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PHOTOS: Lheidli T'enneh reveals plans for Ancient Forest Enhancement Project

Funding was originally announced in July

The Lheidli T'enneh First Nation announced its plans today (Sept. 4) on how government funding will be used for enhancements in the Ancient Forest near Prince George. 

The Ancient Forest/Chun T'oh Whudujut has been awarded portions of the project with $8.7 million from both the federal and provincial governments which will be used for a new interpretive center, a pit-house, sweat lodge, upgrading existing boardwalks, widening paths, installing handrails and construction of a Trail Rider to allow mobility challenged individuals. 

The Lheidli T’enneh contribute $870,254, the provincial government $1,305,380, and the federal government $6,526,901 which is a total of $8,702,535 in funding, announced this past July

The Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut is the only inland temperate rainforest in the world. It's located just 115 km east of Prince George and it brings you face-to-face with thousand-year-old western red cedars and a rich biodiversity of plants, mosses, lichens, and fungi.

"Our nation is excited about this project as it will provide new opportunities for our members and project partners, build capacity without our nation and help us enhance and develop, manage and protect this world-wide class natural space," Dayi (Chief) Clayton Pountney said of the announcement. 

"This is the only inland rainforest on the planet and this project will allow us to welcome visitors to experience this unique ecosystem and learn more about L'heidli T'enneh history, culture and people at the same time."

The project is expected to take four years to complete. 

"Our support for these enhancements to the Ancient Forest reflects our government's commitment to advancing reconciliation and renewing the relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership," Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities The Honourable Catherine McKenna added. 

"Once complete, the project will help restore and preserve Lheidli T'enneh cultural practices and traditions while providing everyone in the region with a more enriching experience of Canada's only inland rainforest. Canada's Infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across Canada and builds stronger communities." 

Lheidli T'enneh Economic Development Manager Rena Zatorski says more detailed planning will be started this fall. 

"Detailed planning for the projects will begin this fall led by an Ancient Forest Enhancement Project Group," she said.

"Lheidli T'enneh has concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with the Province of B.C. in August 2018 and are currently developing a Park Management Plan in collaboration with B.C. Parks for the planning and management of Chun T'oh Whudjut Ancient Forest Park and Protected Area. 

"We would also like to acknowledge the numerous volunteers and organizations who have contributed to making the Ancient Forest a must-see site in the Lheidli Territory."

- with files from Hanna Petersen, PrinceGeorgeMatters