As part of its water lisence, BC Hydro is required to spend $7 million a year to restore fish habitats destroyed through power production. ((Robert F. Bukaty and Jason Leigh/Associated Press))

Fifty scientists from the Kootenays are urging BC Hydro not to close conservation offices in eastern and northern B.C.

The company is closing its regional Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program offices in Nelson, Castlegar and Prince George.

BC Hydro's water licence allows it to dam rivers to produce power, but requires the company to spend $7 million a year to restore fish habitats it destroys through its power activities.

BC Hydro says that money will still be spent on conservation, but the program will now be based out of Burnaby, B.C.

The scientists, including conservation ecologist Greg Utzig, say that plan won't work.

"When I started asking other scientists about this issue, everybody felt the same way. We are the ones who are going to be picking up these other contracting jobs," said Utzig.

"Unanimously everybody said we still don't agree with it. It doesn't make sense."

The scientists have written BC Hydro, urging the corporation to reconsider. 

"There doesn't seem to be any logic other than doing away with bodies and it's going to jeopardize the effectiveness of the program," said Utzig.

Staff received layoff notices in October, and BC Hydro plans to close the regional conservation offices by January 2012.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating