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Posted: January 23, 2021

Working together to protect wildlife and drivers

By Doug Clovechok

About a year ago I met with Rick Hoar and Kent Kebe from the Lake Windermere Rod and Gun Club about the alarming mortality rate of Bighorn Sheep due to traffic on the Radium hill (Highway 93/95).

From that discussion, I pulled together a group of professionals and experts from a broad spectrum of organizations. These were organizations I felt would be best to address this decades-old concern. Since March 2020, our working group has been sharing various forms of data from the highway, and information on the sheep’s behaviour in and around the Village of Radium Hot Springs.

The most concerning highway section is just south of the village, and our group concluded that a highway overpass south of the village would give the sheep the best chance at thriving while keeping drivers safe.

In the fall of 2020 our Wildlife Biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development (FLNRORD) successfully requested and received funding to have a study and report done on this project. In addition, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) assigned a 10-person design team to assist with this project. MOTI has also successfully secured $300,000 for the upcoming budget year that will take this project to the next level; MOTI’s investment will go towards a geotechnical survey of the hill, creating a concept of the overpass, and research into fencing options.

Our initial funding success from each of these two ministries is primarily due to the discussions and data sharing within the working group. Even though we are working through a pandemic, an impressive amount of work has been accomplished within the various levels of government/agencies on this project.

Despite the dedication and expediency of this group, we are still in the initial stages of the project. Having said that, I think it is important to share this development with you; I will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.

For now, let’s enjoy the win for our iconic Bighorn Sheep, and for Columbia River-Revelstoke.

I want to thank the following local organizations who continue to stay involved with my offices in the working group (listed below in no particular order).

Bighorn committee members gather on Mile Hill south of Radium.

The staff of these organizations who lend their expertise and support to this issue/project are what contributed to our region’s initial success, and I thank you.

Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, & Rural Development;

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure;

Parks Canada;

Village of Radium Hot Springs;

Shuswap Indian Band;

Akisqnuk First Nation;

Regional District of East Kootenay;

Lake Windermere Rod & Gun Club;

R.C.M.P.;

Columbia Basin Trust;

B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

Lead image: Part of the Radium bighorn sheep band gathers on the east side of Highway 93/95 (Radium Mile Hill) south of the village. Photos courtesy Doug Clovechok

– Doug Clovechok is Member of the Legislative Assembly for Columbia River – Revelstoke


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