Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Vecchiato’s Voice - February 1, 2006......."One Chopped Down the Cuckoo's Nest"

Protection of nesting birds and streams is about the only legal avenue available for nature conservation. Who cares, you might say? However, a law is a law, whether it's busting a grow op, giving a traffic ticket, or protecting species. I sent the following letter to both federal and provincial Ministers of Environment, with a carbon copy sent to the Township of Langley. Why harp on the same issue, you might ask? Because year after year, the legislation is ignored, and the bodies of government seem to skirt around one another. Case in point, I received a letter from staff regarding "Protection of Avian Species, which said that "Your correspondence was received at the special Council Meeting held January 23, 2006, although council took no specific action on your letter, they did note its contents." Senior staff has circulated the text of the Migratory Bird Act to employees in the planning arena, which should be applauded. But here comes another season with no interest in promoting seasonal clearing or showing due diligence regarding nesting birds:

January 10, 2006

Dear Ministers Dion and Penner:

Federal and provincial legislation are in place to protect avian species, with the effective nesting period according to the International Migratory Bird Act beginning March 10th.

In the past, enforcement in developing areas, specifically in the Lower Mainland area of British Columbia, has been minimal due to limited regional office staff. Each municipality is in a unique position to work alongside Environmental Canada and BC's Ministry of Environment to offer protection during nesting season.

In the past, municipal officials have been negligent in tracking parcels that are cleared at the height of nesting season. In addition, private homeowners clear rampantly during the nesting window, but no local enforcement is available, except if residents can document nesting activity,
which would include photographs, witnesses, and trespassing. However, if residents become the eyes and ears of government, they run the risk of retaliation and ostracizing of their families.

If federal and provincial ministries could work alongside municipalities in order to uphold the law, species decline, as predicted by the Audubon Society, can be minimized. I would suggest that the three levels of government work together in the following manner:

a.. Have local by-laws that echo provincial and federal legislation as presented in the BC Wildlife Act, Section 5, and the International Migratory Bird Act
b.. Inform residents, developers, and tree service companies of nesting season, potential fines, and demand compliance.
c.. Work with municipalities to fund the inclusion of municipal, provincial, and federal laws information in all property tax bills.

Some municipalities have enacted strong legislation, which protects wildlife trees, as defined by the Forestry Service. Most have not. We look to our governments to enforce laws they enact, not rely on residents to play the role of enforcement officers.

Thanking you in advance, I am

Sincere Regards, Cathleen Vecchiato

cc: Mayor and Council Township of Langley

Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for the past 5-1/2 years.She is a very well recognized champion of the environment and community activist in Langley as well as in other adjoining communities.Cathleen formed and leads the Langley Conservation Network. Editor-LFP

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