Hancock here: Oct 29 – Three eagle nests & BC’s most biologically productive and diverse shoreline get an obscene threat
Biofuel Plant Concerns by David Hancock – A Note to the Prime Minister
Re Andion Biofuel Facility Proposed for Semiahmoo First Nation Land near Active Eagle Nesting
A Specific Biological Perspective: “The Semiahmoo lands hold three active bald eagle nests but are key to supporting over 150 nesting pairs in the adjacent few cities and over 25,000 northern breeding eagles who spend their fall & winter months here.” This Semiahmoo region is the center of the most important biological region in the entire northeast Pacific. This zone through which tens of millions of migrating shorebirds are totally dependent upon the biofilm produced in the adjacent bays and many million more waterfowl forage the same waters and foreshores. ”The Semiahmoo lands site at the heart of the life generating Fraser River Estuary and the whole region should be protected biosphere.”
(I will only address the importance of eagles here – I am sure you will be bombarded by the plethora of biologists who have been studying the diversity of so many other species and their interrelatedness so important to the west coast economy and survival of the Salish Sea.)
I am a wildlife biologist who has specialized in the ecology of bald eagles for many years. In April of 1953 I first surveyed the now Semiahmoo First Nation’s reserve for eagles. For the past 35 years since I moved to adjacent South Surrey, I have been following these local eagles in considerable detail. The Hancock Wildlife Foundation does the annual tracking of all eagle nests for the City of Surrey, Vancouver, Mission, and Chilliwack – totally monitoring the entire Lower Fraser Valley from Point Atkinson on the north to Point Roberts on the south and upstream to Hope. In my last many years of retirement, we have been the primary consultant for Region 2 of the Ministry of Forestry undertaking most of the Bald Eagle Mitigation Plans to move eagles to new nesting locations. Our audacious specialty is to try and speak truthfully for the needs of eagles and their habitat.
I have also undertaken studies of the SFN regarding an earlier road height-raising project.
The point of this is that the Semiahmoo lands are interconnected with the two most productive and important bald eagle nesting areas of North America. This is the Boundary Bay region to the west and the Blaine Harbour that abuts the Semiahmoo lands to the south. Some 150 pairs of nesting eagles and over 35,000 northern breeders that winter here depend upon these waters. We hold the largest North American responsibility for the survival of the bald eagle. The Semiahmoo lands sit dead center of this sensitive ecological jewel.
Seventy years ago, April 1953, I initiated aerial surveys and personally visited the Semiahmoo Reservation. These surveys revealed that an Alaska Bounty on Bald Eagles had totally eliminated the local Fraser Valley & northwest Washington breeding population of bald eagles. This was simply because these waters are adjacent and interdependent. Canada never offered the bounty but the constant movement of eagles across the border meant that one local factor, the fisherman of Blaine Harbour, eliminated the entire breeding population of eagles for a hundred miles in both directions. Our eagles regularly flew across this border to feed. The USA was paying Alaskan fisherman $2.00 for a pair of eagle legs. Without legs they did not return. Blaine Harbour houses most of the fleet of Alaskan fisheries. We lost all the eagles breeding in the Fraser Valley and Washington State lost all its coastal breeders because all regional eagles utilize these totally international shorelines for living.
Today we treasure these eagles, both here in Canada and in the adjacent eagle rich habitat of northeast Washington State. I would hate to think we Canadians are now planning to disrupt this ecological treasure house to again risk such devastation to the world’s most diverse rich intertidal flats – the very foundation feeding all the different groups of birds, mammals and the supportive intertidal life, as well as the biggest nursery for much of the west coast salmon populations.
At this time we have three territorial pairs nesting in the reserve. All their nests, in addition to the eagles, are protected under the BC Wildlife Act. Not that long ago 11 First Nations people were jailed, fined and some removed from living on their respective reserves – all for killing eagles for the feather trade. There was both Provincial and Band retribution doled out. I sit on several cooperative environmental committees with First Nations and considerable sensitivities have grown. This kind of development into the most productive waterway for over 3,000 miles of coastline demands some serious justifications if it is to risk proceeding. I doubt this is a change of values of the majority of First Nations people just as I believe it is not a supported direction for the non-natives.
I say this as most of the local bands have been quite concerned about the pollution and degradation of their governable habitats. Millions of dollars have been spent enabling wise-use conservation policies on their lands. ANY effluent from any business running into the rich Little Campbell Estuary or contaminating the two huge adjacent bays is totally unacceptable. The Semiahmoo peoples have argued for years to keep all – any pollution risk – to ZERO. The financial degradation of these sensitive ecosystems would be catastrophic.
Also I recognize that most surrounding residents of White Rock, Surrey and Blaine, and USA have a keen interest in preserving not just their favored eagles, but the general habitat for all its quality of water, air and land. The Semiahmoo lands also house the foreshore of the Little Campbell River which supports wonderful runs of all the salmonids. Lee-Ann, I do not know where you live or were brought up, but we are striving to maintain what the Province has been telling us for years: “This is Super Natural British Columbia” – its wealth and livability depend upon keeping it super and natural.
At first blush, any further industrial manipulation of biowastes for this region sounds quite negative. I have recently been contacted by many locally concerned citizen groups about this development. Your responsibility here is critical. SFN is at the heart of the Pacific Coast’s most important flyway, as well as the heart of the world’s largest gatherings of breeding and wintering eagles.
This begs the question: Is there a reason why, with the upper Fraser Valley being devoted primarily to agriculture that this ‘agricultural waste plant’ should move into the most ecologically valuable shoreline, the most urban and least farmed area of the valley?
If the Hancock Wildlife Foundation and its association of local biologists can be of assistance, please give me a call. We specialize in mitigating ecological challenges, particularly those affecting bald eagles.
P.S. The HWF presently has 4 sets of bald eagle nest CAMS operating on the shores of Boundary Bay to the Semiahmoo shores – with at least one more set to come on line next year. We are presently discussing placement of several on the Blaine shores. This is a simple statement of how the public supports their eagles.
Hancock Here : I seldom address local specific conservation issues but this one, which can be imposed on a gullible public across any nation, is so obscene I needed to address it. Get involved when this threat comes to your most productive areas!