B.C. environmentalist Gwen Barlee, species protection advocate, dies

Friday, June 23, 2017 (All day)
The Times Colonist
Gwen Barlee, a defender of wild animals and advocate for enhanced endangered species legislation in British Columbia, has died.
The Wilderness Committee, where Barlee worked, said she died Thursday.
Barlee was national policy director at the Wilderness Committee since 2001 and the organization said in a statement she was an invaluable member of the leadership team, guiding many environmental campaigns.
Joe Foy, Wilderness Committee national campaign director, said her colleagues were aware Barlee was fighting cancer, but her death still came as a shock.
"It's like a gut punch," said Foy from the Wilderness Committee's Vancouver office, where Barlee was based. "Those of us who knew she was sick, we did not expect this."
He said Barlee was instrumental in convincing the B.C. government to protect forest lands to preserve the habitat of the northern spotted owl, one of Canada's most endangered species.
B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan said he was saddened to hear of Barlee's death.
"She was a tireless champion for the environment and I was honoured to be her friend," he said in a tweet.
Barlee lobbied for greater amounts of protected forest habitat, not just for the spotted owl but for other species at risk including B.C.'s southern mountain caribou, marbled murrelet and goshawk, said Foy.
Barlee was a staunch advocate for standalone endangered species legislation in B.C.
"What distinguished Gwen as an environmental advocate was her research ability and her commitment to enhancing government accountability, upholding the right for British Columbians to scrutinize government activities and promoting transparent, fair and inclusive decision-making through filing freedom of information requests," said the committee's statement.
Barlee lobbied for the establishment of more provincial and national parks. She ensured that once the parks were established, they were protected from industrial and private resort activities, the statement said.
"She was one of the most compassionate people you'll ever meet when it came to wildlife, animals, creatures of all kind," said Foy. "Gwen was a fearless defender of the public good and that was reflected in the environmental policies she advocated for."

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