New Democrat agriculture critic Lana Popham recently finished a tour in 100 Mile House and Williams Lake talking with local land users.
Cariboo Chilcotin NDP candidate Charlie Wyse said Friday Popham likened it to “speed dating” because she met with so many different interest groups.
“There was a large number of groups that wanted to meet with her,” Wyse said.
A press release issued by the NDP noted that ranchers, trappers, farmers, and tour operators shared their concerns about government policies affecting the people, wildlife, and habitat in areas from 70 Mile House to McLeese Lake.
Each of the presenters expressed their specific concerns about increased logging, damage to their property from logging equipment, loss of trails, destruction of wildlife habitat, loss of water, and the loss of livelihood for them and their families.
“The stories, shared by real people living on the land, were difficult to hear,” Popham said. “These people are environmentalists. They live in harmony with the land and are willing to share it in a sustainable manner with all their neighbours. But government regulations — or the lack of them — are creating serious problems.”
Popham noted that the Forest Practices Board has recommended that a hydrological assessment be done before any further logging occurs. The Forest Practices Board report, issued in December 2011, stated that salvage logging was one of the factors contributing to the unexpected loss of water experienced by Big Creek rancher Randy Saugstad.
“I’ve been working closely with Randy Saugstad on this issue for some time,” Popham said. “But it was clear to me after yesterday’s meetings that Randy’s concerns are shared by many others in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House. More than 30 people took the time to meet with me.
“They came prepared to share their concerns about land-use practices in the Cariboo and Chilcotin areas. They also came prepared to work together collaboratively with forest companies to find a solution. I was very impressed with their knowledge and their willingness to seek solutions and not assign blame.”
Popham said Adrian Dix and the New Democrats will continue to work with ranchers and others to advocate for proper stewardship and regulation in the Cariboo and Chilcotin areas.