Ranchers take beefs to RDEK

Kootenay Livestock Association concerned with invasive weeds and environmental damage from mud-bogging.

Invasive weeds and mud bogging out at Lake Koocanusa were two topics brought up by local ranchers who recently met with Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett.

Stan Doehle the RDEK board director for Area B, attended the meeting earlier in April as ranchers with the Kootenay Livestock Association to bring forward concerns about invasive weeds and the number of people mud bogging for the upcoming May long weekend.

“The ranchers brought the issue of invasive weeds; their rangeland is slowly being taken over by invasive weeds and the Ministry [of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations] is working with those ranchers to put funding in place to put control onto the weeds,” said Doehle.

“…When you get the quads that spread out from the RV parks and the number of them is a huge problem on that rangeland.”

In a letter written by Randy Reay, the president of the KLA, local ranchers are asking for the provincial government to maintain or increase funding for weed control, which is aversely affecting the rangeland.

“We do ask you, Mr. Bennett, to continue to work hard with us to try ago maintain or increase the funding for weed treatment, to use your influence within the Ministry of Highways to bring an end to the Ditch Trenching, which we are convinced is a wast of money and a major reason for the spread of noxious weeds along our roadways…”

While the KLA is supportive of the government’s efforts to reduce ‘red tape’, Reay is concerned that large forestry companies are avoiding responsibility for spreading noxious weeds as they are no longer required to inventory weeds before a logging plan is approved.

“Logging is an important industry in our province and it is also very important in opening up areas of overgrowth so that grass can grow,” Reay wrote. “We want the logging companies to be successful but we must make sure they do their part in containing and reducing noxious weeds.”

A simple fox would be having forestry companies grass seed low elevation areas that are logged, all roads and skid trails in order to increase forage for wildlife and cattle, he added.

Reay also brought up his concerns on mud-bogging.

“The truth is, Mr. Bennett, if dancers or forest companies did to the crown land what these ‘tourists’ are doing, we would face huge fines and our tenures would be taken away from us,” Reay wrote.

Reay proposes setting up road blocks to seize alcohol, restrict mud bogging to one manageable site only with a police presence and advertise that past behaviour will not be tolerated.

Doehle noted that the RDEK is working with the province and various local governments to make sure everyone is on board with the Koocanusa Analysis Plan, that was recently completed with the input of government and private stakeholders.

“First phases of the plan is signage, policing, making people aware of what they can and can’t do, because we’re not trying to shut the place down, we just got to put some control back into it,” said Doehle. “Then the ranchers, the residents and everybody alike will be much happier with what comes out of that.”