It seems to me that our province has taken leaps and bounds in the wrong direction in recent years. Large mammals are extremely susceptible to the pressures of economic development. To say that opening up a virginal valley to motorized use will be putting a huge amount of pressure on resident moose, bears and other mammals would be an understatement. Yet when it comes to the health of our natural inheritance, the province sees it fit to base hunting regulations on popular input. Ecology is a science based on numbers and facts. Concepts are based on ideas such as carrying capacities, total population, natural mortality rates etc.  Now I do not mean to imply that the average citizen is not capable of understanding ecology, but I will state that the average citizen is not capable of differentiating between their personal interests and the interests of the common good. Rather, I should say some are better at it than others. I would also state that the average citizen is not likely going to take the time required to come to a mathematically determined conclusion or to lobby for a different outcome.

It shocked me to find out that Carrier Lumber Ltd. was not required to conduct an extensive ecological study to determine the impact their proposed Raush Valley road would have on the local mammal populations. What I am particularly puzzled about is why our government ministries would rather let hunters have motorized access to the Raush and then later attempt the take it away in the future if this access proves to be negatively affecting the moose populations of the valley. This seems like an incredibly reactive environmental policy. Taking away access after the general population has developed a sense of entitlement to it is as difficult as telling an adult that they are no longer fit to drive a vehicle. It is pretty hard in our democracy to take away what most consider to be a liberty.

Frankly, this has nothing to do with hunting. This has nothing to do with logging. Logging pine, spruce and fir on its own is not the problem. These types of trees grow back, as long as harvest rates are lower than growth rates. Moose populations, likewise, can sustain managed hunting practices. The Raush Valley will not be destroyed by responsible hunting or logging practices. The Raush Valley will be destroyed by unfettered open motorized access. If Carrier simply plans on taking a few trees out, then pulling their road after they are done, the Raush can accommodate this. If this leads to the Raush Valley being permanently open to easy access, then we are on the cusp of losing one of the last untouched major drainage valleys in this province. If someone wants to shoot a moose in the Raush, take a river boat then wade knee deep a few kilometres through a swampy meadow, then pack 1000 lbs of meet back to your boat on your own back. If you do not want to do this, then share the slim pickings of the main valley roads with hundreds of other lazier hunters.

To me this whole public consultation process idea is a cop out for governments that do not want to step up to the plate and govern. Democracy is not populism. In a democracy we elect representatives to make informed decisions for us. Hopefully these decisions are based on the best available scientific evidence. There is a difference between a values decision and an economic/ecological decision. Values decisions (like whether or not a town wants a casino) should be put up to the public to decide since when it comes to values, everybody’s opinion is equally valid and informed. When it comes to economics or ecology, I want a system where governments listen to evidence-guided specialists, then make policies based on the common good. Each generation inherits a slightly more diminished natural biological world. Why would we unnecessarily speed this up?

One thought on “Ecological policy should not be based on popular belief”

  1. Frankly I’m not entirely sure where to begin. I read your editorial and had to stop and read it again. Some of these conceptions are so warped I felt I had to go back and take them to task. “Ecological policy should not be based on popular belief” What exactly do you define your advocating of not building roads on then, an exhaustive study that you purport hasn’t been done?

    Secondly, aside from the obvious NIMBYisms, my major irritant with the article is the incredibly obtuse idea that “Democracy is not populism”. Populism, defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “political ideas and activities that are intended to represent ordinary people’s needs and wishes”, is a root of democracy. My country needs more democracy not less. By all means give up your freedoms if you think it will somehow protect you from the threat of the day, whether it be terrorists, environmental destruction or any thing else, however do not advocate governments make decision against the will of the people for their own good. You as a journalist with the freedom to pen whatever suits you( which I heartily support) you should also know that protecting all our freedoms as Canadians is of vital importance, as we they are constantly being chipped away from us all the time. Remember the truism – “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” Benjamin Franklin. This should include all people liberties even your dreaded hunter.

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