The sucker punch story is interesting if you have a curiosity of how the Political Game on our mountains results in the province’s wildlife resource losing the fight with other stakeholders. The story consists of 19 Freedom of Information sound bytes and one paraphrased conversation in chronological order.
The tactical story centers around District Ministry of Forests Manager, Gordie Nichol’s anger at letters in the Grand Forks Gazette and Boundary Times supportive of the Gilpin bighorn sheep transplant and critical of the behavior of range staff and by association, the District Manager.
The strategic story showcases the BC tradition of allowing cows to dominate the province’s grassland ecosystem even when considerable time, effort and money has been spent in support of wildlife. The economic value of the wildlife resource responsibility managed on the Gilpin ungulate winter range far and away exceeds the value of domestic cows.
The story is a long read and may not interest you but the story does beg the question:”How many land purchases have been made in BC because of wildlife values that subsequently have been lost to other stakeholders”?
The big story starts with the 1470 Acre Boothman Ranch purchase August 1972 that resulted in a letter October 1972 that stated “It was agreed at the Oct. 17th meeting that wildlife values in the proposed reserve are of primary concern, with grazing values of a secondary nature. Forest Service involvement will be minimal as “timber values are low”. Proposed reserve similar geographic boundary as 2008 Wildlife Management Area Proposal for Gilpin Grasslands
Subsequent to the Boothman Ranch purchase the 2nd Century Fund of BC renamed Nature Trust in 1984 made their first land purchase in BC. March 1973 475 acres in the grassland ecosystem immediately north of Grand Forks City.
The ugly hand of Range Management in BC resulted in letter number 18. “The purpose of the Reserve will be for the production of wildlife and domestic livestock grazing.”
The August 1972 1470 Acre Boothman Ranch and subsequent 475 acre purchase by Nature Trust March 1973, all because of the importance of the south facing grassland slopes and adjacent Ponderosa Pine and Interior Douglas Fir Forest to a long list of wildlife species is once again dominated by cows.
The first three letters are a reminder how quick and easy it was for Range Staff, Mehmal Ranch and their supporters to forget why the Boothman Ranch and Nature Trust properties were purchased.
Letters 4 and 6 showcase the conflict within the Ministry of Forests District Office and the community.
Letter 5 is a reminder why the two bighorn sheep transplants resulted in a bitter fight.
Letter 7 is the February 27, 1985 Overton/Moody CRMP meeting that resulted in official sanction of the bighorn sheep transplant.
Most of the participants promoting the bighorn transplant were new to the valley so were completely ignorant of the history of the Greenbelt Fund used to purchase the 1470 Acre Boothman Ranch.
Letters 8 to 13
Regional Wildlife Manager, Zeke Withler and provincial government biologist, Al Peatt engage in a spirited argument to defend their positions as lead managers of the Gilpin Grasslands (Reserve).
Ministry of Forests District Manager, Gord Nichols vigorously pursues an Order in Council Mandate that would dramatically change the management regime to forage production for livestock and wildlife.
Regional Ministry of Forests Manager, Tozer opposes A Wildlife Management Area designation.
Letter 18 The Overton/Moody Gilpin Grassland dream of an ungulate winter range management initiative supported by a strong science, economic, political argument is lost to a corrupt cow agenda driven by ruthless bureaucrats not big enough to accept their own failure.
Will the Political Game Change?
- The 1470 Acre Boothman Ranch purchased for $190,000.00 August 1972
- Overton/Moody CRMP (Gilpin) 1983
Money spent by Agriculture Rural Development Agency
10 cattleguards $168,519.35
- 1983- 17 ranchers in Grand Forks Area with range privileges.
2018- 4 ranchers (2 part time) with range privileges.
Barry Brandow Sr.