Conservation groups press for new protections to save the Heart of the Fraser

Establishing a Wildlife Management Area could save B.C.’s most biologically diverse region from catastrophic collapse.

SURREY, BC – A coalition of 28 Canadian conservation groups is pitching a plan to preserve and protect the most biologically important stretch of river in B.C. – the Heart of the Fraser.

The seven-page letter to Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources and Rural Development Minister Katrine Conroy, the coalition — led by the BCIT Rivers Institute and the UVIC Environmental Law Centre – describes a bold plan to establish the Heart of the Fraser Wildlife Management Area on the Fraser River between Hope, Chilliwack, and Mission.

Immediate action is required to restore B.C.’s most important natural asset and save salmon runs teetering on the brink of collapse.

In a WMA, a regional manager and the ministry would regulate development and resource-based activity, create buffer zones and habitat corridors, and make conservation and management of wildlife a priority for local governments. There are already 31 WMAs in B.C.

Our submission asks you to take action and create a new Heart of the Fraser Wildlife Management Area. Prior to taking action, we urge you to ask impacted Indigenous Nations if they would agree to:

(1) the establishment of such a Wildlife Management Area; and

(2) are they interested in partnering to create, manage and act as guardians for such a Heart of the Fraser Wildlife Management Area.

The BCIT Rivers Institute, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, B.C. Wildlife Federation, Raincoast Conservation Society, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, and others have all at various times called for the long-term protection of the most important salmon spawning and rearing areas of the river.

What’s at stake:
  • The Heart of the Fraser is an incredibly diverse mosaic of floodplains, side channels, wetlands, and gravel bars, and islands that are home to dozens of important species of birds, amphibians, and fish, including the Fraser River White Sturgeon and all five Pacific salmon species.
  • Dikes and human development have already cut off salmon from 85 per cent of their floodplain habitat in the area. Some of those salmon runs are on the verge of collapse, which has already led to the closure of commercial, recreational and First Nations fisheries.
  • The traditional abundance of food sources in the area has sustained local First Nations for thousands of years as well as many diverse land and water species.

Related Posts