Current Ecological Threats to the Goat River

Unprotected

Some of the lower Goat River watershed is fully protected in a provincial park: West Twin Provincial Park. And although some of the upper Goat River watershed has a level of protection due to the Government’s recent Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan, it is not fully protected as a provincial park, ecological reserve, or similar status, and therefore remains open to several potential threats.

Logging and Road Development

Especially vulnerable is the valley bottom, little of which was protected in the Caribou Recovery Plan. Logging and the accompanying road development are the most serious threat to the Goat River watershed.

Despite strongly voiced concerns from FHA and others, McBride Forest Industries constructed one kilometre of logging road into the upper Goat watershed, past the confluence of the Goat and Milk Rivers, in 2001. The road was part a small logging clearcut and destroyed 1 Km of the historic trail. A complaint was registered with the Forest Practices Board at the time, resulting in some mild reproach to the Forest Service for prematurely authorizing the development. The investigation final report is available here.

The company terminated the road at that distance, not because of public opposition, but due to difficult terrain immediately upstream from that point. Logging plans call for the road to be extended further into the valley, but built in the channel of the Goat River itself to bypass the difficult spot. This would destroy salmon habitat and cause water quality concerns downstream. The construction would be in flagrant disregard of both the BC Forest Practices Code, and the federal Fisheries Act. DFO staff have assured FHA that application for a road permit will trigger a Canadian Environmental Assessment Act screening. This will allow formal public comment, but is unlikely to prohibit development.

Currently, the timber allocation for the unprotected portion of the Goat River watershed is held by Carrier Lumber, headquartered in Prince George. To date Carrier has not done any development in the Goat River, but certainly has plans for the timber there.

Inappropriate Tourism Development

There have been several proposals over the last century, and up to the present, to create not just a logging road, but a highway between McBride and Barkerville through the Goat River Valley. This would cause significant harm to wildlife, ecology, and scenic values there and violate a valued pristine wilderness. It would also obliterate the historic Goat River Trail and violate the sanctity of world-renown Bowron Lake Provincial Park. Luckily, the costs to create an all-weather road through the Goat are considered prohibitively high at this time, primarily due to frequency of avalanche paths and narrowness of the valley.

A much more serious threat, due to it’s greater probability, is a snowmobile trail through the Goat. Advocates have been requesting government permission to construct this for several years and even got consideration of it written into the Bowron Lake Park Management Plan. This also seems unlikely at this time, primarily due to the Government’s Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan, and its restrictions on recreational snowmobiling in much of the best caribou habitat (which includes the Goat).

Mineral Exploration and Development

Historically, the Goat River was a source of small amounts of placer gold mining. The Goat River watershed is totally vulnerable to mineral exploration and development of any kind, as the Caribou Recovery plan exercises virtually no control over those activities.

PROTECT IT!

The undeveloped area of the Goat River watershed needs full protection to protect its many values. Please join the movement to make it a provincial park.

Copyright 2010, Fraser Headwaters Alliance