Thursday June 24, 2010


Open Letter

CRV Salmon Hatchery Under Pressure

More gravel pit woes to consider



Chilliwack, BC, June 23, 2010,


                                                                                                 Friends of Chilliwack River Valley Susan Federspiel file photo.


An open letter to the Ministers Honorable Chuck Strahl and DFO Minister Gail Shea  from Susan Federspiel on behalf of the Friends of the Chilliwack River Valley, Sports Fishers, Small Business Owners, Residents, Tourists, and Recreation users of the Chilliwack River Valley and the over 1,800+ signers of local  petition


Re: Southview Sorting Ltd. Gravel Mine Proposal

at Larson's Bench Chilliwack River Valley

Dear Mr. Strahl and Ms. Shea:

We are writing to ask you for your immediate support in a matter of grave concern to the multi-million dollar, salmon producing, Chilliwack River Valley Hatchery.

There is a 40 year gravel mine proposal now before the BC Ministry of Mines, that would be located directly upstream of the Chilliwack Salmon Hatchery. The Upper Chilliwack River aquifer is also located around and above the hatchery in the area of the mine site, and this aquifer flows directly into the hatchery's artesian wells.

A recent report by the City of Chilliwack has identified there will be a risk to water quality from a mine in that location. The FVRD has also recognized there is a water quality risk, and has asked for thorough environmental impact studies as well as hydrological studies. The hydro geologist who identified the aquifer for MoE has also suggested we need a thorough hydrology study. Downstream, dependent on groundwater that may be effected by the proposal, there are documented species at risk such as red-legged frogs, mountain beaver, and snow shoe hares.

As you can probably surmise, residents have many other issues with the proposed mine location, such as public road safety, noise and dust, negative impact on tourism, impact on neighbouring aquifer wells and the unknown impact on the precious Chipmunk Creek Caves, and more. The fisheries issue and the protection of species at risk belongs to the federal government alone.

We believe it would demonstrate sound judgment for the Federal government to ask the Provincial Ministry of mines to stop their permitting process, as the risks to the hatchery and the fragile ecosystem is high. According to the Canadian Government's own Framework for the Application of Precaution in Science Based Decision Making About Risk (2003), in situations where the potential impacts of a proposal are high, and the science is not certain, precaution is a legitimate decision-making approach. Certainly, the current critical situation of Pacific salmon stocks can ill afford anything left to chance. Everything humanly possible must be done to safeguard our dwindling salmon runs.

Also, in this time of diminishing worldwide ground water resources, residents feel strongly we cannot afford to take risks with our precious watershed reserves. Even if this mine beats the odds and has no spills and maintains a perfect record of operation for 40 years, there are risks to salmon habitat from the adjacent Pierce Creek stream, and from opening up access to the water table below, in such close proximity to the fish hatchery that relies on pristine water flows. There are far better locations for this open pit mine than in this designated 'red zoned' environmentally sensitive area, and the applicant evidently has alternative non-red zone gravel locations that the FVRD has no issues with.

Time is of the essence. Thank you in advance for your assistance. Looking forward to your early reply.


Susan Federspiel