A new protected area next to the recently established Nlhaxten/Cerise Creek Conservancy will help conserve biodiversity, support traditional Indigenous land-use activities and protect cultural landmarks.
“We know Pipi7iyekw is a culturally important area for resource gathering, history and learning to the Lil’wat Nation and the St’at’imc Nation,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Protecting it helps fulfil our land-use planning agreement commitments and makes sure that the forest will remain in place to protect their cultural values.”
Pipi7iyekw (pronounced pippy yook) totals 864 hectares of old-growth forests and sensitive ecosystems within the Lillooet Timber Supply Area of the Cascades Natural Resource District. The protected designation ensures that the Lil’wat and St’at’imc Nations’ ongoing, traditional use of cultural heritage resources, such as gathering wild plants for food and botanical medicines, and culturally modified trees and artifact sites in the area, will remain unaffected by development.
“Since time immemorial, the people of the Lil’wat Nation have depended on Pipi7iyekw for food, medicine, resources, teaching and to practice our culture, traditions and spirituality,” said Political Chief Dean Nelson, Lil’wat Nation. “Many people have used this area over the years and continue to. Our late Elder Morgan Wells would regularly gather plants here, so much so that it became a place known as Morgan’s Garden. Pipi7iyekw is just one of many important places within our territory that Lil’wat people actively use. We’ve worked hard with the Province to protect this area and are proud of this collective achievement.”
In 2008, the Province and Lil’wat Nation entered into a land-use planning agreement associated with the Sea-to-Sky Land and Resource Management Plan. The agreement includes a commitment for Lil’wat to identify up to 2,000 hectares of “old-growth forest and sensitive areas” within its territory for protection. With the establishment of Pipi7iyekw, more than two-thirds of the committed area has been established as protected area.
“Last fall, we passed legislation to implement the United Nations’ Declaration, recognizing in law the human rights of Indigenous peoples,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “As stewards of the land since time immemorial, an important part of reconciliation is to work with Nations on decisions that affect their territories — and as government, we make better decisions when we incorporate the wisdom and guidance that First Nations have to offer.”
Pipi7iyekw’s legal designation removes 0.2% from the Lillooet Timber Supply Area’s timber harvesting land base — the area where timber harvesting is legally and economically feasible. As a protected area, it will, in the long term:
- maintain representative examples of old-condition, forested stands in culturally and ecologically important areas;
- maintain habitat for old-growth-dependent species;
- maintain recruitment habitat for cultural cedar and other culturally important species; and
- maintain culturally and ecologically important ecosystems, including, but not limited to, riparian areas, red- and blue-listed species habitat, and traditional and cultural use sites.
Existing infrastructure, such as highways and associated buildings, is not affected. Exceptions on timber harvesting also remain to address forest health concerns, such as insect infestations or disease, and to remove safety hazards within road right-of-ways, recreation sites and trails.
Find out more about the Lil’wat Nation: https://lilwat.ca
The minister’s order and a map of Pipi7iyekw is available: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/natural-resource-use/land-water-use/crown-land/land-use-plans-and-objectives/thompsonokanagan-region/lillooet-lrmp/lillooet_lrmp_luor_30jan2020.pdf
Information on Nlhaxten/Cerise Creek Conservancy is available: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/cnsrvncy/nlhaxten-cerise-crk