LETTER: U.S. foundations protecting salmon

Representative of Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation says it doesn't support efforts to stop oil and gas development

Re: Tree spikers cling to Lelu Island (B.C. Views, July 20).

Tom Fletcher seems to believe protecting salmon is not only bad, but dishonest. He suggests it’s an effort to cover up an international plot to kill B.C.’s oil and gas opportunities and Alberta’s oilsands.

His column falsely asserts that, along with other groups, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has “poured money into anti-LNG campaigns in B.C., as they funded opposition to oilsands development before them. Indeed, the record suggests the long project to establish what environmental front groups named the Great Bear Rainforest was a strategy to stop hydrocarbon exports from western Canada, even as U.S. sources ramped up production.”

The foundation’s Wild Salmon Ecosystems Initiative supports groups working to ensure that all factors – social, environmental and economic – are fairly respected in development decisions. It does not fund efforts to stop oil and gas development.

Salmon support a huge economy that provides jobs, social and cultural benefits. And, in British Columbia, unlike many other parts of North America, we still have a chance to keep most salmon watersheds intact. This is why the foundation supports the efforts of communities to protect these fish. This means ensuring that scientific evidence is fully addressed in project development, including siting decisions.

We are proud supporters of the Great Bear Rainforest, not because we are “anti” anything else, but because this is a unique region. Like the Amazon and the Great Barrier Reef, it is recognized by experts around the globe as one of the planet’s most important and unique natural wonders.

It is a region that deserved to be protected on its own merits – a fact so clear that federal, provincial and First Nation governments came together with industry and environmental groups to ensure it would be. To portray this impressive collaboration as an anti-oil and gas does a disservice to the broad array of Canadians and First Nations that prioritized its preservation.

The Moore Foundation supported this as part of our commitment to assist groups that seek to protect wild salmon habitats along the West Coast. People, issues, organizations and funds cross the Canada-U.S. border all the time. There isn’t anything unusual about Canadian environmental groups requesting and receiving donations from international foundations that share the same environmental goals.

Ivan Thompson, B.C. Program Officer, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Vancouver