been met with protests from residents and local authorities.

The Peace River Regional District penned an open letter to the province following an extensive discussion about the government’s lack of transparency concerning the restrictions.

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