B.C. will no longer sell the right to drill for gas in a swatch of territory south of the Peace River, part of an agreement with Saulteau First Nations aimed at environmental protection.
In an order signed March 8, Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman removed natural gas and oil dispositions from the Peace-Moberly Tract, a 107,000-hectare area south of the Peace River of cultural importance to the Saulteau and other Treaty 8 First Nations. The land has been heavily impacted by industrial development, including construction of the Site C dam.
B.C. agreed to quit auctioning oil and gas parcels in the tract as part of its New Relationship agreement with the Saulteau, signed late last year.
Crew Energy, the oil and gas operator in the area, was issued new tenures further east, according to ministry spokesperson Lindsay Byers.
“The Peace-Moberly Tract was recognized as a significant area for the Saulteau First Nations and as part of the New Relationship and Reconciliation Agreement,” Byers wrote in an email. “As part of the agreement, tenure in the Peace-Moberly Tract was relinquished last year.”
While the company owned tenures in the area, there were no wells or gas production going on in the tract. Late last year, Saulteau Chief Nathan Parenteau told the Alaska Highway News that oil and gas, forestry, and hydroelectric development in the nation’s traditional territory was opening the door for increased wolf predation.
Roads, seismic lines, and other development allows wolves to move easier through the backcountry. On July 1, the province made changes to the moose hunt in the area aimed at taking pressure off ungulate populations.