Forests minister says Revelstoke caribou herd planning stakeholder meetings to begin this month

BC Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development anticipates minimal increase to existing protected caribou habitat in Revelstoke.

File photo: Caribou are released into a maternal pen as part of the Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild penning project, which is located on the west shore of Lake Revelstoke. Photo: Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild/file photo

Work on caribou herd planning in Revelstoke is a priority for the provincial government. That’s according to Doug Donaldson, BC Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Donaldson spoke at the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 where he provided an update on the work the province is doing on the caribou recovery program and herd planning process. He said the provincial government signed a partnership agreement with the federal government strictly for the province’s north east herds on February 21. At the same the two governments also signed a Section 11 agreement for the rest of the province.

“We did that strictly to avoid the federal government unilaterally imposing a section 80 Order under the Species at Risk Act, which would have only considered habitat considerations and would have had no input from us as a province around the size of habitat set aside or economic impacts,” said Donaldson.

You can watch Donaldson’s talk at the Revelstoke Chamber AGM in the video shown here:

The Section 11 agreement provides a framework for how the provincial and federal government will work together while also using local input and local knowledge to develop herd plans across the province. Donaldson said the herd planning process for the Revelstoke area is underway, and the province has been in contact with city council about how the process will unfold. He indicated individual stakeholder meetings will begin before the end of March, with the herd planning process wrapping up by the fall.

“The [herd process] around the Revelstoke area is a priority for us, especially because we know from you that there are a lot of questions around socio-economic impacts, as well as conservation questions,” said Donaldson.

There are currently 295 thousand hectares of protected caribou habitat in the Revelstoke area, and Donaldson says he does not see that number increasing by much.

“The biologists in my ministry tell me that there might be a small addition depending on what we learn through the process, but we’re not looking at a full scale addition like we saw in the northeast,” he said. Donaldson also said he did not anticipate any significant changes to snowmobile access for Revelstoke.

Melissa Jameson is the civic affairs reporter for the Revelstoke Mountaineer. She handles the newsy side of goings on about Revelstoke. Got a news tip? Feel free to contact Melissa at melissa@revelstokemountaineer.com