Say the Names...

Al Purdy wrote a wonderful poem called "Say the names say the names" which celebrates the names of Canadian rivers - Tulameen, Kleena Kleene, Similkameen, Nahanni, Kluane and on and on in a celebratory song.

Enbridge is planning to build a dual pipeline that will carry bitumen and condensate across hundreds of waterways between Edmonton and Kitimat. Some of these waterways are rivers like the Parsnip (or what's left of it), the Nechako, the Morice and others are smaller creeks whose names are often known only to the folks who live along their banks or who fish in their shadows or who bend to wash or drink as they cross paths.

I want to collect the names of these rivers and creeks, to collect your stories, your poems, your songs so we can collectively give voice to the land living under the line Enbridge plans to draw.

People have also sent me copies of their presentations to the community oral presentations. If you'd like to add your voice, email me ( your stories and I'll post them for you. The copyright remains with you.

All the best.
Sheila Peters

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jim Pojar - Bearing Witness

Jim Pojar
April 2012


·        I have lived in Bulkley Valley since 1978
·        terrestrial ecologist; 25 years with BC Forest Service
·        lots of fieldwork throughout nwBC, from Prince George to Haida Gwaii, from Atlin to Bella Coola, usually in the company of earth scientists
·        over the years have noticed that physical scientists (soil scientists, geologists, climatologists) & engineers from east of Rockies initially don’t “get” mountainous BC
·        often takes them several years to re-calibrate their working reality (in terms of topography, rapid changes over short distances, mass movements, peak flows, extreme events, really physically active landscapes / hydrogeomorphological processes)
·        in light of threats to terrestrial and esp freshwater aquatic ecosystems of wc BC, from pipeline construction and subsequent ruptures and leaks along the line:
Recommendation: review photos of severe erosion—of roads, culverts, bridges—caused by last summer’s rainstorms; posted on Flickr site of BC Min. of Transportation & Infrastructure.
·        big rainstorms with surface erosion + mass movements = a potent combination for damage to all linear infrastructure, especially in mountainous terrain
·        Peace Region – late June 2011; along Hwy 97 from Chetwynd to Mackenzie; more than 25 significant blowout sites; said to be a 1-in-40 year event, but frequency will increase as climate warms
·        Coast Mtns – after 12 cm of rain from Sept 7-8, 2011; Hwy 37, especially the spur to Stewart; massive erosion; bridges and roadbed washed away, streams cutting new channels
·        Heckman Pass – in July 2011; bedrock failures along Hwy 20 (road to Bella Coola) after series of rainstorms

Conservation Values of West Central BC

Terrestrial—conservation values in the mountainous portions of wc BC centre on the region’s rivers—especially the larger drainages—and productive valley bottoms, with riparian ecosystems & high fish and wildlife values.

Stepping back for a broad, continental view, the Bulkley Rges & Kitimat Rges (coastal or coast-interior transitional mountain ecosections roughly from Zymoetz River to Whitesail Lake) have some nationally & globally significant ecological attributes.
· unregulated, lake-headed salmon rivers with clean water and high quality aquatic habitat (intact freshwater aquatic habitats one of rarest class of ecosystems in the world)
· +/- intact large-mammal predator-prey systems
· continentally important habitat & populations of g bear, Kermode bear, m goat, wolf, wolverine
· coastal temperate rainforest (aka Great Bear Rainforest)

Marine—but the really “world class” system occurs along the Coast.

·        BC’s globally significant north & central coast, 88,000 km2 of marine ecosystems; archipelago-fiord & continental shelf—and fractally complex land-water interface.
·        Ecosystems like kelp forests, seagrass meadows, fertile estuaries, 9000-yr old glass sponge reefs, seamounts.
·        Species including whales, porpoises, rockfish, sea otters, seabirds, herring, eulachon, nudibranchs, octopus.
·        “Combination of complex oceanographic conditions and seafloor characteristics … with channels, banks, deep troughs, eddies, upwellings, estuaries, and depths from 0 to 2000 m, creates a wide range of ecological niches and in turn supports a diverse array of species.”[1]
Cumulative Effects
Nonetheless much of the landscape along the proposed pipeline route has been industrialised—esp across Interior Plateau. The natural environment has been subjected to: extensive clearcut logging w numerous roads & stream crossings; railroad + major highway; mines & effluents; hydroelectric transmission lines; gas pipelines; agriculture.
·        All effects are ‘cumulative’; accumulate through time and over space; do not represent a special class of impacts.
·        Must assess the aggregate stresses on environmental values.
·        Series of small +/- minor effects can accumulate to result in a significant overall effect (death by a thousand cuts)
·        Total impact greater than simple sum of individual stressors. E.g., access development >> roads and stream crossings; on unstable terrain/erodible soils >> erosion & sedimentation; >>increased hunting & fishing pressure
Homeland vs Hinterland
A few years ago a senior Yukon Government manager (Energy Mines & Resources) assured me that dealing with the oil & gas industry was straightforward because “they’re just looking for a bigger sandbox to play in.”
A remark dismaying but revealing:
·        “manifest destiny” approach of the industry & its servants in government
·        cavalier attitude to natural and human environment of w Canada: tar sands, Mackenzie Valley, Ft. Nelson Lowland, Sacred Headwaters, Bulkley Valley—each is just another piece of bush
·        underlying assumption that collateral damage from O&G exploration, development, & transport will be insignificant because it occurs in a sparsely populated hinterland
·        distinction between homeland & hinterland that Thomas Berger highlighted in Mackenzie Valley pipeline hearings.
Because of threats to the natural environment of west central BC—in particular to the freshwater aquatic and marine systems—from pipeline construction and subsequent ruptures and leaks along the line, and from oil spills and other pollution from tankers along the coast;
Because of the unacceptable attitude of the oil & gas industry and senior governments toward the people who live along the proposed route;
And because of the threats to our homeland, our quality of life, and the stability and health of our communities;
I am strongly opposed to this proposed pipeline.

[1] Lucas, B.S., S. Verrin, R. Brown, eds. 2007. Ecosystem overview: Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA). Can. Tech, Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2667: 104 p.

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