A draft plan for protecting species at risk released by the B.C. government has come under fire from environmentalists.
The government is asking for comments on the five-year plan to protect vulnerable species and says that feedback from the public will be considered as the final document is prepared.
The proposed plan, released Tuesday, was formulated with the help of recommendations made last year by the Species At Risk Task Force and represents a balanced approach, said Environment Minister Terry Lake in a statement.
“The plan provides a clear path for the future, demonstrating a thoughtful, considered approach to a challenging issue,” Lake said.
The draft emphasizes that efforts to save species at risk must “take into consideration social and economic interest.”
It also says stewardship of species at risk is the responsibility of all levels of governments, First Nations and landowners.
But Gwen Barlee, policy director for Wilderness Committee, said the document fails to produce meaningful or enforceable strategies for helping vulnerable wildlife to recover.
“The pamphlet looks very pretty, but its beauty is only skin deep,” she said. “Endangered species in B.C. need more than a public relations spin. It is a recipe for extinction.”
Barlee also criticized the month-long public comment period.
“It has been introduced just two months before a provincial election date and is centred around a document that has very, very little substance,” she said.
“This is a cosmetic process at best and deceptive at worst.”
B.C. and Alberta are the only provinces in Canada without stand-alone legislation to protect endangered species, and B.C. has more species at risk than any other province.
Comments on the draft plan will be accepted online and by mail until April 12. Comments will be summarized weekly on the website.
To comment go to env.gov.bc.ca/atrisk/5_yr_plan.
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