Brief: Artist Robert Bateman joins environmental groups to push for logging ban in mountain caribou critical habitat

Environmental groups rally with prominent B.C. artist Robert Bateman to pressure the provincial government on the pending mountain caribou recovery plan.

File photo: Female caribou eat lichen picked by volunteers. Photo: Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild

Prominent Canadian artist and Order of Canada recipient Robert Bateman is lending his support to environmental groups in their efforts to lobby the B.C. government on the pending mountain caribou recovery plan. Bateman will join representatives from Wilderness Committee, Wildsight, Greenpeace Canada, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and Harmony Foundation at an Oct. 22 press event in Victoria.

The event hosted by the artist and representatives from environmental groups is designed to call attention to the provincial mountain caribou recovery plan, which is under development.

The groups have billed the event as an opportunity to “inform the public of the provincial and federal government’s serious failure in protecting critical habitat for B.C.’s most at-risk southern mountain caribou herds.”

The environmental groups are calling on both levels of government to “match their actions to recent promises and start setting aside caribou habitat in accordance with the Species at Risk Act and First Nations’ rights.”

Why is this happening now?

Earlier this year, the B.C. government started the process of updating its mountain caribou recovery plan. The move came as a result of the federal environment minister’s declaration that mountain caribou face an “imminent threat.” This created a new urgency for the provincial government to improve the outlook for mountain caribou under the threat that the federal government could step in to take over the file.

The new provincial plan, which has not been announced yet, has been the subject of behind-the-scenes lobbying as industry stakeholders, such as forestry companies, heliskiing lobby groups put pressure on the provincial government to consider their interests during the development of the plan.

As reported in the Mountaineer, the outcome of the new plan could have significant socio-economic repercussions for Revelstoke. Both forestry and heliskiing are significant economic drivers for the community, and industry groups have claimed further restrictions on their backcountry use would have negative impacts on their business model.

Here in Revelstoke, there’s not much activity on the ground, but in Victoria, the provincial government faces lobby pressure as it weighs decisions that could have big implications for Revelstoke.

Where can I learn more on this issue?

Check our past stories on the developing mountain caribou plan situation here:

Federal government’s mountain caribou ‘imminent threat’ declaration stokes Revelstoke socio-economic concerns

Federal government intervention on mountain caribou issue creates uncertainty, concern for stakeholders

The Oct. 22 media event takes place at The Robert Bateman Centre in Victoria at 10 a.m.