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Wildsight holds town hall meetings to discuss Retallack tenure proposal

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
April 27th, 2018

Wildsight, a leader in large-scale conservation, sustainable community initiatives and environmental education that is based in the East Kootenay, is concerned about a year-round recreation proposal for the heart of the south Purcell wilderness, covering 700 square kilometers.

In a media release Thursday, Wildside said the backcountry tenure for heli-skiing, heli-biking and heli-hiking stretches from the mountains just above Kootenay Lake all the way to St. Mary’s Lake near Kimberley. Wildsight said the proposal has been put forward by adventure tourism operator Retallack, and it has recently been announced that the project will be in partnership with Yaqan nu?kiy, the Lower Kootenay Band.

“We’re concerned because this area is prime wildlife habitat,” said Eddie Petryshen, Wildsight’s Conservation Coordinator in the media release.

“Besides being crucial for wildlife connectivity in every direction, it has important huckleberry patches for grizzly bears and sustains mountain goats, wolverines, moose, trout and more.

“And the surrounding area supports the struggling South Purcells mountain caribou herd.”

Wildsight is holding public town hall meetings in both the East and West Kootenays to discuss the impacts to wildlife and ecosystems of this proposal as well as another in the same area.

The meetings begin in Kimberley Monday, April 30 at 7 p.m.

The meeting circuit travels to Nelson at the United Church Hall on Wednesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. before concluding Thursday at the Gray Creek Hall at 7 p.m.  The meeting in Nelson is co-hosted by the West Kootenay Ecosociety.

Wildsight said the proposed tenure includes building 33 helicopter-accessed bike trails that cover more than 160 kilometers. It’s estimated the operation would bring 100 or more people into the backcountry every day. 

“With this many downhill bike trails, so many people on them and all-day helicopter traffic in the summer and winter,” says Petryshen, “we’re looking at a pretty fundamental change to the backcountry in the upper St. Mary’s Valley and the mountains above Kootenay Lake.”

Wildsight said there’s also a second proposal to the BC Government.

Northwest Mountain Experience is asking for  110 km2 tenure in Dewar Creek, near the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, for a helicopter-accessed backcountry lodge with ski touring and hiking.

The BC government is accepting public comments on both tenure proposals. Comments on Northwest Mountain Experience’s proposal are accepted until May 6 and on Retallack’s proposal until May 13.

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