FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) is working with local First Nations to bring former oil and gas sites back to their natural state, including Saulteau First Nations, Doig River First Nation and Fort Nelson First Nation.

Using funds from the B.C. Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society, the BCOGC is working with Fort Nelson First Nation to restore borrow pits in Clarke Lake using “ecologically suitable and culturally appropriate restoration techniques.”

The project involves field sampling and site-specific prescriptions that took place in the summer of 2018. Fort Nelson First Nation’s employees did earthworks in the fall, and plant seeds collected in the fall have been sent to a nursery for spring planting.

“This opportunity is an example of First Nation’s people taking our environmental responsibilities to the next level,” said Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Curtis Dickie.  “These projects will provide our people with employment and with the state of the local economy the partnership is very uplifting and we hope this partnership can be used as an example and create other opportunities to collaborate with the Commission going forward.”

“Our government is dedicated to reconciliation, and we are working with First Nations to build a better future,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “With this initiative, we are partnering with the Fort Nelson First Nation to make sure to protect the environment and restore oil and gas sites.”

In addition to the Fort Nelson First Nation, the Commission is also working with other Treaty 8 First Nations on other pilot projects to explore restoration practices on orphan oil and gas well sites. So far, talks are ongoing with FNFN, Saulteau First Nations and Doig River First Nation to begin work this year, and talks are planned with other First Nations as well.

Doig River First Nation Chief Trevor Makadahay says his territory has seen a lot of activity in the past 40 years, and they want to be part of the solution to reclaim and restore the land.

“This is important to our community so we can exercise our treaty rights on a landscape that is healthy and back to its natural state. We would like to work with the Commission to expedite reclamation and restoration activities on non-producing sites so the land and water is healthy for the wildlife population,” said Chief Makadahay.

Updates made to the Oil and Gas Activities Act last spring have allowed the BCOGC to improve its funding model and complete restorations in a timely manner, according to a release.