The District of Squamish has joined neighboring communities in the Sea-to-Sky and resolved to support recovery of the iconic Grizzly Bear. In the past 12 months, the community Councils of Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, and Lillooet, plus the Board of the Squamish Lillooet Regional District, have all passed Resolutions in support of the recovery of the threatened Grizzly Bear populations in southwest BC. This unanimous support for recovery throughout the entire Sea-to-Sky corridor, indicates the strong value both residents and visitors associate with having grizzly bears in our backcountry.
The District of Squamish resolution reflected those of fellow communities and reiterated local government support for the grizzly bear recovery planning identified in the provincially endorsed 2008 Sea-to-Sky Land and Resource Management Plan. Claire Ruddy of AWARE said: “A substantial, multi-year investment in scientific research on these grizzly bears has been made. Now it’s time to capitalize on this investment and use it to help guide the recovery planning which was formally called for over seven years ago.”
The local government resolutions also recognized that “there are ecological, economic, and spiritual benefits to conserving and recovering grizzly bears including that they are an “umbrella species”, the conservation of which will benefit many other plants, animals and ecosystem values like clean water and recreational opportunities”.
First Nations led the way advocating for Southwest BC’s grizzly bears. The St’at’imc Chiefs Council passed a resolution in 2011 expressing the importance of grizzly bears to their culture and urging necessary recovery actions including the protection of grizzly bear critical habitats, among other things. Since then, Squamish Nation and the Okanagan Nation Alliance have joined them in their calls for progress. The April 15 Squamish Nation Resolution states “That grizzly bear population recovery and management is a Squamish priority to ensure that Stl’lhalem – grizzly bear – will remain, occupy and thrive in its traditional area for all time.”
The resolutions parallel efforts of the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative, which is a coalition of local, provincial and First Nation partners (of which AWARE is one), focused on restoring the five ‘threatened’ grizzly bear populations in southwest BC back to ‘viable’ numbers.
Johnny Mikes of the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative highlights: “This confirmation of unanimous local support for keeping grizzly bears on our shared landscape now and for future generations is important. The resolutions reiterate support from local government for grizzly bear recovery outlined in the regional land use plans (LRMPs).” Mikes went on to add “Safeguarding southwest BC’s Grizzlies is a popular, inexpensive, non-partisan idea. Coast to Cascades is committed to working with the Province on helping these bears in a number of ways, but proper recovery planning is the best way to move forward and its time has clearly come”
Currently it is estimated fewer than 300 grizzly bears roam an area of over 4.5 million hectares, which makes up the five threatened grizzly bear populations of southwest BC.
Individual community resolutions can be found at: http://www.coasttocascades.org/supportforrecovery/