Partnership set to restore caribou habitat

Spotlight Staff

The oil and gas industry will get government support over the next five years to restore 10,000 linear kilometres of land that had been cleared for seismic lines in the Little Smoky and A La Peche caribou rangelands.

In keeping with the recommendations of the Denhoff Report released in June, these efforts not only restore critical caribou habitat but will also create local jobs as thousands of trees will be planted over the next five years.

“We are committed to creating jobs in our communities,” says Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier, MLA for Whitecourt – Ste. Anne.
“That’s why we are moving forward on restoration efforts that encourage the recovery of Alberta’s caribou population, while also providing jobs and strengthening the local economy.”

Caribou is a threatened species federally and provincially and their populations are declining.

The federal Species At-Risk Act requires the Province of Alberta to manage 65 per cent of critical caribou habitat by October 2017.

As part of the draft range plan, the oil and gas industry has agreed to work with government to fund these restoration efforts.

Initial efforts include:

-A $500,000 grant to the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta, which has awarded a contract to Woodlands North of Whitecourt to build a restoration guide for conducting and evaluating restoration treatments and establishing a restoration pilot of 70 km of legacy seismic lines this spring;
-A contract worth $200,000 will be issued to source and grow seed to grow trees to complete the pilot and get a start on growing trees needed this coming year;
-A contract worth $800,000 to develop an operational plan for restoring 3,900 km of legacy seismic lines in the Little Smoky and A La Peche caribou ranges.

“We are pleased with the leadership role taken by the oil and gas industry in working to ensure we have a made-in-Alberta plan that provides economic certainty for industries and workers who make their living in the north and do what’s right to protect this iconic animal,” Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks says.

Tree planting is expected to begin next spring when weather conditions permit.

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