Environment

Habitat loss is biggest threat for grizzly bears

 Grizzly at the B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops
British Columbia grizzly bears are making the news these days, but the news is mixed. While conservationists are applauding the recent decision by the BC Government to end the grizzly trophy hunt, a new audit by the Auditor General takes aim at the lack of adequate planning, inventory efforts, and monitoring by government ministries. Here in the Shuswap, an initiative is gaining momentum to ban recreational vehicles from the Joss Mountain region that is prime grizzly habitat.
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New parks for the Shuswap?

 Anstey Hunakwa Provincial Park, photo by Myron Kozak

There is a good possibility that the new government in Victoria will revive land use planning and perhaps support the creation of new provincial parks. It was in 2001 that the Okanagan Shuswap Land and Resource Management Plan was approved and implemented.
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In the midst of a climate change emergency

Niskonlith wildfire, August 2003

It may be time to dismiss the notion that humans are like frogs that are unable to notice when their watery environment heats up to the boiling point, as it is difficult now to not notice the growing impacts from climate change. So far this summer we have dodged the forest fire bullet in the Shuswap, but half the summer is left and the sunny, hot weather is slated to continue.

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Slide Country


Sunnybrae slide on Randy Creek with cutblock above

While the Shuswap is not as prone to landslides as the coast or the Kootenays, nonetheless this region does experience extreme instability far too often and the problems are likely intensifying. A number of factors are behind the increase, including geography, climate change, and forestry. Some areas are definitely more susceptible, including Sunnybrae where a mudslide recently destroyed two homes and above Mara Lake, where concern about landslides has prompted the regional district to support a logging moratorium.

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Mountain Caribou on the brink


On February 2, 2017, the BC Government announced it will provide $27-million to boost mountain caribou recovery efforts. The additional funding will be invested in the ongoing program that includes habitat protection and restoration, maternal penning, predator management, research and monitoring and increased compliance and enforcement. While the environmental community welcomed the announcement, there is a growing concern that it may be too late to save this iconic ungulate species from extinction.
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Return to Wright Lake

Wright Lake, circa 1995 Photo by Myron Kozak

Back in the early 1990s, the diminutive Wright Lake was at the centre of the controversy surrounding the effort to protect the Anstey Arm, Hunakwa Lake area as a provincial park. The logging company, Federated Co-op, had plans to log there and build a road nearby to access more timber on the peninsula. Shuswap Environmental Action Society (SEAS) worked hard to raise public support for protection by slashing a trail, sponsoring ecological inventories and making presentations to both the government and local groups.
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Bear time in the Shuswap

As the fruit ripens in the fall and the berries in the backcountry dry up, black bears become a regular sight in our backyards. Over the past 47 years of living in the woods above Shuswap Lake, I have had many encounters, including often chasing them out of our plum and apple trees. Only one bear ended up getting shot after it attacked a dog, and it was very old, undernourished and quite mean.
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The glaciers are melting

It appears as if the earth is entering a new phase of global warming, as temperature records are continuously being broken and impacts are increasing, including storms, floods, droughts and fires. In the Shuswap, spring arrived very early and many seasonal events are two to three weeks ahead, including the lake level, the emergence of natural vegetation and the ripening of fruits and vegetables. Another climate change impact not often considered is the melting of local glaciers.
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Fisheries report provides useful information

The 2010 Adams River Salmon Run  had the largest return in nearly 100 years

The Fraser Basin Council recently released a comprehensive report that analyzes the condition of the local salmon habitat management area. Given that the Shuswap Lakes region is considered to be the “most socially, economically and ecologically important” large aquatic ecosystem in the province, high quality resource management should be required, yet the report indicates that problems abound.

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Impediments to solutions for agricultural pollution

 

 

 

 

 

     Manure sprayer at Hullcar, photo by Al Price

There are significant parallels between the groundwater contamination crisis in nearby Hullcar and the decline in Shuswap Lake water quality due to increasing amounts of phosphorus. Both problems stem from how large, industrial dairy farms deal with manure, which is commonly stored in sewage lagoons and then sprayed on fields. In Hullcar the excess nitrates are seeping into the groundwater, while in the Shuswap and Salmon River valleys, the excess phosphorus is leaching into the rivers and lakes.

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