Long term plan needed for Elk River



The Elk Valley is known worldwide for its wilderness and wildlife values.

In response to the letter from Mr. Petevello, February 2

The Elk Valley is known worldwide for its wilderness and wildlife values. It is equally as well known for its extensive metallurgical coal resources. It is no easy task to find a balance that can see both of these values sustain themselves into the future.

Wildsight respects the efforts taken by Teck Coal towards reducing the trend of increasing selenium levels in the Elk River. We are supportive of the progress made by Teck and the Ktunaxa towards developing a Cumulative Effects Management Framework for the Elk Valley.

However, an effective cumulative effects review must include all activities with the potential to cause impacts in the valley. New coal mines and gas field development outside of Teck’s operations are not part of this locally developed process and could threaten the long term viability of mining and wildlife values in the Elk Valley.

Past industrial management policies and practices in the Elk Valley have allowed selenium levels to reach toxic levels in our river, and in our fish. Selenium levels at the US border are hovering, and sometimes exceeding, enforced legal limits, causing the US Environmental Protection Agency to raise concerns about the issue. Wildsight and I are concerned about our local water quality, fisheries, and wildlife, and do not support any new mining activity until it can be assured that the values we all care about are being protected in the long term.

The community’s involvement in addressing the selenium issue demonstrates the need for a comprehensive long-term plan that reconciles the Elk Valley’s world-class wildlife and wilderness values with the region’s metallurgical coal resources. This plan should be based on a comprehensive landscape-scale baseline assessment that evaluates the long-term impacts to water quality, fish, wildlife and evaluates cumulative effects of all current and proposed activities.

Wildsight looks forward to working with all interested parties to find a solution that protects the values that make this place exceptional.

 

Ryland Nelson

Fernie