NWSAR Open Houses – voicing concern on province’s draft caribou range plans

January 3, 2018 — Fort Vermilion, AB — Community members are encouraged to provide feedback on the provincial government’s draft caribou range plans for the area’s threatened Woodland Caribou.

The municipal Northwest Species at Risk (NWSAR) Committee is hosting six open houses across the region. The Committee wants to hear from community members on what they think of the province’s plans.

“The province’s draft plans completely contradict what the Minister of Environment and Parks promised in the summer. It is vital that we make our voices heard. We want our citizens to have the opportunity to hear directly from us on why we are upset. We also want to make sure people have the facts and a good understanding of the issues so they can also voice their concerns to the province,” said Lisa Wardley, Chair of the NWSAR Committee and Deputy Reeve of Mackenzie County.

The Committee will be providing an update on their work so far, at these open houses, and is looking to hear what residence’s think of the province’s draft plans.

Upcoming NWSAR open houses are taking place from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.:

January 7 - Zama City (Community Hall)
January 8 - Rainbow Lake (Rainbow Lake Recreation Complex)
January 9 - La Crete (Mackenzie County Office in La Crete)
January 10 – High Level (Best Western Mirage, Banquet Room)
January 11 – Manning (County of Northern Lights Office)
January 12 - Clear Hills County (Eureka River Hall)

The provincial government is also hosting public sessions and seeking feedback online as well. More information can be found here: https://talkaep.alberta.ca/caribou-range-planning.  

“We have been very vocal over the past year and a half, that caribou protection plans must take a balanced approach, where the economy and the environment go hand-in-hand,” said Wardley. “And what we have seen so far from the provincial government, does not support and recognize the importance of our industries.”

Crystal McAteer, Vice-Chair of the NWSAR Committee and Mayor of the Town of High Level, added, “We are extremely disappointed and opposed to the government’s proposal, specifically as it relates to a potential increase of more conservation lands in our region.”

McAteer continued, “Through out extensive research we know there is more effective ways to protect the caribou while also protecting our industries and livelihoods, which support so many of our families and communities. It is extremely disappointing to have the provincial Minister of Environment and Parks go back on her word.”

The Minister was specifically quoted as saying:

“We know that we can recover this species, while ensuring that we protect jobs and livelihoods and vibrant communities here in the north and elsewhere”. […] “Our approach is we need to make sure the environment and economy goes hand in hand”.

- Hon. Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, August 2017 – taken from Peace River Broadcasting, radio interview

Minister Phillips also, “specifically assured there will be no protected area or park in their draft caribou protection plans”.

- Hon. Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Park, August 30, 2017 – taken from the Echo Pioneer newspaper

Wardley closed with, “As we are getting closer to the government finalizing and implementing their plans, it is really important that our citizens in northwest Alberta give their input at our open houses. This is also an opportunity for our Committee to again demonstrate the extensive scientific and socio-economic research that we have done, to show what effective caribou recovery can look like, that doesn’t damage our industries and livelihoods,” said Wardley.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Lisa Wardley, NWSAR Chair & Deputy Reeve for Mackenzie County – available for media inquiries and interviews. 780-841-5799 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BACKGROUND

Woodland Caribou are designated as a threatened species under federal and provincial legislation. Both levels of government require recovery strategies to protect these caribou.

The Government of Alberta initiated planning for caribou recovery last June. Since then, the Northwest Species at Risk Committee formed to ensure local views are considered as the provincial and federal governments make plans to protect Woodland Caribou.

The Northwest Species at Risk Committee is comprised of municipal councillors from Mackenzie County, County of Northern Lights, Town of High Level, Town of Rainbow Lake, Town of Manning and Clear Hills County.

The goal of the Northwest Species at Risk Committee is to ensure local voices are heard when a provincial and national approach is implemented to protect the Woodland Caribou. The committee wants to see the adoption of practical solutions for caribou recovery that also considers the social and economic futures of the region.

For more information visit: www.AlbertaNWSAR.ca