Valemount Cranberry marsh WMA wildlife sanctuary Starratt summer

By: Korie Marshall

The provincial government is inviting the public to learn more and give their input on new management plans for the Cranberry Marsh.

The Cranberry Marsh/Starratt Wildlife Management Area was announced by the province in March 2013. The management area combined Crown land, Nature Trust of BC properties and privately donated land totaling 319 hectares of mostly marshland. Staff at the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are working on a management plan and providing another chance for local stakeholders and residents to provide input before the plan is finalized. The ministry is inviting the public to an open house on Thursday Nov. 6th.

Greig Bethel, spokesperson for the ministry says the draft plan is still under development, and this meeting will be another opportunity to discuss potential content before the plan is finalized. The plan will include measures to protect important wildlife values while still allowing the public to continue to enjoy the area. Some residents have voice their concerns over the area being used as a corridor for ATV and snowmobile use – some wish to keep it as a corridor while others wish to restrict motorized uses.

The Cranberry Marsh/Starratt wildlife management area features a longstanding wildlife sanctuary that includes exceptional nature viewing opportunities, and is equipped with accessible eco-friendly trails and viewing towers highly suitable for birdwatchers. Ducks Unlimited Canada also maintains a wetland enhancement project in the marsh, which includes dykes, nesting islands and water control structures.

About two thirds of the management area was donated in 1971 by the estate of Robert W. Starratt, a former bush pilot and well-known member of the Valemount community. There are currently 28 wildlife management areas in BC, ranging from 17 to 122,500 hectares in size, together totaling more than 244,000 hectares.

The open house will be held on Thursday Nov. 6th at the Best Western Valemount, from 5:30 to 7:30pm.