Squamish Nation, province reach land-use agreement 

Contentious upper Elaho Valley will be protected in 10,000 ha land conservancy

Two new land conservancies, which protect more than 11,000 ha, and the elimination of commercial logging in the Sims Creek valley and much of the Elaho Valley are part of a comprehensive land-use partnership signed by the Squamish Nation and the province Thursday.

The creation of a 10,000 ha land conservancy in the upper Elaho, the so-called Stoltmann Wilderness, is particularly significant. The area was the site of several confrontations between loggers and conservationists a few years ago.

"New conservation areas are set aside in perpetuity and will be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren," Chief Gibby Jacob of the Squamish Nation said in a release. "This agreement will ensure new and exciting opportunities for our people."

"We have been working on a government-to-government basis with the Squamish Nation for almost two years to develop a common vision for land use in their traditional territories," Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell said in the release. "Today we are signing an agreement to protect key First Nations’ interests as well as to clearly establish certainty principles for the natural resource sectors in the plan area."

The agreement with the Squamish is part of the larger Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan.

Earlier this month the province and the In-SHUCK-ch First Nation signed a land-use agreement that created three new land conservancies in their traditional territories, which cover the eastern portion of the Sea to Sky LRMP. Discussions between the province and other First Nations are expected to complete the LRMP over the next few months.

"This agreement represents an important step forward," said Chief Bill Williams of the Squamish Nation. "It outlines an effective framework for land use in our traditional territories and helps us to move forward in local economic development as well as establishing new conservancies and cultural management areas."

Details of the agreement include:

• Two land conservancies. In addition to the 10,112 ha conservancy in the upper Elaho, adjacent to Clendinning Provincial Park, a 1,082 ha conservancy at the north end of Tantalus Provincial Park will protect the Sigurd Creek Trail and surrounding area;

• The designation of most of the Sims Creek valley and part of the Elaho as Wildland zones, where mining and tourism are permitted but commercial logging is not;

• Special Cultural Management designation for three Squamish Nation Wild Spirit Places. Resource development will be permitted in these areas, subject to specific rules to conserve wildlife habitat and cultural features;

• Recognition of 22 Squamish cultural sites ranging in size from 60 to 140 ha, a total of 3,063 ha. The sites include traditional use areas, village sites and sacred places.

• The Squamish Nation will participate in collaborative management of fish and wildlife.

Complementary to the land-use agreement, the Ministry of Environment and the Squamish Nation have signed the Collaborative Agreement for the Management of Protected Areas in Squamish Nation Traditional Territory. It sets up a collaborative process for management of protected areas, including the new land conservancies as well as existing provincial parks.

The Squamish Nation is interested in expanding its role in the management of provincial parks in their territory, including the development of new cultural tourism products and cultural interpretation.

Planning for the Sea to Sky LRMP began in 2002. A package of recommendations was submitted to the province in 2004. In 2005 the province began government-to-government discussions with First Nations whose traditional territories are within the Sea to Sky LRMP.

A map showing the land-use designations in the Squamish Nation’s territory can be seen at: www.mediaroom.gov.bc.ca/DisplayEventDetails.aspx?eventId=386

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