The Caribou Clan in partnership with the Lake Babine Nation has deactivated Gullwing Road and Phonton Road to ensure access into the area by hunters is momentarily stopped.
Ronnie West, Hereditary Chief and Caribou Clan spokesperson, said machines began digging out the 69 kilometres of roadway last Friday and there will be no vehicle access on it over the winter months. He said any road that is used mainly for company access that is no longer being used is normally deactivated instead of being maintained.
West said this is the case with Gullwing Road, which he noted is only used by hunters during the winter months. He said they will fill the road back in during the spring and reactivate it so tree planters can access the road.
Gullwing Road branches off to Phonton Road and is located a hour-and-a-half north of Burns Lake and accessed by a barge across Babine Lake.
“It’s not being used right now and in the past year there have been too many hunters across there,” said West, noting he received confirmation from conservation officers that the area is not monitored well and the moose population appears low. “I took it upon myself as a clan leader…that we’re going to deactivate it [for the winter] and let that population grow back up.”
Lake Babine Nation Chief Wilf Adam said the Caribou Clan initiative emerged out of concerns about increased hunting in the area. He said West sought help from the B.C. government and didn’t get any, so he asked Lake Babine Nation if they could assist.
“We fully support the protection of the land if government would not listen to our concerns,” said Adam. “I [hope] there is an amicable resolution to the event.”
West said he handed out notices last Wednesday and informed radio media that the road would be deactivated before the machines went in to do the work. He said there have also been consultations with neighbouring First Nations as well as forestry and sawmill companies and everybody is onboard with the decision.
Steve Zika, CEO of Hampton Affiliates, could not be reached for comment by press time.
“The job has got to be done [because] my biggest concern is the moose population,” he said. “Last year I was there [and] that place looked like a village. There were so many hunters [and] campers. Just imagine what they’re doing to the moose population. There are just so many roads out there and the moose needs some protection too.”