LETTER — To Lexa Hobenshield, External Relations Manager, KMC, Trans Mountain Expansion Project, Kinder Morgan Canada
Dear Ms. Hobenshield:
The Kamloops Naturalist Club (KNC) has been active in the Kamloops area for 35 years, documenting and observing the natural areas surrounding the city and has worked to preserve natural habitat in our native grasslands including the Lac du Bois Protected Area established in 1996.
The Lac du Bois grasslands were the top priority on the KNC agenda when we worked with the Kamloops Land and Resource Management Plan in 1996 to develop new Parks and Protected Areas for our area of the province. [i] We were thrilled when our efforts led to the announcement of the establishment of Protected Area status to this area. Since that time, we have maintained a keen interest in the multiple activities in and around Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area.
Others efforts by the KNC in this Protected Area include assisting the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2008 in creating the Rattlesnake Bluff protected area on the eastern edge of the Protected Area above Ord Road.
Two Ecological Reserves are found within the boundaries of the park, set aside for their special scientific research and educational significance as representative examples of the many different ecosystems. McQueen Creek Ecological Reserve is situated only metres from your proposed route of the new pipeline. It was established in 1982 to protect pristine grasslands that have been affected very little by grazing or recreational use.
It is difficult to overstate the disappointment my colleagues and I felt at your workshop on April 2, 2014 in Kamloops to hear no mention of the importance of the natural values of this Protected Area and the efforts we have made to protect them. It was especially disheartening to hear you talk as if the proposed pipeline route through Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area is the best and only viable route.
To our minds this Protected Area, and other grassland Parks, is not a site for industrial construction activities. The overall objective of Protection Resource Management Zones is to protect viable, representative examples of British Columbia’s natural diversity and recreational opportunities and to protect special natural, cultural heritage and recreational features. The Vision Statement by BC Parks supports this in their Management Plan by stating that “The primary role of Lac du Bois Grasslands Park in protecting and presenting representative native grassland ecosystems is well appreciated as low elevation grasslands continue to be developed and altered throughout British Columbia’s Southern Interior.”[ii]
Another goal of the Protected Area was to ensure compatible land uses. We do not see construction of a pipeline to be a compatible land use in the Lac du Bois Protected Area. We are opposed to this use of a Protected Area as a construction site.
We request a detailed explanation of the cost savings you anticipate if you are able to use the Lac du Bois route. We fear it is all too easy for your staff and engineers to see this area as an empty space available for your convenience and construction activities.
BC’s Grasslands cover less than 1% of the province’s land area and current estimates are that over 20% of the historical range of grasslands in BC has been lost. We know that once natural grasslands are significantly disturbed, the chances of them recovering or being restored with native species are very, very slim. In choosing an alternate route for the proposed pipeline, we can ensure that the value of grasslands is recognized before they are lost forever.
We do not want to see the values of this important grassland area whittled away when alternative routes for a pipeline exist.
Kamloops Naturalist Club President