A Revelstoke-based forest industry stakeholder group is joining provincial and regional forest industry associations in their opposition to a proposed federal plan to save mountain caribou.
The Revelstoke-based Columbia River Wet Belt Group has joined the Council of Forest Industries and the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association in a warning that the recently-announced federal plan will have “devastating” and “catastrophic” impacts on the B.C. Interior forest industry, including here in Revelstoke.
They are rallying against the ‘Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain Caribou population in Canada,’ a federal recovery plan which opened for consultation on Jan. 17, 2014 – just three days after the federal government lost a court challenge brought on by a coalition of environmental groups.
The environmental groups – including Ecojustice, Wildsight, David Suzuki Foundation, Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club of B.C. – challenged the federal government’s lack of action implementing Species at Risk Act (SARA) plans. Their lawyers argued the federal government broke the law by not implementing recovery plans for threatened species.
In her Jan. 14 order, Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish found that he Minister of the Environment “has acted unlawfully in failing to post proposed recovery strategies for the … Southern Mountain Caribou within the statutory timelines prescribed in the Species at Risk Act.”
As part of the legal proceedings, the Minister of Environment’s lawyers committed to posting the Southern Mountain Caribou recovery plan by Jan. 17, 2014 – it should have been done by 2007 under SARA legislation.
The B.C. forest industry stakeholders are concerned the federal plan was done hastily – triggered in part by the court action – and criticize it on several points.
They say it’s a broad plan that doesn’t mesh well with the existing provincial mountain caribou recovery plan. They say it’s vague on key points; for example, it relies on percentage targets to describe how much low-level critical habitat has been set aside, but doesn’t elaborate with equivalent maps.
Stella-Jones Revelstoke forester Ashley Ladyman is the chairperson of the Columbia River Wet Belt Group. “It blindsided everybody,” he told the Times Review of the federal plan.
He said stakeholders had put significant effort into the existing provincial plan – the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan (MCRIP) – which was enacted in 2007, including careful tailoring at the regional level. This included significant reductions in the harvestable land base around Revelstoke.
He said the federal plan was “heavy-handed and unstrategic,” saying it wasn’t clear how it’s meant to overlap with the existing provincial plan.
The Revelstoke industry group also criticizes the federal plan for insufficient work on predator management, saying the wording is “vague” and wouldn’t force necessary “intensive and extensive” predator control plans.
Is Revelstoke industry convinced the federal plan will lead to “devastating” and “catastrophic” job losses in forestry here, as they say?
“We picked those words absolutely deliberately. We fully believe it,” Ladyman said. “There’s only so many places to go log, and it’s getting tougher and tougher. It will cause a reduction in allowable cuts, and reduction in our amount of economy of scale we can put towards making the business still work, no question.”