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Power project threatens BC grizzly bears

Dec 08, 2012

To protect grizzly bears in southwestern BC, conservation groups including Conservation Northwest sent a letter (PDF) urging the BC government to withhold approval for the Upper Lillooet Hydropower Project.

Power project threatens BC grizzly bears

Southwest BC grizzly bear

Update: In January 2013, the B.C. government approved the controversial hydropower project in the upper Lillooet RiverValley, home to a recovering population of grizzly bears. With our BC allies, we are looking at ways to move forward in the best interests of BC bears and other wildlife.

Says Conservation Northwest's Joe Scott: "Independent power project proponents scramble to take advantage of government deregulation to stake claims on hundreds of BC's wild rivers. Dozens of these IPPs and their permanent infrastructure of power lines and access roads threaten to interrupt the grizzly bears' comeback story."

To protect grizzly bears on their way to recovery in southwestern BC, conservation groups including Conservation Northwest have sent a letter (PDF) urging the BC government to withhold approval for the Upper Lillooet Hydropower Project. The IPP (independent power project) has triggered concerns around the ecological values and function of the upper Lillooet watershed, central to four recovering grizzly bear populations.

Map of SW BC grizzly bear populations ~ Map of potential  hydropower projects in the Upper Lillooet watershed

The group letter highlights major concerns for grizzly bears in what is perhaps their last stronghold in the most heavily human populated region of British Columbia. The Squamish-Lillooet, Garibaldi-Pitt, South Chilcotin, and Stein-Nahatlatch grizzly bears live within a couple hundred miles of BC's border with the US, near what is known as the transboundary region.

"Our organizations are especially concerned that Innergex is proposing to build a power line for the [Upper Lillooet project] that has the ability to carry significantly more power than would be produced by the proposed project....such capacity could catalyze a string of other power projects in the watershed....these projects would include major cumulative impacts, particularly on grizzly bears but on other species as well."

"The routing of the power line through the Ryan River Valley – the area’s single most important area for grizzly bears – is of great concern."

The Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), BC Spaces for Nature, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Pemberton Wildlife Association, Sierra Club, BC, Wildsight, and Conservation Northwest issued the letter urging the BC ministers to deny the IPP until a recovery plan for the region's grizzly bears is completed.

IPP resource: Tamed Rivers: A Guide to River Diversion Hydropower in British Columbia from the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, October 2012

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