Alberta has invested more than $30.2 million in the caribou habitat restoration program since 2018, which includes $30.2 million in provincial funding and $700,000 from industry. Budget 2022 included a commitment of $10 million per year for caribou habitat recovery, starting in 2023-24.  

The Government of Alberta says it is still waiting for a meaningful federal contribution to support the province’s caribou habitat restoration program. 

Julia Pickering, Assistant Director of Communications and Public Engagement for the Government of Alberta, emphasized the importance of implementing the approved Cold Lake and Bistcho Lake Sub-regional Plans to achieve the goals of caribou recovery. She clarified that the recently proposed regulations align with the existing sub-regional plans, emphasizing continuity in objectives and strategies. 

“These regulations do not have new or different goals,” Pickering stated. “They are simply designed to help implement these plans and maintain local industry and jobs, while sustaining plant and wildlife populations in the area.” 

According to the Government of Alberta, “The Cold Lake and Bistcho Lake sub-regional plans are the first two of 11 sub-regional plans covering 15 caribou ranges in Alberta. In addition to supporting the recovery of caribou herds, developing made-in-Alberta sub-regional plans mitigates the risk and associated economic and social impacts of federal intervention.” 

Tony Jackson, Director of Environment and Regulatory Services at Cenovus Energy Inc., acknowledged the role of sub-regional planning in caribou recovery.  

“Cenovus recognizes the importance of sub-regional planning and the critical role these plans play in caribou recovery. The Cold Lake sub-regional plan is the result of a lengthy multisectoral engagement conducted by the Government of Alberta, and we believe that Cenovus made meaningful contributions to the plan during this process. Over the next 100 years, the plan provides for resource development as well as a suite of valued ecological benefits, including sustainment of the Cold Lake caribou herd,” said Jackson.  

The sub-regional plans outline specific measures for land-use activities, including roads, oil and gas development, timber harvest, and recreation. They also include detailed restoration and environmental monitoring requirements, ensuring a comprehensive approach to conservation and development, according to the Government of Alberta. 

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas, said “Environmental protection and responsible development go hand-in-hand.” She added, “These regulations will support conservation and caribou recovery, while fostering growth in northern Alberta communities.” 

According to the Government of Alberta, public engagement is still underway to gather input on the draft regulatory details. 

By Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 15, 2024 at 15:27

This item reprinted with permission from   Lakeland This Week   Bonnyville, Alberta

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