INDEPENDENT POWER PLANT APPLICATION THREATENS THE INCOMAPPLEUX RIVER AND ANCIENT RAINFOREST
September 17th, 2012 - Southern Interior, British Columbia — For several years there have been applications for Independent Power Plants (IPPs) on the Incomappleux River. These private hydro developments have done massive damage to other rivers in BC. The Incomappleux applications have been inactive, but now a huge power corporation, TransAlta, is moving on its proposal and has applied for a permit to do feasibility studies.
The upper Incomappleux River and its very ancient rainforest are the gems of the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal. The valley has been severely logged for a major part of its length. But the logging stopped before the end of the forest, leaving behind a five-kilometre stretch of river with very rare valley-bottom Inland Temperate Rainforest, with trees up to four metres in diameter and 1,800 years old. Scientists say this forest could have been growing undisturbed since the last ice age. It is part of a 17-kilometre stretch of wild river running through intact wilderness adjacent to Glacier National Park.
This now famous valley has drawn scientists from five countries to study the biodiversity of its ancient rainforest and its extensive wetland. They have found numerous rare species of lichens, mushrooms, snails and plants including a number of red- and blue-listed species.
The studies alone will include drilling, and possibly road building and cutting down trees to bring in heavy equipment. This will be a huge investment on the part of the proponent for a development that would then be leverage to get the IPP approved.
The proposal claims a capacity to generate 45 megawatts of power. Any project under 50 MW will receive no formal Environmental Assessment, yet the power production can be increased in the future.
What Will Happen if an IPP is approved
- Water taken out of the river only 1.5 kilometres south of the boundary of Glacier National Park and diverted for 8.8 kilometres. This is prime grizzly bear habitat necessary for the seclusion of the bears from visitors of Glacier National Park.
- Usually there is a dam associated with this, although the proposal doesn’t mention it. There is very little information provided on the activities and impacts of the investigative permit.
- A very major road will have to be built to within 1.5 kilometres of the Glacier National Park boundary, across steep terrain that would likely cause erosion and landslides into the creek.
- The proposed power generating station and staging area are right in the heart of the big trees. They would shatter forever the last remaining tract of ancient Inland Temperate Rainforest of this antiquity south of Prince George.
- The Incomappleux River is one of very few undammed rivers in the Columbia Basin. It is one of only five tributaries that contribute to the blue-listed Bull Trout fishery in Arrow Lake Reservoir. The bull trout habitat in the river bed near Battlebrook Creek would be toast.
- A transmission corridor up to 75 kilometres long.
WE CAN STOP THIS IF ENOUGH PEOPLE ACT NOW!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Send a letter to BC's Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB) by midnight, September 20. Get your friends and family to do it too. The following sample letter can be pasted into the government’s comment space on its website, and you can change it however you wish to express your own views:
It is unthinkable that the government would allow an IPP on the Incomappleux River. The interior of BC has only one segment of intact, wild river flowing through an intact tract of ancient Inland Rainforest with trees 1,800 years old. This forest is very, very rare: a world heritage. Development for this IPP would be right in the middle of this small tract of very ancient forest. The stretch of river where water will be diverted is prime grizzly bear habitat used by the bears of Glacier National Park. Scientists from BC, Germany, Austria, France, the Czech Republic and the U.S. have come to study the biodiversity of the forest and the Kellie Creek wetland. They have found rare species, including numerous red- and blue-listed species, and even species new to science. Other scientists have documented blue-listed bull trout in the river up to Battlebrook Creek, very near the proposed power generating station. The river is spawning and rearing habitat for the bull trout of the Arrow Lakes Reservoir, one of only 5 tributaries that contribute bull trout to the lake.
The activities of the investigation, and their potential impacts, have not been adequately disclosed by the proponent or the government, but it’s clear that the damage would begin with this investigation. Signing it would be a disgrace to the BC government. The Incomappleux River has many friends who want it kept as it is. This area should be protected by enacting the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal. I urge you to do the right thing and turn the permit application down NOW!
For more information go to the government website at:
Click on the link provided for comments; or send a fax to FrontCounter BC, Cranbrook, fax no: (250)426-1767
Send a copy your letter to these government representatives:
To see photos of the Incomappleux River and the ancient forest, visit the VWS website at http://www.vws.org on the Home Page. Scroll down to the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal. You can download a fact sheet, petition, and 30-page report.
Please forward this Crisis Alert to your friends! Thank you.
Valhalla Wilderness Society