Wildsight and Scott Niedermayer pledge to keep Jumbo Wild March 22, 2012Posted by admin in : Wildsight , add a comment
It was a ‘Jumbo mistake’ for the provincial government to approve the Jumbo Glacier Resort’s Master Development Agreement this week, say Wildsight and Scott Niedermayer, NHL legend who grew up in Cranbrook.
“I am disappointed with the B.C. government’s decision on the Jumbo Glacier resort,” said Niedermayer. “I will continue my efforts to protect the unique, wild areas of the Kootenays for future generations to enjoy. The majestic wildlife, like the grizzly bear, need these large wilderness areas to support healthy populations.”
John Bergenske, Wildsight’s executive director, said opposition to the project remains strong.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that the provincial government has ignored the overwhelming opposition to this project from the people of the Kootenays, the Ktunaxa Nation’s spiritual values, and ignored the clear scientific consensus against the development by North America’s leading grizzly bear experts.
“It’s a bad decision. But it’s not the end,” Bergenske said.
It’s thought that Glacier Resorts Ltd. will need nearly $1 billion in capital investment to build the ski resort. With ski hills across the Kootenays running below capacity and a declining trend in the ski industry and real estate market, Bergenske questions who will invest in the resort.
“This is not economic diversification,” Bergenske said. “The Kootenays have lots of ski resorts, heli- and cat-ski operations. Jumbo is a land grab, pure and simple.”
But before the project can move forward, the land must be rezoned, and the Province hasn’t indicated how. Glacier Resorts has requested that the Province declare the area a resort municipality, creating a town with zero population and an appointed council, the first in B.C.
“It’s never been done before,” Bergenske said.
Niedermayer said it’s not time to let the issue drop.
“I believe we must do all we can to keep these places wild, as they are coming under increasing pressure of development and disappearing around the world,” he said.
Bingay, Swift, Stormcat Oh My! March 6, 2012Posted by ryland in : Wildsight , 5comments
By Casey Brennan
A couple of weeks ago Ryland Nelson and I visited the upper Elk Valley. We wanted to see for ourselves an area that could become the most intensively industrialized section of Canada’s Southern Rockies. The low hanging pockets of cloud were not exactly what we had hoped for as we loaded up but we had to press on with a reconnaissance mission to an area facing three new massive industrial resource extraction projects. These three projects would be just north and west of the already sprawling open pits of Teck Coal’s Fording River and Greenhills operations.
The road on the east side of the Elk River was gated about 25kms north of Elkford so we unloaded Ryland’s snowmobile and started to tandem ride along the powerline and up the ‘zipper’ to an area locals refer to as ‘Stormcat Flats’. We rode on above Stormcat Energy’s pilot coalbed methane site to gain the ridge above the Elk River and see if we could get a view of Centremount Coal’s Bingay Creek mine proposal site as well as the area proposed for Teck Coal’s Fording River mine expansion dubbed ‘Swift’. What we found on the ridge was a well-traveled wildlife trail an old rime covered shack filled with snow and a pretty clear understanding of the grim reality this section of the valley could be facing in the very near future.
The clouds were too thick to be able to see much of the Fording River Valley but we could hear the mine loud and clear. We were able to get a good look at the Bingay Creek mine site. Some shipping containers left behind showed us just how close to the Elk River this mine would be. This mine would be at a very narrow point in the valley bottom and would cause impacts on water and wildlife that could not possibly be mitigated or managed.
We found only one active well at the coalbed methane site. They are ‘treating’ their wastewater by aerating it in an open pond. The ‘treated’ water continues to be dumped into Brit Creek, a tributary of the Elk River, as has been the case for over a decade now. Rust coloured iron oxide filings can be seen in the outflow channel and the treatment pond is a sickly mustard orange colour.
The reason we wanted to have a look at the Stormcat operation firsthand was due to the lack of response to repeated phone calls and emails to the company. We weren’t sure they were even operating the project. Their website is down and their parent company in the US filed for bankruptcy a few years ago.
We headed back to Fernie wondering how and when we are going to stop treating these massive industrial projects as individual, isolated proposals. We need to understand the cumulative impacts from all of the existing and potential human activity in BC’s Southern Rockies.
A century of mining and other intensive human uses of the Elk Valley have had a significant impact on water quality in the river and on wildlife habitat. We are already past thresholds for negative population effects from selenium in the Elk River. We must act now to protect critical habitat and ensure that the amazing variety of life that we share this beautiful place with will not just survive but thrive.
The proposed Southern Rockies Wildlife Management Area is a critical piece needed to strike a balance in the region and put a priority on wildlife. If you have not done so already please sign on as a Friend of the Flathead and use our action centre to let your favourite decision makers know that you support the vision for protecting and connecting BC’s Flathead and Southern Rockies.