Recognizing that next week will see the staff of BC Hydro’s Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) will be leave their Nelson and Cranbrook office, MLA Michelle Mungall spoke in the Legislature Wednesday about the gaping hole that the loss of these seven jobs will leave in the Kootenays. Decades long experience and knowledge in wildlife protection and remediation of BC Hydro dams’ effects on fish and wildlife in the region will be lost.
“So many species, including the endangered northern leopard frog found in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, have benefitted from this program over the years. After cutting the program, the Liberal Government has no plan in place on how to continue work that is legally mandated through the licenses BC Hydro holds,” says Mungall.
Twice last Fall, Mungall asked the Minister responsible for BC Hydro to immediately rescind cut to the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program. She noted that FWCP biologists provide substantial benefit, not only to the restoration and conservation of species habitat, but also to research, education and communication in the region. Cutting the FWCP was done without public consultations, nor has the BC Hydro developed a plan on how the work will continue past March 31, nor are they now conducting community engagement with the public as implied by Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett in a statement he made in the Legislature.
“Too many times have the Kootenays been blindsided by distant decisions on the electrical generation capacity of our region. Too many times has our natural environment been the casualty,” said Mungall in her statement, “The fish, the wildlife, the people of the Kootenays deserved better. We deserve the expertise of the fish and wildlife compensation program.”