Category Archives: Uncategorized

NEWSLETTER June 30, 2018

    I am sending you an email letter on Access Management sent to a few stakeholders a couple of weeks ago.

The lack of responsible access management in the Boundary, the smallest geographic area in the province is totally out of control and as a consequence there are many chapters to an ongoing story.

Perspective- In a recent conversation with Doug Noren, one of Interfor’s foresters Doug estimated the KM of road built by Interfor since the company purchased the assets of the failed lumber company, Pope&Talbot in 2008 to be in the order of 1000-1100 KM. How many KM of road have been deactivated/rehabilitated to meet Kootenay/Boundary Land use Plan objectives-virtually none!

I have talked to Doug in the past and consider him a moderate voice on access management but it is obvious his voice gets little traction/respect in his circle of foresters.

Doug did suggest that Interfor would be sympathetic to deactivation /rehabilitation of existing roads if Interfor was paid to deactivate roads not needed in the near future.

The best source of information on access management that I am aware is found in the Kootenay/Boundary Land Use Plan-Draft Oct. 1996.

It is an easy four page read but also a sad reminder of how quick and fast the guideline intent of the report was discounted.

“However, roads can pose a challenge for managing and maintaining environmental and social values. Therefore access management must promote an integrated flexible approach for managing the land and all values through the maintenance of a network of highways and forest roads, to provide access for all uses, while giving careful consideration for the siting of new roads and the regulation/deactivation/rehabilitation of existing roads in order to meet range of Kootenay/Boundary Land Use Plan Objectives and Strategies.”

If you are a player and care about the province’s wildlife resource use the report I am sending you as a starting point on access management conversations.

It is obvious that there are no meaningful regulations when it comes to constructing horse, quad, mountain, dirt bike trails.

To validate my argument I made a Freedom of Information request to the Ministries of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and made two requests.

  1. Record/file of stakeholders “fined” because of building/constructing quad, dirt, mountain bike, horse trails without government sanction.
  2. A record of stakeholders “fined” because of ecological damage caused by dirt, quad and mountain bikes when refusing to stay on sanctioned trails.

Will I get an answer? The current tactic by the provincial bureaucracy overseeing management decisions I have challenged is to ignore my requests for transparency and accountability!

The Grand Forks Quad Bike agenda successfully promoted motorized vehicle recreation adjacent to the Granby Class A Provincial Park and the Gilpin Grassland ungulate winter range because transparency and accountability was totally ignored. But if the past is prologue to the future then the populism of quad, dirt, mountain bike recreation may well be deemed more important than the long list of arguments used to support wildlife and wildlife habitat by restricting access.

The Grand Forks Quad Bike Club story is a long pathetic three chapter story for another day but the immediate result has been a dramatic increase in the number of quad, dirt, mountain bike recreationists immediately adjacent to the Class A Granby Provincial Park and on the Gilpin Grassland Ungulate Winter Range,

The long established standard of access management that does not challenge the security of wildlife; .6 KM access per sq. KM was never part of the debate.

To-day there are three docking/unloading stations for dirt, quad, mountain bike recreations on the Gilpin grasslands and a large staging area and interpretive area adjacent to the Granby Park.

Doug Zorn, the president of the GF Quad Bike Club in an article in the Grand Forks Gazette coined a classic oxymoron statement (contradiction): “The Grand Forks ATV Club is active in preserving the environmental and wildlife habitat and protecting our rights and privileges to access Crown Land”.

The Quad Bike Club Agenda was an insulting canned process that excluded stakeholders and to make matters worse Conservation Officer, Dave Webster has been a no show in the Grand Forks area.

To-day there are three unloading/docking stations that showcase a map of designated trails on the Gilpin Grassland Ungulate Winter Range and location of sign markers pointing the way forward. There are no signs reminding riders to stay on designated trails and roads.

If you talk to dirt bike riders you will discover they honestly believe there are no rules or regulations.

Evidently Webster is now an instructor within the conservation service and as a consequence Grand Forks will be home to two new conservation officers. Will it be more of the same or will we be fortunate to have conservation officers in the mold of Joe Carvetta and Bob Workman?

Bob and Joe knew that if you wanted co-operation and trust, best respect hunters and not treat them like peltry criminals. Sharing information both ways is easy when you respect and trust people.

I will send you a few pictures that showcase wildlife fencing in rocks taken in April. The bookends of the story start and end with California Bighorns and their response to hunting pressure.

Barry Brandow Sr.

 

NEWSLETTER May 29, 2018

    The flood in the Grand Forks area is over and now the painful reckoning of the damage is the game.

Vancouver Sun May 26, 2018:

“Emergency personnel in Grand Forks say the recovery process has begun in the community of 4000, which was hard hit by this year’s flooding! Evacuation orders have been lifted for all but 12 properties in the community. Chris Marsh, head of the Regional District of Kootenay/Boundary’s emergency operations center, says those properties are concentrated along riverbanks where sloughing and slope instability remain a threat.”

Every property owner touched by the flood has received one of three colored bulletins from the hired help who were truly full measure in mitigating the damage caused by the flood.

GREEN: INSPECTED- no restriction of use or occupancy.

YELLOW: Restricted Use- entry/occupancy and lawful use are restricted as indicated below

RED: UNSAFE- Do not enter or occupy

My wife and I received a green bulletin- No restriction of use or occupancy

Unfortunately our neighbors George Danish and Irini Makortoff were not so lucky. They both received a red bulletin. The pictures tell the story. Both houses received plenty of attention by the many helicopter flights monitoring the Kettle River.

Time has compromised George’s health so I asked Katie Minder, George’s immediate neighbor how much land did he lose to the Kettle River. Her answer was dramatic. There were two trucks, two tractors, a quad bike and a few dirt bikes parked between the house and the edge of the drop- off, a 50 ft. steep gravel slope that touches the Kettle River, all vehicles disappeared into the river.

Irini Makortoff, two properties up river from George has a smaller but none the less a serious erosion problem. A reminder that if your property touches the inside arch of the river as it changes direction as both George’s and Irini’s property does, you have the potential for a serious erosion problem.

The real issue is the width of Irini’s property from the edge of the pavement to the Kettle River. In other words why would Regional Government Zoning Regulations allow construction of a house on a lot that has absolutely no protection from erosion in the event of a serious flood?

Will the question of zoning regulations that allow construction of a house on a flood plain be part of the debate when assessing why the foundation of a new house in Manly Meadows east of Grand Forks has shifted resulting in a total loss of the house?

The Kettle River takes a serpentine direction in the Grand Forks area, a point easily made if you get a vantage point on the Gilpin Grasslands. The Granby River which enters the Kettle within Grand Forks City limits tends to flow in a southern direction from the 28 Mile Bridge north of Grand Forks where the Burrell Creek enters the Granby. One big exception is the direction of the Granby River as it flows adjacent to Rick Friesen’s property approximately 8 KM on the North Fork Road north of Highway #3.

The Granby River flows south and then makes a short sharp turn east and quickly resumes its southern journey resulting in the inside arc of the river grinding and tearing Rick’s property resulting in a new main channel. In other words Rick’s house is now on an island.

The Kettle River May 2017 was the highest the river had been since we moved here June 1978. Our marker is the gravel road we use to access our barn on the flood plain adjacent to the Kettle River.

When it was announced early April that the snow pack in our part of the province was 154% of normal then my son and I correctly assumed the river would be two feet higher than last year. Unlike most property owners on the flood plain, my son, Bear moved every bit of equipment, machinery and material of value onto higher ground.

Is the Grand Forks flood of May 2018 a once in a century event as described in the Grand Forks Gazette or is this the new paradigm/model? If the weather pattern in our part of the world the last three years continues then it is a given fire and flood will continue to be our unwelcome companions.

Barry Brandow Sr.

 

NEWSLETTER April 1, 2018

There was a meeting April 10 in Vancouver organized by the Fraser Basin Council on behalf of the Province to oversee a stakeholder engagement process to discuss species at risk legislation, wildlife habitat conservation and caribou recovery.

There are legions of information indicting the current management of all three subjects. To the hunting fraternity species at risk and habitat conservation connect with the grassland ecosystem and ungulate winter ranges.

The province of BC advertises the grassland ecosystem as the most threatened, less than 1% of the province’s land base and home to most of the provinces endangered and threatened species-red and blue listed.

If the past is prologue to the future then species at risk legislation is dead on arrival for the very large reason that meaningful legislation will mandate a dramatic change in agriculture practices.

My contribution to the species at risk and wildlife habitat conservation debate centers on the messages from voices who give us a glimmer of hope that the NDP Government will be successful and support the public interest where the preponderance of the evidence supports change to current policy.

A report titled Developing a Coordinated Approach to Grassland Species at Risk Recovery in British Columbia Workshop Summary June 6-7 2006 states grasslands in British Columbia hold a vast number of species at risk: 30% of federally listed endangered species in British Columbia occupy grasslands for some or all of their life cycle, wile 137 animals and numerous plant associations are also grassland dependant.

The buzz words in the report under Executive Summary on page two states “Focus on implementation not planning”.

A blunt assessment of past history but hardly surprising when the author of the report is FORREX a partnership committed to “Supporting Sustainable Natural Resource Management Decisions”.

Don Gayton, a well known and respected grassland voice was part of the FORREX team and his Review of the Gilpin Grasslands March 2003 cuts to the chase with his blunt assessment that “the Gilpin has a long history of poor management and I do not expect this to change soon”.

Don’s Conclusion and Recommendations in his Review of the Gilpin Grasslands were totally ignored by the BC Liberal Government which was hardly surprising when you remember the Executive Director of the BC Cattlemen’s Association; David Borth was hired in 2005 to oversee the provincial range bureaucracy.

There are more sound bytes to the story which validates David’s proclamation during a July 2007 field trip on the Gilpin Grasslands; we will never change”. Garbage in garbage out!

In a private conversation I asked Don what it would take to improve the Gilpin grassland ecosystem. His answer;”a lighter footprint of the cow would see a dramatic change in 25 years”

    Don Gayton’s vision of range management was polar opposite to the dismal performance of former provincial government agrologists; Jim Maxwell, Jack King and Carl Withler.

If we dare to believe NDP Minister of the Environment, George Heyman’s mandate letter is prologue to the future; enact an endangered species law and harmonize other laws to ensure they are all working towards the goal of protecting our beautiful province then lets hope that the current NDP Government will move forward and embrace a News Release message dated November 6, 1995

Cranbrook- a new committee to lead the implementation of a Grazing Enhancement Fund as part of the Kootenay-Boundary Land Use Plan was announced to-day by Kootenay MLA and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Ann Edwards on behalf of Agriculture Minister David Zirnhelt.

Under the co-chairmanship of ranchers, Bill Coy and Blaine Coates the group will direct implementation of the new five year $3.75 million Grazing Enhancement Fund to assist the region’s ranching industry. The fund will enable cattle grazing and forage production on public grazing lands in a manner which meets the conservation and environmental objective outlined in the land use plan.

The Grazing Enhancement News Release was a creation of the Mike Harcourt NDP Government that like the Forest Practices Code died quick and hard under the leadership of the 1996 Glen Clark NDP Government.

I served on that committee, attending winter meetings at Creston because the initial Terms of Reference stated/implied that a primary objective of the Grazing Enhancement Committee was the removal of cows in Parks by finding and creating new food sources.

The tenure of the Grazing Enhancement Committee was reduced to two years and the funding dramatically reduced to $350,000 and consequently conservation and environmental objectives highlighted in the many reports given to participants of the West Kootenay/Boundary Commission on Resources and Environment Roundtable were never discussed.

The conservation and environmental objectives were a non-starter a generation ago and with the dramatic decline in small ranches its time to take counsel from former NDP Minister of Agriculture David Zirnfelt’s 1995 message, “Government is delivering more control over land use planning to local citizens in the Kootenays

The agriculture sector in our province has a long history of holding the trump card that has resulted in third rate management of sensitive, important areas to wildlife including species at risk.

How does this accurate indictment of the agriculture sector square up with the NDP/Green Part coalition government? Who are the players past and present that give us hope that the past will not be prologue to the future?

Two polar opposite positions on ungulate winter range management by retired provincial government range managers; Jim White and Jack King gives us a message to support and one to totally discount!

Cattle-Wildlife Interactions Jim White (no date)

    “If cattle are allowed to concentrate for any length of time in the fall in areas that are critical for deer winter use the stage is set for severe conflict. They may browse off significant amounts of Saskatoon, willow, current, snowbrush, red osier, dogwood and rose-species important for deer winter use.

There is the problem, now what is the solution? The first and obvious one is to simply not allow cattle use of deer winter ranges. This is done wherever possible.”

“In many cases prohibiting use is not feasible but severely limiting use is”.

J.G.King Regional Range Officer to W.E.Brash District Manager Boundary Forest District Dec. 17, 1981

“Considerable feed and labor savings are realized by this procedure of grazing these cows on the grasslands for the period of September 16-December 31 or when snow becomes too deep to allow grazing. They do not harm the range at all and actually benefit the deer by conditioning the grass plants for spring use by deer”.

Will the NDP/Green Party Coalition embrace Jim White’s message? Jim has a strong relationship with David Zirnhelt, a former NDP Minister of Agriculture. David and Jim were past prominent players in the Grassland Council of BC, a point made in newsletters.

Corky Evans, a former NDP Minister of Agriculture from Nelson was connected to the Grazing Enhancement Fund Kootenay/Boundary Land Use Plan in which important program objectives included: to improve management of riparian areas and to maintain and enhance biodiversity and long term fish and wildlife productivity on crown range land.

Lana Popham, the current NDP Minister of Agriculture has gravel in her gut and hasn’t been shy in criticizing fish farms. Her quote in A Matter of Confidence the inside story of the political battle for BC is blunt and colorful.

Lana was criticized for her activism as a Minister of Agriculture. “It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be” she told the Times columnists, Amy Smart.”I was used to lighting my hair on fire and then all of a sudden I was in the line of fire”.

Will the NDP/Green Party Coalition Government accept the advice of Stephen Owen, a Commissioner on behalf of the Mike Harcourt NDP Government West Kootenay Commission on Resources and Environment News Release dated December 13, 1994?

An open letter to the People of the West Kootenay-Boundary Region

The document highlights the Mike Harcourt NDP Government Protected Area Strategy and presents a sound byte connected to the management of proposed Special Management Areas.

“As an example the plan recommends the Gilpin Grassland Area in the south Okanagan Highland be managed to emphasize conservation and restoration of the natural grasslands which are important for rare and endangered species, such as the western rattlesnake and the burrowing owl.”

The population of BC has grown dramatically in a generation and non-consumptive recreation has likewise grown. I am going to send you pictures taken last November in the Gilpin Grassland Class A Provincial Park, a prime target for removing cows which would dramatically improve habitat for wildlife and species at risk.

Barry Brandow Sr.

 

 

NEWSLETTER March 1, 2018

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?

  1. The 1470 Acre Boothman Ranch purchased for $190,000.00 August 1972

 

  1. Overton/Moody CRMP (Gilpin) 1983

Money spent by Agriculture Rural Development Agency

29km fence

10 cattleguards                              $168,519.35

6 corrals

8water troughs

 

  1. 1983- 17 ranchers in Grand Forks Area with range privileges.

2018- 4 ranchers (2 part time) with range privileges.

 

Barry Brandow Sr.

 

 

 

 

2010

2010
In the spring of 2010 meetings took place in Grand Forks and Midway with hunters and others. From discussions at these meetings a number of people were willing to give testimonials on video regarding this situation.

The testimonials are a statement from quality hunters who are angry and dissatisfied and have a story to tell about declining wildlife populations.

The best of the hunting movement has always believed in the importance of stewardship, active gatekeepers of the wildlife resource and to-day hunters are needed like never before if science not politics is going to be the driving force in wildlife management.