Letter: Let's not lose more wilderness to development

Letters to the editor
By Letters to the editor
June 3rd, 2020

To The Editor:

The BC Government Mountain Resorts Branch has recently received an expression of interest (EOI) for a new ski resort development (Zincton Expression of Interest) from Brent Harley and Associates Inc. and are requesting feedback from the public.

The British Columbia Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BCBHA) have concerns and are opposed to this EOI. We believe this commercial recreation development will result in the continued erosion of our shrinking backcountry in the Southern Selkirk Mountains. The potential for disruption of high value wildlife movement and habitat connectivity through four seasons, as well as the fragmentation of the directly adjacent existing intact, quiet wilderness (Goat Range Provincial Park) from this proposal is significant.

By granting commercial recreation rights, the government effectively limits the use of current public land backcountry users in the area. The provincial government issued a one-year moratorium in March 2018 on new winter adventure tourism tenures to develop a strategy for the Central Selkirk Mountains. Since then, the government continues to permit new tenures and tenure amendments that increase user conflict and reduce the amount of high value habitat for sensitive species which are currently under threat; including interior grizzly bears, wolverines, mountain goats, and the threatened mountain caribou.

The EOI rationale is in direct conflict with itself as it plans to offer an ‘authentic backcountry experience’ while effectively destroying the backcountry wilderness in the London Ridge and Whitewater Ridge area and greatly increasing use by to up to 1,550 skiers per day. The development of the proposed resort infrastructure is nothing short of a full resort development including lodging and village amenities, motorized chair lifts, and hiking, skiing, and biking trail networks. While no ski runs are proposed, the activity of glading and removing trees in areas for skiing alters the landscape and may have detrimental effects on the high value wildlife habitat.

Our backcountry in the south eastern part of British Columbia is experiencing a significant increase of human use, which is already placing impacts on wildlife that occupy the proposed area and this proposed resort would continue this destructive trend. Habitat alteration and the displacement of wildlife into less productive habitats is a serious concern.

The commercial tenure would significantly impact recreational backcountry users that currently utilize the area and puts a price of admission on existing publicly accessible backcountry. The management of natural habitat for all wildlife species in British Columbia is one of the core values of the BC Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Our organization firmly believes that effective and healthy habitat is critical in order to sustain wildlife populations and provide high quality hunting and fishing and backcountry recreational opportunities for future generations in this province.

We encourage British Columbians to send their comments regarding the Zincton Resort expression of interest to the Government by e-mail at MountainResortsBranch@gov.bc.ca

Alan Duffy, Provincial Chair, British Columbia Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

Andrew Van Vliet, West Kootenay Chair, British Columbia Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

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