In which the writer proposes:

Splitting conventional wisdoms and inspecting for rot.
Wrestling with the status quo.
Weighing environmental and economic absurdities.
Disentangling metaphors.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

E.COLI in RANGELAND STREAMS 2017: The problem continues.

Our new report:      for 2017 is the fourth in a series of reports documenting E.coli in range-land streams.       
see the full report:    here

The project began in 2007 and has shown that  E.coli counts are almost entirely related to range-cattle presence or absence and that E.coli counts that could be attributable to wildlife (in the absence of cattle) are negligible or frequently nil.

Monthly stream testing going back to 2007 firmly established the patterns of contamination to the point that further monthly testing at our own considerable expense is no longer necessary to prove the point. It is interesting however to periodically sample, based on cattle activity in riparian zones, and when observations suggest, that contamination is likely.

Our new report again focuses on Johnstone Creek, Ingram Creek, Gilpin Creek and the Gilpin.

Notably two of the areas of sampling are within Provincial Parks, Johnstone and Gilpin.

As in past years the stream contamination speaks to the inability or unwillingness of oversight agencies to prevent damage and contamination on public-lands.

For the full 2017 Report and links to the three preceding reports,       here

dugout in Gilpin Grasslands. See report for contamination results.
click to enlarge

Same oozing dugout as in above picture.
click to enlarge



Tuesday 10 April 2018

ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION: Is it working? We say no.

In recent years a number of Ecosystem Restoration (Ecological Restoration) projects have been undertaken in the Boundary area, closely following the examples of projects in the Kootenay Trench area where projects have a 12 year or more record.

The effectiveness and “success” of these projects is questionable. It is apparent from reports, “reading between the lines of reports” and talking to land managers, that planned objectives are rarely met, and that the same old stories of cattle and wildlife competition (in the Kootenays) are unresolved.

In the Boundary our observations of various projects are that excessive thinning and removal of forest have detrimentally affected wildlife habitat in a variety of ways.

Funding for these projects has drawn on various public funded sources with significant contributions from the Habitat Conservation Fund which is largely funded by hunter/fisher contributions. In our view the extent to which projects have detrimentally affected wildlife habitat has not yet been recognized by those interested in protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat. We are working on it.

Our new article focuses on the Johnstone Creek Park project, west of Rock Creek.

           See full article and pictures here.

An area designated as Important Ungulate Winter Range and an important wildlife corridor. This treed area was the only substantial north south wildlife corridor west to Osoyoos, North to Westbridge and East to Greenwood.

The Park is being logged heavily to the point that the important aspects of Important Ungulate Winter Range are being trashed, with removal of any effective snow interception cover, thermal cover and security cover.

The rational for this and similar projects is “returning” an area to some previous, unspecified point in time when the forest may have been more “open.”

“When invoking some ‘desirable” point in time to recreate, plan authors need to not only document the period and the specifics, but consider the intervention on a landscape scale, recognizing adjacent and area changes that have occurred, transforming surrounding areas.

Forest removal by agriculture, forest removal for commercial use, much of it clearcuts, except for local woodlot treatments that generally provide thinning while retaining favourable wildlife habitat. Substantial forest loss to wildfire.

After recognizing these changes, planners might better "see" the value of a forested remnant area like Johnstone Creek.

                A couple of before and after pictures from the Johnstone Creek Project:
West end of Johnstone Creek Park before logging

After logging. This tree density provides no effective snow interception cover,
 thermal cover or security cover.

For the full article and pictures: here

Monday 9 April 2018

CRYPTOGAMIC SOIL LOSS and other damaging effects of Cattle Grazing


A Photo-essay in which we:
(1) show range-cattle effects on Cryptogamic Crusts, AKA Biological Soils or crusts, Microbiotic Soils or Cryptobiotic Soils.
Cattle trampling results in loss of these soils, encourages weed spread, particularly cheat grass and knap weed, forest expansion into grasslands and has various other land degrading effects. Beneficial effects include maintenance of soil stability, atmospheric nitrogen fixing, infiltration, nutrient contributions and resistance to water and wind erosion. See Addendum to read more on Cryptogamic Crusts/Soils and Cheatgrass.

(2) show other damaging effects by range-cattle on grasslands and vegetation, including inhibited recovery of plant communities as a result of overgrazing, soil compaction, time of grazing.

While this article illustrates some of the degrading effects of range-cattle grazing, other damaging effects, particularly in riparian zones, impact water quality and quantity. These effects are the subject of several other reports on our website, documenting damage and water contamination.


See the full article with pictures:   here

An area ungrazed by cattle. Here the Cryptogamic crusts provide
protection against weed growth and forest ingrowth.


Saturday 7 April 2018



                                                 CANNINGS  & COWS

Area representative M.P. Dick Cannings recently authored a piece in local papers in support of the National Park proposed for the Okanagan in which he advocated the continuance of cattle grazing on public land.

As supporters of the National Park idea, we have published articles of support with our support contingent on removal of the cow.


We recently wrote to M.P. Cannings to take issue with his support for cattle grazing, the precedent that would be created that could affect other National Parks, and the background reasons behind his cattle grazing support.

In the absence of any acknowledgement or reply by M.P. Cannings, we are now publishing an Open Letter to M.P. Cannings.
          See full story

The following is an extract from our “Open Letter to M.P. Cannings.”

“Your support for continued cattle grazing, and the precedent that would be established in a National Park is an unfortunate proposal that fails to promote willing seller, willing buyer discussions that would result in removal of the cow. More significant is that your support for continued cattle grazing ignores the role of cattle as “degradation agents” whose presence has greatly damaged grasslands and habitat, and continues to do so.
We might have expected, given your environmental interests, you would be well aware of the economic and environmental absurdity of cattle grazing on public land.
We were aware however of a cautionary note when we saw/heard your reported comment, prior to your election, that cattle grazing in the Okanagan benefitted some birds. In enquiring (to people better acquainted with your work) as to whether this might mean that you would support continued cattle grazing in a Park, respondents thought good sense would prevail, not cows.
It seems clear that desired habitat for some nesting bird is of more concern to you than the wide-ranging damage occurring, thanks to cattle grazing.
Some comment on the bird in question may be useful.
To quote from your own book and your other comments, “Lark Sparrow, (nesting is)associated with bare earth between grass clumps and shrubs in grasslands, so may actually benefit from cattle grazing”.
Interestingly, the Audubon Society, perhaps better aware of cattle damage, describes the Lark Sparrow as “fairly common and widespread in the West....nesting in open country, bare ground, overgrazed pastures
We provided the following partial list of cattle related problems and damage to M. P. Cannings.
A partial list of problems associated with cattle grazing:
  • grassland and riparian degradation
  • absurd water consumption raising low value crops
  • water contamination
  • cattle contribution to weed spread, cheat grass and other invasives.
  • public fencing costs
  • ecological-restoration costs (millions in public funds spent to repair damage, without removing the root cause, cattle)
  • lost opportunity costs
  • forest regrowth damage
  • conflicts with wildlife, habitat, food
  • growing awareness of cattle contribution to global warming.
For the complete story see the full article:           here

Friday 6 April 2018


B.C Government Professional Reliance Review:  Our Submission

The Provincial Government recently requested public input on the question of “Professional Reliance.”
We provided a response and published it together with a response by Dr Brian Horejsi of Speak Up For Wildlife Foundation.                         See the full submissions:                here
In our view Professional Reliance has been increasingly used to off-load Governments oversight of public resources and has resulted in a handover of resources to proponents and those developing or exploiting resources, effectively enabling industry to dictate conditions affecting public resources.
While Government has defended the PR model, together with so-called “Results Based” oversight, some of the more egregious examples of failure of the model, Shawnigan Lake,Mount Polley, will continue to demonstrate the problems inherent in the model.
The model also distances the public from engagement with processes having an effect on public assets, enables proponents to limit information provided, based (for example) on spurious claims of withholding “proprietary” information, and enables proponents to effectively control public input or concerns. The latter being the transfer of responsibility of public hearings to proponents while Government removes itself from the process.
While the myth that PR can effectively represent the public interest is propagated by Government and proponents. It is the opinion of this writer:

that professionals employed by or contracted by proponents have an inherent conflict of  interest and that to a greater or lesser degree can be expected to prioritize the interests of  their employer/agency, over the public interest.
Given the expectations of proponents, their ability to dictate Terms of Reference, devote or withhold resources or information and their ability to control and edit information, an essential bias in  favor of the proponent’s interests is inevitable. When you add the weight of  the control proponents have over the future advancement, re-employment prospects of the professionals involved, some degree of bias is a natural, predictable and inevitable outcome.
What checks and balances are in place to counter such bias? Increasingly, nothing effective, but a disingenuous claim by Government that critics of PR should take their case to the Professionals Regulatory Bodies. (See BC Auditor report and concerns re Mount Polley where Government replied to the criticisms by suggesting that, “concern about over reliance on qualified professionals is a criticism of professional body’s ability to regulate their professions.”)

Government is suggesting that it is the responsibility of professional bodies to maintain some mythical level of objectivity that will maintain the public interest, while being well aware that regulation within professions is a moveable attempt to mostly control the ways in which professionals should avoid "stepping on each other". This has resulted in various efforts by professions to silence, punish or remove members who have "in their professional actions" taken issue with another professional. So much for expectations of objectivity.
Extract from Dr Brian Horejsis’s comments:
Each and every corporation, company, commercial entity, individual and/or association that
is engaged  in the use of or exploitation of public “resources”, (land, water, forests, wildlife, fish and birds) must be subject to scrutiny and regulatory oversight by an accountable, structured, disciplined and supervised Public Service Ministry.”
If any reader thinks the Forest Practices Board (FPB) could presently fill that role, we add Dr Horejsi’s  comment on the FPB as follows:
The Forest Practices Board of today is an offshoot of the Professional Reliance revolution. It was born to provide technical analysis of the consequences of Public Service and Ministry
behavior but was designed deliberately to be neutered of regulatory authority.
While it produces report upon report of Ministry failures and land user misconduct, it
remains but a pimple on the chin of the Ministry of FLNRO, and continues dutifully to have no material bearing on the actions of commercial and corporate land users.”
We would note that a former Chair of the FPB has proposed that the FPB should be the entity to do the oversight in a variety of areas. Other recent public comment has proposed that the FPB should provide oversight of Oil and Gas production.
In our opinion the FPB as presently structured does not and can not provide meaningful oversight for the reasons noted above by Dr Horejsi (highlights by us) and we have a number of personal experiences that confirm those concerns.
It is unlikely that some “restructuring” of the FPB would result in the necessary regulatory oversight needed.
We propose a completely new structure.

To read the full submissions        here