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Restoration Plan Positive Step, But Likely Too Little Too Late for Little Smoky Caribou

A plan to restore caribou habitat is a promising first step towards the development of a restoration economy in Alberta, says Y2Y.

October 5, 2016

A plan announced on Saturday, October 1, to restore caribou habitat by reforesting 10,000 linear kilometers of old seismic lines in the Little Smoky – A La Peche region of Alberta is a promising first step towards the development of a restoration economy in Alberta, says the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. The group points out, however, that the restoration effort, which involves $1.8 million in contracts with the forestry industry to plan the first phase of the undertaking, will likely not protect the region’s caribou from local extinction.

“This sort of partnership is exactly what Alberta needs to invest in to create jobs doing important work repairing the damage done during 40 years of mismanagement,” says Y2Y Program Director for Alberta, Crown and Northwest Territories, Stephen Legault. “We’re pleased to see that these steps are being taken.”

“If we’re looking for opportunities to create a growth industry in Alberta, restoration is it,” says Legault, noting that the entire Eastern Slopes, which provides wildlife habitat for Alberta’s most iconic wildlife and provides water for more than 80% of the provinces population have sustained heavy damage from logging, mining, oil and gas development and off highway vehicle (OHV) use. That unsustainable development has led to the crisis facing the Little Smoky – A La Peche caribou today.

“If we’re going to protect the endangered Little Smoky - A La Peche caribou then we have to stop making things worse at the same time as we try to make things better.”

Legault applauds the government’s announcement this summer to protect caribou ranges further to the north and points out that the same measures are needed to protect the Little Smoky region. Y2Y is calling on the government to protect 7,200 square kilometers of the Little Smoky – A La Peche region from further industrial development in an effort to continue towards long term recovery of caribou.

"This region is habitat for caribou and also for the province’s threatened grizzly bears as well. Protection will serve both species, and create additional economic opportunities that will help diversify our economy."

"The Little Smoky – A La Peche caribou herd faces local extinction, and restoration alone won’t stop that. Creating large protected areas may provide the people of Alberta with an opportunity to bring back caribou once industrial activities have been curtailed."


For further comment, contact:

  • Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director - Alberta, Crown and Northwest Territories
    403-688-2964 | stephen@y2y.net 
  • Mark Hebblewhite, Y2Y Board Member, and Associate Professor of Wildlife Biology, University of Montana
    406-243-6675 | Mark.Hebblewhite@umontana.edu