FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Community Says, “No. Hel-No” to Major Heli-Ski Operation Proposal in Delicate Purcell Mountain Range
Crawford Bay, British Columbia – June 30, 2018
(Press Release by Citizens Information Ad-Hoc Group)
The small, quiet communities along the East Shore of Kootenay Lake in South-eastern BC are asking the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources to reject a proposal by a backcountry adventure tour outfit to start a major heli-ski operation in the pristine wilderness in their backyard. Retallack, a nearby cat-skiing business, has partnered with some members of the Lower Kootenay Band (Yaqan Nukiy) and submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources to start a 45-year term for a backcountry adventure tourism operation using nearly 71,000 hectares of wilderness in the South Purcell’s above the shores of the majestic Kootenay Lake.
The Citizens Information Ad-Hoc Group has set up an information booth and can now report that the local community has indicated overwhelming opposition to the proposal. At the time of release, only one or two people have signed the statements of support available, but hundreds have signed the paper petition against the proposal and nearly 700 have signed the online petition.
Retallack and the Lower Kootenay Band have been invited to attend follow up meetings in the community and were also asked via email to answer specific questions to help clarify their proposal but, at the time of release, have not attended nor responded (beyond a press release stating that they are waiting until after the feedback deadline to present their amendments).
A substantial portion of the tenure area is under the Cranbrook West Recreation Management Strategy which was approved April 15, 2005 by the Government of British Columbia (Strategic Land and Resource Planning). This management strategy restricts helicopter-based recreation in much of the proposal area due to its extreme ecological sensitivity. The government initiated this management plan and consulted with many stakeholders to finalize.
Reasons for the community’s dissatisfaction with the proposal include:
-Real threat on existing wildlife due to helicopter activity and human presence https://wildsight.ca/wildsights-comments-on-retallack-proposal/ https://wildsight.ca/blog/2018/04/24/retallack/
Although many animals will be affected (see Wildsight links), two species of note are:
• Caribou: Much of the proposed area is potential caribou habitat. Caribou populations are gravely endangered and habitat destruction is the leading cause of their decline. The Mountain Caribou Technical Advisory Committee (2002) concluded that disturbance from heli-skiing and backcountry activity a major factor in the decline of mountain caribou in BC.
• Grizzly Bears: The proposal as it stands will result in displacement of grizzly bears (particularly females) from suitable habitat and substantially reduce habitat availability for the South Purcell grizzly bear population. It will threaten connectivity and high value habitat for grizzly bears in the Purcell region.
-Wildfire risk and real threat of hazardous environmental impact due to helicopters and fuel caches (spills, transport issues, leaks, fires, contamination, etc)
-Vague language in management plan regarding numbers of users, lack of clear identifiable locations for helipads/staging areas, lack of information regarding locations of huts and lodges, lack of clarity regarding long-term impact report, nature of on-going assessment and maintenance of proposed area, etc
-Noise impact and disturbance due to regular, potentially year-round helicopter activity, causing residents to abandon area and visitors to stop coming to the area – economic strain
-Extreme length and scope of the proposed tenure period
On behalf of the communities affected by this proposal, and in consideration of the overwhelming community opposition (including opposition from beyond the affected area) the Citizens Information Ad-Hoc Group asks that the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources of the Government of British Columbia to impose a full moratorium on the Retallack application #1155768 B.C Ltd, AS WELL AS ANY SUBSEQUENT FORMS OF THE PROPOSAL OR OTHERS OF SIMILAR NATURE.
East Shore residents welcome people to visit the area to take in the natural beauty and explore the backcountry on their own via non-commercial means, but it is clear that commercial adventure tourism operations – especially those employing mechanized means of transportation into such areas – are not welcome. Residents and current recreational visitors strongly believe that the natural landscape of the Kootenay Lake region and adjacent Purcell Mountain range should be kept intact with minimal future disturbance to wildlife or residents.
DEADLINE FOR FEEDBACK TO THE GOVERNMENT IS JULY 13 – ACT NOW!
Any organization (Kootenay Lake, or further afield, registered, formal, or otherwise) willing to write a formal letter describing the impacts and ramifications of this proposal are invited to jump on board – please forward a copy of your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org as well as sending it to the government.
For further information about this proposal and to read more stories, press releases and perspectives on it, please go to www.eshore.ca or email email@example.com
For those writing letters, please send them to the following addresses:
Christine Lohr (FLNR Land Authorizations, Kootenay Boundary): 1.250.365.8627 Christine.Lohr@gov.bc.ca
Doug Donaldson (Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) 1.250.387.6240 FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Rob McCrory (FLNR Tenures Officer) 1.250.825.1106 Rob.McRory@gov.bc.ca
Copy our MLA on all correspondence, please!
Michelle Mungall, MLA Nelson/Creston – 250.354.5944 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Applicant (Retallack) ID: 1155768 BC Ltd