Babine River Foundation

Briefing Note

BRIEFING NOTEDECEMBER 2002: The Future of the Babine River Corridor

Background

The Babine River near Smithers is a world famous destination for steelhead fishing, wilderness white water rafting and wildlife viewing, and includes one of British Columbia’s most significant grizzly habitats. It also contains a government-protected population of wild bull trout and at least four species of wild salmon. In the Bulkley and Kispiox Land and Resource Management Plans implemented during the 1990’s, the provincial government made commitments to maintain these resource values. The watershed is also a part of the Bulkley, Kispiox and Morice Timber Supply Areas.

In 1999 the importance of this wilderness area was recognized by the creation of a two km wide Class A Babine Wilderness Park with an additional 1 km Special Management Zone (SMZ) on both sides of the Park. This was done because the Babine wilderness is an irreplaceable part of British Columbia’s recreational reputation and economic development. In 2001, for example, wilderness tourism in the Babine River Corridor generated an actual total GDP of $4.5 million and contributed $650,000 to provincial government coffers. The economic contribution of the River and Park is dependent on the protection of the River itself and the watershed area surrounding the River, including the SMZ.

Revenue from commercial tourism is sustainable and will continue to grow (7% per year since 1995) as it has over the past fifty years. In contrast, the maximum potential economic contribution from logging in the existing SMZ would be a GDP of $3.2 million and $150,000 in net annual stumpage revenues. Logging revenues cannot match the sustainable commercial tourism revenues from this area, and will in fact decrease with the planned 54% decline to the long-term harvest level.