The province has formally established the Tsaa Nuna Conservancy along the southern shore of the Halfway River, the first of its kind in northeast B.C.
The province says the new conservancy area spans 5,306 hectares and provides the Halfway River First Nation more certainty around teaching traditional practices and passing along knowledge to future generations.
"We are pleased that the Province has recognized the special and continuing cultural significance of this area to the Halfway River First Nation and confirmed its protection as a conservancy,” Halfway River Chief Darlene Hunter said in a statement. “It is an important area for our community where we hunt, trap, gather berries and teach our children about traditional practices and our way of life. The protection of this area will ensure that we can continue these activities in this area for generations to come."
Conservancies are Crown lands set aside for the protection of their biological diversity and natural environments, and the province and Halfway River agreed to establish Tsaa Nuna (pronounced sa-nuh-na) in 2018.
Located 65 kilometres from Fort St. John, the Tsaa Nuna area is rich with berry plants and home to moose, deer, elk, lynx, fisher and porcupine.
The Halfway River is of five major watersheds in the region, and a migration route for bull trout and mountain whitefish, and also has rainbow trout, grayling, jackfish and dolly varden. Vast trail networks and water routes in the conservancy connect the area to other significant locations, streams and rivers, the province said.
The province says conservancies are a unique framework for land protection, and allow for a wider range of low-impact, compatible economic opportunities than Class A parks. However, commercial logging, mining and hydroelectric power generation, other than local run-of-the-river projects, are prohibited.
BC Parks will work with Halfway River to develop a management plan for the area, the province said.
"True reconciliation requires listening and respecting cultural practices and the relationship to place. We have much to learn from Indigenous nations about stewardship of the lands and waters that we rely on to sustain us,” Environment Minister George Heyman said in a statement. “Members of Halfway River First Nation are the stewards of this land. Establishing the Tsaa Nuna Conservancy provides the opportunity for all of us to learn about this place and help protect the area's natural values."
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