Atlin-Taku land use plan released

  • Published on Jul 19 2011 |
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Northern land-use plan continues the conservation work of First Nations: Atlin-Taku an important landscape in light of climate change

Vancouver - The Atlin-Taku land-use plan, released today by the B.C. government, culminates years of legal battle, negotiation and environmental planning. At stake, a remarkable and ecologically-rich northwest landscape – possibly the last area in B.C. that will receive a comprehensive land-use plan.

This land use planning process stemmed from a 2008 Framework Agreement between the Province of B.C. and the Taku River Tlingit.  In the final land-use plan, 26 percent of the Atlin-Taku landscape received protection, creating a new constellation of protected areas in northwest British Columbia.

“CPAWS congratulates the B.C. government and the Taku River Tlingit for their hard work in concluding the plan,” says Chloe O’Loughlin, B.C. Terrestrial Conservation Director for CPAWS.  “We consider this an important area for conservation. It’s a large landscape with a richness and breadth of nature, including salmon spawning rivers and big mammal habitat.”

A stakeholder at the planning process, CPAWS recommended specific parcels of wilderness receive protection in light of climate change – enduring places that will always attract a diversity of species.  Not all our recommendations were incorporated, but the largest new core area to be protected includes major portions of the Inklin and Nakina watersheds; both contain varied geography important for climate change.

The land-use plan also protects the Gladys River landscape, providing an enduring corridor for wildlife from that Inklin/Nakina core to the important Teslin wetlands and north toward the Yukon.

Some key parts of the Taku watershed received protection, including the ecologically-rich lower Taku River. The important Taku River will always have champions, with healthy yearly runs of two million salmon. Its cold, northern water and distinct populations also helps protect the salmon through climate change.

“CPAWS is hopeful that the plan’s measures to achieve world class salmon management outside of protected areas will be successful,” says O’Loughlin. “However, we will always be concerned about the suitability of mining in the Tulsequah Valley and the threat that poses to the Taku River’s most important salmon habitat just downstream.”

Throughout the planning process, CPAWS respected the “government to government” relationship and agreements between the province and the Taku River Tlingit.

“We applaud the strong formal stewardship role the Taku River Tlingit achieved through their negotiations.  This will help the Taku River Tlingit continue to watch over the bear, moose and salmon that flourish in their traditional territory,” says O’Loughlin.  Like the Taku River Tlingit, CPAWS also, independently, advocated for full protection of about half of the plan area during the process.

NOTE: re: the Atlin River and dam controversy

The final plan document contains a late change that ultimately protects Atlin Lake – B.C.’s largest natural lake.

The final plan map includes a slight expansion of the proposed new Atlin Mountain Protected Area, so that it now encompasses all of the short but significant Atlin River, thus protecting it from a dam project by the Yukon Energy Corp. that would have permanently altered conditions in B.C.’s Atlin Lake.

“CPAWS is very pleased that B.C. listened to the concerns of Atlin residents and others in protecting the entire Atlin River. This added protection will safeguard our province’s largest natural lake and the gorgeous shoreline of Atlin Park,” says O’Loughlin.For more information:

Chloe O’Loughlin, CPAWS-BC, 604-685-7445, ext. 33 or 604-512-0428 (cell)

Carrie West, CPAWS-BC, 604-685-7445, ext. 22