Letters to the Editor: Dec. 19

Hunting Allocations; South Star Trails; Highway Clearance; United Way

Hunting Allocations

We in the East Kootenay are privileged to have a tremendous resource in the variety of wildlife that we have for either viewing enjoyment or harvesting for our families’ supply of organic meat.

Each year the provincial government sets the allocation rates to determine how many animals will be available for harvesting by resident hunters and guide outfitters. What many of us do not realize is that the B.C. Guide Outfitters Association is constantly lobbying the government for a greater share of the available allocations. These allocations would generally be for the benefit of foreign hunters, as most of the clients of guide outfitters are from outside of Canada. It goes without saying that the greater the allocations to guide outfitters, the fewer allocations are available for resident hunters.

In most jurisdictions across North America, foreign hunters receive from five to 10 per cent of the harvestable surplus of wildlife. The current proposal of the B.C. Guide Outfitters Association would give foreign hunters up to 40 per cent of specific game species such as mountain sheep, goat and bear, and up to 25 per cent of moose and elk. This could result in 5,000 fewer hunting permits going to B.C. residents.

It is of interest to note that over the last 10 years, the number of B.C. hunters has grown by 20 per cent while the number of foreign hunters coming to B.C. has declined by 30 per cent for the same period.

B.C. resident hunters spend over $230 million annually in local communities on hunting related activities, and contribute $9 million a year towards conservation work through license fees. This does not reflect the contributions through conservation organizations and the more than 300,000 hours annually that outdoorsmen spend on habitat conservation projects across the province. Over the past two decades, non-resident hunting permits for moose in the Kootenay region have gone from six per cent in 1991 to 21 per cent in 2012, leaving hundreds of Kootenay residents without the opportunity to hunt moose. In the interest of comparison, Saskatchewan limits non-resident moose hunters to four per cent of the harvestable surplus and Alberta limits allocations between two and seven per cent with a maximum of 10 per cent. In Washington State the allocation for non-residents is five per cent.

It is not my intention to complain negatively about the B.C. Guide Outfitters, as it is in their best interest to obtain as much of the allocations as possible.

What I am attempting to do is bring this issue before the general population that may not be aware of some of these facts and figures, or the importance of speaking up in support of increased allocations for resident hunters.

If this is of concern to you I would ask that you express your concerns by contacting your MLA to encourage him to speak for you when this issue comes up for debate or discussion in the legislature or in committee.

D.F. Heidt, resident hunter/Cranbrook

South Star Trails

Earlier this season, a clean up event was held at South Star to prepare the trails and area for the upcoming season. Around a dozen wonderful volunteers lent a hand with the work required to keep the trails in good shape. Thanks to their efforts, many improvements were made.

Several volunteers worked to clear trails of blow downs and spread wood chips where rocks and roots interfered with grooming during the ski season. Others helped construct the two outhouses which are now in place and hopefully will survive longer than the last one. As the community will remember, vandals destroyed South Star’s only outhouse several years ago by pulling it off its base and burning it. The log shelter near the power line, which had already been repaired due to vandalism, was also wrecked and burned. The site has since been cleared up but the cost of a new installation is high. South Star appreciates the generosity of Lisa Cox at the Recreation Sites and Trails BC for the donation of two outhouses and also the continuing support for the South Star Recreation Society and their work. Concerns about the security of the two outhouses still need to be addressed.

Community usage of South Star continues to increase. A counter has documented over 10,000 of usages since it was installed last December. It is a pleasure to see so many people using the trails year round. Cross country skiers, runners/hikers, snowshoers, bikers and horse back riders all cooperate to respect and enjoy the peace and quiet of the non motorized trails. Membership is encouraged to help demonstrate to the Ministry that the trails are in active use and provide low cost, non motorized recreation for the entire region. There are no paid workers maintaining South Star and we count on the support of the community to cover costs. Membership forms and trail maps are available at the Trailhead, which is located in Gold Creek at the top of 38th Avenue.

There is presently a Facebook page(South Star Recreation Society) to keep updated information about South Star available to its users. Additionally, a website is being planned for 2015.

Despite a promising snowfall in November, we are now back to bare ground and waiting for winter to begin in full force. The trails are still a wonderful place to walk, run, or ride your horse. Some cyclists may venture out at this time of year, but puddles and lingering ice require caution.

Rocke Robertson/Cranbrook

Highway Clearance

Having spent the majority of my working life commuting between Kimberley and Canal Flats, I had the mixed blessing of travelling that highway both before and after the maintenance of said highway was passed over from the provinces Department of Highways to the current system of contracting it out.

With the Department of Highways that highway was cleaned, plowed and sanded with a lot more care and professionalism than it is now. A lot of the snow plow operators were the same one working for both, but could only do what they were told to do. I’ve known a few of them over the years and they would all have gladly gone out earlier, had they been allowed to.

We usually did notice a difference between the Kimberley side of the northern boundary — the Invermere side was usually kept in much better shape than the Kimberley side, but, that being said, the Kimberley side was never left to be in as bad as shape as it is now. On many occasions going to work at 5 am, it was normal to see DoH/Kimberley side out ahead of us.

Since the government switched over to contracting out the job of highway maintenance we noticed almost instantly how the highways didn’t get plowed as soon or as well, always leaving them in poor to very poor shape. I’m just glad I no longer have to deal with that commute.

Mainroad has given the “list” of when they must take action, what timelines they have and what actions must be taken. Well it’s pretty obvious they are running according to those specs the Ministry of Highways has set out. And those specs are the bare minimum of what has to be done.

It seems pretty obvious they are taking those specs to heart and probably saving themselves a lot of money doing just that. They are not looking at the snow falls and sending their crews out in an effort to stay ahead of the game, which is what used to be done.

No, it looks like they are waiting until they absolutely have to send the crews out, which puts them in a losing battle, because by then the snow is already compacted into ice, and when that cold, regular plowing will not be effective. By this time to be effective, means a lot more wear and tear on the equipment, and over time, which would mean fewer profits.

When the contracting out came into effect the BC Government and the Ministry of Highways promised us all safety would not be adversely affected. Well, look at the roads now, listen to the people using those roads. It seems safety has been, and is being affected, in order to save money and increase profits.

Tom Haverko/Cranbrook

United Way

Your generosity is at the very heart of change in your community!

United Way donations stay in the community where they are raised to help those most in need. Community Investment Committees comprised of a United Way Director, past Board Directors of United Way, a bank staff member and two community representatives diligently review all funding applications in January and February.  Priorities are determined and recommended investment levels for each approved funding application meeting United Way criteria and guidelines, are presented to the Board of Directors.  Most funding recipients are unable to access other funding sources for programs and services needed in the community.  The need is great and that is why your donation big or small, is so important.

This year’s campaign is now within 30 per cent of our goal and your help is needed.  A troubled economy, rising costs and fewer employment opportunities continue to increase the need for a helping hand up. Please consider making a donation in support of your community and fellow citizens.

Staff, volunteers and the Board of Directors wish everyone a safe and joyful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Donna Brady Fields, Executive Director/United Way East Kootenay