Friday, August 10, 2012

Endangered Gems in Southeastern BC

We recently returned from the Vahalla Provincial Park which was protected through the actions of local citizens in New Denver in 1975 who started the Vahalla Wilderness Society.  
Throughout my visit, I reflected with gratitude for these hard working people to convince the BC Province that this place was special and needed to be conserved for future generations of humans and bears.
Currently, there are many, many conservation battles that are being fought in British Columbia.
I wrote earlier about the proposed park in the southern Okanagan (July 26, Oh Summertime in Canada), and I wanted to share about three more important causes that are being fought for to keep the planet healthy in Southeastern British Columbia.

Canadian recognition of the Sinixt Nation
I want to include the people of the Sinixt Nation in this list, not that they need to be conserved according to the British Columbian and Canadian governments...  they have been declared EXTINCT!  The land where Mark and I met in Halfway Hotsprings is Sinixt Territory, located on a drainage that feeds into the now damned Arrow Lake.  Coming north from the Kootenay River up the Slocan we drove past Frog Mtn and the land where the Sinixt Nation is reclaiming their First Nation Aboriginal Land Claims.  I found a really good article on the web by Rex Weyler, "Back from Extinction".
Galena Bay where the Arrow Lakes Ferry Crossing is, also Sixint traditional  lands and water 
Apparently BC Hydro erected a totem pole dedicated to the extinct people, and the Sinixt never ever used totem poles.  Classic, for flooding a homeland territory to be that ignorant. Next time I'm in the area I want to go to Edgewood BC to see it!  It seems like if it's still there, it should be accompanied by information about this First Nation people who are alive and well and must get recognition from the Federal and Provincial governments of Canada.

Jumbo Glacier Resort at Jumbo Pass 
Well, doesn't British Columbia need another ski area that's a sham for selling real estate and building condos?  The provincial government is a proponent of it that's for sure.  They've even nominated the area as a municipality for a resort community like Golden, Invermere, Osoyoos and Whistler.  And nobody lives there!  How can it be a municipality?  Anyway, perhaps you've seen the bumperstickers "Keep Jumbo Wild" and wonder if it has to do with pink elephants and drinking.  Instead, the Jumbo Pass area is a very large roadless area in the northern Purcells that very easily could have had the trans-canada hwy go through there (they decided on Rogers Pass).  For the past 20 years, people have wanted to build a ski area there.  On the Farnham glacier, people have trained for the Olympics there.  And for 20 years, local residents and First Nation people, particularly the Ktunaxa, have protested the development.  I just learned during this web search that the Ktunaxa and the Sinixt are in collusion with one another which is terribly unfortunate.  This blog, explains that circumstance and the conflict that exists - once again it sounds like an opportunity for a government to take advantage of feuding First Nations to promote economic development at the expense of not only people but the environment.  Either way, I'm sure the Grizzly Bears don't care.  If they could vote, I suspect they just want the property to remain like it is.  My vote is with the bears. And I'm a skier too.

Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park
British Columbia still has a herd of surviving Mountain Caribou, albeit quite small, numbering less than 100 animals.  The vision for protecting and recovering habitat for the Mountain Caribou is showcased by Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park proposal.  It would link several designated conservation areas with corridors for the Mountain Caribou to move about.  I don't know if the proposal includes the Darkwood Property recently purchased by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Maybe that's where the survivors are hanging out!  The herd also moves into Northern Idaho, so wouldn't it be nice if the United States could put some land aside south of the border as well? According to the Idaho Conservation League these caribou are the most endangered mammal in the United States.

What's really interesting is that I've learned that British Columbia has stopped using the official branding, "best place to live".  Maybe the politicians have officially acknowledged their lack of caring to keep it that way.  

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