The minister of forests said Revelstoke is the next priority to develop caribou herd plans.
Doug Donaldson, the minister responsible for implementing the province’s caribou recovery plan, visited Revelstoke last week to update local government and stakeholders on how the process will unfold in the area.
Last month, the provincial and federal government unveiled an agreement to add two million acres to protected areas in northern B.C. to help the endangered animal.
Since the agreement involved the federal and provincial government as well as local Indigenous Peoples, there was a lot of confidentiality. Donaldson said the process of developing the Revelstoke plans will be transparent by comparison.
“If the information isn’t out there on how the process will unfold and who will be involved, then people start to fill in and sometimes they fill in with the worst-case scenario,” said Donaldson.
He said the ministry will start on the plans this month and hopes to finish by the fall.
According to the B.C. government, caribou in the province has declined from 40,000 animals in the early 1900s to less than 19,000 today.
Donaldson said the herd plans for Revelstoke will be different to the one released in northern B.C.
He said part of the reason is because there is already adequate land in Revelstoke set aside for caribou, so it’s unlikely the plan will further restrict logging and recreation, such as snowmobiling.
“This is our backyard,” said Donaldson, noting snowmobiling is a major revenue generator for Revelstoke.
“Our biologists feel that we have set enough land aside.”
The reason millions of acres was set aside in northern B.C. for caribou was because the area had very few areas that were already protected, said Donaldson.
The province is creating its own plan to prevent the federal government from imposing a federal order on B.C. to protect caribou as part of the Species at Risk Act.
There are 54 herds of woodland caribou in B.C., the province is compiling herd recovery plans for each. All of the plans should be finished in two years said Donaldson.
While in Revelstoke, Donaldson met with the mayor, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, local NDP supporters, and Downie Timber.