Gibraltar Mountain Lookout: A proposed lodge in bighorn sheep habitat

The province recently sold the old forestry lookout on Gibraltar Mountain (northwest of Canal Flats near the Kootenay River) to Joseph Maskell, who has since applied for crown land tenure to operate a backcountry adventure tourism business, Gibraltar Mountain Lodge, centred around the lookout.

Wildsight has recommended against tenure, commercial operation and any development of the Gibraltar Mountain Lookout and we encourage all concerned individuals and organizations to join us in submitting formal comments to Front Counter BC before the deadline of January 18th, 2017.

The application for the development of an alpine lodge at the Gibraltar Mountain Lookout directly conflicts with maintaining healthy wildlife populations in the East Kootenays. This lookout is located in a winter range for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and is adjacent to both lambing areas and a mountain goat habitat. Both of these species are in significant decline in the region and require that every effort is expended to maintain their critical habitat. Furthermore, with grizzly bear feeding areas located in the immediate vicinity of the Gibraltar Mountain Lookout, there is a very high likelihood that the proposed lodge would displace bighorn sheep, mountain goats and grizzly bears from the area.

Habitat loss is directly related to increased human access and, because of this, an ever increasing human footprint threatens wildlife populations throughout the backcountry of the region. Developing a lodge at the lookout, with accompanying recreational pursuits, presents unacceptable risks to local wildlife populations. This is particularly significant as the band of approximately 50 sheep in that area are an important component of a decreasing regional population.

Our objection to the proposed tenure is based on consultations with wildlife and habitat biologists from across the region, as well as comments and sentiment expressed by Wildsight members. There is a strong consensus that this tenure will negatively impact wildlife and that it should not move ahead.

Submit your comments to Front Counter BC by January 18th, 2017.

Photo Credit: Joe Riis, ICLP