Columbia-Shuswap chambers of commerce are uniting to request action ensuring local economies will not be harmed by mountain caribou protection plans.
The plans, currently in a draft state, might result in the closure of some backcountry areas to human use.
“The Salmon Arm, Sicamous and District, South Shuswap and Revelstoke Chambers of Commerce have come together as the representatives of business in their respective communities to ensure business owners and community members are made aware and educated on this issue,” a press release from the chambers reads.
Closure of areas to snowmobile traffic is recommended in the draft caribou recovery plan for the Frisby-Boulder-Queest herd. It is feared that wider closures could be instituted by the Federal government under Section 11 of the Species at Risk act if the province does not introduce a plan to protect the caribou herds in time.
The deadline for public consultation on the issue of the caribou management plans has been extended from May 3 to May 31.
According to the chambers, the closure of backcountry areas would lead to significant economic loss for the communities they represent. The release from the chambers states that lost employment in the tourism, forestry and energy sectors could displace people from the communities.
“Towns and cities that do not feel they will be directly impacted by the rural backcountry closures need to understand that our neighbouring community members will lose jobs and their ability to contribute to our economy by way of tourism and consumer purchasing will come to an immediate halt,” the release from the chambers reads.
The chambers of commerce are imploring the public to become informed on the issue of the caribou recovery plans and sign an online petition at www.change.org/p/province-of-bc-back-country-access-is-being-threatened-in-british-columbia. The provincial government is also collecting public input through an online feedback form which can be accessed online at https://feedback.engage.gov.bc.ca/193557?lang=en. A copy of the feedback form can also be printed and mailed in to the government or dropped off at any of the participating chambers of commerce.