Environmental movement active in community

The citizens of the North Thompson Valley and area face dramatic choices today as they did during previous uncertain times

Editor, the Times

The citizens of the North Thompson Valley and area face dramatic choices today as they did during previous uncertain times. Between 1947 and 1972 the B.C. provincial and federal governments set up committees to study the Fraser River watershed, particularly after the impressive flood of 1948. Primary to these efforts was the study of flood control mechanisms for the lower Fraser River watershed but power generation also drove each committee’s mandate. In 1971, B.C. Hydro, the provincial power utility, revived the Fraser River Board’s report and took a new look at the feasibility and costs of building seven dams on the Clearwater River. The threat of creating a near continuous reservoir between Quesnel Lake and the community of Clearwater was out of synch with the vision that local and regional citizens had for the future of the Clearwater River Valley and Wells Gray Provincial Park. The environmental movement was gaining momentum globally with organizations such as Greenpeace leading the way.

The Clearwater River dam proposal planted the seed of healthy activism in Clearwater and the Yellowhead Ecological Association (YEA) was formed to put balance and perspective into the energy demand equation.

Other past successes of the YEA include a moratorium on widespread aerial herbicide spraying of regenerating forests in the North Thompson River watershed, an educational campaign regarding genetically modified food and seed and the quashing of Rexpar’s and later Ranger Corporation’s applications to explore and mine for radioactive minerals near Birch Island. This latter campaign put the YEA at the forefront of the uranium exploration and mining debate, which finally led to a 2008 legislative ban on the exploration and mining of radioactive minerals in BC.

Today, the YEA remains as relevant as it did when citizens came together to protect the integrity of the ecological cornerstone of Wells Gray Provincial Park. Recently the YEA has been examining the benefits and costs presented by the Harper Creek copper and gold mine proposal. While this application is currently within the preliminary stages of a federal and provincial environmental review process there remains a need for a careful examination of the long-term impacts. The YEA is also examining current issues such as the B.C. government’s Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan, the status and reclamation of the lower Clearwater planer mill site, the state of funding for B.C. Parks related to the management of Wells Gray Provincial Park and climate and sustainability issues facing North Thompson communities.

Anyone interested in knowing more about the mandate, work and vision of the YEA is invited to attend future meetings. Meeting information is posted on the YEA website; www.yellowheadecological.org. To make a donation or to become a member of the YEA, please refer to the website for information and to download the membership form.

Yellowhead Ecological Association