River floodplain

Caribou habitat is under threat in the Seymour River watershed … again

Photo: Bailey Repp

A new batch of clearcut proposals in the Seymour River watershed threaten over 600 hectares of endangered mountain caribou habitat, old growth forests and remnant patches of our Inland Temperate Rainforest. Send a pre-written letter today to help save them. 

I’ve been lucky enough to have several encounters with the wide ranging caribou of the Columbia North herd. I’ve walked and bushwhacked through their habitat in the northern Monashee Mountains — off track in groves of ancient cedar and hemlock forests.

Once you enter the heart of the herd’s range, it’s actually not so unusual to encounter a caribou if you’re in the right place at the right time. Steep, rugged and avalanche-prone slopes funnel the animals into lower elevation forests and valleys, where they can spend 30 to 50% of their year foraging on early winter foods like falsebox or leafy spring vegetation along the banks of creeks that feed into the Seymour River. 

So important is this area to the Columbia North herd’s survival that biologists refer to it colloquially as ‘the hub’. Yet large areas of it remain unprotected, and, as a result, it’s under the constant threat of logging. 

Whenever I go back to these valleys, I do so with the fear of seeing red and orange ribbons marking the line of the next logging road, the next cutblock to be felled. Twice now, my fears have come true, the last time being two years ago when we discovered that Pacific Woodtech and BC Timber Sales planned to log over 600 hectares there. Thanks to the Wildsight community and the tremendous leadership of Indigenous Nations, most of those clearcuts never went ahead. Now, we must once again rally to protect the Columbia North herd, and the forests it relies on, from new threats.  

Pacific Woodtech is proposing 293 hectares of logging in the Seymour River watershed, while Stella Jones is proposing 315 hectares of cutblocks. Almost all the proposed new cutblocks overlap with the Columbia North caribou herd’s core habitat in ‘the hub’, and several include old growth forests — examples of the last intact remnants of our threatened Inland Temperate Rainforest — which were missed in the B.C. government’s old growth deferral process. Pacific Woodtech and Stella Jones’ proposed cutblocks were recently uploaded to the BC Forest Operations Map site for public review. 

While commenting through the government portal on individual cutblocks is important, we must ensure that key decision makers, including B.C. Premier David Eby, hear our message: if we want a future for our endangered mountain caribou, we cannot continue logging the forests they rely on. The core habitat in the Seymour River watershed is a no-go zone for logging and road building. 

Please, take 2 minutes today to send a pre-written letter using our online tool and help safeguard the future of the Columbia North herd. 

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Mountain caribou with a large set of antlers walks through a field of wildflowers
Cutblocks proposed by Stella Jones and Pacific Woodtech threaten the Columbia North herd’s core habitat. Photo: David Moskowitz

The Columbia North caribou herd is the largest and most viable of B.C.’s southernmost caribou herds, with around 209 animals in the last count. Aside from the Central Selkirk herd, which is unlikely to persist into the future, all seven other herds in this region have been declared locally extinct over the last two decades — due primarily to the destruction and fragmentation of their habitat.  

The B.C. government has made many plans and promises to help this endangered species, including identifying the forests in which this logging will occur as being critical ‘core habitat’ for the Columbia North herd. Yet two thirds of the Columbia North herd’s core habitat remains unprotected, despite the federal recovery plan recommending 100% be protected. As these latest cutblock proposals demonstrate, logging will continue in these forests unless they are protected. 

If B.C. allows Pacific Woodtech and Stella Jones’ proposed new cutblocks to proceed, it would be severely fragmenting and degrading the Columbia North herd’s habitat, putting it at greater risk of extinction. 

Intact forests in the Seymour River watershed.

In 2022, the Narwhal reported that a Pacific Woodtech spokesperson said the company had deferred logging of “planned old forest blocks in their portion of Upper Seymour until [the] government’s old-growth review process is completed.” They also stated they may proceed with logging “several small, second-growth blocks” in the Blais Creek area, near the southern end of the Upper Seymour. Their most recent cutblock proposals blatantly contradict both of those statements. 

Pacific Woodtech and Stella Jones’ proposed cutblocks in the upper Seymour River watershed threaten endangered caribou, old growth forests and the Inland Temperate Rainforest, a globally unique ecosystem on the brink of collapse. Under no circumstances can they be allowed to proceed. 

Pacific Woodtech and Stella Jones should not put any more money into these developments, nor proceed with any forestry activities in the Seymour, Ratchford, Mosquito, Myoff and Blais Creek drainages. If the province intends to stand by its commitments to protect mountain caribou and old growth, it must step in to stop this logging before irreversible harm is done.

Join us in calling on B.C. Premier David Eby, Pacific Woodtech, Stella Jones and other key decision makers to show leadership and issue a moratorium on logging in core caribou habitat.

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