The NB Media Co-op interviewed Jean Louis Deveau with Plants & Animals about their lawsuit to protect Mount Carleton Provincial Park.
What is happening at Mount Carleton? Who are the Plants & Animals and why are they taking the government to court?
Deveau: The Gallant government, in partnership with ACOA, the New Brunswick Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and the Village of St-Quentin are developing a snowmobile grooming hub at the park. This is not what New Brunswickers who participated in the 2013 Parks Act review said that they wanted for this or any of our other provincial parks. New Brunswickers told the government that they wanted to have management plans focused first and foremost on the conservation and preservation of the ecology and biodiversity of our parks. The Plants & Animals, representing the biodiversity of Mount Carleton, are taking the Gallant government to court because it has failed to fulfill its legislated requirement of developing a management plan for this park.
Why is Mount Carleton special? Why should it be protected?
Deveau: Mount Carleton is special not only because it has the highest mountain peak in the Maritimes but because it provides us with over 63 million dollars worth of ecosystem services annually. Ecosystem services include such things as water supply, air filtration by trees, water filtration, erosion control/sediment retention, pollination, wildlife habitat, and so on. According to a report called the “Peace Dividend: Assessing the Economic Value of Ecosystems in B.C.’s Peace River Watershed,” ecological economists have estimated that Canada’s boreal forest provides $3,400 per hectare in ecosystem services. Using those figures, Mount Carleton Provincial Park’s 18,628 hectares provide us with ecosystem services worth almost three times the 21.5 million dollars that the snowmobile industry purportedly brings to the entire province annually.
Who is behind this initiative to protect Mount Carleton? What is the Peace and Friendship Alliance?
Deveau: The Peace & Friendship Alliance is helping the Plants & Animals of the park prepare for their day in court. Established in 2015, the Peace and Friendship Alliance’s mission is to protect Mother Earth. Consisting of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, the Alliance meets monthly wherever Mother Earth is threatened. The next scheduled meeting is at Mount Carleton Provincial Park, September 30-October 2.
How can people support the initiative to protect Mount Carleton?
Deveau: My first recommendation is to Google “Plants & Animals take on N.B. Gov’t,” and to make a donation. Unlike the controversies surrounding shale gas mining and the proposed sale of NB Power, there is no critical mass of people opposing the grooming hub at Mount Carleton. So, this controversy can only be resolved in court where the playing fields are levelled out for both sides. Litigation is not cheap so any donation, large or small, is appreciated by the Plants & Animals. My second recommendation would be to provide feedback on the Environmental Impact Assessment document that was registered for this project on September 9th. It is available in its entirety from the Department of Environment and Local Government’s website as project 1444. Or, you may want to wait until some abbreviated version of it is made available on the Canadian Parks and Wilderness—New Brunswick chapter’s website. Either way, please make your concerns/comments known to both Carl Lavigne (Carl.email@example.com) and Sheila Goucher (Sheila.firstname.lastname@example.org) on or before Oct. 9, 2016.