The Phillips Watershed Recovery Initiative is a Kwiakah First Nation led information campaign to find public support for the protection of Phillips Arm.

Posted By PWR Initiative

In August of 2016 the BC Chief Forester Diane Nicholls made her final determination for the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) – the harvest volume a forest licensee is permitted to cut on an annual basis – for the Phillips River Watershed, i.e. TFL 39 Block 5. In her “professional” assessment Nicholls assigned an annual harvest volume of almost 42,000 m³ for the Phillips watershed – or did she? Unfortunately, no one is able to tell what level of AAC applies to the Phillips watershed because WFP succeeded in convincing Nicholls to combine the AACs of TFL Block 3 and 5 (Block 3 is an insignificant timber harvest area for WFP). As a consequence it is impossible to determine what  impact  the AAC decision has on Kwiakah First Nation’s Aboriginal Rights and Title (thereby rendering the consultation process meaningless) – no one knows precisely how much timber will be harvested until it has been harvested. Will it be 30,000 m³ from Block 5 and less than 12,000 m³ from Block 3 (highly unlikely) or will WFP choose not to harvest in Block 3 at all and turn the Phillips Watershed into a “cash cow” and harvest the full amount of AAC in Block 5 (very likely – one has to assume it was the plan all along).

In previous discussions with Kwiakah First Nation WFP had determined that a harvest volume of 15,000 m³ per year is a reasonable timber harvest volume for the Phillips watershed (taking into account how much damage forest activities have done to the watershed in the past). Unfortunately, while discussing such lower numbers with Kwiakah, WFP approached the BC Liberal Government with a request of 79,000 m³ per year. In an effort to appear listening to Kwiakah’s concerns the BC Chief Forester cut the WFP request almost in half. However, this approach to decision making is not very scientific (well, King Salomon tried it with a baby and his strategy worked – the baby lived; Nicholls crude approach to problem solving on the other hand created only more problems).

Kwiakah First Nation was provided with an opinion letter by renowned wildlife scientist and forester Dr. Brian Horejsi. He clearly disagrees with the BC Chief Forester’s assessment and the supporting comments by her staff (e.g. BC’s large carnivore “expert” Tony Hamilton). Here are some quotes from the opinion letter:

“Neither the Hamilton e-letter the Chief Forester relies upon, nor the Chief Forester, appear inclined to recognize or acknowledge the advanced state of vegetation change imposed on the Philips watershed by a long history of logging and road building”

“The incongruity in the Chief Foresters perspective – that roads and logging can impact bear viewing operations by displacing bears (p.38), but apparently said activities will not impact “bears” themselves (referencing Hamilton on her p. 37,and again on p.42), stands out.”

“The expectation, both written and implicit, that human use can and will be controlled in the Phillips, is both naïve and far-fetched.”

See BC’s full rationale here:

https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hts/tfl/tfl39/2016/39tf16ra2016.pdf ) .

It appears that the BC Liberal government has ZERO interest in a decision-making process that is based on science. The BC Liberal government decision making is solely based on political and economic interests.

BTW, have we mentioned that Kwiakah First Nation did not donate to the BC Liberal Party?


 
Posted By PWR Initiative

MacLean's Magazine published an interesting (and equally shocking) article in its latest issue. The article is titled: Welcome to British Columbia, where you ‘pay to play’ (the online version can be found here: http://www.macleans.ca/politics/in-british-columbia-big-money-means-big-problems/ ).

The article states that the BC Liberal Party raised 32.5 million dollars since Christie Clark and her BC Liberal Party won the last BC election. We also learn that donors from out of province or even foreign countries have given large sums to the BC Liberals.

Also, a reader of the article is being informed that the BC Liberals have introduced a real-time disclosure process for donations. Donations are being posted on the BC Liberal Party website within 10 days of receipt. 

The members of the administration of Kwiakah First Nation were curious to find out if any entity that is party to the current problems in Phillips Arm is an active donor of the BC Liberal Party. For this purpose staff of the band's administration checked the real-time disclosure website online at https://www.bcliberals.com/realtime-disclosure/ .

Here is one interesting search result - the exact donation amounts and times by Western Forest Products Inc. to the BC Liberal Party for the year 2016:

Western Forest Products Inc.          800.00                   1/31/2016

Western Forest Products Inc.       5,000.00                   4/15/2016

Western Forest Products Inc.       5,000.00                   8/23/2016

Western Forest Products Inc.     10,000.00                 10/31/2016

For the record, Kwiakah First Nation is not in the habit of giving donations to political parties . What purpose could a donation to a political party serve?

.......yes, why would any company give thousands of dollars  to the BC Liberal Party?

What could be the reason?????????

 

 

 

 


 
Posted By PWR Initiative

“The precautionary principle denotes a duty to prevent harm, when it is within our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in. This principle has been codified in several international treaties to which Canada is a signatory. Domestic law makes reference to this principle but implementation remains limited.”

Kwiakah First Nation has provided the BC Liberal Government with ample evidence that the ecosystem of the Phillips Watershed is under enormous environmental pressure – and all the evidence is pointing at forestry as the main local culprit. The small First Nation has commissioned research for Phillips Arm starting in the year 2006. Of course, in scientific terms one decade of research cannot provide all the answers and one has to stay committed to continue research work for years to come to close knowledge gaps or proof a clear correlation between cause and effect. Many times it is not one specific cause but a conglomerate of a number of factors that have a negative impact on a ecosystem.

Kwiakah’s research results and all the professional reports clearly show a very negative trend and point at forest activities as the main cause for the negative impacts on key indicator species in Phillips Arm like grizzly bears, Roosevelt Elk or salmon (the Phillips River is one of the few remaining watersheds that is still home to all five Pacific salmon runs on the South Central Coast; however, the individual salmon populations of the watershed show very low numbers for returning fish – a run could go extinct at any given time because the low numbers of returning fish can hardly sustain a population).

The BC Liberal Government has signalled that they are interested in joint research projects with Kwiakah First Nation. They are hoping that “duelling science” (this is their newest term – they switched from competing to duelling) can be prevented by working jointly on research. The BC Liberal Government is still adamant in their position not to trust any research or scientific results that have not been produced by government scientists.

Kwiakah First Nation is very open to working together with government scientists - we are convinced our research can withstand scientific scrutiny. However, we are demanding that the BC Liberal Government follow the “Precautionary Principle” and not allow timber harvest activities until they prove to Kwiakah without a doubt that a decade of research conducted by professionals on behalf of Kwiakah is wrong and the ecosystem of the Phillips watershed is not in danger of collapse.

At the time of writing of this blog entry government officials have informed us that compliance with the precautionary principle is not their top priority and that they would prefer to fulfill their contractual obligations with licensees instead.

Of course, Kwiakah First Nation won’t stand for this and will use any means necessary to convince the BC Liberal government to respect the precautionary principle.


 
Posted By PWR Initiative

The Great Bear Rainforest (GBR) Agreement was negotiated by a number of organizations – the BC Government, forest licensees, the Coastal First Nations (an alliance of First Nations on British Columbia's North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii), the Nanwakolas Council ( six member First Nations whose traditional territories are located in the Northern Vancouver Island and South Central Coast areas of BC) and the RSP (a group of three NGOs).

The GBR legislation came into effect in 2016 and was supposed to protect 85 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest - at least this is how it was hyped in the media by Premier Clark. However, she never really explained to what measure the 85 percent were referring to. There is quite an imbalance to the level of protection various areas of the GBR are “enjoying”. In simple terms, the northern sections  are enjoying real protection – the areas that were represented by the Coastal First Nations in the GBR negotiations. The southern sections of the GBR are not so lucky. Phillips Arm is part of the southern tip of the GBR and will essentially be seeing an increase in logging activities. It is interesting to note that a number of the First Nations with territories on the South Central coast were represented by the Nanwakolas Council in the GBR negotiations. However, the Nanwakolas Council had no authority to represent Kwiakah First Nation – whose members call Phillips Arm their ancestral home and it is the First Nation’s core territory (Kwiakah First Nation is still a member of the Nanwakolas Council but has always maintained its independence from this umbrella organization and is negotiating directly with all levels of Government). Unfortunately, the parties negotiating the GBR agreement have assumed that the Nanwakolas Council had authority to speak on behalf of Kwiakah First Nation and as a result Kwiakah First Nation was not consulted on the GBR agreement until just a couple of days before Premier Clark was planning to make her “historic” announcement (i.e. by that time the agreement was a done deal and it did not matter what Kwiakah had to say).

Talking about the paradox: The question is why the southern portions of the GBR don’t see the same levels of protection like the northern sections of this forest? Also, why was the decision made to take away protection from an extremely damaged area like Phillips Arm, where forestry has led to the destruction of the environment of the Phillips River watershed?

Neither the BC Liberal government nor the member NGOs of the Rainforest Solution Project have given Kwiakah First Nation a satisfactory answer to this question.

Looking at this situation we could only make the following observations:

  • It is in the southern portions of the GBR were the brunt of logging activities will occur.
  • The First Nations with territories in the southern areas of the GBR were represented by negotiators of the Nanwakolas Council during the GBR negotiations.
  • The Chairman and President of the Nanwakolas Council was Dallas Smith (stepped down from this position in December of 2016)
  • Premier Christie Clark announced in October of 2016 that former president of the Nanwakolas Council Dallas Smith will be the BC Liberal candidate for the riding of the North Island in the 2017 provincial election.
  • In the announcement speech the Premier named candidate Dallas Smith the “Architect” of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement

No further comment………………..


 
Posted By PWR Initiative

On our website we have mentioned that Kwiakah First Nation has invested substantially in scientific research to find answers about the health of the Phillips Arm grizzly bear and the Phillips River salmon populations. In addition, professionals worked on an aquatic assessment for the Phillips watershed and an Eelgrass and Clam survey was completed.

We will talk about the detailed results of each research phase later in this information campaign. For now, it is suffice it to say that things are not well in Phillips Arm and the environmental conditions and circumstances are dire.

We started with the grizzly bear research as early as 2006 and have successfully completed 5 consecutive bear research projects since. In 2012 we started with the aquatic assessment, followed by the survey for Eelgrass and Clams, and multi-level projects for a Phillips River salmon data analysis. At the time of writing of this blog entry we have almost completed phase 3 of the salmon data analysis.

We have consistently provided the BC Liberal government under Premier Christie Clark with our scientific evidence. It was our hope the government would see the urgency to take drastic steps to protect the badly damaged environment of Phillips Arm.
Unfortunately, our efforts were not the least appreciated and the BC Chief Forester in particular took it upon herself to attempt to dispute the research results we had provided. The provincial large carnivore expert and a government fish biologist provided her with statements that were supposed to weaken the evidence so that BC could move forward with their faulty decision-making - in this instance with an Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) determination for TFL 39 Block 5 (the area of the Phillips River watershed) that does hardly allow for real protective measures in Phillips Arm.  The experts working for Kwiakah responded to the government criticism and made their case why government staff were wrong in their judgement. Afterwards, Kwiakah did not hear back from the Chief Forester’s office.

Of course, the BC government is hiding behind the provincial Forest Act and the new Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order (GBRLUO). Provincial government staff even went so far as requesting from Kwiakah First Nation to stop conducting research. The BC Liberal government seems to be afraid of scientific evidence that has been developed independently. It is their opinion that our efforts are creating “Competing Science” (yes, that is exactly the term used by government staff) – research that is contradicting the overly optimistic positions of the BC government - and they are afraid that a judge –should Kwiakah First Nation take legal action against the BC Liberal government – might get confused and annoyed by research that is saying different things.

Kwiakah First Nation will not be deterred by the BC Liberal government’s refusal to take the evidence we have provided into account. Our small First Nation will continue to prove to government that they have to stop believing things are well in our forests and watersheds – we will continue to do research in hope that one day this government will agree to listen to scientific evidence. Our research will get stronger and every additional phase of new research will confirm and strengthen our position, which is….

……..that drastic measures must be taken to help the environment of the Phillips watershed to recover from many decades of abuse by faulty government decision-making that only nurtured the industrial and commercial exploitation of First Nation lands.


 

 

 
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