Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Y2Y - The Big Picture

Yellowstone to Yukon - The big picture

The Wildlands Project: An Introduction

Little known outside of the environmental movement, The Wildlands Project is the most ambitious, and far reaching attempt yet to reinvent the North American continent according to ecologically correct guidelines. Under this proposal, 50 percent of North America would be preserved or restored to wilderness for the preservation of biological diversity. However implausible that goal may seem, The Wildlands Project is well developed, well organized, and well financed.

Based upon the work of freelance conservation biologist, Reed Noss, the cornerstone of the project consists of creating "reserve networks" across North America to provide vast areas of wildlife habitat. The goal is to maximize biological diversity across the landscape, even at the expense of the human occupants and private property.

The Wildlands Project requires not only a re-thinking of science, politics, land use, industrialization, and civilization, it also requires re-thinking humanity’s place in nature. It requires a new philosophical and spiritual foundation for western civilization. That foundation is the ecophilosophy of deep ecology. Deriving much of its ideology from Buddhism and Taoism, and the philosophy of Spinoza, deep ecology contends that science has little to tell us about living in harmony with the planet, and other non-human life forms.

The map below represents The Wildlands Project "Megalinkages" concept. The strategy is to directly influence decision-makers, put ecological concerns ahead of all others (social, economic) in the affected zones, and to pummel regional governments using the media and lawyers over a 20 to 100 yr timeframe. Nibble off a bit at a time, make a big grab whenever the political mood is right.

The next map gives a sense of how the Wildlands Project and their Y2Y spin-off have drawn a bull's-eye on the Crowsnest Pass / Flathead / Elk Valley. You can also see that the project is quite ambitious, setting aside about 1/2 of the province of British Columbia conservation areas to "connect the dots" between existing federal parks. These guys don't really seem to care that their plan is not backed by science, and that the plan would severely curtail personal freedoms and a way of life that has been practiced responsibly for decades.

As Danish professor Bjorn Lomborg conveyed in the "Skeptical Environmentalist", our society is increasing in environmental awareness and things are very much improving in many measurable ways. Most enviro groups are still our social conscience, but decision-makers must be careful not to jump on emotional campaigns without first examining the facts. The sky is NOT falling.

I hope that this page will help in your personal search for the truth.

The next map should be of great interest to those who live and recreate in the Crowsnest Pass, Flathead and Elk Valley. The two yellow arrows are located at the Alberta-BC border on the right, and run directly through the town of Fernie on the left.

Fernie's Mayor is a proponent of a westward extension of Waterton Lakes National Park into the east Flathead. Tembec's Quebec-based president also supports the park expansion (thanks to CPAWS offer of millions to stop logging). Similar ambitious are shared by a few key federal and provincial government employees who don't necessarily follow the policies of the government of the day. We can elect a sensible government, but they won't hold power forever.

The Regional District of East Kootnay, the Districts of Sparwood and Elkford and Alberta's Crowsnest Pass municipality have all spoken strongly against any new parks. The same is true of most industry and backcountry user groups.

The picture below was in a calendar my son brought home from school, produced by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. The caption reads "Hunting and habitat loss killing majestic bears".

An inset goes on to say

"Designated as vulnerable in 1991, grizzlies are sensitive to human interference
and prefer large unfragmented tracts of wilderness. In BC, the province with the
largest grizzly population in Canada, hunting is a primary threat. In 2001, the
new provincial Liberal government reinstated the grizzly-bear hunt despite
overwhelming public opposition to the trophy hunting of this reclusive animal.
Indefensible from a biological standpoint, the hunt makes no economic sense, as
grizzly viewing generated over twice the revenue of hunting. As one of the
slowest reproducing land mammals in North America, it appears unlikely that the
grizzly bear will be able to survive both habitat loss and trophy hunting."

According to BC Ministry of Forests bear expert Dr. Bruce McLellan, the reproductive rate of the 178 grizzly bears in the Flathead and Wigwam is 8%, much higher than the rest of the province. The human-caused mortality even before the politically motivated NDP closure back in 2001 was 3.36%. With an average natural lifespan (including hunting) of more than 20 years, its pretty easy to see how the new government came to the conclusion that the NDP were not operating based on scientific fact when they closed the hunt without research or public consultation.

Bottom line, the bears population in this region is healthier than in any place in the province of BC. New restrictions imposed by the Southern Rocky Mountains Management plan will not likely have measurable effect on population, yet extreme preservationists continue to push for a new federal park.

Here's how Y2Y fits into The Wildlands Project. For the sake of bears, the goal is to fill in all the spaces between the green.

This is one of the maps that motivate the preservationists. They see this "little strip of land" as the only thread connecting the Yukon to the Yellowstone. The map comes from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Transboundary Flathead marketing document.

This is just an ordinary road map of SW Alberta. What's significant is that in the 2 years since its printing they've added the Don Getty Wildlands Park South of Kananaskis, chipping away at the top of the C5 (Crowsnest Forest). The proposed Flathead expansion to Waterton Park, known as "Peace Park Plus" sort of sticks out in the SE corner of BC. This map does NOT show the Elk Lakes and Height of the Rockies parks in BC that connect the dots on the BC side. The map also gives no appreciation of the 7 access management areas (AMAs) that "protect" the Upper Elk Valley from public access. Most of this region is already closed to public access by motor vehicle.

A regional view of how the Y2Y guys see SW Alberta and SE BC. This map shows the recently added Don Getty Wildlands Park (2002), Bob Creek Wildlands Park (2001), Height of the Rockies provincial Park (1995), Elk Lakes provincial Park (1979), Whiteswan Lake provincial park, Top of the World provincial park, and Akamina-Kishenena provincial park. The East Kootenays boast well over 16% in "protected" areas compared to the provincial average of 12%. 12% is also the guidline given by the united nations for protected areas, how much is enough? The spaces between the green are connected by a series of access management areas (AMAs) that are closed to motorized recreation.

We should be protecting our natural resources FOR the public, not FROM the public.

The "Wildlife Conservation Society" features noted biologist John Weaver (the guy whose incompetent lab results triggered the Oregon lynx scandal in the U.S.). This map is interesting because it significantly expands both Glacier National Park in the US (to the West), and has a much larger area of interest than the proposed Waterton - Flathead "Peace Park" into SE BC.

BC Ministry of Forests bear expert Dr. Bruce McLellan was recently observed working with WCS contractors in the Alexander Creek area. The team was looking to prove that bears do not cross Hwy 3. The WCS is affiliated with, and funded by the Bronx Zoo.

This map shows what the Castle-Crown Wilderness Society, CPAWS, Sierra Club, and the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) would like to see eventually turned into a new park they call Andy Russell (I'tai sah kop). Lawyers from the NRDC sued the municipality of Pincher Creek for their ski hill expansion in this area.

This map was produced by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) based on their 100,000 acre conservation convenants and outright purchase of Tembec lands South of Hwy 3, from the AB/BC border through Fernie to Elko.

NCC's intent is to prevent subdivision and development of any area deemed to be in a large carnivore (grizzly bear) corridor. The "science" that is behind this come from three "independent scientific studies" including the works of Dr. John Weaver (Oregon's "Lynxgate") and other projects funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society (funded by the Bronx Zoo).

This interesting map was given to us by a Montana State Senator, and may be a sign of things to come in this area. The numbers in the counties indicate the percentage of private land against which the Nature Conservancy has set caveats preventing industrial activities and most kinds of agriculture. Yellow counties are the ones where the conservancy is most active.

The next map depicts the wildlife management area proposed by the East Kootenay Environmental Society (now Wildsight) in 2001, and passed into law by a sneaky NDP Order in Council in their last days in control of BC. The Order in Council called the plan the Southern Rocky Mountains Conservation Area and was created without any public input. The Liberals rescinded this plan as promised in the early fall of 2001, creating in it's place a comprehensive public stakeholder process known as the Southern Rocky Mountains Management Plan. The map also depicts lands in this part of BC owned by the Nature Conservancy.

This map depicts the CPAWS / EKES proposed Peace Park Plus expansion to Waterton National Park.

The Southern Rocky Mountains Management Plan (August 2003)

The map below represents the area affected by the recently announced Southern Rocky Mountains Management Plan (SRMMP). This plan closes about 25% of summer trails to motorized use, particularly in the contentious east Flathead and Wigwam drainages. The plan represents the general agreement of the public stakeholders' meetings and is fundamentally a good plan, with a pretty good chance of success on the ground. The Liberal government, particularly East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett and then BC Sustainable Resource Management Minister Stan Hagen, deserve much credit for standing up to the foreign funded lobby groups and bringing balance to the plan.

The Southern Rocky Mountains Management Plan - Snowfree (summer). Pink areas and grey areas are closed to vehicles except main roads, red roads are specifically closed. EKES spokesperson John Bergenske got up at a public meeting in Cranbrook in July and said "I defy anyone here to name a single road closed by this plan". I refer to exhibit A below. Note that 80% of mountain passes between AB and BC are now closed in summer, for the bears.

The Southern Rocky Mountains Management Plan - Snowbound (winter). Pink areas are closed except roads, often for "moose winter range". Some of the pink areas near Elkford and Fernie were voluntarily given by the snowmobile clubs to local cross-country ski clubs, and simply formalize a gentleman's agreement that has been in place for decades.

The thing that really sticks in my throat is that WLAP biologists have explained that the primary pressure on moose in the area is neonatal predation by bears. Are these the same bears all of this is meant to protect? I suppose we're at least protecting their food source.

Note that most of the area is still available for hunting, on foot or on horseback. This area is now well protected, but many people can no longer access areas that they have been using responsibly for decades. Not a week goes by that I don't get an earful from angry retirees who've hunted and fished and picked berries here for most of their lives.

Despite all of the new closures, many of which we reluctantly accept as responsible stewards and solution seekers, EKES and CPAWS are still claiming that the Liberal government did not adequately protect the area.

Will this grassroots demonstration of responsible land management be enough to prevent a new federal park? Will tiny groups of 3 and 5 preservationists continue to have a voice equal to local backcountry clubs with 200 and 300 members? Are all government employees without bias, or even a little interested in what we pesky voters want?

We need to prepare ourselves for a 50 year battle, and keep in touch with and support our elected representatives. If all of this has you wondering how you can help, then please join your local rod & gun club, snowmobile club, ATV club, or ski club. For all our sakes, don't wait for "someone" to do something about all of this. As I so often hear, "the world is run by those who show up". And those few heroes are getting really tired and disheartened.

Further reading:

For up-to-date documents and maps of BC's Southern Rocky Mountains Management Plan, visit this page.

See www.wildlandsproject.org/roomtoroam/ for their side of TWP. For a revealing dissertation, please see www.wildlandsprojectrevealed.org

See www.y2y.net/ to get a sense of how the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative markets itself.

See www.wcs.org to get a sense of who the New-York based Wildlife Conservation Society is. Download "Transboundary Flathead" for a sample of their work.

ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT GOES ASTRAY "Environment, Inc." -Sacramento Bee gives a sense of how powerful preservationist big-business is getting. These are $US.

Tax Returns of a few Environmental Lobby groups with "Charitable Organization" Status

Both Canada and the US allow charitable organizations to spend up to 20% of donations on lobby. The loophole is that environmental groups can classify their lobby efforts as "public education", "preservation of species", or general "wildlife protection". Note that the Nature Conservancy does not pay property tax on lands that it owns.

www.guidestar.org/index.jsp is a US-based database of non-profit organizations. Search for "Yellowstone toYukon" to obtain their 2001 form 990 return. Also search for Wildlands Project, Wildlife Conservation Society, and many more. Note, you will need to sign up to access tax returns. (PDFs of hand-written documents). I've not received any spam from this organization.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency maintains a database of tax returns. Search for "Canadian Parks and Wilderness", "East Kootenay Environmental Society", "Alberta Wilderness Society". No registration required. T3010 returns forms are available for 2000, 2001 and 2002.

The money trail for EKES/Wildsight leads to a number of anonymous US funding agencies. Wildsight takes in about $9,000 / yr in membership, but could afford 3 compensated employees in 2002, even more today. CPAWS gets a good deal of their funding from our federal taxes and some across the border through the Y2Y initiative. Ted Turner gives to the Wildlands Project, and many movie stars are actively supporting other anti groups who feel they know what's best for us.

We're a little outgunned, but our coalition is dedicated getting seriously in their way ;-`)