Action Alert! Nominate the Peace River as BC’s most endangered river now!

Reposted on keepthepeacevalley  by the Peace Valley Environment Association, Mar 8, 2013

Artists Rendering of Proposed Site C Dam on the Peace River

In an effort to reinforce the importance of the Peace River at this time, we are encouraging our supporters to nominate the Peace River as BC’s most endangered river.  Would you please take a few minutes to fill out the nomination form through the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC.  Following is some information to assist with that request.

ACTION ALERT:

You can help protect British Columbia’s Peace River from the Site C hydroelectric dam. Nominate it as the most endangered river in the province.

This historic river is threatened by the Site C dam. The proposed dam will create a reservoir 83 kilometres long that will flood over 30,000 acres of lush valley bottom.  Rich farmlands, critical habitat for wildlife, and ancient aboriginal burial grounds will all disappear.

The threat of the Site C dam is urgent!  The province of BC and the federal government have launched a joint environmental assessment of the dam and its impacts.  The draft environmental impact statement was published by BC Hydro in January of 2013.  It is expected that a joint federal-provincial review panel will hold public hearings before the end of 2013 and make its decision by fall of 2014.  Now is the time to elevate the awareness of the Peace River and the threats posed by the Site C dam.

For the last two years, the Peace River has ranked as the 3rd most endangered river by the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia. Let’s make it #1 during this critical year, when the decision on Site C is being assessed by the federal and provincial governments.

The more people that nominate the Peace, the greater the chances that it will be ranked as number 1. A top ranking will help us gain public, media and political attention to the threats posed by the Site C dam.

The Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC) of BC is accepting nominations for BC’s most endangered river now via it’s on-line form, accessible by clicking here  (or copy and paste this web link: http://www.orcbc.ca/endangered_form.html). The deadline for nominations is Monday, March 18th, 2013. Submit your nomination today!

ORC has impressed upon me that they would like the nominations to be as individual and personal as possible.  I am including some points here to help you form your response to their on-line form, but pleas personalize your response as much as possible.  Thank you.

(The words in italics below are drawn from the on-line form.)

Please provide sections of river that are of particular interest or which face specific threats and issues:  You may give sections of river as sections between two towns, landmarks or geographic coordinates. Your description must be easy to determine by individuals that are not familiar with the area. If you wish to nominate the entire river, please indicate “Whole length of river” in your answer.

  • The section of the Peace River in northeastern BC most at risk flows from the outlet of Dinosaur Reservoir, near Hudson’s Hope, 83 kilometers downstream, to a point just east of the confluence of the Moberly River, near Taylor, BC.

Impacts or Threats:  Specific impacts on the river which are, or are likely to be, a threat to recreation e.g. industrial or other pollution such as sewage, turbidity, river diversion or non-natural changes to flow, destruction of riparian areas, changes to landscapes?

  • The proposed Site C dam will cause the above-referenced 83-km stretch of river to be flooded and thus widened by up to 3 times.  This will result in significant destruction of riparian areas from the flooding as well as changes to the river flow and water temperature.
    • Steep, clay banks along the river will be significantly destabilized as vegetation clearing along the shoreline and up the banks will occur for the purposes of turning the river into a reservoir.  This instability poses a threat to recreationalists as trees and stumps will fall into the river, impeding access to the shoreline and posing significant safety threats due to large, floating debris on the water.
    • Additionally, landslides will be easily triggered along the banks of the Peace River once the vegetation is removed, particularly after significant rain events.  This poses a safety concern for users of the river.

Loss of Outdoor Recreation activities:  What types of outdoor recreation are being or are expected to be impacted by the above impacts and why, e.g. fly fishing, drift fishing, canoeing or kayaking, white water kayaking, swimming, bird watching?

  • There are a number of threats posed by the potential Site C dam to the recreational values of this section of river:
    • Enjoyment of wildlife and bird viewing will be significantly impacted.  Many eagles’ nests currently existing on islands along the river as well as along the banks will be destroyed.
      • Habitat for certain migratory birds (Canada, Cape May and Bay-breasted Warblers, Yellow Rail and Nelson’s Sparrow) would be significantly affected by the creation of the reservoir.
      • Enjoyment of wildlife along the river will be affected as much of their habitat will be flooded if the dam is approved.  There will be less wildlife in the area due to disruptions caused by construction activities; additionally, wildlife habitat will be affected due to the removal of 15,000 acres of forested land along the river and within project construction areas.
  • Recreational fishing opportunities would be detrimentally impacted due to changes in the river resulting from flooding, including significantly increased siltation and changes to water temperature.  These impacts include the loss of:  migratory Arctic grayling in the Moberly River;  migratory bull trout that spawn the Halfway River;  and, the mountain whitefish that rely on Peace River habitat.
  • Significant changes to the landscape will also occur due to flooding of nearly 16,000 acres of farmland as well as the removal of nearly 15,000 acres of boreal forest along the river.  The river would be flooded, increasing its width by up to three times.  Additionally, water levels on the river will fluctuate, making shoreline areas less stable and accessible.
  • All of these changes to the river will affect boaters using electric motors, kayakers, canoeists and those using rafts.
    • The shoreline will be very unstable and muddy.
    • The shoreline will be littered with debris from vegetation.
    • Floating debris is a danger to any watercraft.
    • The elimination of certain fish species affects recreational fishers enjoyment of diversity of species.
    • The destruction of bird habitat reduces the variety of birds and enjoyment for bird watchers.
    • Ultimately, it is extremely unsettling for anyone who enjoys the river to know that it has been significantly altered by humans and that there are far-reaching ecosystem losses that cannot be reversed.  There are many who will be distraught by the thought that this precious valley ecosystem has been so severely impacted and that this has contributed to the cumulative impacts to ecosystem sustainability in northeastern BC.
    • Additionally it is unsettling for people to know that over time, the potential for food production in the Peace Valley will be significantly reduced if Site C is approved.  The Valley will become a critical location for food production over time, as traditional food producing land in North America is being lost due to impacts from climate change.

Immediacy of threats: Are threats to the river current or likely to occur in the foreseeable future.

  • These threats to the river will occur if the Site C dam proceeds.  It is anticipated that a decision on the Site C dam will be made in the fall of 2014.  So, all opportunities to promote the protection of this river NOW must be acted upon.
  • It is imperative that the value of the Peace River be recognized as widely as possible so that the political decision makers on this project can be influenced to reject this project.

Learn more at Peace Valley Environmental Association’s (PVEA’s) website,www.peacevalley.ca. and by following us on Facebook at:  Pvea Coordinator or Twitter:  @SavePeaceValley.

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