Conservation group delivers 5,000 names in support of keeping the Restigouche wild to Premier Graham
Fredericton – Following New Brunswick’s first ever election forum on nature conservation, held yesterday by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), the group is delivering a list of 5,000 people to Premier Graham today who support keeping the province’s most spectacular wilderness, the Restigouche, forever wild.
The Green Party, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party sent representatives to participate in the forum. The NDP representative, Genevieve MacRae, stated that the NDP wants a comprehensive plan that will achieve long-term diverse and sustainable jobs and a healthy forest environment, and was supportive of an increase in protected areas. The Liberal Party representative, Greg Byrne, stated that the Liberals believe the decision they announced previously, with a small increase in protected areas and an increased focus on plantations, is a balanced approach they are committed to following. The Green Party representative, Jean-Louis Deveau, said that they would support increasing the target for establishing new protected areas so that the wildest parts of the Restigouche could be legally protected, in conjunction with more ecosystem based management of public forests. Much to the disappointment of the 60 people in the audience, they were not able to hear from the Progressive Conservative or People’s Alliance parties.
“We were disappointed that despite repeated efforts to confirm representation from the Progressive Conservative and People’s Alliance parties, they chose not to take this opportunity to speak directly with citizens who care about nature conservation. We very much appreciate the Liberal, NDP and Green parties’ participation in this very interesting evening,” says Roberta Clowater, Executive Director of CPAWS New Brunswick Chapter.
Clowater adds, “Our Keep the Restigouche Wild campaign has so far gained support from over 5000 people online and through postcards. These are people from New Brunswick, Quebec and all over Canada who understand the value of Restigouche wilderness to our province’s ecological health, the survival of wild Atlantic salmon and Canada lynx, and hundreds of sustainable nature-based tourism jobs. New Brunswickers and tourists alike understand this is a valuable natural asset that needs to be protected. We hope that all parties realize its importance to the competitiveness of both our tourism and forestry industries. They are both competing in a marketplace where top level environmental sustainability is now expected by consumers.”
The CPAWS New Brunswick and CPAWS Quebec chapters are working together to encourage the two provinces to protect the wildest parts of this cross-provincial watershed. “The Restigouche is home to rich and varied wildlife such as salmon, bear, lynx and eagles – a wilderness respite for local people and visitors. The enthusiasm for signing our petition shows how much the public wants to preserve its wilderness,” said Sophie Paradis, co- Executive Director of CPAWS Quebec.
CPAWS New Brunswick plans to continue pressing for more protection in the Restigouche with the provincial government, once the election is over.