Public invited to give feedback on Pend D’Oreille proposal

The Ministry is hosting a discussion Monday from 7-9pm at the Charles Bailey Theatre.

The public is invited to share comments and feedback on a plan that limits motorized access in the Pend D’Oreille valley.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources is hosting the discussion that will dial into a newly proposed Access Management Area (AMA) Monday from 7-9 p.m. at the Charles Bailey Theatre.

The meeting is long overdue in a community full of people who recreate the land be it on ATV or horse, says the president of the Trail Wildlife Association (TWA). The 90-year organization pushed the ministry to host a meeting open to the public, following some backlash from its membership and the general public who were looking for that opportunity to voice their concerns.

“It’s their responsibility to host this meeting and get input from the public,” Terry Hanik said Tuesday. “As a group, there’s been a lot of people upset, well now’s their chance to send in what they think should be done in the Pend D’Oreille.”

The draft plan in the Kootenay Boundary region is part of an update to the spring 2016 edition of the B.C. Hunting and Trapping Synopsis.

The proposed AMA will maintain access and hunting opportunities on most main roads, but restrict access on secondary roads to reduce impact on wildlife and habitat. The pending change, under the Wildlife Act’s motor vehicle prohibition regulation, is said to reduce the impact of motorized vehicle access on wildlife populations, habitats and sensitive ecosystems.

“We support the process of AMAs to protect the habitat and wildlife but what the ministry proposed, we don’t agree with,” said Hanik.

TWA held a membership meeting recently where feedback, including the desire “for six point elk returned to limited entry and the doe season cut off,” was collected and sent off to the ministry for consideration.

This was following a stakeholder meeting that stirred some controversy locally when the general public was not invited and the feeling was work was being done behind closed doors.

The Pend d’Oreille valley contains high-value wildlife habitat areas, including conservation lands that were acquired to specifically protect valuable ungulate winter range and other sensitive habitats, according to the ministry. The area also contains a high concentration of species at risk, including yellow-breasted chat, western racer, rubber boa, western skink and Lewis’ woodpecker.

The ministry concludes that a recent increase in off-road vehicle use and illegal trail building has damaged the area, compromising wildlife habitat areas and promoting the spread of invasive plants throughout the valley.

Members of the public are invited to attend the public meeting to learn more or provide feedback Monday from 7-9 p.m. at the Charles Bailey Theatre.

Comments will also be accepted online on the Angling, Hunting and Trapping Engagement website: http://apps.nrs.gov.bc.ca/pub/ahte/

“The more people that attend the meeting or send in an email, the (more say we’ll) have there,” said Hanik. “Otherwise, it will just fall to the wayside and the ministry will do what they want to do.”