Tag Archives: gilpin

NEWSLETTER August 15, 2016

A short story with pictures that showcases a current example of the sorry state of range management on the Gilpin Grasslands.

Approximately 50 cows have been allowed to crop the grass to ground level in the Gilpin Grassland Class A provincial park immediately adjacent to Highway #3; a November cow range!

There are two parts to the story.

Range staff has made no attempt to move the cows even though their presence has been clearly visible to the driving public for a good five weeks.

The cows have destroyed a habitat enhancement project within a small fenced area constructed to exclude cows from Gilpin Creek adjacent to the Boothman Ranch house site.

Subsequent to the fence deciduous tree saplings were planted either side of the creek within the closure. White plastic pipe were used to protect most of the saplings, probably to protect them from rodents.

The guts of this story are driven by the fact that there was a fire early June caused by a vehicle dragging a muffler on Highway #3. The same vehicle caused an earlier fire on the north side of Highway #3 adjacent to the Stewart Creek gravel road east approximately 5 KM.

Sporadic rainfall for weeks resulted in a vibrant recovery of the grass which meant the inevitable- cows.

Statutes from the B.C. Range Planning and Practices Regulation

  1. Objectives set by government for water
  2. maintain or improve water resources.
  3. maintain or promote healthy riparian and upland areas.
  4. maintain or promote riparian vegetation that provides sufficient shade to maintain stream temperature within the natural range of variability.
  5. maintain or promote desired plant communities.

Another example from B.C.’s past that illustrates the sorry state of range management on Gilpin:

Range Management- Handbook for British Columbia- edited by Alistair McLean p.Ag, PhD Research Scientist

Agriculture Canada Research Station Kamloops 1979

“Grazing by domestic stock and wild ungulates is not always compatible but conflicts can be reduced or eliminated by good range management. For example individual range areas that are critical for the survival of game are seldom large. Wildlife should therefore be given preference over most other uses on such areas because grazing habits of game animals cannot be easily changed.”

Gilpin Creek is virtually the western boundary of the Gilpin Grassland Park. The NW corner of the park is 100 meters north of the 3KM board on the Gilpin Road. If you park your vehicle adjacent to a primitive barbed wire gate and open your eyes as you quickly descend a steep cow trail to Gilpin Creek you will witness the most outrageous example of erosion I have witnessed in 38 years of walking the mountains in the East Boundary.

If you walk adjacent to the creek to the Boothman Ranch house site you will find at least another 7 sites although not as outrageous that validate a recommendation by Doug Fraser, Range Practices Officer in his Nov. 2007 report titled “An Evaluation of the Streams and Adjacent Uplands in Overton Moody Range, the bookend watersheds on the Gilpin Grasslands.“ “Develop off-stream water to limit the use of Gilpin Creek by livestock”.

Of course Doug’s recommendation was ignored. My first field trip stop on Gilpin has always been the 3KM corner but I will leave the hundred plus pictures of cow damage on Gilpin Creek for another day!

Barry Brandow Sr.

 

 

 

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NEWSLETTER June 15, 2016

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.

  1. Implementation of the Draft Management Plan July 2008 for the proposed Gilpin Morrissey Wildlife Management Area.
  2. Removal of cows from the Class A Provincial Gilpin Grassland Park.
  3. 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:

Culture/Heritage– High

Traditionally this area supported native economic and cultural activity. Four precontact sites are recorded in the area.

Management Objectives

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.

 

NEWSLETTER November 28, 2015

I am sending you an email I received from Fred Marshall who lives near the town of Midway.

Notwithstanding the obvious negative impacts on wildlife populations of long hunting seasons and predators the lack of meaningful access and wildlife habitat management are the two biggest challenges to reverse the economic and scientific madness of provincial politicians starting with the 1996 Glen Clark NDP Government who have demanded more revenue from all of our natural resources.

There is only one way you maximize revenue in a responsible sustainable way and that is to minimize the political footprint.

In spite of the fact that the Gilpin Grasslands has been recognized as an important wildlife habitat area because of its south facing grassland slopes and adjacent forest to a large number of wildlife species including blue and red listed species and endorsed as a significant wildlife area by three provincial governments; Social Credit, NDP and BC Liberal plus two land conservancies; Nature Trust and the Land Conservancy who have purchased 792 acres a recreation area for quad, dirt and mountain bikes was deemed more important!

Another example of Minister Steve Thomson and his staff’s failure to understand the meaning of statutory responsibility. Absolutely no rancher, hunter, outfitter, trapper, naturalist, environmentalist or concerned citizen who values the province’s grassland ecosystem which is described as the province’s most threatened, less than 1% of our land base and home to most of the provinces blue and red listed was included in the process.

BC Grasslands Newsletter October 2015

“That the current approach to resource management is failing the environmental health side of the resource management equation doesn’t seem to surprise many. What is surprising is that we continue to live with it.”

It was recently brought to my attention that the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Official Community Plan is supportive of elevating the management of provincial parks.

Official Community Plan Extracts:

“To encourage the province to develop and manage provincial parks in a manner which is environmentally sensitive while serving the needs of local residents and visitors.”

“To support the preservation of land and water with high scenic natural and recreational values for public use and enjoyment.”

A few years ago probably seven a public meeting was held at Selkirk College in Grand Forks at which a power point presentation was made for the Gilpin grasslands supportive of a Wildlife Management Area designation for the Gilpin Grasslands. Many pictures of cow and motor vehicle damage were displayed as were important Freedom of Information Letters.

Former Kootenay/Boundary Regional District Area D representative Irene Perepelkin on a field trip on the Overton Creek Watershed immediately north of the city of Grand Forks made the point that my pictures did not do justice to the damage that cows had done to the watershed especially the riparian areas on the few water sources in the watershed most of which are on Nature Trust property. A few years later she became a fanatical supporter of rancher, John Mehmal a point she made at a meeting prior to the 2011 regional district election.

When I think of Irene Perepolkin’s dismal performance I am instantly reminded of that great quote from H.L. Mencken-“A foolish consistency is the hob goblin of small minds.”

It is time to have a public meeting to discuss the future management of the Class A Gilpin Grassland Provincial Park, probably March next year!

I will send you a few newsletters in the near future on the wildlife management file that will showcase deer management in the wildlife management units in Washington State that touch the international border. The information is a result of a conversation with Dana Base, the Senior Biologist for the NE corner of Washington State late August who gave me the link to the 312 page Washington State 2014 Game Status and Trend Report.

The backbone of the discussion will be population estimates, importance of access management and how the state deals with nuisance deer complaints

The 2015 Sept/Oct BC Outdoors has an article titled 2015 BC Hunting Forecast by recently retired provincial biologist Brian Harris that reinforces my argument that he was never qualified to speak for the vast majority of British Columbians who value wildlife but do not hunt. Yes I will share my comments with you on specific points Brian has made that do not square up with responsible hunters.

I have a paper titled “Guidelines for Wildlife Policy in Canada” developed between 1980 and 1982 by a committee of the Federal Provincial Wildlife Conference and the final text was approved by the Wildlife Ministers Conference September 30, 1982.

The Table of Contents provides plenty of information which I will share with you that showcase the curse of political agendas; concept, goals, guiding principles, elements and actions to consider!

Barry Brandow

The following is the email sent by Fred Marshall on December 4, 2015:

“As is well known the Boundary area already has a plethora of roads—15,000 km+ with many more planned.

As is also well known, roads are responsible for 95% of erosion and siltation in our water courses.  The amount of silt in the Kettle River during the spring freshet is evidence of this in the Boundary.

An attempt to develop a Zero Net New Roads policy in the Boundary within the KR Watershed Plan was, unfortunately, unsuccessful.

The critical question therefore is—How many more roads should be allowed or will be constructed in the Boundary?  When is enough—enough?

The following critical question is—How many roads will be closed and rehabilitated in the Boundary each year?  The ORV groups and many others, including the cattlemen, want more roads and trails and access to all—all the time hence—likely very few.

The problem with siltation and the inherent cost of maintaining all the roads in the Boundary therefore becomes staggering and hence does not happen near to the degree it should…therefore ever increasing siltation in our waterways.

Will BCTS and Interfor commit to properly maintaining our roads under their jurisdiction as long as the roads exist?  Obviously this is their responsibility so the proper maintenance of these roads is inherently theirs.  To date the road maintenance in the Boundary has been well below acceptable levels.

Also, an ever increasing incursion into the forests means a significant reduction in the forest cover throughout the Boundary.

Plus ever increasing negative impacts on all species of wildlife occur with each new road built.

All of the above issues must be addressed before any new development occurs in the Boundary TSA.  The future of the Boundary forests is at stake.

Fred

NEWSLETTER October 30, 2015

I am sending you a few pictures that represent a typical water/grassland scene on the Gipin Grasslands.

The pictures showcase the largest tributary to Morrissey Creek before the creek drops into a canyon and an adjacent meadow that was the site of a recent forest thinning burn. Morrissey Creek watershed is one of five watersheds within the Proposed Gilpin Grasslands Wildlife Management Area designation.

In July 2007 I had convinced Range Manager, David Borth from Kamloops to accompany me on a field on the Gilpin Grasslands and once David discovered my behavior wasn’t as bad as my reputation we got along. We both are old grads from UBC so the ongoing discussions were cordial but blunt.

Not long into the field trip David informed that he recently had been Executive Director of the BC Cattlemen’s Association. I immediately realized why the Minister of Forest Range at the time, Rich Coleman glared at me and defied me to shake his hand at a meeting in his Aldergrove office in early November 2005.

I asked David why Range employee, Werner Baliko had given the prestigious North American Grazing Award to ranchers John and Wally Mehmal which was well advertised in a feature picture story in the Grand Forks Gazette November, 2006. His quick response-Werner was pressured to do something. In other words the ranchers were getting weary of my constant criticism which wasn’t much of a cross to bear when you consider that virtually every important water course, quality recreation site and areas critical to wildlife in the Boundary are seriously compromised by the cow.

As you would expect if you know squat about the history of range management in BC he forcefully reminded me “We will never change”. Walkerton, Ontario ; 7 deaths, 2300 ill and over 40 with life health challenges all from cow manure in one of the town’s wells May 2000 was an event of no consequence for the BC ranchers.

Eventually our field trip took us to the meadow in the pictures and we both agreed that a forest thinning/ fire project to create more browse and grass had merit. I supported the project which took place 2 ½ years ago but as expected cows remained at the site until the grass and browse had been severely cropped.

I submitted a formal complaint that resulted in a field trip September 24th with Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources employee Terry Corley. It is a go around for sure but ranchers are going to learn sooner than later their behavior has a dark cloud hanging over it. So it begs the question is it possible to get a pro bono (freebie) from a capable environmental lawyer and start the process of a Class Action Lawsuit directed at getting domestic animals out of our important water courses, quality recreation sites like parks and areas critical to wildlife?

If you subscribe to Net Flix check out “Cowspiracy” which you can find under the label, political documentaries!

Barry Brandow