Province Funds Muskwa-kechika Research Program At UNBC

April 9, 1999 For Immediate Release

FORT ST. JOHN - A total of $900,000 in funding for the University of Northern British Columbia will help to increase understanding of the unique economic and environmental interests in the Northern Rockies, Muskwa-Kechika advisory board chair and MLA John Cashore announce today.

The Muskwa-Kechika advisory board recommended the funding to be given to UNBC to establish a professorship and develop a Muskwa-Kechika research program. The funding comes from the $2-million Muskwa-Kechika trust fund for management, research and planning in the Muskwa-Kechika, a vast area in British Columbia's Northern Rockies.

"Our board's partnership with UNBC helps to fulfill our mandate to broaden the public's understanding of the global importance of the Muskwa-Kechika area," said Cashore. "This agreement will ensure that a balance of environmental, economic and sustainable development interests in the area are represented."

"As trustee for the Muskwa-Kechika Trust, I fully endorse the board's recommendation to fund this new Muskwa-Kechika research program through UNBC," said Environment, Lands and Parks Minister Cathy McGregor, speaking earlier today from Prince George. "This is an excellent opportunity to promote environmental sustainability in the North and foster greater understanding of the unique qualities of the Northern Rockies."

The funding will be used over the next four years to: establish a Muskwa-Kechika research professorship affiliated with UNBC, working out of Fort St. John and/or Fort Nelson, to co-ordinate research on wilderness management and work with local people to develop sound strategies for sustainable resource management; provide funding for students undertaking studies related to the Muskwa-Kechika management area; extend a distinguished speaker series with a focus on land use planning to communities next to the Muskwa-Kechika management area; produce community presentations on wilderness management issues; and create a Muskwa-Kechika endowment fund to provide resources for long-term research and wilderness management.

"This illustrates the role a northern university can play in dealing with northern issues for northern people," said UNBC president Charles Jago. "The research we will be conducting on integrated resource management will complement the new energy degree program we're launching this September in Fort St. John."

The Muskwa-Kechika programs at UNBC will be delivered through the university's Northern Land Use Institute, an interdisciplinary research institute. The institute's goals are improving land use planning, natural resource management, and environmental decision-making in the North.

"Northerners recognize the need for partnerships like this that help contribute to our knowledge of northern environments and how to sustain them, "said Ross Peck, vice-chair of the Muskwa-Kechika advisory board.

The Muskwa-Kechika area was announced by Premier Glen Clark as a result of recommendations in the Fort Nelson and Fort St. John land and resource management plans, which led to the creation of new protected areas, a special management area and a trust fund. The Muskwa-Kechika includes 1.17-million hectares of parks and protected areas, surrounded by a 3.24-million hectares special management area. This unroaded wilderness represents one of the greatest predator-prey systems anywhere.

Note: Muskwa-Kechika backgrounder and map available on request.

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