Feds approve $3.9M for protected, conserved areas in Tahltan territory

The federal government has approved up to $3,998,760 through the Canada Nature Fund toward protecting and conserving areas with cultural and ecological important to Tahltan people. 

Tahltan Central Government says project will improve Indigenous stewardship of lands

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced $3.9 million in funding for the Tahltan Central Government project on Monday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The federal government has approved up to $3,998,760 toward protecting and conserving areas with cultural and ecological importance to Tahltan people. 

Catherine McKenna, minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced Monday the funding for the Tahltan Central Government project was approved from the $175 million Canada Nature Fund's Target 1 initiative. It is one of 67 conservation initiatives receiving funding across Canada. 

Projects under the Pathway to Canada Target 1 Challenge initiative will help toward conserving 17 per cent of Canada's land and freshwater by the end of 2020.

The project aims to establish Tahltan Indigenous protected and conserved areas through the Tahltan Nation land use planning process. This includes key habitats for species at risk like the Woodland Caribou and Pacific Salmon

A press release from the Tahltan Central Government, the government body of the Tahltan Nation, says the project will help them to further enact and define Tahltan stewardship in their territory. It will also decrease uncertainty for industry and businesses as the area has seen "unprecedented levels of resource development and exploration" over the last two decades, states the release.

"This is an important step forward that will assist in bringing improved stewardship and economic certainty to Tahltan territory," Chad Norman Day, president of the central government, stated in the release.

"[The central government's land director] and her team continue to break new ground and make history in the Tahltan Central Government's quest to ensure that the health, well-being and integrity of our land base is protected for generations to come."

Christine Creyke, the lands director, said the Tahltan government has been working on their land-use plan for a number of years and this project is the next step. They are hoping to protect three areas in their territory.

"The cultural significance in all three areas is quite high," she said.

The Tahltan Nation's territory spans 95,933 square kilometres of northwest British Columbia — equivalent to 11 per cent of the province — and includes 70 per cent of B.C.'s Golden Triangle. The territory is also home to three of the provinces 19 operating mines and approximately 25 per cent of exploration activities per expenditure, according to the Tahltan Central Government. 

Minister McKenna also said Monday the federal government plans to put funding toward protecting land and water in Clayoquot Sound through the $100 million Natural Heritage Conservation Program in partnership with the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations.

This will help to connect the Strathcona Provincial Park with the outer coastal provincial parks and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and protect the habitat of 15 federally listed species at risk. 

"By working to protect nature with Indigenous Peoples and other partners across the country, we can support vibrant communities, reverse the alarming decline of plants and animals, and address the impacts of climate change — ensuring our kids and grandkids can also experience the incredible natural landscapes and wilderness we cherish today," McKenna said in a statement.