Mountain Caribou Alert


Christy Clark

The Honourable Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
Box 9041
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1

8 February 2017

Re: Moratorium on logging in Upper Clearwater near Wells Gray Provincial Park

Dear Premier Clark:

This letter is written on behalf of the Upper Clearwater Referral Group[1] out of deepening concern that SARA-designated critical habitat for the formally endangered Southern Mountain Caribou near Wells Gray Provincial Park is being destroyed by on-going logging permitted by FLNRO – and that this logging has for some time threatened the survival and recovery of these herds.

The precipitous decline of the Wells Gray population illustrates the futility of continuing in this vein. On the one hand large portions of the Clearwater Valley south of Wells Gray Park have lately been designated under SARA as Critical Mtn Caribou Habitat, yet on the other hand industrial-scale logging continues here in full force; see below.

Our decision to bring this matter to your attention at this time is prompted by three considerations, all of which point to the importance of sustaining Wells Gray’s Mountain Caribou:

  1. Wells Gray Park was established in 1939 in large part to provide sanctuary for Mountain Caribou – and has twice since then been extended southward for the same reason.
  2. Wells Gray currently sustains the world’s second largest population of Southern Mountain Caribou.
  3. Wells Gray’s Mountain Caribou appear uniquely set to undergo a degree of spontaneous recovery in the near future.

Against this background it is distressing to note that CANFOR is nonetheless preparing to conduct industrial-scale logging here in the very near future. Indeed, CANFOR’s general manager for forest planning, Peter Baird, recently announced that the “logging blocks under discussion … would yield about 200,000 cubic metres of wood – equivalent to between 20 and 25 per cent of CANFOR’s Vavenby division’s annual allowable cut.” Approximately half of this has already been cut within the past year, and indeed all of it is located within SARA-designated Critical Habitat for Mountain Caribou.

If the B.C. Liberals are serious about preventing the extinction of the Southern Mountain Caribou, they must stabilize and recover the Wells Gray herds. This starts with protecting caribou within the park by preventing loss of critical habitat in areas adjacent to the park. As is clear from the 2014 SARA Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population, Mountain Caribou cannot be sustained inside Wells Gray Park if the surrounding area is logged.

For all of these reasons, the Upper Clearwater Referral Group hereby calls upon the B.C. Liberals to establish a moratorium on industrial-scale logging in the vicinity of southern Wells Gray Park until such time as:

  1. Wells Gray’s Mountain Caribou herds show definite signs of recovery. At a minimum, the moratorium area should correspond to lands mapped as ‘critical habitat’ on page 87 of the report, Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population; see attached map.
  2. The Guiding Principles document1 is included as a formal government objective under the Kamloops LRMP.

Again, while we commend your government on its recent commitment to spend $27 million to take “the necessary steps to protect caribou habitat,” still we must emphasize that your policies near Wells Gray Park are having the opposite effect. Several additional cutting permits are set to be awarded by FLNRO in the coming months. The time for bold, decisive action is now.


Trevor Goward (spokesperson for the Upper Clearwater Referral Group)

1 The Upper Clearwater Referral Group is a citizen committee established on 22 November 2000 by the B.C. Ministry of Forests (MoF) to ensure adherence to a formal, government-sponsored Local Use agreement called the Guiding Principles for the Management of Land and Resources in the Upper Clearwater Valley. The Guiding Principles agreement was signed into effect by MoF on 19 May 1999, but later quietly dropped by the B.C. Liberal government during transition to the Forest and Range Practices Act.

Hon. Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Environment & Climate Change
Hon. Mary Polak, Minister of Environment
Hon. Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources
Hon. Terry Lake, MLA for Kamloops – North Thompson
Hon. George Heyman, Opposition Spokesperson for the Environment

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