The BC Government continues to approve extensions and entertain new open pit coal mine proposals in the Elk River watershed, an integral part of the Southern Rockies wildlife corridor. Last week, Teck’s Baldy Ridge extension was approved, opening up new mining areas for Teck Coal’s Elk View operations. The Elk Valley provides core habitat for Rocky Mountain wildlife and is part of the critical connectivity corridor connecting the wild Flathead Valley to Banff-Jasper National Parks.
While this new mine extension is included in the modelling for the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan (EVWQP), a mandated plan to reduce selenium levels in the Elk River, it raises the question: how much more can this already stressed system support without compromising fish, wildlife and human health?
The existing mining operations in the Elk Valley are struggling to meet the targets set out in the EVWQP. Meanwhile, the Province continues to entertain an ever growing list of new mine proposals: Bingay, Crown Mountain, Loop Ridge, Tent Mountain, Michel Head, Crowsnest Pass Coal, the Elko Project and South Hazel. It’s time for the BC Government to create a balanced land use plan that protects wildlife habitat.
The present course of development puts wildlife at risk and threatens the globally significant Rocky Mountain wildlife corridor.