Rocky Mountain Trench Society - What's New
Rocky Mountain Trench Society - What's New

CLICK HERE to read the draft East Kootenay Elk Management Plan 2005-09

January 14, 2005

EcoLogic Research
406 Hemlock Avenue
Gabriola Island, BC  VOR 1X1
Via email: ecologic@shaw.ca

Gentlemen:

Re:  Submission to the Draft East Kootenay Elk Management Plan 2005-09

The writer is co-author, with Don Gayton, of the 1998 Final Report of the East Kootenay Trench Agriculture/Wildlife Committee (EKTAWC), cited in the draft Elk Management Plan (EMP). The following comments and recommendation are made in my capacity as Co-ordinator of the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society (Trench Society). The Trench Society was established by a coalition of stakeholder groups to pursue implementation of the habitat and forage supply recommendations in the EKTAWC report. Ecosystem restoration focused on the East Kootenay range resource is the Society’s only purpose. The Society is a member of the Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Steering Committee, the body that guides the East Kootenay Restoration Program. We also carry out our own independent activities in fulfillment of our mandate. Trench Society member organizations are:

Cranbrook Archery Club
East Kootenay Wildlife Association
Kootenay Livestock Association
Rocky Mountain Naturalists
The Land Conservancy of BC
Waldo Stockbreeders Association
wildsight/East Kootenay Environmental Society
Windermere District Farmers Institute

Trench Society Comments on Habitat Management Recommendations

Recommendation 1.

The 25/25/50 forage allocation was accepted by stakeholders at the EKTAWC table. With respect to livestock/elk allocation, it was intended as a landscape level objective, and not a dogmatic rule for each range unit. It is unlikely that the combined forage demand on any range unit will precisely occur at a 25/25 split between livestock and elk.

Recommendation 2.

We agree that a detailed forage assessment of range health in high conflict areas, indeed in all joint-use ranges, would be valuable knowledge for managing the resource. Such knowledge would inform allocation decisions but more importantly at this stage, would show any range deficit and thus provide a clear range restoration goal. Again, the EKTAWC solution was to increase the total forage resource, as opposed to continued erosion of stakeholders’ needs and aspirations. However, in the case of a fully restored range unit, of which there are none at the moment, the management obligation may need to shift from restoration to allocation. In any event, restoration should continue as the priority habitat activity.

Recommendation 3.

An inter-agency procedure for responding to and implementing recommendations designed to restore Crown rangelands exists in the form of the Restoration Steering Committee. We support the continuation of this committee in its role of guiding range restoration. However, the committee must be more effective, an issue which we address in detail below. Regarding 3a), we support the principle of ongoing assessment of the range resource supply. Regarding 3d), we strongly support the accountability principle, specifically with respect to evaluation of restoration treatments in order to gauge the success of the program. Inter-agency management of Crown rangelands and the issues alluded to in 3b) and 3c) are outside the Society’s mandate.

Recommendation 4.

Regarding 4a), the Trench Society strongly supports the goal of political commitment to a multi-year, secure, restoration program. 4b) is technically outside our mandate but we make this observation: An inter-agency office of range health would seem to be covered in the opening statement in Recommendation 3, which calls for a vehicle for inter-agency range management. We do not support a proliferation of agencies with essentially the same mandate. Statutory management mandates, range health and restoration may require administrative separation but strong bonds between all are required for effectiveness. 

No comment on Recommendation 5 which is outside the Society’s mandate.

Trench Society Recommendation to the East Kootenay Elk Management Plan:

Expand the scale and increase the effectiveness of the current ecosystem restoration program by adopting the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society’s enhanced rangeland restoration model, provided the Society’s 2005-07 Waldo North demonstration project proves the efficacy of the model.

Our recommendation pertains to the following statement contained in the Habitat Management Analysis, p. 20,  of the EMP:

Available Forage … If current ecosystem restoration efforts are not increased immediately and substantially … we are likely to see continuing social and economic upheaval, as well as significantly worse ecological conditions, for at least the next 2-3 decades.

To reiterate, the Trench Society supports the range restoration theme of the EMP but based on our collective knowledge and experience, we advise most strongly that the plan and its recommendations go forward within the context of an enhanced rangeland restoration model.

The Society has proposed such a model and is currently planning its launch as a demonstration project called “Waldo North.” This project will test the Society’s contention that Waldo North will achieve bigger and faster range restoration than is the case with the present strategy. We believe that adoption of the Waldo North model as the strategy for going forward with multiple similar projects will meet the EMP requirement, as stated above, for “immediate and substantial” increases in rangeland restoration.

A brief description of Waldo North:

  • Issuance of a temporary “Occupant Licence to Cut” to the Trench Society is the significant innovation that facilitates the project.
  • Project site is located on high joint-use NDT4 on the north end of the Waldo Range Unit near Jaffray.
  • Project area is 2000 hectares, several times larger than any project in the East Kootenay to date.
  • Full-phase planning approach, meaning all operations required to fully meet open range and open forest ecotype stocking targets will occur in chorus, i.e., the 2000 ha will receive an uninterrupted sequence of restoration treatments. 
  • Completion goal is two years from project launch.
  • Range restoration goal is an additional 500,000 kg of annual forage production, which is expected to place the range unit on a sustainable forage production basis.
  • Weed management and maintenance burning plans for the site will be developed as part of project planning.
  • Comprehensive monitoring infrastructure established.
  • Pre- and post-treatment monitoring data collection.
  • All planning, operations, finances, marketing and monitoring will be under the one-desk executive control of the Trench Society.

Considerable thought has been given to the features of this project model with respect to their efficacy in accomplishing more “immediate and substantial” range restoration. The Trench Society strongly recommends that the Elk Management Plan incorporate this project model as part of the Habitat Management recommendations in the plan. More comprehensive details of Waldo North are available on request.

Yours truly,

Maurice Hansen
Coordinator
Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society


 UPCOMING

Feb 26, 2015 – Trench Society Winter Board meeting, Steeples Room, Ministry of Environment, Cranbrook

 MORE INFO?

Click here for the Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program (TRENCH ER PROGRAM) website. Learn about grassland/open forest restoration in the East Kootenay and Upper Columbia Valley.

Click here for the Trench ER Program's online RESEARCH LIBRARY.

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