Here’s an interesting roads vs. grizzlies study based on DNA data out of British Columbia . . .
It’s simple math, says scientist Clayton Lamb. The closer grizzly bears are to humans, the more ways there are for the bears to die. Put more simply, more roads equal fewer grizzly bears.
In a recent study examining a long-term DNA dataset of grizzly bear activity in British Columbia, Lamb and his colleagues conclusively determined what scientists have long suspected: higher road density leads to lower grizzly bear density, a critical problem for a species still rebounding from a long period of human persecution.
“The problem with grizzly bears and roads is a North American-wide issue. This is the first time that strongly links roads to decreased grizzly bear density,” said Lamb…
Dave Hadden’s recent op-ed in the Flathead Beacon is yet another reminder of why we really don’t want open pit coal mining in the transboundary Flathead Drainage . . .
The Beacon’s June 20 story detailing Teck Coal’s selenium pollution of Lake Koocanusa was barely off the presses when the company had responded with a letter to the editor (June 25) denying that its water treatment plant is failing. Either the Beacon got its facts wrong, or Teck’s conveying false facts. Which one has the long nose?
This is what Teck said in its letter to the editor: “The water treatment facility at our Line Creek Operations is operating and successfully achieving design specifications for reducing selenium and nitrate concentrations in treated water.”
This is what Teck’s Director of Environmental Performance said recently: “We [Teck] clearly and fully violated the intent of the facility, but we have met the requirements of the permit.”
Translation (and just as claimed in the Beacon article) Teck’s water treatment plant is releasing less selenium, but a chemical variety of selenium that is up to 200 times more available for absorption by aquatic organisms. This means that the water treatment plant has worsened the selenium pollution problem.
It’s hard to figure why Teck continues to claim it has succeeded when it has failed.
Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked in the 1800s that, “The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.” Teck hasn’t gotten the job done. It hasn’t cleaned up the Elk River, its pollution continues to flow across the border, it continues to mine coal, and the province of British Columbia has rewarded the company for not succeeding by not revoking permits for four new big mines.
At this point in time Montanans can be assured that we’re the settling pond for Teck’s mining in the Kootenai watershed as a consequence of BC inadequate and broken mine evaluation, permitting, and enforcement process.
Yet another object lesson on why it is so important to protect the transboundary Flathead Watershed . . .
As British Columbia’s downstream neighbor, Montana has long been concerned about mining pollution spilling across the international border and into its world-class watersheds — fears that a growing body of research and evidence confirms are well founded.
Most recently, conservation groups and scientists on both sides of the border have renewed their calls for Teck Resources to halt new coal mines in the Elk River Valley, a step they say gained urgency when an experimental water treatment facility designed to stem the flow of a mining contaminant called selenium was taken offline because it was releasing an even more biologically toxic form of the heavy metal.
The trouble brewing in the Elk River is equally worrisome for Montana, where the upstream waterways of British Columbia flow into two shared bodies of water straddling the international boundary — Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River.
Passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act is beginning to attract notice in the Canadian press, including this piece in the Kootenay News Advertiser . . .
Recently, the U.S. Senate passed the North Fork Watershed Protection Act as part of a nationwide U.S. public lands legislative package. Canadians have awaited this particular legislation since 2010, when then-governor Brian Schweitzer and then-B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell signed the B.C.-Montana Memorandum of Understanding promising to ban mining and oil and gas development in the entire transnational Flathead watershed.
“Passing this legislation represents a truly significant accomplishment for the BC–Montana relationship, and for the health of our shared Waterton-Glacier Peace Park region. It was vitally important for the U.S. government to pass this legislation to balance similar legislation passed in BC in 2011 that banned mining and energy development in the transnational Flathead watershed,” says John Bergenske, Conservation Director of B.C. conservation group Wildsight…
Montana and B.C. had been at odds over appropriate industrial development in the Flathead watershed since 1975, when Rio Algum, Ltd. proposed a mountaintop removal coal mine just six miles north of the international border and the U.S. Glacier National Park. That initial dispute took 13 years to settle, and required the intervention of the International Joint Commission (IJC) that has authority over the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 between Canada and the U.S.
In case anyone wonders why it was so important to oppose resource extraction activities in the transboundary Flathead watershed, just take a look at events in the nearby Elk River drainage . . .
With renewed plans to expand coal-mining operations in southeastern British Columbia’s Elk River drainage, located upstream from one of Montana’s world-class transboundary watersheds, researchers and government agencies are intensifying scrutiny on environmental hazards spanning the border.
The concerns center on increasing amounts of coal waste byproducts leaching into the heavily mined Elk River and its many tributaries, which drain into two bodies of water shared by B.C. and Montana – Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River – both of which are showing increased levels of mining contaminants like selenium in the muscle tissue of fish species.
Looks like Cline Mining has gone from major watershed threat to final bankruptcy . . .
The Parliament of British Columbia has agreed to a nearly $10 million settlement with a mining company that lost its right to develop coal deposits in the transboundary Flathead River near Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park.
The bankrupt Cline Mining Corp. announced Monday it had reached the out-of-court settlement after claiming it was losing a $500 million potential operation. The B.C. government had revoked mining rights as part of the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act in 2010. That legislation solidified an agreement worked out with former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus and Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana to protect the Flathead River.
A similar U.S. measure, the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, has passed the House of Representatives but has been blocked in the Senate. It would place the Montana side of the river, known as the North Fork of the Flathead, off limits to energy development. The international agreement allows logging, gravel mining and other recreation activities.
In last Sunday’s Vancouver Sun, Stephen Hume had some hard words about trophy hunting grizzly bears in British Colombia . . .
A new scientific study reports that grizzly bear mortalities exceed government targets in half the areas where hunting is permitted. This earns another “ho hum” from provincial wildlife authorities.
So what’s new? When the province’s own habitat specialist first raised concerns with methodology in estimating grizzly populations and mortality rates, his bosses suppressed the study.
The province estimates 15,000 grizzlies inhabit British Columbia. Mind you, grizzly estimates seem to be whatever it takes to justify trophy hunting. In 1979, there were 6,600 grizzlies. Then, when trophy hunting was on the agenda, there were almost 17,000.
Some good news from British Columbia: Teck Resources bought up a sizable amount of land (almost 28 square miles) in southeast British Columbia for conservation purposes, most of it in the Flathead River drainage. The Vancouver Sun has the story, including a map . . .
Mining giant Teck Resources will spend $19 million to buy thousands of hectares of land in southeast British Columbia for conservation, the company announced Thursday.
The company said it purchased more than 7,000 hectares in the Elk and Flathead river valleys from Tembec Inc., not for mining but to preserve wildlife and fish habitat. “While not amenable to mining, the lands have the potential to be used for conservation purposes,” the company announced.
Company president Don Lindsay said Teck will work with area First Nations and conservation groups to ensure the protection of key wildlife and fish habitat.
John Frederick passed this article along. I’ll let him do the intro: “This is a quite a different article on bears by Larry Pynn. It was posted 12 October 2013 by the Vancouver Sun…”
“Note that Bruce McLellan who is mentioned below had a cabin for many years across the Flathead River just a ways past the Canadian border and used a canoe to cross back and forth on the river to study bears.”
The Interior Salish know him as Kelowna or Kee-lau-naw, the Sechelt as Mayuk, and the Nisga’a as Lik’inskw.
Alaskans call him the brown bear. And to British Columbians he is the grizzly, a name that engenders respect, wonder and fear – sometimes all at once.
Even the Latin name commands attention: Ursus arctos horribilis.
No other animal better embodies the spirit of the wilderness than the grizzly, an animal that has no natural predators – other than humans and others of its kind – and is also the object of such unrelenting attention that it has generated competing multi-million-dollar industries designed both to kill it as a trophy and to photograph it as living keepsake.