Wardley continued, “We have done extensive research on the caribou and know that there are much better wildlife management measures that can be used, that will actually help the caribou without hurting livelihoods. This is simply a case of the government wanting to increase conservation areas and using caribou recovery as an excuse to do that.”
The provincial government’s proposed plan could impact up to 38% of the region’s total landmass, through various caribou recovery measures and levels of land restrictions.
For example, 1.6 million hectares are tentatively designated for severe restrictions – which could be park space, conservation land or simply imposing even heavier restrictions. All of these options could hurt industries such as forestry and oil and gas.
The NWSAR Committee is submitting a petition to the Alberta Government with nearly 9,400 signatures – an astonishing display of concern from its citizens, as this number is roughly a third of the region’s population and approximately 50% of their adult population.
The petition asks for the government to not put in place permanently protected land areas in the region and instead use targeted measures that focus on increasing caribou numbers within a multi-species approach.
The petition also urges the government to conduct and complete their planned socio-economic study before finalizing their draft caribou protection plans. This will ensure that there is concrete data to understand how jobs and livelihoods could be impacted by their caribou plans.
Right now the government plans to conduct a socio-economic study, but it does not appear to be happening before the provincial government finalizes their caribou protection plans and submits them to the federal government before the summer.
Crystal McAteer, Vice-Chair of the NWSAR Committee and Mayor of the Town of High Level, added, “We also are calling on the government to conduct a robust socio-economic study, not a surface level examination.”
McAteer continued, “having completed a socio-economic analysis on our own – through our work to create our in-depth report on caribou to the government – we know that to get solid data that actually reflects the realities of people’s lives, it takes an extensive study.”
“Right now the government has not allocated the proper amount of resources to complete a socio-economic study for our area that would drill down into how working families will be directly impacted. We are worth the effort as it is so critical to understand the impacts to our region and frankly ensure we continue to contribute to Alberta’s economy,” said McAteer.
The NWSAR region, which includes Alberta’s six most northwestern municipalities, already has several land moratoriums and is home to Canada’s largest national park (Wood Buffalo Park), Alberta’s largest provincial park (Caribou Wildland Park) and many more protected areas. The region’s park space is approximately 52,000 square kilometers – roughly the size of Nova Scotia.
Woodland Caribou are still threatened in the northwest region, despite the vast amount of park space and protected areas.
“We believe a multi-species approach that utilizes active wildlife management measures would be more effective,” said Terry Ungarian, NWSAR Committee member and Reeve for the County of Northern Lights.
Ungarian continued, “Planning of any kind should be more holistic and take into consideration many types of species. Which is why we have urged the provincial government to do better planning for our region as a whole, through land use planning that would consider not just the caribou but also all types of species and land uses”.
Monday, March 19
Alberta Legislature – rotunda
10800 - 97 Avenue Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Contact: Kathleen Rukavina, 306-914-5720
NWSAR Committee Information
The Committee is comprised of municipal councilors from: Mackenzie County, County of Northern Lights, Town of High Level, Town of Rainbow Lake, Clear Hills County and the Town of Manning.