Jeff Juthans (pointing at map) and Brent Gurd addressed the District of Kent council on Monday about the proposed wildlife management plan for the Harrison Chehalis area. Council aired several concerns about the proposal.

Kent council wary of more provincial involvement

Proposed wildlife management area for Harrison Chehalis dates back to 1997

A presentation from two representatives from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations didn’t receive a very warm reception in council Monday night.

Jeff Juthans, a land and resource specialist and Brent Gurd, a wildlife biologist, spoke to council about an initiative to designate the Harrison Chehalis area into a wildlife mManagement area.

“Harrison Chehalis area is an ecological hotspot with internationally recognized fish and wildlife conservation values,” Juthans noted. A current plan is in place, and has been since the late 1990s, he said. But in 1997, a designation and draft management plan was started, and that led to further consultation with key proponents — such as the District of Kent and local First Nation bands.

The whole plan was postponed in 2008, to allow for continued consultation, but now the ministry in charge is hoping to start a 45-day consultation process that would begin in mid-2013. While the presentation stated that current uses wouldn’t be affected by the implementation of a wildlife management area, during a question and answer period, Juthans said that activities that contravened the WMA wouldn’t necessarily be tolerated. The purpose of WMA is to provide a special level of management to conserve important fish and wildlife habitats in the context of other important land uses, he said. It also gives the ministry responsible the administrative authority to manage the area and allows for some regulatory tools under the Wildlife Act to be considered in the management of that area. They did say that a WMA designation does not affect First Nation traditional use or cultural use, private property rights or adjacent land use.

Council was quick to point out that the area is doing very well as it is, and that they feared further designations by yet another arm of the government would cause more red tape for property owners, notably farmers.

“Am I picking up that there are environmental regulation concerns?” Juthans asked Mayor John Van Laerhoven.

“Yes,” the mayor responded. “There is definitely a level of concern here. I heard you say the WMA would have no impact on activities that are currently in place?”

“Yes,” Juthans replied. “But I also said if it was in contradiction to the WMA (then there could be an impact).”

“That kind of thing makes farmers and residents very nervous,” the mayor responded.

Many farmers already feel maligned by the amount of government approval needed for maintaining waterways in the District of Kent. Many of the regulations that exist are meant to protect endangered wildlife habitat.

Councillor Lorne Fisher explained the difficulties also relate to the government’s management of the river, and how the lack of gravel removal in recent years is contributing to farming and environmental issues.

“Sooner or later it’s going to have to get dredged or else it’s not going to be a river,” he said. And the Fraser and Harrison Rivers run right through the proposed WMA.

“It is a complicated system that you are looking at in terms of managing to keep people happy, not only people but other species, too,” he said.

The area is a habitat for the white sturgeon, a red listed species, and is known internationally for its significant numbers of bald eagles. Activities that would disrupt nature, such as chasing wildlife or ATV use, would not tolerated in a WMA. Some amenities and facilities could be built in the area, such as information boards, Juthans said.

While Juthans and Gurd work with the ministry of forests, lands and natural resources, the mayor expressed his frustration in dealing with other environmentally-focused ministries.

“A lot of money gets spent trying to work on these regulations than actually gets spent on the maintenance of working on these ditches,” he said. But he did offer an olive branch.

“Maybe if we can help you in one area, you can help us in another,” he said to the delegation. “Because farming is also an endangered species…Are you getting a bit of the flavour of why we’re nervous?”

Juthans wrote down many of the comments during the conversation, and said he would take them back for consideration, and council made a motion to accept the report as information.

Just Posted

More funding for Harrison tourism projects on the horizon

Village could see increased funding by 2020

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Chilliwack firefighter seeking to reunite Rosedale VFD’s old auxiliary fire pump with antique engine

It’s been four decades, but Pat Liebault is hoping to reunite Rosedale’s auxiliary pump and engine

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Most Read