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Forest range licence renewed without consultation, First Nation says

Halfway River First Nation says the provincial government has failed to consult with them over a forest tenure range located at the Crystal Springs Ranch. 
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Halfway River First Nation has filed a B.C. Supreme Court petition to protect their treaty rights, following a provincial licence renewal for a forest tenure range located ten kilometres west of their reserve. 

The tenure is held by Crystal Springs Ranch Ltd., and covers an area within the boundaries of Treaty 8 and Halfway River’s traditional territory. The Halfway River watershed is nearly 80 percent covered by range tenures, noted the October 20 petition. 

The province disregarded Halfway River’s treaty rights by renewing the Crystal Springs licence “without incorporating reasonable mitigation measures identified by Halfway River”, the petition says. 

Due to a large number of tenures in their territory, band members have been forced to travel further away from the community to hunt, the petition says, with fencing erected around tenures keeping them out of traditional hunting grounds. 

Cattle displace moose, elk, and caribou populations, wrote Halfway River First Nation, due to cattle defecating on mineral licks typically used by the wild animals, preventing access to critical nutrition. 

The province also failed to amend the Range Act and the Forest and Range Practices Act to allow pre-renewal consultation, Halfway River argues 

“At no time has the Province described how or where the duty to consult fits into their evaluation regarding licence renewals,” states the petition.  

Halfway River First Nation is not alone in petitioning the provincial government, with West Moberly First Nations having recently filed a B.C. Supreme Court petition to protect the Anzac and Table River area from logging proposed by Canfor.