Backcountry tenure proposal concerning: Wildsight
Town hall meeting in Kimberley April 30
A year round backcountry tenure for heli-skiing, heli-biking and heli-hiking and more is proposed for the heart of the south Purcell wilderness and it is a cause for concern notes Wildsight.
Covering 700 square kilometres (70,992 hectares), it stretches from the mountains just above Kootenay Lake all the way to near St. Mary’s Lake west of Kimberley, including the Meachen Creek and Gray Creek Forest Service Roads.
The proposal has been put forward by adventure tourism operator Retallack, and it has recently been announced that the project will be in partnership with Yaqan nu?kiy, the Lower Kootenay Band.
The proposed tenure includes building 33 helicopter-accessed bike trails that cover more than 160 km. The operation would bring a hundred people or more into the backcountry every day, with plans also in place for a lodge.
“We’re concerned because this area is prime wildlife habitat,” said Eddie Petryshen, Wildsight’s Conservation Coordinator. “Besides being crucial for wildlife connectivity in every direction, it has important huckleberry patches for grizzly bears and sustains mountain goats, wolverines, moose, trout and more. And the surrounding area supports the struggling South Purcells mountain caribou herd.”
There will be a meeting in Kimberley at Centre 64 on Monday, April 30 at 7 p.m.; in Nelson at the United Church Hall on Wednesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. (co-hosted with the West Kootenay Ecosociety); and in Gray Creek at the Gray Creek Hall on Thursday, May 3 at 7 p.m.
“With this many downhill bike trails, so many people on them and all-day helicopter traffic in the summer and winter,” said Petryshen, “we’re looking at a pretty fundamental change to the backcountry in the upper St. Mary’s Valley and the mountains above Kootenay Lake.”
At the same time, Northwest Mountain Experience is also asking for a 110-km2 tenure in Dewar Creek, near the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, for a helicopter-accessed backcountry lodge with ski touring and hiking.
The B.C. government is accepting public comments on both tenure proposals. Comments on Northwest Mountain Experience’s proposal are accepted until May 6 and on 1155768 B.C. Ltd. / Retallack’s proposal until May 13.
See wildsight.ca for more details.
Lead image: The high alpine of Upper St Marys. Photos by Bruce Kirkby