Nov. 23, 2020
TERRACE – A volunteer committee that keeps a watch on resource use and development within a large portion of northwestern B.C. is urging the provincial government to complete a project to fully map out critical grizzly bear habitat.
Although a grizzly bear wildlife habitat area of 69,275 hectares was established in 2018, just half has been sufficiently mapped to date, says the Plan Implementation Committee created through the formation of the Kalum Land and Resource Management Plan.
The plan area covers 2.1 million hectares of the northwest, stretching south of Kitimat and north of Terrace, taking in several timber supply areas and tree farm licences and contains large swaths of valuable wildlife habitat.
“It’s our understanding that 18 watersheds have been completed to date and that there are 19 watersheds left to do,” said committee co-chair Cheryl Brown. “The province has spent $500,000 on this project so far and we believe it would be a wise investment to see it through to completion.”
“This deserves to have a high priority in the effort to stabilize and protect the grizzly bear population in the region.”
“We note that the government’s own rationale for establishing grizzly bear habitat called for the completion of the mapping project,” Brown said.
She noted that major logging licence holders in the area, prior to the grizzly bear habitat order coming into effect in 2018 were already setting aside areas of potential habitat.
“What that tells us is that the industry itself is supportive of identifying specific habitat areas,” said Brown.
Along with mapping, the committee is also urging the province to establish a comprehensive management plan for the northwest to bring in best practices to safeguard and enhance the grizzly bear population.
“It’s our view that this should be done in concert with the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations,” said Brown. “The plan then needs to be properly supported through sufficient financial resources.”
The provincial Auditor General in 2017 called for an effective monitoring and evaluation program for grizzly bear management practices, saying that while many land use plans have habitat protection objectives, more than half have not been monitored or evaluated.
Established in 2001, the Kalum Land Resource Management Plan sets out objectives calling for the continued effective use of resources while ensuring environmental values are protected and enhanced.
The call for a grizzly bear management program stems from a comprehensive review just completed of the Kalum Land and Resource Management Plan that was commissioned by the committee.
In its role of monitoring the Kalum plan, the implementation committee meets monthly. It is made up of representatives from business, commercial and recreation sectors within the region as well as First Nations, foresters, biologists and members of the general public.
For more information, contact Cheryl Brown, co-chair, 250 798 2227