Today’s Poll

Purcell Mountains the target of two commercial recreational tenure applications

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 30th, 2018

Time is running out for the public to voice its opinion regarding proposals for new commercial recreational tenure in the Purcell mountain range — an area described as  key part of the region’s ecosystem.

Two applications are a 71,000-hectare proposition from Retallack and the Lower Kootenay Band and 37,409 ha. from Stellar Heli-Skiing. Public comment periods end next month.

The Retallack application could utilize around 700 square kilometres on the east side of Kootenay Lake for numerous recreational activities — heli-skiing, hiking, climbing, mountaineering, snowshoeing, dogsledding, horseback tours, mountain biking, ski touring.

On the other side of the coin, Stellar is looking to add territory on the west side of Kootenay Lake — near the Keen, Milford and Cascade areas — along with some parts of the Glacier/Howser region on the east side of the lake.

There is still a chance to voice opinion on the tenure applications, with the province accepting comment until June 13 at — the application can be viewed at file number 4405893 on an advanced search.

The impact of human activity on the Retallack application would take the shape of 33 mountain bike trails — helicopter-access only — that would stretch over a 160-kilometre span of land.

As well, the operations could facilitate the accommodation and recreation of up to 100 people per day for activities such as heli-skiing, biking and hiking, says one of the region’s environmental groups.

According to Wildsight — a Kootenay-based environmental organization — the area of the proposed tenure is “crucial” for wildlife, particularly grizzly bears as well as the endangered mountain caribou.

On their website (, the list of animals affected by the tenure would also comprise mountain goats, moose, wolverines and trout, to name a few.

Three meetings on the tenure applications have been held, including a May 2 stop in Nelson.

The heli-ski only company, Stellar, is hoping to add to its existing tenure (70,000 ha.) with another 37,409 ha. and incorporate ski touring in its roster.

According to the province’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, most of the areas Stellar is applying for fall under a one-year moratorium for tenure applications — which ends March 14, 2019.

The province has noted, however, that the application was received before the moratorium was brought in and therefore can be advanced.

There is still a chance to voice opinion on the tenure applications, with the province accepting comment until July 3 at — the application can be viewed at file number 4404298 on an advanced search.

A hot topic for debate

Fire season has come early to the West Kootenay and the impact that climate change is having on wildfire behaviour in B.C. will be a focus of the Wildfire and Climate Change Conference, taking place in Nelson from June 26-28, 2018.

The conference has been organized by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and the Slocan Integral Forestry Cooperative (SIFCo).

Conference attendees will learn about local, national and international initiatives to address the growing challenges associated with climate change and wildfire behaviour, and the importance of creating fire-resilient ecosystems. Presenters are coming from as far away as Oregon and New Mexico.

The conference was organized to discuss a wide range of topics in presentations and workshops over the course of three days, including:

  • Creating more resilient ecosystems that could better adapt to climate change and help mitigate wildfire risks;
  • Encouraging forest industry licensees to share their expertise at the landscape level related to wildfire risk mitigation, effective carbon management and improving the resiliency of Crown land over time; and
  • Educating the public and local governments about wildfire risk mitigation and the potential impacts of climate change.

People can sign up to attend the conference at

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