The director of the Saskatchewan Mining Association says she is relieved to see some changes have been made to the federal government’s new strategy for preserving woodland caribou.
Pam Schwann says many submissions were sent in to the federal government about various concerns stakeholders had with its draft strategy.
She says some of them appear to have been addressed.
For instance, she says the government has acknowledged many parts of the original plan simply wouldn’t work for Saskatchewan.
Among other things, she says the feds have adjusted the numbers of caribou populations in Saskatchewan from eight down to two. These are separated into the boreal shield area, which includes everywhere north of La Ronge — and the boreal plains area, which runs from La Ronge south to Prince Albert.
Between now and 2016, efforts will be made to gauge the population of the animals in these two regions, as well as identification of critical habitats.
For the most part, Schwann expects mining efforts to remain unchanged:
“Our understanding from the province is that things will proceed as they are right now, which is good news to hear. But we’re also aware that there have been, on things like environmental assessments, additional requests for how projects are going to mitigate disturbance in critical habitat areas. And when you haven’t even got ‘critical habitat’ defined, that’s a little difficult.”
Schwann adds she is hoping Environment Canada can also be persuaded to change its definition of forest fires as a “method of disturbance” to the caribou.
She says without that definition, northern Saskatchewan would have the fourth-lowest level of man-made disturbances out of 55 regions in Canada.