By David F. Rooney
Without real action the mountain caribou’s days are most likely numbered, says Craig Pettitt of the Valhalla Wilderness Society. In fact he doesn’t think they can hang on here much more than another decade.
Programs such as the Revelstoke Caribou Rearing in the Wild project can help, but without some major changes to the way humans use the caribous’ rainforest environment how long can this species truly last?
Pettitt told a small but very interested crowd at the Community Centre on Wednesday, May 20, that measures such as the wolf slaughter touted by the provincial government or the practice of protecting alpine areas from human intrusion while permitting the ongoing exploitation of mountain valleys don’t make sense.
What’s really needed, Pettitt said told the gathering that was organized by the North Columbia Environmental Society’s Conservation Committee, is a true, and extensive, sanctuary for these lovely ungulates — one that includes valley bottoms.
To that end that society is proposing a new park — the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park — it believes just might save the mountain carbon, and scores of blue- and red-listed species from extirpation. Without real action this iconic species, of which there are only 1,850 left, will almost certainly vanish from the mountains of the Inland Rainforest within the next decade, Pettitt said. (You can watch Pettitt’s full presentation and the subsequent Q&A by activating the YouTube player at the end of this story.)
The VWS vision is bold. It advocates the creation of a new park that extends from Glacier National Park down through the Selkirks to Bugaboo Provincial Park and beyond to Goat Range Provincial Park. The proposed park would be 156,461-hectares in size and would include the remnants of the rainforest of the upper Incomappleux Valley south of Revelstoke. While most of the valley was clear cut, numerous 500-to-2,000-year-old trees still remain in a 1,500-hectare stretch of untouched forest at Battle Brook near the valley’s boundary with Glacier National Park.
The Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park wouldn’t be a refuge just for caribou. It would also be a safe harbour for threatened plants, lichens and fungi, some of which are found nowhere else in Canada.
This sounds like a great idea but Pettitt said the federal government won’t consider the society’s proposal unless the province agrees to implement it and that doesn’t appear as though it’s going to happen anytime soon without significant public pressure.
Please click here to read the full proposal. You can also watch Pettitt’s entire presentation, including the post-presentation Q&A by activating the YouTube player below. Then, if you think this is a great idea you can write to both the environment minister and our MLA:
Honourable Mary Polak
Minister of Environment
PO Box 9047 STN PROV GOVT,
Victoria, BC, V8W 9E2
Fax: 250 387-1356
Honourable Norm MacDonald
MLA Columbia River-Revelstoke
104-806 9th Street N
PO Box 2052
Golden, BC, V0A 1H0