The mighty Fraser during freshet on May 2, 2021 at Island 22 Regional Park. A new B.C. coalition representing 25 organizations, and 273,000 people, is calling on B.C. to reverse decades of wildlife and habitat declines. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Chilliwack Progress)

The mighty Fraser during freshet on May 2, 2021 at Island 22 Regional Park. A new B.C. coalition representing 25 organizations, and 273,000 people, is calling on B.C. to reverse decades of wildlife and habitat declines. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Chilliwack Progress)

Coalition calls on B.C. to invest in wildlife stewardship and habitat protection

Representing 25 organizations, and 273,000 people, they seek to reverse decades of declines

Salmon. Old-growth forests. Moose. Steelhead.

Some of B.C.’s most prized fish, wildlife and habitat are in big trouble.

A new broad-based coalition is calling on the B.C. government to focus on habitat, stewardship, and protection, in a way that reverses decades of declines.

“Together the group is seeking a commitment from the province to invest in healthy landscapes, waters, and fish and wildlife stewardship, in partnership with First Nations and communities,” according to a May 13 release from the Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Coalition.

Representing diverse interests from across B.C., the coalition comprises 25 organizations, representing more than 273,000 British Columbians and 900 businesses.

A local director of the Fraser Valley Salmon Society (FVSS) said they welcome the coalition’s renewed emphasis on habitat restoration.

“The Fraser Valley Salmon Society is a strong supporter of the Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition, and has as one of its major objectives the recognition and protection of important habitat areas,” said Terry Bodman, a FVSS director. “Our local habitat is constantly under pressure from an ever-increasing population seeking recreational opportunities.”

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The coalition will work to promote “solutions guided by science” but also recognizes traditional ecological knowledge for managing species and habitat in B.C.

“In a generation of people, B.C. has gone from being a global leader in fish, wildlife and habitat conservation, to a landscape which can be characterized as at-risk, endangered and extirpated,” said Jesse Zeman, spokesman for the B.C. Wildlife Federation. “Whether it’s salmon, steelhead, old-growth, moose, or caribou, B.C. has never been in such poor shape.”

By championing solutions for conservation, the coalition aims to help B.C. strengthen both its communities and the economy.

The coalition is bringing together environmental/conservation groups, hunting and angling guides, wildlife viewing, ecotourism, naturalists, hunters, anglers, and trappers, and it “recognizes and respects the constitutionally protected rights of Indigenous peoples” and reconciliation efforts.

When such a diverse group can come together, it’s clear just how crucial the issues are.

For the province to maintain its marketing claim to “Super, Natural™” wild spaces, “fish and wildlife must take priority and be recognized for what they are – essential for healthy, lasting ecosystems,” said Katherine MacRae of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association.

Coalition priorities:

• New legislation that protects fish, wildlife, and habitat;

• Integrating needs of fish, wildlife, and habitat into new/existing legislation;

• New funding model for fish, wildlife, and habitat management.

RELATED: DFO investigation finds habitat damage

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


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