Mountain caribou recovery not a single-species issue: NCES

Editor,

Re: Snowmobilers concerned about proposed new caribou closures, News, Mar. 2

It is important to realize that mountain caribou recovery is not a single species issue. In the mid-1990s, mountain caribou were declared an endangered species provincially. Gradually, old growth forest protection and other conservation areas were placed under the protection given to mountain caribou. Until October 2007, when the latest Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan was announced, all other areas for preservation were placed under the aegis of the mountain caribou. It is understandable that this happened as the inland temperate rainforest (mostly comprised of this valley in which we live) is unique in the world as is the mountain caribou which is found only in this wetbelt. Mountain caribou act as an umbrella species for many co-occurring species of concern such as wolverine which benefit from caribou protection.

So this is anything but a single species issue. Nothing short of the health of this eco-system is at stake here. In this time of climate change, healthy forests and eco-systems with biodiversity intact are the best defense against the impacts of climate change. The magnificence of the ecosystem in this valley is the greatest asset of this town. Virtually every aspect of the economy in this valley – tourism, recreation, logging – is dependent on the health of this eco-system. So this is not just about environmentalism, it is about the economic and social well-being of this community.

In 2007, the government chose a level of recovery for mountain caribou in the Revelstoke Planning Unit which called for 10,000 hectares of additional closures to logging, further restrictions and monitoring for heli-cat skiing and some additional closures for snowmobiling in mountain caribou high suitability habitat.

The logging industry has implemented their required closures and restrictions.

None of the closures deemed necessary by the government science team in the 2007 Recovery Plan for snowmobiling have been implemented in the Revelstoke riding area to date. The currently-proposed closures are a compromise to the original recommendations by the science team to achieve the level of recovery which the government chose and deemed necessary. The northern end of Frisby Ridge was originally to be closed, but this has been given up in the compromise with the local snowmobile community in exchange for the Keystone Standard and Caribou Basin closures which the science team felt to be even more important. Further, the Keystone Standard closure has already been altered in an effort to accommodate the local snowmobile lobby.

The use of this valley for recreation of all sorts is only going to increase in the next decades. It is time now for this community to plan for the future and to listen to science when it comes to making sure that the eco-system in this valley does not collapse or become irretrievably compromised.

Virginia Thompson,

North Columbia Environmental Society