I am sending you a few newsletters that will document the how, when, where and why the cow and Gilpin rancher have won virtually every fight in spite of the money and effort of three provincial governments who have recognized the importance of Gilpin’s south facing grassland slopes and adjacent forest to a long list of animals large and small.
Two land conservancy initiatives have likewise recognized Gilpin’s importance to wildlife by purchasing 792 acres.
One of my major objectives is to chronicle my story via newsletters and pictures that will reinforce the obvious- good government will support ranching but honor its statutory responsibility and remove the cow from sensitive important environments; important water courses, quality recreation sites like parks and areas critical to wildlife.
From a provincial perspective it is true that the Gilpin moderate/steep grassland slopes and adjacent forest represent an extremely small percent of the B.C. land base but it is also true the Gilpin story in its entirety tells a story that showcases a grim future for the province’s wildlife resource if the cronyism and corruption that will be described is not reversed.
The tip of the triangle that describes my grievance with range staff and a major reason I relentlessly pursue a Wildlife Management Area designation is well described on page 3 of the November 2009 Forest Practices Board- Range Planning Under the Forest and Range Practices Act- Special Investigation.
“The investigation found that many MFR district range staff place a high priority on developing and maintaining long term working relationships with range agreement holders.
The Board agrees that maintaining good working relationships between range staff and agreement holders is important but notes that it is imperative that the relationships not cloud the responsibility of range staff to ensure that agreement holders meet the minimum requirements of the legislation.
Range plans that do not meet these requirements should not be approved and when range staff becomes aware of issues on the ground, compliance and enforcement staff should be brought in to investigate.”
I am going to send you three short stories and pictures that are a good example of ranching politics and illustrate how the cow and ranchers are winning every fight on the province’s grassland ecosystem.
There are three major objectives to get justice for the Gilpin Grasslands all of which are supported by the preponderance of facts that speak on behalf of the public interest.
- Implementation of the Draft Management Plan July 2008 for the proposed Gilpin Morrissey Wildlife Management Area.
- Removal of cows from the Class A Provincial Gilpin Grassland Park.
- Fence cows out of Nature Trust’s 475 acres which is supported by the 99 year lease agreement signed with the Fish & Wildlife Branch in 1974.
Any cursory examination of Range Management politics in our province to-day would easily conclude that domestic animals primarily cows are in a major conflict with responsible water management. The most egregious example in the Boundary is east of Greenwood BC adjacent to Highway #3, a large number of animals on a small acreage have been allowed to compromise E’Holt Creek, a fish bearing stream. Piles of manure are extremely close to the creek. I will send you pictures.
The point is that when politicians refuse to lead and the public remains silent then it is a given the democratic process is likewise dead, all of which reinforces my opinion that it is long overdue to engage First nations and ask them if their values square up with the management objective that implemented will validate Gilpin’s importance.
The 1994-96 West Kootenay Boundary Commission on Resources and Environment description of proposed Special Management Areas for the Gilpin Grasslands highlights the following facts:
Traditionally this area supported native economic and cultural activity. Four precontact sites are recorded in the area.
Habitat conservation and restoration is the primary management objective in this unit.
Management approaches should emphasize maintenance and restoration of natural grasslands and may include access limitations, weed control, management of rangeland and grazing activities and monitoring of habitat quality and performance.
Alice and Jim Glanville’s “Grand Forks- The first 100 Years” is a reminder that when the Grand Coulee Dam was completed in the 1930s that was the end of salmon in the Kettle River and likewise the end of any significant presence of First Nations in the east Boundary.
“For many hundreds of years Indians traversed the valley in their constant search for a livelihood. They were hunters and gatherers who came to the Kettle Valley to seek the abundance of wildlife, gathering the life-sustaining plants and roots.
Salmon plentiful at Cascade Falls provided an excellent source of food. According to Ralph Wolverton, an early pioneer of Cascade, the fish were so numerous that they could not miss them.”
The SE corner of the Gilpin Grassland Park touches the Kettle River and is only 2KM west of Cascade Falls.
Barry Brandow Sr.