HABI­TAT HELP WANTED

Al­berta sus­pends part of its plan to pro­tect threat­ened cari­bou, call­ing on the feds to do more

StarMetro Edmonton - - Front page -

Al­berta is sus­pend­ing por­tions of its draft plan to pro­tect threat­ened wood­land cari­bou, say­ing more re­search needs to be done and that Ot­tawa needs to help out.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Shan­non Phillips told the house Mon­day that the prov­ince is act­ing on con­cerns about the eco­nomic im­pacts of the pro­tec­tion plan.

“The fed­eral Species at Risk Act is an ex­tremely in­flex­i­ble in­stru­ment that has al­ready had neg­a­tive eco­nomic con­se­quences (in Al­berta),’’ said Phillips.

“We are go­ing to do our best to make sure that we pro­tect jobs on this.’’

She said she has sent that mes­sage in a let­ter to her fed­eral coun­ter­part, Cather­ine McKenna.

Phillips is urg­ing the fed­eral govern­ment to help Al­berta come up with a work­able so­lu­tion rather than have Ot­tawa im­pose an en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion order.

Al­berta’s draft plan is in re­sponse to a fed­eral dead­line un­der the Species at Risk Act passed last Oc­to­ber and is de­signed to help threat­ened wood­land cari­bou re­cover in 15 dif­fer­ent ranges.

The prov­ince re­leased its draft plan on Dec. 19 and then held a se­ries of town hall meet­ings.

“The pub­lic meet­ings were at­tended by thou­sands of Al­ber­tans who are con­cerned about the im­pact cari­bou range plans will have on their com­mu­ni­ties and on the in­dus­tries that sup­port those com­mu­ni­ties,’’ stated Phillips’ let­ter, which was cosigned by En­ergy Min­is­ter Marg McCuaig-Boyd.

The prov­ince plans to spend more than $85 mil­lion in the next five years to re­store cari­bou habi­tat by elim­i­nat­ing seis­mic lines, build­ing birthing pens and bring­ing in other mea­sures.

It has al­ready in­vested $9.2 mil­lion and the es­ti­mated cost over the next 40 years is $1 bil­lion.

Phillips said the feds need to step up on plan­ning and con­sul­ta­tion, and on the money side as well.

“Cari­bou re­cov­ery can­not oc­cur with­out an in­fu­sion of fed­eral funds to re­store habi­tat nec­es­sary to en­sure pop­u­la­tion growth,’’ she wrote.

“While we need more time and part­ner­ship from the fed­eral govern­ment on this mat­ter, we also need your sup­port in not pre­ma­turely im­ple­ment­ing fed­eral pro­tec­tion or­ders that will not have ef­fec­tive out­comes for Cana­di­ans and Al­ber­tans.’’

The fed­eral govern­ment has the op­tion of im­pos­ing an en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion order if a prov­ince doesn’t come up with a plan to pro­tect the cari­bou. The order would halt any de­vel­op­ment, such as oil drilling, that could harm the an­i­mals.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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The wood­land cari­bou is a threat­ened species, pro­tected un­der the fed­eral Species at Risk Act. But Al­berta is seek­ing help from Ot­tawa to come up with more flex­i­bil­ity in the mea­sures and dead­lines set out to pro­tect the cari­bou in the prov­ince.

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