Steeves/Trail Mix: Ask questions of candidates

If the issues of conservation of habitat for fish and wildlife concern you then you'd better take this chance to ask candidates questions.

Not much room between parked cars and motorized vehicles for a cyclist in the newly-rebuilt Bernard Avenue through downtown Kelowna

You’d never know there was a single voter in B.C. who gave a mouse’s moustache for conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitat in this province to hear the current crop of politicos go on.

The word ‘environment’ used in this election campaign is reserved solely for comment on the Kinder Morgan proposal to route an oil pipeline through B.C. destined for tankers at our coast.

But, I haven’t heard a word about the day-to-day management of our outdoor resources in our province; nor about the steady decline in staffing to protect the resource; nor recent incursions on the resource by resource industries bent on dumping toxic tailings into pristine lakes and criss-crossing the natural environment with access roads, tearing up habitat left, right and centre.

Even the province’s auditor general’s report in February this year criticized this province for a decline in biodiversity in B.C., and for failing to deal with the issue.

John Doyle reported that issues identified 20 years ago by his office still exist today and have never been rectified by government. “Habitat preservation is critical to the conservation of biodiversity and government’s lack of implementation and monitoring is troubling,” he commented.

If you do care, you have 10 days left in which to ask questions of candidates in the upcoming provincial election and hold their feet to the fire once they’re elected, based on their answers.

There are some out there who have taken the initiative and made sure our provincial politicians give some thought to questions that are of importance to outdoors people.

The 800-member Oceola Fish and Game Club has sent a questionnaire around to local candidates and they intend to let outdoors people in this area know what answers they received back, including the estimated 2,000 B.C. Wildlife Federation members in Kelowna.

I’ll share those responses with you next week in this column.

They’ve asked whether candidates favour returning income from hunting and angling to the resource instead of funnelling it into general revenue, pointing out that they contribute more than a billion dollars to the economy in direct and indirect impacts.

As well, the club asked if candidates support a science-based approach to management rather than a politically-based one, such as when the management of predators is supported by science.

Third, the club has asked if candidates support residents’ priority for access to harvest of fish and wildlife.

And, finally, the question of the current approach to habitat and watershed sustainability, mitigation and compensation was brought up for candidates to respond to, with a question about support for a landscape-level approach to resource extraction and use, and support for a compensation program so that revenues from extraction would be re-invested in fish and wildlife habitat and management.

Slashed budgets for conservation by the provincial government in the last decade or so have resulted not only in deputizing the cat to look after the canary, but also in a lack of monitoring data on which to base resource management decisions for the future.

Although resident hunter license sales are up, from 85,633 in 2005 to 97,828 in 2012, much of our game management now is done using the Limited Entry Hunting draws, so revenue from tags is down even though hunter numbers are up.

Our of nearly 64,000 hunters who applied for an LEH for moose in B.C. in 2012, fewer than 14,426 were awarded, and some of those were shared hunts, so the actual numbers of draws is lower.

And, the resident hunter moose harvest has declined from 10,752 in 1981, to 6,788 in 2011.

However, in the Okanagan, results from aerial surveys conducted this winter indicate that although moose numbers are down in some parts of the province, they are higher than expected in this area.

That expectation was based on a lack of monitoring data due to budget cutbacks, until local fish and game clubs threw some money in last year so government could update old information.


Myra repairs

And, while moose have extremely long, gangly legs so that deep snow is not nearly the problem it is for most of us, they will still have to high-step it at higher elevations around the valley this year, because there’s still lots of deep snow up there.

That snow is holding up efforts to get busy and repair trestle number three in Myra Canyon.

B.C. Parks staff have apparently been in to assess the damage done when a boulder the size of a truck came loose from the rock face adjacent to the trestle bridge and crashed into it a few weeks ago.

Ken Campbell of the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society says parks staff told him they will rebuild the trestle, which sustained significant damage in the rockfall, but it’s likely to take most of the summer.

First, before crews can get in there to begin to work on the trestle, the rock face has to be stabilized so it’s safe to be around that area, he noted.

He said the MCTRS is looking at the possibility of creating a temporary detour around that trestle, but it’s particularly rugged terrain there so it won’t be an easy fix.

It’s a real setback for that part of the Trans Canada Trail which sees thousands of visitors cycling and hiking through the canyon every year, from all around the world.


Cycling downtown

Cyclists might also be wondering about how they appear to have been left to fend for themselves in the ‘new look’ downtown Kelowna where the first phase of renewal has largely been completed.

While it would appear they have to fight with vehicles for the one remaining lane through downtown, Mike Kittmer, the city’s active transportation coordinator, says it’s a shared use lane which has been left wider, at 4.3 metres, to permit both cyclists and motorists to use it.

He reminded me that cyclists have every right to take up a full lane, just as a vehicle does, and the intent in that redesigned transportation corridor through downtown is to slow motorized vehicles down because they must share the roadway with pedestrians, cyclists and other users.

When the project is complete, he says there will be a “sharrow” on the pavement to indicate this is a shared lane, and cyclists will be expected to take up the whole lane in order to turn left, when necessary.


Nature trust

Those who enjoy eating fantastic food, drinking top-drawer wines, enjoying live music and entertainment and having fun bidding on all sorts of fantastic prizes—including a Wall of Wine—should mark their calendars now and grab their tickets for this year’s Nature Trust of B.C. fund-raiser, Earth Wind and Fire.

It’s at the Delta Grand Fri., Jun. 21 with some of the area’s best chefs participating, along with the members of Culinary Team B.C., and top wineries and breweries. For details, go to or call Tracy Loewen at 1-866-288-7878, ext. 222 for tickets.

It’s a great cause and a really fun evening with some fantastic prizes.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.



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