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Approval of Retallack’s present proposal for an all-season use adventure tenure in the
South Purcell Mountains would have a significant impact on wildlife in the Purcell system
and reduce the amount of suitable and secure core habitat for sensitive species, limit
connectivity, and threaten already stressed, struggling, and fragmented wildlife populations.
Key issues with the proposal include:
● The Cranbrook West Recreation Management Strategy prohibits helicopter-based
recreation in almost the entire tenure, except the portion on Kootenay Lake side of
the mountains, which was outside the strategy’s scope.
● The Southern Purcells is a crucial connectivity link and core habitat for grizzly bears,
including many areas with dense huckleberries that are important for grizzlies,
especially females. Intense all-season use, including helicopter traffic and thousands
of heli-bikers, will displace grizzlies from important habitat and threaten connectivity.
The Southern Purcells are an important linkage for grizzly populations to the south,
north and into the Selkirks and Rockies, making connectivity and secure habitat in
this area crucial.
● Year-round helicopter and human traffic threaten wolverines. With dens hidden
under the snow during the winter and wolverines difficult to spot even in the best of
circumstances, avoid when seen strategies won’t be effective to avoid disturbing
● Mountain goats are extremely sensitive to disturbance from helicopter traffic. With
highly-used goat habitat in many parts of the proposed tenure, the impact on goats
would be high.
● While designated mountain caribou habitat is largely outside the proposed tenure, it
includes many areas that were historically used by caribou. With current caribou
populations spending much of their time near the southwest corner of the tenure,
the potential is high for helicopter disturbance from travel to and from the tenure
from the planned LaFrance Creek lodge.
● Endangered whitebark pine, found at high elevations in many areas of the tenure,
would be at risk for the extensive alpine and sub-alpine trail building proposed. It
would not be possible to build some of the proposed trails without cutting whitebark
● Thirty-three mountain bike trails are proposed across the tenure, covering 161 km.
Adding thousands of downhill and cross-country mountain biker days annually is
ecologically dangerous, especially in sensitive alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems.