|Vol.9 Number 4||
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Vol. 9 Number 4 - August/September 1999
Editorial -The Poisoning of Canada: Call 911
Wind Power Joins the Grid
Toxic Ship Paint Must Be Banned
"Why Bother? Who Cares?" say experts
Community Vows to Protect its Forests
Logging and Resistance Continue
Opponents of Clearcuts Go To Court
Merger Raises NAFTA Spectre
From the Forests, About the Trees
BC Community Forests Begin to Materialize
Falldown: Forest Policy in British Columbia
Greenpeace to the Amazon
Home Depot Boycott
Vancouver Watershed Report - "Just Another Plan for Logging"
Offshore Oil and Water Dont Mix
Maritimers oppose oil exploration
Show Me The Money
Science For Hire
Compost Thrives on the Rough Stuff
Paper and cardboard: To recycle or to compost?
Rafting To The Beaufort Sea
Friends of Cortes Island
Cortes Bays Aren't Safe Yet!
FOCI builds a new home:Help Wanted
Information Overload Can be Cured
Environment Canada's S & E Bulletin
Wana Chinook Tymoo
Ecotourism--Panacea Or Eco-Opportunism?
Dear Paul Martin: Yes, You CAN Lead Us to a Tax Shift!
Access Open with CanExplore
The Poisoning of Canada: Call 911
This summer, the Canadian Senate will review sweeping changes to federal legislation protecting the environment and our health. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) has been years in the making.
Yet at the last minute, the latest draft of the Act was heavily influenced by some of the most intense lobbying by industry ever seen in Ottawa. As a result, this Bill does not prevent pollution and fails to protect children. Even some Liberal MPs voted against it.
You can help change this harmful Act before it is law. In the Senate, where the Liberals have only a five-seat lead, your phone call, letter or signature on a petition could tip the balance in favour of the environment and human health.
Here are just five reasons to oppose the proposed new CEPA.
1. All other laws 'trump' CEPA. In legal terms, CEPA is 'residual.' This means that any legislation passed to promote industry, trade, agriculture or other government priorities would take precedence over environmental protection. Should the protection of the human health and the environment come first or last on your list of priorities? Under the new CEPA it would always be last.
2. CEPA won't protect children. The proposed Act fails to protect people, particularly children, the elderly and pregnant women, who may be particularly sensitive to toxic chemicals. If the most vulnerable people aren't protected under environmental law, who is?
3. Genetically engineered foods could bypass evaluation. Cabinet will be allowed to exempt whole classes of genetically engineered products -- foods, drugs, plants, animals and fish -- from evaluation of their effects on health and the environment before they enter the Canadian market. Who should decide that genetically engineered products are safe -- politicians or scientists?
4. Playing "The Price is Right" with the environment. Amazingly, industry would only have to take action if it is 'cost effective' to do so. Government would not be able to take precautionary action against pollution, unless it could prove that it would cost industry less money to clean it up than it costs to treat the people that are affected by it.
5. Toxics R Us! Industry would be allowed to continue to make, sell and use chemicals which have been identified as the most toxic and dangerous in Canada. Under the proposed Act, it would be immensely difficult to prove that any of the 23,000 chemicals in commercial use in Canada must be eliminated. Whose interests are served by making it so difficult to prevent pollution?
You can find out how to contact your Senator from 1(800)267-7362 or www.parl.gc.ca/36/senmemb/senate/isenator.asp?L=E
For copies of a petition to send to the Senate, contact the Watershed Sentinel or go to: www.web.net/cepa911/petition.html
* From material prepared by the Canadian Environmental Law Association, and the Canadian Environmental Network Toxics Caucus, July 20, 1999
When eight of Ontario's twenty nuclear plants had to be shut down for safety reasons, the provincial government bridged the gap by relying more heavily on coal-fueled generating stations. As a result, this summer, smog advisories are at a record high and sometimes extend to cities as far north as North Bay.
Fortunately, the people at the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) have stepped in to fill the vision-void left by our MPs. After years of planning and preparation, TREC recently formed a partnership with the newly incorporated Toronto Hydro, created as a result of megacity amalgamation, to install two wind turbines on Toronto's lake front.
While the wind turbines will each generate enough electricity to meet the demand of only 200 to 300 households, their more important role will be to raise public awareness about the viability of renewable energy.
Besides helping to counter the environmental problems of smog and greenhouse gases, TREC Manager Bryan Young also sees TREC's role as helping Torontonians to build renewable energy as a community.
TREC will raise half its capital through $500 shares sold to individuals and corporations, with Toronto Hydro raising the rest. A net-billing arrangement will allow TREC to use the Toronto Hydro grid to distribute the turbines electricity while making deductions from its members' energy bills. This setup will avoid the high cost of battery storage and problems associated with intermittent energy supply and transmission. The final agreement will be signed by September 1999.
The Federal Government has also committed $330,000 for the installation of one turbine through the Technology Early Action Measures (TEAM) component of the Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF). The Canadian government will also buy membership in the co-op once an environmental assessment is successfully completed.
The remaining hurdle is to gain public support for the locations of the turbines. Community meetings have been generally supportive, but some people remain resistant to the idea of a turbine in their neighbourhood. The issue of bird losses has also been looked at. Based on the available data, this is not a significant issue, but recommendations have been made for special lighting.
The Canadian government's contribution to the TREC project is laudable, but it pales compared to Denmark's support for its wind industry, which leads the world.
* Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative and TREC Wind Power, 292 Merton Street, Suite 2, Toronto, Ontario M4S 1A9 TREC@istar.ca; ph: (416)489-WIND (9463); fax: (416)488-7608
BC's first community forest pilot sites were announced in June by Forests Minister David Zirnhelt, who promised more in the coming weeks as a part of a forest action plan to promote diversification of the resource-based economy.
Twenty-seven community forest proposals were received. The first four accepted proposals were from:
* BC Ministry of Forests, June 1999
If you have been trying to follow the ups and downs of BC forest policy, the conflicting and contradictory Timbre Supply Analyses and the Annual Allowable Cut, never mind varieties of forest tenure and stumpage debates, you need this book. Dr. Marchuk summarizes all the important pieces of the forest debate which has raged in BC for the last fifty years and recommends real solutions, solutions best instituted now.
Greenpeace has announced that its new global priority is the Amazon, with the first focus on destructive logging in Brazil.
As recently as 1970, 99 per cent of the Amazon remained intact. Today, at least 550,000 km2 of the Brazilian Amazon, an area the size of France, has been deforested.
Greenpeace wants ecological reserves increased as well as reserve areas for rubber-tapping and other non-wood-production activities. Certified logging should only be allowed with strict ecological and social criteria, and indigenous lands respected.
Meanwhile, researchers reported in Nature that more than twice as much Amazon rainforest has been deforested than previously estimated from satellite imagery. The researchers say the extent of this damage from logging and fires is so huge that it necessitates a recalculation of climate change estimates.
* Greenpeace, May 1999; BBC, April 1999
The Citizens Environment Alliance of SW Ontario has joined boycotts of Home Depot stores across North America. Home Depot is the world's largest retailer of ancient forest from BC, the Amazon, Southeast Asia to California's Redwood Forest. The boycott is supported by the Windsor & District Labour Council. June 1999
A Water District report on management options for the Greater Vancouver watersheds is less a scientific analysis than a rationale for further logging, says SPEC, a Vancouver environmental organization. The study claims that a halt to logging would actually heighten the risk of forest fires and tree disease outbreaks over the next century. The report says without logging there is potential for a major fire of up to 5,000 hectares every 80 to 90 years in the Capilano watershed.
This is not borne out by current scientific evidence. "That kind of fire just doesn't come around that frequently in coastal western hemlock forests," said Dr. Michael Feller, a leading forest fire and water quality expert with the UBC Dept. of Forestry. "Not a single study demonstrates that logging of any type in old growth forests reduces fire risks." Other scientists agree.
"It's arrogant to say that we know enough about insect infestations to predict what might happen in the watersheds 120 years from now," said Dr. Elaine Golds, a former McGill University biology professor. "We can't assume the only solution to possible insect infestation is cutting down trees now."
"Prior to the early 1960s and the start of modern logging in the North Shore watersheds, Vancouver had the best drinking water of any city in the world," said SPEC president David Cadman. "Now this report concludes that ongoing logging is the preferred option for managing a watershed that supplies drinking water for 1.9 million people."
SPEC, (Society Promoting Environmental Conservation); ph: (604)736-7732; fax: (604)736-7115; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The BC Alliance for the Preservation of the Offshore Oil and Gas Moratorium, made up of 40 conservation and labour groups, is sending a clear message that offshore oil and gas development will not be tolerated on the Pacific coast of Canada.
"The health of our coastal communities and the health of our ocean will be in jeopardy if we start drilling for oil," says Jennifer Lash, spokesperson for the Alliance. "Developing this industry would be a slap in the face to fishermen, community groups, tourism companies, and conservation organizations that are working so hard to conserve our ocean and our fisheries."
The current moratorium, in place for more than 25 years, has prohibited oil and gas development and ensures that oil tankers do not travel through our inside waters. However, the recent announcement from Northern Development Commissioner John Backhouse to conduct consultations to measure support for lifting the moratorium indicates the provincial government is responding to the request of the North Coast Oil and Gas Task Force, a group of eight Prince Rupert businessmen working to lift the moratorium.
The BC Alliance for the Preservation of the Offshore Oil and Gas Moratorium has prepared a Call for Action urging federal and provincial governments to maintain the moratorium. In just one short week 40 groups have signed onto this call for action.
"We expect to hear from many more organizations over the next month," says Lash, "and we will help communicate the concerns of these groups to the decision-makers at the federal and provincial levels."
The North Coast Oil and Gas Task Force claims this industry will provide jobs and prosperity to the beleaguered Northeast. However, the Alliance is quick to point out that the joint federal provincial Offshore Exploration Environmental Assessment, conducted in 1986, warned that local job expectations were unrealistic given the highly skilled nature of drilling and exploration.
Oil spills threaten seabirds, fish, shellfish, and the eggs and larvae of all marine species, as well as the fishing and tourism industries. Despite advances made in technology, in 1997 there were 351 oil spills world-wide from exploratory drilling and tankers.
Members of the Alliance include the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Living Oceans Society, Greenpeace, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, Georgia Strait Alliance, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, Reach for Unbleached, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
* For more information contact: Jennifer Lash, Executive Director, Living Oceans Society,; cell: (250)741-4006.
Vital spawning, nursery and other sensitive fishing areas along the Nova Scotia coast near the Gulf of St. Lawrence are being jeopardized by the petroleum exploration policies of unelected government groups, says an organization called Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board.
The organizations president, Percy Hayne, says the unelected offshore petroleum board is approving exploratory permits in spawning areas without any independent environmental assessment.
In a news release, Mr. Hayne said his group is opposed to any exploration being carried out in spawning grounds. He specifically referred to the rights obtained by Corridor Resources to a parcel along the western coast of Cape Breton.
Mr. Hayne said "politicians have been ignoring their responsibility to protect Nova Scotias multi-species inshore fishery."
*From: The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, July 1999
Toxic Ship Paint Must Be Banned
While snails undergo involuntary sex changes, the government dithers, forgetting about the precautionary principle and human health
by Delores Broten
Tributyl tin (TBT), a substance still commonly painted on the hulls of large ships to repel barnacles and weeds, although banned for non-aluminium small boats, should be fast-tracked for virtual elimination by the Canadian government, says the World Wildlife Fund.
TBT is a highly persistent pesticide that accumulates in the food chain and disrupts the endocrine system of wildlife species. Research shows that in humans, organotins like TBT can disrupt the function of cells that fight infection. A US study this year identified significant levels of organotins in random blood samples.
TBT is toxic to fish, shellfish and plants at concentrations in the parts per billion to parts per trillion range. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Water Quality Guideline for TBT is 1 part per trillion for marine environments but this guideline has no legal force. TBT kills shellfish larvae at less than one part per billion, and causes oyster shell deformities such as "chambering, thickening and balling," according to Environment Canada.
Female snails in Atlantic Canada and throughout the Strait of Georgia suffer from "imposex," the development of male sex organs. A 1994 survey found 100% imposex in some species at Mission Creek on the Sunshine Coast, Parksville, Campbell River, Bold Point and Granite Bay on Quadra Island, as well as some deformity at other sites. This effect has been well known in southern France and England since the 1970s.
Until 1987, TBT was also used as an anti-fouling agent on farmed salmon net cages. Assorted related organotins are also used as stabilizers in PVC, industrial cooling water slimicides, anti-mould agents in paints, and wood preservatives.
Ten years ago, an international ban on the use of TBT for small boats under 25 metres reduced the flow of TBT to the marine environment, but TBT contamination in major harbors has not declined.
Marine mammals such as dolphins and beluga whales are contaminated with TBT on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
High levels of TBT are found in the sediment of Canada's major marine and freshwater harbours and shipyards, from Vancouver to Halifax. Levels in Vancouver's Burrard Inlet are the second highest on record worldwide. Sediments in small craft harbours, now devolved to community control, remain contaminated.
TBT is found in sewage sludge in Winnipeg, Toronto and Hamilton, possibly leaching from PVC plastic pipe.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) wants a voluntary global phase out of TBT anti-fouling paints, but there will be no effective action until 2003 or later. The IMO says alternatives to TBT paint include copper-based coatings and silicon-based paints, which make the surface of the ship slippery so that sea life will be easily washed off. Underwater cleaning systems would avoid having to put the ship into dry dock for cleaning the hull, while ultrasonic or electrolytic devices may also work.
Many pesticides, including TBT, have been on the Canadian market for decades without reevaluation. WWF is calling for amendments to Canada's 30-year-old pesticide law.
* Sources: "Tributyl Tin: The Case for Virtual Elimination in Canada" (WWF) 1999; IMO News/Internet June 1999; "Fact Sheet: Organotin Compounds in the Aquatic Environment of British Columbia," Environment Canada 1996; "Neogastropad Imposex for Monitoring Recovery from Marine TBT Contaminaton," Tester et al, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, pp. 560-67, 1996.
"Why Bother? Who Cares?" say experts
Pundits throw a snit fit; entire world reels in apathy.
WASHINGTON, DC - Citing years of frustration over their advice being misunderstood, misrepresented or simply ignored, Americas foremost experts in every field collectively tendered their resignation Monday.
"Despite all our efforts to advise this nation, America still throws out its recyclables, keeps its guns in unlocked cabinets where children have easy access, eats three times as much red meat as is recommended, watches seven hours of TV per day, swims less than 10 minutes after eating, and leaves halogen lights on while unattended," said Dr. Simon Peavy, vice-president of the National Association of Experts. "Since you don't seem to care about things you don't understand, screw you. We quit."
"My final piece of expert advice," Peavy added, "is that all of you people should just go f * * * yourselves."
Michael Leland, until recently a Department of Energy advisor specializing in planetary energy-use infrastructures and a leading expert in petrochemical and fossil-fuel depletion, maintained that the experts mass resignation is justified.
"Last year, I testified before Congress that at the current rate of consumption, the planets supply of coal, natural gas, and oil would be gone within 40 years, and they looked at me as if I was some sort of crackpot," Leland said. "Whats the point?"
"Well say it one last time before we pack up and go: In 20 years, you'll be up to your asses in old folks," a written statement from the National Advisory Council On Aging read in part. "Since America has not yet begun making preparations for the explosion in its senior population, we recommend that you begin research on federally funded, hydroelectrically powered "eldercution camps, where the teeming hordes of the aged can be disposed of quickly and painlessly."
According to Peavy, despite the vast amounts of scientifically proven and historically sound advice provided by the nations experts, the National Association of Experts could cite no instances of advice being followed in the manner they had intended.
"Public reaction was favourable to the news that a glass of wine a day can help prevent heart attacks," Peavy said. "Of course, most people figured that eight glasses of wine a day must be better than one. And many Americans reacted well to the news that eggs probably wouldn't kill them outright. Aside from that, they've pretty much ignored every word we've ever said concerning just about everything."
Because the experts advice was rarely followed, the mass resignation is expected to have little impact on the lives of most Americans.
"Go ahead, America," Peavy said. "You don't need us. Watch all the topsoil go down the Mississippi. Transport your children in baskets on top of your SUV deathmobiles. Keep playing with your cute and cuddly pal, the atom. Press your nose against the TV screen for even more educational 3rd Rock From The Sun enjoyment. Use plentiful gasoline to burn book-readers at the stake. Don't eat anything but sugared pork lard. Do whatever you want."
Despite its negligible impact on the population at large, the sudden dearth of experts is expected to be devastating for the American media, particularly TV newsmagazines, which have come to heavily rely on experts for their incisive, time-filling punditry.
"How in the world are we supposed to do a story on how the Internet is changing the face of Christianity without Internet and Christianity experts?" said Dateline NBC executive producer Russell Ross. "How can we report on the stress-relieving impact of whale songs without top psychotherapists and marine biologists to offer their perspective? Without the insight of professors and best-selling authors, a TV special report has no credibility. It may well mean the end of American telejournalism as we know it."
According to Food and Drug Administration spokesperson Jonathan Landau, the exiting advisors will be missed, but the nation must move forward.
"We, of course, are deeply saddened to lose Americas most knowledgeable individuals in every field," Landau said. "But at the same time, its important to recognize that their advice, however well-informed or well-intentioned, was almost always impractical." Landau said he plans to fill his own vacant advisory positions with "positive-minded, people-friendly sexperts, advice columnists, and astrologers" as soon as funding can be arranged.
* From: An unidentified, but expert, source on the Internet.
Community Vows to Protect its Forests
A precedent-setting alliance has been created on Cortes Island.
In the first initiative of its kind, a BC First Nation has joined forces with non-aboriginal neighbours to assume control of the forest land-base they share.
In a signing ceremony in July on Cortes Island in northern Georgia Strait off Vancouver Island, the Klahoose First Nation and the non-aboriginal community of Cortes committed themselves to working together to achieve local control of the island forests.
nWe believe this represents the first time that a First Nation and a non-aboriginal community have come together in this fashion," said Klahoose Chief Kathy Francis. "This is a significant day in Klahoose history. We can all be proud."
Unlike arrangements elsewhere in the province, the Klahoose-Cortes alliance does not involve an industrial timber company. In fact, the move is designed to wrest control away from large, off-island corporate interests.
The non-aboriginal Cortes community is represented by the Cortes Eco-forestry Society (CES), incorporated for the purpose of promoting ecosystem-based forest management.
nWe believe locally controlled, ecologically sustainable forest use on Cortes Island is in everyones best interest," said Bruce Ellingsen, CES president. "The Klahoose people have led the way in promoting an ecosystem-based approach to forest management within their territory."
He said the joint effort represents a most "significant change in what is going on in BC and the world."
A recent impetus behind the alliance was the discovery that all Crown forest land on the island has been awarded as chart area to Canadian Forest Products Ltd., with no consul-tation with either Klahoose or the island community. Both Klahoose and the non-aboriginal community were incensed.
At the same time, but unrelated to the Canfor issue, CES approached MacMillan Bloedel, the largest landowner on the island, with a proposal to buy the companys entire 1,600 hectares of forest holdings on Cortes. CES believes the purchase of MBs private forest land is now all the more essential, given the pending takeover of MacMillan Bloedel by US-based Weyerhaeuser Ltd.
The formal alliance of Klahoose and CES is a natural continuation of a relationship which has been developing over the last decade. Ten years ago, Klahoose and many of its neighbours stood together on a blockade to protest clearcut logging by MacMillan Bloedel adjacent to the Klahoose village.
In their Memorandum, Klahoose and CES commit to seek local control of the forest land-base of the island "with a view to allowing for ecosystem-based management of as large and contiguous a land area as possible." The area proposed for such co-management includes all Crown lands (for which the parties are submitting a joint application for a Community Forest Agreement), Klahoose forest land (including an existing Klahoose woodlot), and privately owned forest land owned by either party or brought under their joint management with agreement of the landowner.
As well, the parties will support the development of an ecologically sustainable forest-based economy to provide employment and promote value-added processing.
The parties also plan to seek Forest Stewardship Council certification of all Cortes Island forest products. FSC certification is recognized internationally as the designation supported by the environmental community and which certifies that the process of forest management has occurred in an ecologically sustainable manner. FSC-certified products command a premium price in wholesale and retail markets.
The Memorandum is without prejudice to Klahooses current treaty negotiations with Canada and British Columbia, which CES acknowledges and actively supports. For its part, Klahoose commits to the principles of the Memorandum both pre- and post-treaty.
*To learn more, contact: Klahoose First Nation, Box 9 Squirrel Cove, Cortes Island, BC V0P 1K0; (250)935-6536. Cortes Ecoforestry Society, Box 157 Mansons Landing, Cortes Island, BC V0P 1K0; (250)935-6797.
SLOCAN VALLEY UPDATE
Logging and Resistance Continue
Residents continue to defend their watersheds and promote sustainable forestry
by Kathy Loxam
Summer of 1999 finds Slocan Val ley residents facing the perils of ongoing logging and road building in many of their consumptive use watersheds and the threat of new logging activities in at least five more. Despite this threat, residents are gearing up for FLOW 99, a major conference in August which will bring together experts and activists from around BC and the US Pacific Northwest.
The conference, to be based in New Denver in the Slocan Valley, August 20-22, intends to examine the current crisis in the woods and to find solutions and alternatives for a brighter future. FLOW 99 (For Love Of Water/ For Love of Our Work) will explore the essential ingredients for creating sustainable models in our communities - models to ensure protection of drinking water, healthy forest ecosystems and ecologically sound, diversified economies. Over 30 key presenters are confirmed.
FLOW 99 will focus on the situation in the Slocan Valley, an area which may be the most studied and best prepared in BC to deal with the conflict between logging and protection of water. It has been the scene of watershed blockades and arrests since 1990 and has lost half its sawmill jobs. The need for a sustainable model has never been more obvious.
Slocan Valley watersheds are formed from creeks flowing down through narrow valleys and steep mountain slopes. Consequences of logging on these slopes include the potential for landslides, sedimentation of the water, increased flow during high water and decreased flow in the summer and fall. The Forest Practices Code offers little, if any, protection to these small fragile mountain creeks.
Driving this destructive logging and road building is the insatiable appetite of the government for revenue from stumpage and Slocan Forest Products (SFP) for profits. But here in the Nelson Forest Region the government loses money from logging. During the last 15 years the taxpayers have lost over half a billion dollars on logging in this region and the estimated 1998 loss of $67 million is the highest it has been since 1985. The vast majority of SFPs profits leave the community with approximately only 5% remaining in the form of wages [Valhalla Wilderness Society, Public Information Bulletin No. 34, June 29, 1999].
Court cases continue from actions taken 2 summers ago. The government is proceeding on a lawsuit for trespass against 5 Perry Ridge residents. A separate action appealing the jailing of other defendants on an injunction that has previously been overturned is also proceeding. Meanwhile, preparations are underway to challenge SFPs SLAPP suit against 12 people from the New Denver Flats protest.
Living in fear of landslides from the mountains above, fear of the loss of their drinking water and also watching the destruction of the local environment has fueled water users to work for changes to the status quo logging. It has also fueled massive protests, demonstrations and arrests in an attempt to stop the destruction of the Valleys watersheds.
After 18 years of struggling to protect water, the Slocan Valley Watershed Alliance and local watershed groups do not intend to give up. Silva Forest Founda tions Ecosystem-based Landscape plan provides real solutions to the crisis the Slocan Valley is in right now. Implementation of this plan would protect the environment through sustainable resource use and also provide for long term employment. Silvas approach to forest use will be a highlight of FLOW 99.
*For information on the conference contact Stephan Martineau, (250)355-2206 or email@example.com.
*For general information: Slocan Valley Watershed Alliance, (250)359-7185 or firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.watertalk.org
is a non-profit society dedicated to raising awareness of the impacts of toxic synthetic chemicals in the environment. To support us in producing reports like this one, please send a donation to:
Toxics, Ink, 1672 East 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5N 1X5, For information call (604)879-2992; email: email@example.com
In late June there were newspaper, radio and television reports splashed all over the world about the supposed safety of PVC products. The stories were based on the findings of what was variously described as an "elite" or "prestigious" or "distinguished" panel of scientists which had been convened to examine concerns that potentially dangerous chemicals could leach out of soft plastic PVC toys and medical supplies such as IV bags.
The panel, chaired by former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, had been convened by the innocuous-sounding American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). The findings were presented by the media as independent research, even though the ACSH is anything but an independent organisation. Once again the mainstream media failed to ask the important question: Show Me The Money.
Government laboratories are having their budgets slashed in most countries. In these days of strained academic budgets, many universities frown on "curiosity-based research." So, who is doing "independent" research? Almost no one. Particularly when it comes to the debate about the possible impacts of toxic synthetic chemicals on human and wildlife health, scientists have become the hired guns of the late twentieth century.
Generally, when working on a research grant, there is a specific task. Can you, for example, show some sort of link between dioxin and endometriosis? For any toxicologist worth his or her lab coat the answer would be yes. However, if the task were worded differently, if you were asked whether you could conduct research which showed that there was no indisputable link between dioxin exposure and the development of endometriosis, the answer would still be yes.
One of the most difficult things for the scientifically-challenged (including this writer) to get their heads around is the fact that science is really not infallible, that its a lot more like polling: How you word the question will have considerable bearing on the answers you get.
Everyone hires scientists these days. Environmental groups and health advocacy groups, when they can afford it, hire scientists. Industry groups like the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) hire scientists. And innocuous sounding groups like the ACSH (which, according to a well researched expos in PR Watch, receives a sub stantial chunk of its funding directly from chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers) hire scientists.
The ACSH exists primarily because the chemical and pharmaceutical industries know how sceptical the public would be about a report from the CMA which gives plastic additives a clean bill of health.
As Pete Myers, scientist and co-author of the groundbreaking book Our Stolen Future, points out, the job of this industry-funded research is to delay action. As long as the public perceives the scientific community to be in complete disagreement it is less likely to pressure governments to act.
This is why it borders on irresponsibility for the media to fail to report on who is funding research. When scientists working at the Greenpeace research laboratory release their findings or scientists in the academic community who have received a research grant from a group such as Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) voice concerns, these groups are clearly identified in the media as the funders of this research.
As for phthalates the chemicals used to soften PVC plastic for toys and medical supplies which are at the centre of this scientific debate, how different are the conclusions? Not very.
The Greenpeace report on toys and the HCWH research into medical supplies detail the negative health impacts these chemicals have had on animals in laboratory research. Conclusion: Hu mans may be equally susceptible to harm. More research is essential. In the meantime, avoid the risk.
The ACSH-funded scientists looked at the same solid research with laboratory animals. Conclusion: Hu mans may not be equally susceptible to harm. More research is essential. In the meantime, do nothing.
The public is perfectly capable of deciding whose science they want to believe if they are actually told who holds the purse strings. This is why it is culpably irresponsible for the media to fail to report on who is funding research.
Opponents of Clearcuts Go To Court
Some clearcutting on Denman Island has been stopped, but the legal battle continues.
by J. Cates
A blockade on Denman Island has ended, after an agreement was reached between community representatives and a logging company. But all of the chips have not yet fallen where they may; logging, and court actions, continue.
Under the agreement, logging on private lands owned by 4064 Investments Ltd. may continue, but clearcutting will not take place. The settlement also means it will not be necessary for the BC Supreme Court to hear an application for an injunction against the logging; that application, by the Denman Island Trust, had been scheduled for July 9.
Speaking for Denman Island Trust, trustee Tomm Babb says the deal made with 4064 Investments allows for logging, but only in accordance with a Denman Island Trust bylaw that specifies the logging must be sustainable, and a Bylaw Investigation Officer has been hired to monitor the logging companys operations; if 4064 investments breaks the agreement, the Trust will again apply for an injunction.
Tree falling, at press time, had ceased in the Woodham Road and Comox Bluff areas. However, says Babb, 4064 Investments has 28 parcels of land on Denman, and there is plenty of activity elsewhere. Moreover, about half of that land is within Forest Land Reserve, which is not within the scope of Bill 26, the Act which in 1997 made it possible for Denman Island Trust and municipal governments to require development permits. Theres still "a lot of logging they can do without permits," Babb says.
The blockade first appeared on Woodham Road on June 27; on July 7, 4064 Investments Ltd. filed a Writ of Summons against 10 islanders. A press release issued by The People of the Writ says they are being sued for general, special, aggravated and punitive damages, for conspiracy, trespass to property, nuisance ... and costs." One member of the group, Kim Salas, summed up the charges, saying, "They're suing us for trespass, nuisance, and interfering with making dollars off of our trees."
Although a conference took place between the interested parties July 16, no resolution was reached, and the legal action remained in progress. Sierra Legal Defense represented the protestors in negotiations with 4064 Investments, and, according to The People of the Writ, Sierra Legal Defense "was informed that Mike Jenks, spokesperson for 4064 Investments, was anxious to get the matter in court and not interested in negotiating for the withdrawal of the charges in return for the plaintiffs guarantee to stay off the road ... It appears that 4064 Investments is not only attempting to punish community members for acting to protect the environment but to also assure that further outcry is effectively silenced."
The People of the Writ say, "Mike Jenks may have plans to log in other communities and he would benefit from the reputation of squashing resistance."
Jenks declined to comment.
Melinda Auerbach, chair of the Denman Island Local Trust Committee, has said her groups legal position has been strengthened by the agreement, and will be strengthened even further if 4064 Investments breaches that agreement.
The Municipal Act (Sec. 879.1) says a Community Plan may, among other things, "designate areas for which development approval information may be required ..." In 1997, Bill 26 amended that Act to enhance local government authority to protect the environment, particularly in riparian areas, and "to authorize local governments to include in their official community plans policies relating to the preservation, protection, restoration and enhancement of the natural environment, its ecosystems and biological diversity."
* Contact: People of the Writ, Denman Island, BC V0R 1T0; ph: (250)335-1061; fax: (250)335-1025.
On subdivisions, forest lands, and the price of parks:
What if BC just paid, now, in subdividable land?
by Davd Martin
When word got out that the Brit ish Columbia government was planning to give thousands of hectares of Crown land to MacMillan Bloedel in compensation for parks created on their logging land grants earlier this decade, some questioned whether Ministry staff were being too nice to their corporate counterparts.
Government responded to the outcry by hiring Victoria lawyer David Perry "to consult representatives of interested First Nations, local governments, interest groups, water purveyors, and others." Perry's report was to reach Cabinet in mid-July.
It was bad enough when Government proposed to hand over Crown land to MacMillan Bloedel. In June, after the Weyerhaeuser takeover bid became a potential handover, David Perry's public opinion inquiry was on its way to Port Alberni, a logging and fishing town with a pro-industry history. So how did Port Alberni feel about the idea of "paying off" MacMillan-Bloedel with Crown land?
We did not like it.
And how did Port Alberni feel about the idea of "paying off" Weyerhaeuser with Crown land?
We liked it even less, if possible.
Of the last 10 speakers at our public meeting , one, a sub-contractor for MB, spoke in favour of compensation. Five said, in one way or another, the company owes us more than we owe them. After roughly two decades of job losses, fishery declines, and departing youth, Port Alberni's gratitude to MB seems to have run out.
Valerie Langer, of the Friends of Clayoquot Sound, who was booed at the Alberni District Secondary School a few years ago, received spirited and sympathetic applause for saying that "the companies owe us far more than we owe them." Jack McLeman of the District Labour Council argued that workers should be compensated before MB is, and expressed concern that raw logs would be exported to Weyerhaeuser mills in the States.
In June, faced with rapidly circulating bits and pieces of information about the proposed deal, the Perry hearings issued a Frequently Asked Questions document.
MB, they said, lost 7,800 hectares of Timber Licenses, and 44,000 ha. of Tree Farm License for Protected Area creation. In 1997, MB sued the province for compensation. The suit was settled out-of-court for $83.75 million, plus interest from January 1, 1999. The deal became news in March, when word began to circulate that the province was planning to turn over large areas of land to MB. Perry was hired to hold public meetings, estimate public opinion, and report to Cabinet.
At the first meeting, in Vancouver in June, Bill Cafferata, MB's Chief Forester, said, "MacMillan Bloedel is prepared to give up some of our current land base in BC for treaty settlement, community use and conservation or other environmental purposes. What we want in return are reforms that will assure the viability of the forest industry. We need more market responsive forms of tenure and timber pricing in BC."
The statement doesn't specify what features they want to add to their tenure agreements. Only two clues were available at press time, a purported March leak from a Forest Sector Strategy session, and remarks made by Perry.
The leak states that MB proposed "the conversion of ... its TFL Crown land base into pre-1906 private land," while Perry said in Qualicum that removing log-export restrictions "is very valuable to [MB]."
On CBC Almanac in mid-June, Perry made it plain that his task is not to question whether MacMillan Bloedel deserves compensation nor to evaluate the amount, but to advise Cabinet on the means of payment. The question tends to be viewed as a choice between handing over land or paying money; but there may be a third form of paymentre-categorizationof which re-ducing log export restriction is one example.
Removal of log-export restrictions is especially valuable to MB in light of the announced merger of MB into Weyerhaeuser, the huge American lumber company headquartered in Washington.
Weyerhaeuser is really acquiring the MB land tenures, UBC Professor Pat Marchak told CBC Radio, a state ment consistent with the analysis that the financial powers-that-be are determined not to let locals get control of BC forests, for two main reasons:
One big concern has been how much land MB will receive. Sentiment at the Alberni meeting, and reports of the sentiment at the others, say "none." Many who looked at the list of lands under consideration for transfer to MB complained that too much was being offered for too little.
Perry agreed that the total values of the lands on the list "greatly exceed" the $85-million-plus settlement value. Jim Lister of the Ministry of Forests explained an oversized list of possibilities was deliberately drawn up to allow for some choice.
One choice MB refused was removal of land from the Forest Land Reserve. Removal will be required before land can be subdivided and sold off, something both MB and Weyerhaeuser have been known to do with their privately owned land.
Why did MB refuse? Subdivided land is worth much more than timber-growing Forest Land Reserve. If subdivided land sells for $150,000 a hectare, less than 600 hectares would settle the whole account.
Productive forest land seems to be valued at approximately $2,000/ha. [The 1995 Weldwood sale to John Hancock Life Insurance Company on Denman Island was for about $1,000 per acre, and some of that land was known to have subdivision potential.]
If the company's case is based on today's best price for wood, then government's payment should likewise be based on today's best price for land, if land is involved.
It might make sense to do an ecological survey, estimate the carrying capacity of the Island(s), and limit land division so as to keep population below capacity. That won't happen instantly and it probably won't happen in a year or two. Meanwhile, MB and Weyerhaeuser are likely applicants for subdivision permits. Paying them the agreed $85 million with subdivision permits makes fine sense, and sets a useful precedent. If MB (Weyerhaeuser) won't accept that kind of payment now, they should have to repay the value when they come back to ask for subdivision.
At a meeting with Perry in Qualicum, Western Canada Wilderness Committee members and their guests (especially a landholder downslope from some harsh-looking clearcut logging in the Beaufort Range) told him, "The 83-million-plus works out to about 20 dollars per person in BC. We'll pay the $20 now and collect it back when they want to subdivide."
Collecting the bulk of a subdivider's land profits will curb speculation, and provide government with a source of revenue proportional to the wealth of the payer. If the MacMillan Bloedel compensation hearings start the practice of collecting these windfalls for the public, the cloud will indeed have a silver lining.
* Excerpted from the Columbia Journal, June 1999.
The Sierra Club of BC reacted with alarm to the news of the takeover of one of BC's largest landowners and forest tenure holders, MacMillan Bloedel, by American logging giant, Weyerhaeuser Company.
Together they would form the largest tenure holder in BC, and its American ownership raises the spectre of NAFTA challenges, should British Columbians choose to pursue redistribution of tenure on public land in order to provide more local opportunities in the forest sector.
"One of the most worrying aspects of this deal is the NAFTA spectre it could bring to public land use decisions. Tenure reform, treaty settlements, land use planning, and environmental protection could all trigger challenges under NAFTA if Weyerhaeuser was affected," said Lisa Matthaus of the Sierra Club of BC.
"Right now, claims for compensation by Canadian companies are subject to provincial laws and could be limited by legislation in the case of large scale redistribution. Under NAFTA, however, that jurisdiction is handed over to a secretive tribunal which applies international laws with a much broader interpretation of what is compensable and how much should be paid."
Another disturbing result of the deal would be increased corporate concentration in BC's forest sector, long recognized as being too high. If this merger is allowed by the provincial government, Weyerhaeuser Canada would control about 10% of BC's annual allowable cut, with major tenures both in the interior and on the coast. Almost one-fifth of the annual allowable cut would be controlled by just two companies: Weyerhaeuser and Slocan Forest Products.
* For more information, call the Sierra Club of BC, Bill Wareham, Executive Director, at (250)386-5255; or Lisa Matthaus, Forest Policy Analyst, at (250)386-5255.
Compost Thrives on the Rough Stuf
Paper adds the fibre necessary for successful composting.
Hundreds of gardeners every year complain that their compost is not working. Whatever they do, it turns into a yucky, smelly organic porridge. Help is at hand!
This problem is caused by the fact that most of the organic matter normally composted is too rich and sloppy. Most households compost consists of kitchen scraps, weeds from the garden, and grass clippings.
Piled on top of each other, these compress into a soft mass that squeezes out the air, and that stops the composting process dead in its tracks. Another component is needed to keep air spaces open in the heap, a component that is itself compostable. What we need is a source of biodegradable fibre that will break down at the same rate as everything else in the compost. Our experiments have shown that an ideal source is available in every household.
Paper and cardboard
Paper and cardboard, in various forms, are likely to make up 20-30% of the volume of solid waste in the average dustbin. In principle, you could compost virtually all of it, but some of it is suitable for recycling to make more paper, and this should be taken to the wastepaper bank, if there is one near you. A guide to the different paper types appears on the following page.
What do you actually do?
In practice, what you do is exactly the same as collecting kitchen waste in the compost bucket: just put all the nonrecyclable waste paper into a container until it's full, then dump it into the compost heap. If you like you can put it into the compost bucket straight away. This means you need a rather large bucket, but it's by far the best option.
It is important not to save up the paper and card and put it in the compost in huge batches. The whole point is that there is a close intermingling of the wet and the dry wastes, so just tip the stuff on as it crops up and the mixing will take place automatically.
The only preparation needed for the paper and card is to ball it or scrunch it up so that it goes on in irregular shapes rather than flat layers. But there is no need to be too fussy.
With added fibre, the heap explodes into life with visible creepy-crawlies: mostly red worms, woodlice and slugs. There will be no need to turn the heap or attend to it in any way, although it is fun to burrow into it and watch the furious activityparticularly in the summer.
Most of these beneficial creatures will turn up on their own and multiply in your heap, but if you are just starting it may be helpful to seed your compost with worms and things from somebody elses compost. Or nip down to the fishing tackle shop to buy some worms.
You will find that fine, crumbly brown compost material accumulates at the bottom of the heap. You can operate your compost system in either of two ways. You can run a "batch" processfilling up one container and starting another one while the first finishes. Or you can run a continuous process, removing the finished compost whenever you need it.
The detailed design of the container does not seem to matter much for batch processing, but for continuous removal you will need the sort with a removable front, or an openable hatch at the bottom.
Alternatively, you can use the kinds of container that unstack or just lift off the compost pile: you restack or replace the container next to the original position and transfer the uncomposted material into it, leaving the finished stuff ready to use.
Sometimes the finished compost may be a bit wet. In this case, just leave it in the open for a few days to mature. There may be small bits of plastic in it which you didn't notice on the original cardboard, but these are quite harmless and easily removed.
Thats all there is to it!
It doesn't seem to matter if the compost is covered. We have actually had our best results just leaving the compost open to the elements. This compost seems to like rain! Also, you don't get a faceful of fruitflies when you open the lid. But keep a lid or cover on if you likeit still works.
Some people have asked whether there's a potential problem with chemicals and heavy metals from the inks in paper and card. This is not a problem at all with modern inks, especially ifjust to make sureyou exclude glossy printed papers like magazines and catalogues. In any case, these should be taken to the paper bank for recycling.
Not enough paper
If you have very large quantities of soft garden wastes (for example grass clippings from a big lawn), you may need
to supplement your supply of paper and card. A good source is corrugated cardboard cartons from retailers and supermarkets. It helps to abuse the cartons a bit first. Rip, buckle, squash. Get kids to do it.
Woody waste in the garden
If you have a shredder, it can all go into the main compost. If not, it's better to keep leaves and woody stuff in a separate heap of their own. They usually take so long to break down that if you put them all in together, your lovely compost ends up full of twigs.
Compost heaps, like people, need plenty of roughage in their diet to stay healthy!
* The Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, Powys, Wales, SY20 9AZ, UK; Phone: +44 (0) 1654 702400; fax: +44 (0) 1654 702782
Paper and cardboard: To recycle or to compost?
On Vancouver Island and in other island communities, the following are generally recyclable
check with your local recycling centre.
newspaper and glossy papers
office papers (bond paper, envelopes, letterhead, bills, computer paper, report paper, fax paper)
some cardboards (corrugated, food/cereal boxes, boxboard) flattened and bundled
Other papers and cardboard can be used for composting, and include:
tissues, kitchen towels
crumpled or balled paper
iinner tubes of toilet rolls
egg cartons (or take them back to be refilled)
shredded paper packing
What won't compost
The only kinds of paper products that don't work well are containers for liquids that are waxed or lined with foil or plastic, like milk or juice cartons.
Rafting To The Beaufort Sea
Journal of a Novice Rafter
by Don Malcolm
Far to the north of the narrow population belt that hugs the border between Canada and the United States, there is a land so different that it blurs the line between reality and fantasy. I recently found that line in the northwest corner of the Yukon, well north of the Arctic Circle, where the Firth River, rising in the northeast corner of Alaska, pursues its destiny through the tip of the Yukon to the Beaufort Sea.
In the mind-numbing crush of the market-place version of civilization, wilderness has become the object of a craving at the very centre of growing numbers of the population. The fast-growing ecotourism business, offering options that range through a wide variety of activities, is helping to satisfy that craving.
Canadian River Expeditions of Whistler, BC, offers a number of wilderness river adventures, including three raft trips down the Firth River to the Beaufort, during the short Arctic summer.
In late May, I secured a reservation for the first trip of the season from June 17th to 27th. Next came a scramble to arrange airline tickets to Inuvik, buy and borrow the special clothing and equipment needed and, never having done any river-rafting, to seek advice and encouragement from friends who had.
The evening of June 16th, twelve of us who had booked passage on the sold-out trip met the river guides at the Finto Motor Hotel in Inuvik. The guides checked to make sure we had suitable clothing, issued those items provided by Canadian River Expeditions, then briefed us on the schedule for the next day. In the morning we would lift off from Inuvik airport in Aklak Air's balloon-tired deHavilland Twin Otter and land on the tundra beside the Firth River. Three deflated rafts and the expedition's equipment, along with guides Jock Richardson and Ilja Herb, would be flown in earlier in the morning while we still slept. Jim Muir, the trip leader, would be on the second flight with the rest of us.
The flight to the river in the Otter seemed almost magical, skimming the bare hill-tops and tilting in and out of valleys so close we could see every detail of the land below. The magic held for the exciting landing. I wouldn't have believed that a twin engine plane could land successfully and stop in time on such a rough short strip of tundra.
Ilja and Jock had the rafts inflated, outfitted and riding prettily at tether in an eddy off the main channel of the river and had prepared lunch for our arrival.
fter lunch the pilots boarded the plane and were soon air-borne.
As I watched the plane disappear over the hills to the east, I felt a keen sense of severance from the world outside. My home on Cortes Island, in Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland, seemed very far away.
We pitched our tents, stowed our gear inside, and carefully closed all the zippers to discourage the colony of Arctic ground squirrels with which we shared the campsite. I joined a hiking group led by Jock and Ilja. We climbed far up the mountains to the west to a point near the Yukon/Alaska border from where we had a magnificent view of the broad valley of the Firth. From that elevation the river appeared tranquil, offering no hint of what might await adventurers who would challenge its inclines.
Except for the ground squirrels at camp we saw no animals that afternoon, although bear and wolf sign was everywhere.
At dinner that evening, we were treated to an excellent stir-fried chicken with black bean and ginger sauce prepared by the three guides. Complete with pineapple upside-down cake baked in a Dutch oven over charcoal, red and white wine, the dinner was but a promise of delights to come. With each dinner it seemed they contrived to outdo their success of the preceding evening.
At ten o'clock the morning of the second day we were in the rafts headed down the river. About an hour later we stopped to try for Arctic char where Muskeg Creek joins the Firth. In less than 15 minutes the three of us fishing had caught our combined daily limit, which was plenty for the evening meal. Although it was a thrill to catch those exotic fish in such a cold clean northern river, we would not fish again on the trip. Since we were well stocked with food, we couldn't justify taking more fish.
Each day the downward pull of the river led us through new experiences. Day 3 presented some minor rapids that allowed this novice a feel of how the rafts might perform in the bigger rapids we would encounter farther down-stream. Jock's clear instructions gave me confidence that I would be able to handle any emergency that might occur. I was determined I would not get pitched out of the raft and the only way I would end up in the river was if a raft overturned. My constant observations of the rafts' movements in the rapids led me to believe overturning was very unlikely. But ice shelves at the banks of the river caused a gnawing at the edges of my fear. Jim has rafted the river many times. He assured me we wouldn't get sucked under an ice shelf. Nonetheless, I would be thankful to leave the ice behind us.
That afternoon we stopped early at Joe Creek because of strong winds blowing up the river. Erecting the tents was an exercise in co-operation. With four of us holding down each tent at the corners while a fifth pounded pegs and placed rocks on top of the pegs for reinforcement, we got the tents up without any sailing away on the wind. All night the tents rumbled in the wind while the sun shining through gave an impression of living inside a Chinese lantern while chaos raged just beyond the paper wall.
We would stay at Joe Creek two nights waiting for the wind to abate. While there, we hiked again to the highland where we saw ancient circles of stones that had held down the skin tents of hunting parties. For thousands of years the coastal Inuit had journeyed up the Firth valley to hunt moose and cariboo and fish for Arctic char. The comparison of our separate expeditions left a gap that only imagination could bridge. Perhaps their seasonal migrations were as exciting for them as the raft trip was for me. But our experiences would be so different. They depended on the land, and their ability to provide their food each day. The guides supplied mine and cooked it for me.
Shortly after leaving Joe Creek, we left the ice behind and entered a beautiful canyon where the river cuts its way through the British Mountains. Thrust up from an ancient seabed thousands of centuries ago, the twisted, colourful rock formations evoke feelings of entering another world. The crags provide nesting habitat for many birds including ravens and ten species of raptor.
Bare unforested mountains reach up from the river's canyon to clean blue sky where for more than fifty days of summer the sun does not set. Here is solitude. Here is wilderness where golden eagles, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons and rough-legged hawks ride the rocky canyon's up-drafts in search of prey or chase each other down air currents in protection of their nests. And opportunistic ravens raid nests left untended.
In eddies and pools where the river slows momentarily in its relentless course to the sea, red throated loons, mergansers and numerous other waterfowl work the riffles, and Arctic char and grayling wait at creek mouths for whatever bounty the upland may shed. Grizzly bears, foxes, wolves, Arctic ground squirrels, moose, and caribou inhabit the upland from river level to sky-line and Dall's sheep warily survey the canyon from the highest slopes.
In the canyon we encountered the most exciting rapids where, over and over again, I was impressed by the skill of the guides. At the Sluice, Sheep Slot and Sheep Horn, those of us who walked around the rapids were able to witness their expertise and applaud them as they, with lightened rafts riding high on the crests of the turbulence, came flying through.
Then at the Ram rapid, where our options were limited to the low water route through the left-hand side, encounters with rocks punctured two of the rafts. Although they were in no danger of sinking, as they are built with many separate buoyancy compartments, they would need repair before continuing down the river. We hauled out at Sheep Creek at the foot of the rapid, and set up camp.
Since punctures occur from time to time, the rafts are equipped with patching kits. In the evening, Jim and Jock set to work to do the repairs. They were able to patch one successfully but the gash in the other was too large. So, since the tear ran crosswise at an end of the raft, they were able to roll up the deflated section and lash it in place. The raft was able to continue downstream shortened and ugly but functional.
On day 8 we passed through the last of the major rapids and in one of them we had a memorable experience. At the foot of a rapid, we shot quickly around a bend to the left and there on the bank, very close, was a surprized grizzly sow with two cubs. She stood up straight with front paws raised as if to challenge, then abruptly got down on four feet, turned and shuffled up the steep, rocky bank, with the cubs trailing along behind. My first grizzly!
It's difficult to imagine a landscape with no litter. Where the Firth River runs through Yukon, it lies entirely within the boundaries of Ivvavik National Park. Park officials jealously guard its pristine quality. Access is limited and granted by licence. There are no flattened beer cans, styrofoam containers, discarded cigarette packages or vehicle tire prints. It is clean. What tragedy a highway could wreak.
Our guides zealously adhered to park regulations. When leaving a campsite they carefully inspected all the tent sites and surrounding areas. Not even a bit of broken shoe-lace escaped their attention. They even had us scatter the rocks we used to hold down our tents at Joe Creek.
On day 9 we climbed a highland in the Buckland Hills from where we could look out over the coastal plain to the Beaufort Sea. My long cherished dream of standing on the shore of the Arctic Ocean would be realized tomorrow. That night, muskox wool clung to the willow brush in our campsite and in the distance two great, dark, shaggy creatures plodded, one behind the other, across the plain looking like an apparition from a time long past.
The next morning we donned hip-waders and, in a cold fog sometimes so dense Jim had to use a compass, we pulled the rafts through the shallow places in the many channels of the river delta. The fog suddenly lifted just as we reached Nunaluk Spit. The other side of the narrow strip of land, barely a hundred metres in width, was washed by the Beaufort Sea.
To-morrow the Otter would come to fly us back to Inuvik.
So you thought a number of Cortes Island bays had been legally designated as no-dump zones years ago, right? You thought Cortes Island was one of the few places in the province with special protection under the Canadian Shipping Acts Pleasure Craft Sewage Pollution Prevention Regulation. Well, think again!
Back in 1995, Friends of Cortes Island Society recommended a one- nautical-mile no-dumping zone for all of Cortes, Twin and Marina Islands. Instead of accepting this proposal, the BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP) countered with the proposed inclusion of six Cortes Island bays under the Regulation, including Von Donop Inlet, Squirrel Cove, Cortes Bay, Gorge Harbour, Mansons Landing, and Carrington Bay Lagoon.
Five long years later, the protective designation has still not been approved. The proposed areas have been languishing under federal foot-dragging and a strong lobby effort from the recreational boating community who feel the rules are excessive, costly and impractical.
Currently under the Regulation, only six bodies of water in Canada have received this designation. Another 75 are awaiting designation, 21 of which were supposed to be "fast-tracked," but have yet to receive approval, and 54 of which required more information. Cortes Island is in the last group.
Under the Canada Fisheries Act, all shorelines are already protected as no-dump zones. What makes the Plea sure Craft Sewage Pollution Prevention Regulation unique is that it bars boats with fixed marine toilets but without holding tanks from even entering the waters of a protected area.
Jack Bryden, MELP, says that on Cortes Island a consulting firm hired by the Ministry has already submitted the required information to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and recommended that five more Cortes Island bodies of water be put forward for designation, including Quartz Bay, the northwest shoreline, west Cortes Island, Tiber Bay, and Twin Islands.
MELP will hold an information meeting Sept. 15 at the Environment Canada offices in Vancouver to bring together shellfish growers, boaters and health officials. Once its agreed the proposed waters should be protected, the Privy Council must give regulatory approval, and with that the sites will be legally protected.
Stephen Mundshutz of DFO hopes that once the 21 initial areas are approved, the process will move much more quickly for the remaining areas awaiting designation, including Cortes Island.
Laurie MacBride of the Georgia Strait Alliance says there are serious problems with the Regulation as it now stands and what is needed are more shore-based toilets, pump out sites and hazardous waste drops.
Currently, Canadian federal boat construction standards (unlike those of the USA and the Great Lakes area of Ontario) do not require the inclusion of holding tanks.
* For more information, contact: Stephen Mundshutz, Office of Boating Safety, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, (250)480-2736; Jack Bryden, Ministry of Environment, Lands & Parks, (250)387-9985.
Friends of Cortes Island will spend August and September building a new portable office space at Trudes Cafe in Whaletown. Were looking for donations of building materials and funds to complete the building by the end of September. Phone 935-6913.
At first, the office will be open to the public two days a week and will eventually offer fax and photocopy services, as well as a reference resource library.
FOCI also wishes to welcome aboard our new office manager, Kathy Smail. Kathy is an active long-time member of the Cortes community and will be a great asset!
Information Overload Can be Cured
McLuhan Revisited ... or ... How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the News.
by Maggie Paquet
Does the phrase "information over load" give you a headache and make you reach for the aspirin bottle (or something stronger)? Do you get bunged-out on the predigested mindspeak that passes for news these days? Do you go ga-ga when you hear the word, nmediai?
More to the point, do you feel any more informed than you did, say, 10 years ago, before you got your ticket to ride the information highway?
Certainly our mainstream newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, even the so-called news on our internet pagesfilled with an arcane mixture of banalities and violenceare enough to make most people want to run into a cave and block the door with a boulder. Increasingly rarely, it seems, is there anything in all these sources of "information" that a normal person can relate to, let alone feel positive about. How do you find out what's really happen ing in your world?
Don't despair, bunky. Kick up your heels and hold your head high; there are print and electronic sources of bona fide, even interesting, news of the worldyour world. Community newspapers, organization newsletters, bulletins, magazines and journals are available that are loaded with stories about people, events, and ideas that you want to know about. The Watershed Sentinel will be offering reviews on some of these over the next few issues as a way of spreading the word.
Voices For Mother Earth
Now here's a small newsletter that serves a whole community stretched clear across our huge country. The first issue of Voices for Mother Earth was published from Tofino by West Coast reps of the First Nations Environmental Network (FNEN), and is packed with relevant news for aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities. Ease of communication is something many of us take for granted, what with phones, faxes, and email, but many constituents this newsletter serves live in remote areas, so it is important that one vehicle serves First Nations environmental activists from British Columbia to the Yukon, to the TemiAugami-Anishinabe, to the land of the Innu, to the Mohawk, and to the Micmac, just to name a few of the communities active in the FNEN.
The first issue of Voices For Mother Earth reported on a number of regional and national meetings, and covered topics as diverse and controversial as coal mining adjacent to Jasper National Park, forest pharmaceuticals and genetic engineering, Makah whaling, capturing beluga whales, cleaning up the Great Lakes, the landmark Delgamukw decision and aboriginal title, the Porcupine caribou herd and oil development, and betrayal over Clayoquot Sound logging.
The editor explains: "Formed over 10 years ago, FNEN is a grassroots network of indigenous people and groups across Canada who are dedicated to the protection and health of the living world around us. Through traditional values and the path of our ancestors, we work to link and support First Nations peoples across Turtle Island [North America] on environmental struggles and concerns." The newsletter was published completely on volunteer effort and with very little funding. Great work, for all that.
* Check out FNENs new website at www.FNEN.org. You can contact FNEN through its head office c/o Chickadee Richards, #2 - 70 Albert St., Winnipeg MB R3B 1E7; (204)956-2540, or West Coast FNEN representatives Steve Lawson and Susanne Hare, Box 394, Tofino, BC V0R 2Z0; (250)725-2996 or 726-8334; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Billing itself as The Journal of the Grassroots Movement for Environmental Justice by the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, based in Falls Church, Virginia, Everyone's Backyard is put together by local activ ists in over 8,000 grassroots groups from all across the US.
The organisation was formed 16 years ago "to help local people win cleanup of contaminated sites and to prevent new sources of contamination," and has grown to include "helping people deal with everything from chemical plants to radioactive waste to recycling."
People working in the environmental community have realised for a long time that environmental issues are very much social justice issues. Those with enough money and power and political clout can afford to belong to the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) crowd. Those without, cant, and have to suffer the effects of industrialisation, whether it be from manufacturing, agricultural, transportation industry, military, or other sources.
NIMBYs conveniently ignore the fact that pollution is a global phenomenon. Mountain sheep and other alpine species in the Canadian Rockies, for instance, have been autopsied and found to contain lesions caused by pollution generated in Asia.
The journal presents stories and articles from grassroots organisations, many of them fighting hard to preserve local health and environmentsand winning!and it gives invaluable information on resources for activists. The issue I reviewed opened with an editorial titled, Why Are Corporations Above the Law? This is a timely issue for British Columbia, where multinational logging companies log however they wish on privately owned land.
In an article titled, How to Win Your Dioxin Debate, the writers say, "Eliminating dioxin is good for the American economy." I'll bet its good for the Canadian economy, too. They are in the process of writing their own reassessment of dioxin, to be called, The American Peoples Final Dioxin Reassessment.
This journal, while US-oriented, offers good information for activists everywhere who care about environmental justice.
* Contact the Center for Health, Environment and Justice at 150 S. Washington St, Suite 300, Box 6806, Falls Church, VA 22040, USA; (703)237-2249. The journal is prin ted on 100% recycled, non-chlorine rebleached paper with a chlorine- and tree-free kenaf fibre cover.
Science and the Environment Bulletin is Environment Canada's welcome contribution to a compilation of useful and interesting information. Some of the articles in past issues include: using DNA in migratory birds to show how loss of habitats far from Canada threatens worldwide bird populations; toxic pollution (over 100 compounds) in home-generated wood-smoke and how to prevent it; rising global mercury levels, particularly the build-up of mercury in the Canadian Arctic; and using bioremediation in this case phytoremediation in the form of plants that remove toxic substances from soil, sediment, and ground and surface water to transform abandoned mines, industrial dumps, and other contaminated sites.
I was particularly interested in a feature article in the March/April 1999 issue, titled Land Use Pressures Threaten Fish Biodiversity in Lake Malawi. Malawi is located in the south-central east-coast region of Africa, and Lake Malawi is in the Great Western Rift Valley; as far as is currently known, the birthplace of the human species. It is a deep lake critical to the people of Tanzania, Mozambique, and Malawi. It also happens to be one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet and contains more species of fish than any other lake in the world. Over 300 are already identified, and double that number are estimated more than in all of North America. Most of these species are found nowhere else. Canadian scientists are among those working to assess the lakes water quality and determine threats to its ability to maintain this incredible diversity. One of those scientists is Nanaimo's own Dr. Gordon Hartman, former DFO scientist and BC Environment Regional Manager, and one of the whistle blowers on the Kemano-caused destruction of the northern Fraser River sockeye runs. I spoke to Dr. Hartman only a few weeks ago, and learned he has been working on this project in Malawi for the past two years. Now, I call that news, when you can read about a project that includes an eminent BC scientist, who is past retirement age, and who continues to contribute to the knowledge base and understanding of the worlds biological diversity.
There was no information on how to receive this bulletin, so contact your nearest Environment Canada office.
Wana Chinook Tymoo
The name of this news journal means, "Columbia River salmon stories." Published by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission in Portland, Oregon, it is an attractive, well-designed publication to inform the four tribes and general public of salmon news and projects. From human rights to aboriginal rights, this magazine goes to the heart of the controversies surrounding such (only apparently) diverse issues as endangered species legislation and tribal frustration and compromises over fishing rights.
Habitat restoration, fund raising, community renewal and sustainability, and enhancing and maintaining wild salmon (and other fish species) runs are featured throughout its pages, all in the context of what can WE do, on the ground, to ensure salmon for ourselves and future generations. Fish science, weather and atmospheric trends, and tribal history all in one journal make for a very interesting and worthwhile read. Wana Chinook Tymoo, incidentally, is printed on 100% tree-free paper made from hemp, flax, and cotton fibres. Contact them through their website: www.critfc.org or by snail mail at 729 NE Oregon, Suite 200, Portland, OR 97232, USA; (503)238-0667.
So, there's proof that there are media that provide us with relevant, interesting, and edifying news articles about our world. Stay tuned for more.
Ecotourism--Panacea Or Eco-Opportunism?
by Maggie Paquet 1999
Ecotourism has been touted as being the panacea for preserving wilderness, biodiversity, local economies, and indigenous cultures. It is considered by many to be the "non-consumptive" alternative to industrial uses for land whereby communities can develop "sustainable" economies. Critics say it's not possible for people to make a decent living from ecotourism enterprises; others say this use is not as non-consumptive as it appears, and still others level accusations of "eco-opportunism" at operators.
Defining ecotourism reminds me of the old adage of the six blind men and the elephant: one touches the elephant's tail and pronounces that an elephant is very like a rope; another touches a leg and pronounces it to be somewhat like a tree trunk; and so on with similes for the ears, trunk, tusks, and body. An internet search could turn up a range of offerings from adventure travel to hunting, and from discussions on managing protected areas and tourism ethics to what outdoor gear to buy. Clearly the concept is not a simple one. There is no universally accepted definition of ecotourism. The Ecotourism Society defines it simply and elegantly as, "responsible travel that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people." The Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, and a host of others have variously defined it; most have a number of requirements in common:
One popular definition of ecotourism says that it involves "travel for the discovery of ... wild natural environments and involves personal re-creation through primitive travel in natural areas devoid of human disturbance." Some say the environment must be pristine; others say there is no really pristine environment left on the planet and that any well-designed and managed nature-based activity that adheres to the above principles qualifies.
Ecotourism may also be defined by what it is not: It is not hunting. While many hunters contribute considerably (particularly in British Columbia) to good land use and wildlife management practices, hunting is considered a consumptive activity. Nor is it staged; operators may not capture or otherwise interfere with the habitats or behaviours of wildlife to provide opportunities for clients.
One clear "rule" emerges: Tourism is not "ecological" unless it improves both the management of wilderness and protected areas and provides economic benefits to local people asked to forgo (other) resource use.
There are quite a few ecotourism operators in BC and the number is growing rapidly. A good place to look for companies is the internet, but beware, you will find not a few that advertise trips with questionable ecotourism value. Tucked in beside a few ecotourism and a lot of "extreme" adventure trips was one that advertised hunting grizzly bears and Stone's sheep in the "wilds of the Yukon." Perhaps it is pejorative to assume these outfits don't reflect the principles of ecotourism; then again, maybe these are examples of "eco-opportunism." I have not yet found a site that verifies which companies offer true ecotourism. You'll have to do your own research on this. Don't be afraid to ask companies about their operations and their stance on some of the issues; it's your money and your conscience.
Canadian River Expeditions (CRE) is a pioneer BC ecotourism company. Founded in 1972, it was Canada's first river-rafting outfitter. Success hasn't spoiled second-generation operator, Johnny Mikes, who has chosen to keep the company "small and personal." CRE can make bona fide claims to ecotourism for a number of reasons, including striving for zero impact camping, supporting or spear-heading conservation causes in a big way, lobbying government on protected areas and outdoor safety issues, providing focussed education with skilled guides and naturalists often featuring the culture and issues of the areas visited. CRE has also sponsored public events on wilderness issues and donated numerous trips to a variety of people from journalists and politicians to writers and environmentalists to raise awareness of environmental issues.
Ocean kayaking lends itself well to ecotourism. Dorothy Baert's Tofino Sea Kayaking Company on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and Ralph and Lannie Keller's Coast Mountain Expeditions, based on Read Island near Quadra Island, are two companies that feature small footprint outings and whose owners have worked to increase environmental awareness among their clients and the wider community.
Gregg Drury's Iskutine Lodge on Hwy. 37 near Iskut is a good example of a company that provides low-impact, non-consumptive hiking, biking, and paddling trips in the Stikine region. The Pakula family operates the Stikine RiverSong Lodge at Telegraph Creek, providing trips and provisioning travellers. Both these operators continue to donate trips and time to conservation issues and perform a valuable public information function in a remote region of BC where communications are difficult. It is also significant that a number of long-time hunting guide-outfitters, such as the Collingwoods in Spatsizi, are gradually introducing ecotourism principles into their operations.
Ecotourism in BC has been aided and abetted by First Nations land claims. Precedent-setting agreements between the federal and provincial governments and the Haida First Nation on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) resulted in co-management of Gwaii Haanas/South Moresby National Park Reserve.
BC Parks has also entered into a number of co-management agreements with First Nations on a handful of provincial protected areas K'tzim-a-Deen (Khutzeymateen) Grizzly Bear Sanctuary/Tsimshian-Gitsi'is, Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park (Sii Aks)/Nisga'a, Hucsduwachsdu Nuyem Jees (Kitlope Heritage Conservancy)/Haisla, and others some of which only allow use by the public when they get a permit from or are accompanied by a guide from the First Nation. One good example of ecotourism resulting from this is Kitlope Ecotours, operated by Haisla leader Gerald Amos and guide Bruce Hill. All trips are accompanied by a Haisla guide or elder to ensure education about Haisla culture and economic return to the community.
Whether or not ecotourism presents a panacea for protecting biodiversity and promoting community stability, or enables opportunism, it is one of the most rapidly expanding facets of the tourism industry, which is itself acquiring status as a major economic force globally. The BC Tourism ministry reported that, "The provincial Economic Council of Ministers has included ecotourism as a key component in provincial economic revitalization and diversification" and further, "Adventure tourism ... out paces every other sector of the Canadian economy."
Equal Standing for Land Use
Given this, one would think ecotourism demands recognition by government as having equal standing in determining land use alongside other resource-based industries.
Precisely because of its rapid growth, ecotourism requires careful planning and management. The decisions we make today will last for decades, and they will be irreversible. Once a landscape loses the distinctive characteristics that enable ecotourism, it can no longer provide a high level economic opportunity as a tourism destination. Look at Banff, which originated as nature-based tourism. Because of ill-defined goals, political interference, and inadequate planning (not to mention greed), it is rapidly degenerating into a theme park of Disney proportions and, like Disney World, will need to keep reinventing itself to attract tourists.
But we cannot reinvent wilderness or wildlife. If these are the basis of ecotourism, and ecotourism is expanding at an exponential rate, we need to develop - now - the systems that can manage its social and environmental impacts.
Yet when it comes to land use decisions, ecotourism is apparently invisible to government, which has shown an extreme lack of commitment and resources to the Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) tables that have been going on in the province for years. Land use decisions being made under LRMPs have had no formal input from the BC Tourism ministry. Good ecotourism management decisions rely on the volunteer efforts of operators who can afford the time and expense to go to meetings, yet government provides resources from resource ministries to attend LRMPs.
New regulations for forest practices standards on private land were recently enacted. Both the wilderness tourism and environmental communities, which were effectively shut out of any input to the regs, consider them to be inadequate to protect wilderness tourism values. Government worked with the Private Forest Landowners Association on the regs; where was their willingness to include the nature-based tourism operators whose livelihoods are also affected?
Government explains: "Private forest land provides economic and social benefits to the people of British Columbia. More than 9,000 employees work directly in BC's private forest land sector, and about 18,000 jobs are created in spin-off activities. BC's private forest land sector contributes about $400 million annually to all levels of government."
Tourism BC completed a study in 1998 which found that, "Ecotourism in BC generated $892 million in revenue in 1997 and employed more than 13,000 people, an 11 percent increase over the previous year." I guess this province is still entrenched in the old paradigm: Logging is king and devil take the hindmost!
In response, concerned operators have formed the Wilderness Tourism Association (WTA) to fill the gaping hole that exists because of the shortsightedness of government to recognise the value of wildlands as the basis upon which this already significant, and rapidly growing, sector of the tourism industry depends. By allowing the resource-extraction sectors to effectively control what's left of Crown lands and how they are used (or used up), government is effectively killing the goose that lays the golden egg of wilderness and nature-based tourism in the province.
Brian Gunn, of Strathcona Park Lodge and president of the WTA, says, "Back country wilderness tourism operators need a voice. Currently, WTA has about 20 members, but interest is high and I envision upwards of 200 in the near future. WTA will focus on land issues; government can continue to focus on marketing SuperNatural BC, but we want to ensure it has something to sell."
* This article sponsored by the Watershed Sentinel Development Fund, Friends of Cortes Island, and Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Rumor has it that Paul Martin (the Minister of Finance) is thinking about including an ecological tax shift in this Fall's Throne Speech and the following Budget. He should be encouraged.
If there is one thing true in economics it is that the higher the price of something, the less we get of it. By applying a tax to pollution, we would get less of it. With revenue coming in from pollution taxes, income tax could be reduced and we would get more employment.
An ecological tax shift would provide a clear message about priorities. It would make a subtle, effective and long lasting difference in the way our wealth is actually applied to the problems at hand. And it would be a precedent, raising hope that the government might actually be prepared to address critical issues rather than nurture the denial that presently lulls people into complacency.
Write to: The Hon. Paul Martin, P.C. M.P. Minister of Finance, Esplanade Laurier, East Tower, 21st floor, 140 O'Connor St. Ottawa, On K1A 0G5
Letters carry more weight than email, but email is way better than nothing: email@example.com. Tell him that it is time we account for the full costs of our activities. That we need work and a clean environment and that he would be making a historical move to direct our tax system to accommodate these ends.
Mike Nickerson, Sustainability Project - Inviting Debate; P.O. Box 374, Merrickville, Ontario K0G 1N0; ph: (613)269-3500
email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.cyberus.ca/choose.sustain
For more information on tax shifting and related measures:
Access Open with CanExplore
Hearty congratulations to the four Canadian federal government departments, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Natural Resources Canada, who have co-operated to mount an internet search engine of over 200,000 documents on "Science and Technology for Sustainable Development." Arrangements to include Health Canada are under way.
This easy-to-use search engine works, and it provides links to the actual documents, and frequently to the researchers. It is gong to be one of the Watershed Sentinel's favourite tools. Research papers on assorted toxics, forests and soil inventories, manufacturing capacities, even aquaculture issues in developing countries can all be found here.
If we can't get to sustainability without democracy, and democracy requires access to information, the federal departments which mounted CanExplore have just taken a giant stride into the future.
Check it out at www.canexplore.gc.ca/
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Did you know that Friends of Cortes Island has supported the Watershed Sentinel since its beginning in 1992? In fact, FOCI was the original publisher of the magazine and continues its support to this day.
These days, the Friends of Cortes Island Watershed Sentinel Development Fund helps the magazine with the costs of special features about sustainability issues around the Georgia Strait. Donations over $50 to the Fund are tax deductible.
FOCI and the Sentinel wish to thank the following Patrons of the Watershed Sentinel:
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