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Canadians Fight Canada to Save Big Bog

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - An environmental group sued the Canadian government in a last-ditch effort to stop a major road building project which allegedly threatens the ecological well-being of Burns Bog, one of the largest raised peat bogs in the world.

Burns Bog covers 40 square kilometers and provides habitat for at least 24 mammal species and 150 species of birds. It was an important source of food for Native Americans.

The Burns Bog Conservation Society describes the government's Pacific Gateway Strategy as "a major infrastructure project to improve Canada's ability to trade with the markets in the Indo-Pacific Basin by marine transport."

The controversial project includes building the South Fraser Perimeter Road, a 4-lane highway paralleling the Fraser River, which the Conservation Society says will "have a long-term impact on the ecological balance of Burns Bog."

"Defendants each have a general duty to protect Burns Bog given its unique and important status as a carbon sink," the complaint states. "Burns Bog has the ability to absorb large amounts of [carbon dioxide] from the atmosphere."

The society says the government is legally bound to conserve the bog, and that the construction project will harm the bog's hydrology and habitat for Sandhill Cranes, several species of fish and migratory birds and at-risk species such as the red backed vole.

The road "must be constructed in conformity with the preservation and long-term protection of Burns Bog in conformity with the Burns Bog Agreements and ensure that Burns Bog can act as a natural carbon sink in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia," according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs seek "whatever equitable and legal remedies" are available to "ensure that the ecological balance of Burns Bog is maintained for future generations."

They are represented in Federal Court by James Straith, of West Vancouver.

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