Mountain Caribou Recovery Initiative

In 2007, the BC Cabinet gave a directive to achieve the ultimate goal of restoring mountain caribou populations to pre-1995 levels using the Recovery Strategy led by the Species at Risk Coordination Office (SaRCO) and based on provincial science team input.

A government interagency team was formed to implement the Mountain Caribou Recovery Strategy and identified caribou habitat covering 1.5 million hectares of potential mineral exploration area and included 500,000 hectares of current mineral tenure. 

Government Actions Regulation

In December 2009, the Ministry of Environment implemented Government Actions Regulation (GAR) orders for wildlife habitat areas (WHAs), ungulate winter ranges (UWRs) and associated general wildlife measures (GWMs). These orders and measures are designed to reduce the impact from timber harvest and road construction on mountain caribou and their habitat. Contrary to claims by environmental groups, rules concerning mineral exploration have not been relaxed through mountain caribou recovery initiatives. These initiatives were developed to include forestry values and now recognize mineral exploration values.

AME BC’s Role

The AME BC Land Use Committee and affected regional exploration groups had been working with government officials to minimize negative impacts on the mineral exploration community. Although the Implementation Plan does address some of the industry’s concerns, further important work needs to be done to ensure that permit conditions are more reasonably balanced, responsible mineral exploration can successfully proceed and the Mines Inspectors provide necessary exemptions in a timely and efficient manner.

AME BC will continue to reinforce the following points:

  1. Mineral exploration does not have a significant impact to mountain caribou or their habitat. The Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan Progress Board, which includes environmentalist participation, agrees. Most reputable Professional Biologists would agree and even some environmental non-governmental organizations (albeit privately) would agree that our sector poses little risk to mountain caribou.
  2. The mineral exploration sector has actively engaged government and non-government organizations on this issue over the past three years.
  3. The GAR order is a blunt instrument that is been used to deal with a specific challenge instead of using the Ministry’s own adaptive management principles. Essentially, lines on a map, that in some case enclose advanced projects in the environmental assessment process and even producing mines, do not reduce threats or save a species - only informed and responsible people can.
  4. New regulations, created with little science, come with considerable and needlessly onerous hurdles and much stricter requirements for mineral exploration companies to operate.
  5. The restrictions on mineral exploration will have a significant impact on responsible mineral explorers’ ability to work and develop mineral resources.
  6. Similar Wildlife Habitat Areas have also been declared for species such as grizzly, mountain goat, and heron without regard to mineral exploration activities.

Additional Information: 

Permit Conditions and Operational Guidance for Mineral Exploration Activity in Mountain Caribou Habitat

Notice of Work Permit Conditions and Operational Guidance for Mineral Exploration Activity in Mountain Caribou Habitat

If you have questions specific to a Notice of Work permit application, contact your local Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources office: www.empr.gov.bc.ca/Mining/RegionalOffices/Pages/default.aspx

Government Actions Regulations (GAR) orders, accompanying GAR rationale and boundaries are available from the following Ministry of Environment websites:

WHA

UWR

Additional mapping resources can be found at:

iMapBC

MapPlace

For more information about the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan, refer to the Ministry of Environment website.