Monthly Archives: February 2018

NEWSLETTER May 5, 2017

The pictures I am sending you represent a serious ongoing problem with dirt bikes on private and crown land in the grassland ecosystem.

The backdrop to the problem is twofold: the lack of any meaningful evidence that the Conservation Service and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources enforcement personnel are trying to address the problem; the wealth of information advocating responsible access management on the Overton/Moody Range Unit i.e. the Gilpin Grasslands totally ignored.

Overton/Moody Coordinated Resource Management Plan

Jan. 26, 1978- Grand Forks Ranger Station.

   The Overton/Moody Unit is recognized as one of the few most important ungulate winter ranges in the Boundary area. Green Belt purchases provide vivid testimonials to this fact. The value of the wildlife resource is rated high for both consumptive and non-consumptive users.

  • Road access in the planned area should not be increased
  • -More restrictive options such as road closures may be required if proliferation of access results from the transmission line construction.

District Grasslands are Sensitive Ecosystems August 31, 1994

The Boundary Forest Service with co-operation from local Conservation Officers is seeking cooperation from the public travelling on open grassland hillsides in the district. These ecosystems are valuable habitat and food source for wildlife and range cattle and can be easily destroyed by vehicles.

To Mr. Glen Thompson, District Manager Ministry of Forests, Grand Forks, Dec. 18, 1998 from Les Molner, District Habitat Officer Boundary Forest District

File: Overton-Moody Motor Vehicle Prohibition Regs. (Proposal)

It is our Ministry’s Position that unregulated use of motor vehicles within this area is a threat to habitat and species of concern. The spread of noxious weeds and direct loss of habitat with the myriad of trails, ruts and non-status roads over many years has created a degraded environment for wildlife.

A sign approximately 1 KM north of the Government’s Agent Office in Grand Forks, the location of the Conservation Officer Service was erected April 15, 1992 “by the forest service and asking grassland users to keep to established roads is just one of the measures being taken to save the Overton-Moody grasslands from all terrain and four wheel drive damage”.

I had conservation with a Conservation Officer from Castlegar and asked him if he could arrange a field trip with a young energetic CO and describe/explain what could and should be done to challenge what is literally a free pass for quad and dirt bike stake holders to make their own rules.

At a Jan. 26, 1984 Overton./Moody CRMP meeting the bookends of the Gilpin Grasslands the following quote by rancher, John Mehmal is a lead into a much bigger story that connects with former owner of Advance Orchards, a nursery east of town and on the south side of Highway #3, Garfield Marshall.”John Mehmal recommended that access should be cut and restricted use by the public would contain the knapweed expansion”

Even though we had a civil relationship, Garfield liked to remind me that as long as he lived in Grand Forks “there will be no changes to the management regime on the Gilpin Grasslands as long as I live in Grand Forks”. Bill Barisoff, our former MLA took Garfield’s message to then Minister of Forest and Range, Rich Coleman.

During the 2008 Wildlife Management Area proposal process in Grand Forks the new Quad Bike Club stridently and crudely demanded the process be terminated because most participants at a poorly attended meeting feared responsible access management would challenge their Charter of Freedom rights to use every single road. Garfield was their “go to guy” to send the Quad Bike Club and Mehmal Ranch message to the BC Liberal Cabinet of the day.

The upshot of the pathetic ongoing example of citizenship, the Mehmal family now remains silent and does not complain to the significant damage done to their property which accordingly to recent Tax Assessments totals 414.97 acres in three District Lots because the Quad Bike Club is their big ally in challenging a Wildlife Management Area Designation.

Fred Marshall, a professional Forester and I agreed that we would decide in the near future on a date for a field trip on Gilpin to critique the current logging in the Interior/Douglas Fir Zone. I will subsequently send the necessary information for those interested.

There will be a meeting May 10th 6:30-9:30 PM at Selkirk College to discuss quotes from Freedom of Information letters to strengthen the argument for the removal of cows from the Class A Gilpin Grassland Provincial Park and a Wildlife Management Area Designation for the three bioclimatic Zones that compromise the Gilpin Ungulate Winter Range.

Remember most valleys in BC run north/south and when you have an east/west valley in southern BC like Gilpin you have significant south facing slopes critical to wintering ungulates and many other wildlife species large and small. There are plenty of places for quad/ dirt/ mountain bikes, logging, hunting, ranching but Gilpin’s south facing slopes are a special asset from our creator but to-day management is a metaphor for the greed and irresponsible behavior that dominates resource management.

Barry Brandow Sr.

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NEWSLETTER April 1, 2017

News Release- The B.C. Liberal Government Natural Resource Operations announced it will form a new wildlife agency in late fall, 2017 backed by $5 million in start up fund and $10 million collected each year from hunting license revenues.

Is this the beginning of a long painful journey to rebuild wildlife populations that have collapsed in a magnitude not witnessed on the North American continent in the modern era of wildlife management or is the stand bearer approach to serious problems on the province’s land base- a little band-aid on a big wound?

B.C. Wildlife Federation Member Update December 28, 2016– The BCWF is extremely concerned that British Columbia’s wildlife resources are dwindling.

Carmen Purdy’s story a former BCWF president describing wildlife population declines in the East Kootenay, once a premier hunting area in the province, is a typical story from credible grey haired hunters.

Mule deer- 70% decline since brutal 96-97 winter

Elk-               70-80% decline

Moose-         90% decline, points finger at predators

Whitetail deer-dramatic decline

Bighorn Sheep- population down

Carmen agrees that liberalized hunting seasons and bag limits are a major problem.

Dave Fyfe, one of the major players in the Wildlife Stewardship Council (outfitters and First Nations) runs the numbers describing one Guide-Outfitter area after the other, as literally vacant of wildlife populations.

    Is there a solution? That debate starts with a political reality wake-up message. The number of hunters in the province is in the order of 100,000, 245 outfitting families plus 300 plus trappers in a B.C. population of 4.7 million.

Twice in the 80s Statistics Canada conducted studies on the Importance of Wildlife to Canadians; both studies concluded that 86% of British Columbians valued wildlife.

The current grizzly bear hunting debate is another reminder that a large percent of British Columbians care about the province’s wildlife resource.

The solution? How about a Quid Pro Quo moment by the BC Wildlife Federation- something for something? The BC Wildlife Federation has been the big push that aggressively championed the Hunting Opportunity Agenda that has resulted in an unprecedented collapse of many wildlife populations.

The BCWF should immediately apologize to the people of BC and admit that the political agenda of dramatically increasing hunting opportunity was a mistake and consequently hunting seasons and bag limits must be reduced NOW! As it is the next 10 years is going to be grim for the province’s wildlife resource. REMEMBER history teaches us many times that you cannot endlessly deny or suppress truth!

Then and only then would it be wise for the BCWF and their point man, Jese Zeeman to make his case: “We need to focus on directing dollars to managing the landscape for growth of wildlife populations. Okanagan Region BCWF- General Meeting December 3, 2016

Every stakeholder group has a firewall to protect their interests and wildlife managers make the point with the following quote found in Managing Wildlife to 2001- A Discussion Paper Oct. 31, 1991 page 2 “One result is that wildlife managers are forced daily, in the absence of good scientific information to make decisions based solely on experience and their best judgment. Those are essential ingredients but not enough. The outcome is that management has become much more conservative, with a real cost to wildlife users in terms of foregone opportunities.

The curse of BC politics is that Ministry of Environment which historically had the wildlife management file, was never respected by governments and consequently there was no political will to fund a ministry that by virtue of their mandate would challenge policies of other ministries.

My point is made by the edict of technical money managers, THE TREND IS YOUR FRIEND. When a technical money manager is asked for advice on a stock he/she will connect the highs over a number of years and recommend you buy, sell or hold and remind you the trend is your friend.

If wildlife managers were to announce dramatic reduction in hunting opportunity driven by scientific information i.e. helicopter flights, this would be a red flag to the provincial government of the day to cut funding and staff and as a consequence wildlife managers best ensure that wildlife inventory tactics result in bloated wildlife population estimates that in the case of whitetail are a farce.

I have made a Freedom of Information request for the data used by Ungulate Specialist, Gerald Kuzk to conclude the province’s whitetail population was approximately 113,000 in 2014 and the mule deer population 160,000 in 2011.

If successful it will be another painful journey to find ACADEMICS who can punch a hole in those self serving wildlife inventory numbers. After all, our experts will want to talk to the authors of the data.

Will the results of the province’s provincial election May 9 give us hope that the winner will acknowledge the failure of the Current Hunting Advisory of Hunters, Trappers and Outfitters and announce implementation of a Round Table that will unabashedly embrace Transparency and Accountability?

A Roundtable will get you to 1st base but dramatically reducing hunting seasons and bag limits is going to spin around wildlife population estimates and where are those numbers coming from?

The wildlife habitat fight was fought and lost in the mid nineties a result of the West Kootenay/Boundary Commission on Resources and Environment recommended guidelines were totally ignored. The leverage of a roundtable that is inclusive of all stakeholders is the only hope to get the attention of government. In the back ground there is plenty of noise that will be a distraction at a roundtable when you consider extremely few participants know squat about wildlife: trophy, meat, grizzly hunting.

A recent story in the Vancouver Sun put a different spin on sustainable wildlife management. The Northern Newfoundland/Labrador cod have come back and if the estimated population of 300,000 tons continues to grow to 1,000,000 tons then in the future the interest on the principle can be harvested.

The interest on the mule deer principle was spent a generation ago and as a consequence the mule deer debate will be one of the better examples that will demonstrate the measure of stakeholders at a Roundtable.

Every credible veteran BC hunter capable of reasoned thought who has witnessed the endless irresponsible management of the province’s wildlife resource will agree that the only hope for change is leadership from First Nations. If you are an ardent hunter you will hear First Nations John Henderson’s message-Respect wildlife-At this point in his journey his message is reduce hunting seasons and bag limits.

I am going to change gears and strengthen my argument for the removal of cows from the Class A Gilpin Grassland Provincial Park, removal of cows from Nature Trust 475 acres and a Wildlife Management Area designation.

In a few days I am going to send you a mixture of pictures that tell different stories that describe management on the Gilpin grasslands.

Barry Brandow Sr.