A proposed 70,000 hectare adventure tourism tenure west of Kimberley is still under review from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD).
The Lower Kootenay Band (yaqan nu?kiy) and Outdoor Recreation company Retallack have partnered to submit a joint application for an adventure tourism tenure on the east side of Kootenay Lake, south the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy.
The consultation period for feedback to the provincial government closed on July 15 and an update has not been posted since.
A spokesperson for FLNRORD said that a decision has not been made yet, and once a decision is made, it will be posted on their website.
“Due to the significant complexities of this application, consultation with other First Nations continues to be ongoing,” said the FLNRORD spokesperson. “Because of this, the ministry is unable to provide a timeframe on when a decision will be made.”
Back in July, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) announced that they would not support the proposal, with the board of directors citing concerns over increased helicopter traffic and the impacts to wildlife and the environment from increased backcountry tourism use.
When the proposal was first announced, local conservation group Wildsight also voiced their opposition for similar reasons.
Conservation Coordinator for Wildsight, Eddie Petryshen, said that if the tenure is granted, it could have a huge affect on the wildlife population, wilderness, and quiet recreation value in the Purcells.
Both the RDEK and Wildsight referenced the Cranbrook West Recreation Management Strategy, a plan that was developed with input from a number of different environmental stakeholders and released in 2005.
The plan, according to the document’s mission statement, was to ‘implement and maintain a recreation management strategy at the landscape level in collaboration with other land users that provides for different recreation opportunities, respects all land users and promotes environmental stewardship.’
While it was presented to the now defunct Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, it remains unclear if the plan was meant to be a binding policy document. Opponents to the Retallack recreation tenure note that proposal runs afoul of the Cranbrook West plan.
The 177,000 acre multiple use tenure, according to the Lower Kootenay Band, will allow for guided hiking, horseback riding, climbing and mountain biking in the summer and guided ski touring, heliskiing, mountaineering, snowshoeing and dogsledding in the winter, if approved.
Historically and since time immemorial, the yaqan nuʔkiy were the original inhabitants of the Lower Kootenay area. The name yaqan nuʔkiy literally means “where the rock stands” and refers to an important place in the Creston Valley.
The yaqan nuʔkiy is one of six bands that make up the Ktunaxa Nation.
Retallack is based in Nelson, B.C. and provides world-class backcountry catskiing, snowboarding and mountain biking adventures in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, Canada.
Retallack was the first operator in its industry to receive a prestigious 4-Green Key Eco-Rating for demonstrating “national industry leadership and commitment to protecting the environment through wide ranging policies and practices.”
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With files from Trevor Crawley, Cranbrook Townsman.