Photo Credit: Devon Yu from Getty Images

East Kootenay solar study a loss for biodiversity

The provincial government is considering a application for a solar power facility that would have a serious impact on wildlife and habitat. The period for public input ends December 2, 2023. Please see our response below, and have your say.


Ministry of Energy Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation 

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy 

Ministry of Forests 

Ministry of Water, Lands and Resource Stewardship 

Dear Ministers, 

The B.C. Wildlife Federation has serious concerns about the proposed solar energy facility proposed by Enterprise Renewables in Crown Land File #4406427. 

As concerned as we are about the impacts of climate change and fossil fuel consumption, the downsides of this project far outweigh the benefits. The environmental values of the East Kootenay grasslands are simply too great to allow such a massively disruptive project to be built. 

It would be the greatest irony if a project that purports to have environmental value were allowed to disrupt wildlife at such a huge scale and destroy an existing and growing grassland carbon sink that itself mitigates climate change. 

The area to be studied and potentially rendered uninhabitable to wildlife is staggering at 4,470 hectares, or 44 square kilometres. Forest areas and vast grasslands would be destroyed and blocked out from the sun. 

Specifically, we are concerned about the loss of valuable winter range for elk and deer, along with rangeland for cattle. This area of the East Kootenays is on migration routes for a variety of waterfowl and endangered species such as Lewis’ woodpeckers and the long-billed curlew, which relies on these lands for nesting trees, along with the insects they feed on. 

Some of the pparcels requested are on Skookumchuck Prairie Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) – an area recognized internationally as necessary to maintain global biodiversity. 

  • Twelve breeding territories of at-risk long-billed Curlew are situated on the parcels requested.   
  • Sixteen nest trees of species-at-risk Lewis’ woodpecker occur on parcels requested.  This is the densest breeding colony of Lewis’ woodpecker in Canada. 
  • Nearly three quarters of the bird species found in the East Kootenays are found in the Skookumchuck Prairie KBA making it the richest bird area per hectare in the Region.  More than 220 bird species have been documented. 

The Lands Branch has already rejected portions of this request, noting: “The area selected is within an endangered grassland ecosystem which is being actively managed and restored.  This ecosystem provides critical habitat for ungulates (primarily elk) and species at risk and is an important cattle-grazing area.  The government and organized groups have spent approx. $14 Million dollars on ecosystem restoration in the Rocky Mountain Trench.” 

The Land Branch decision should be respected and upheld. 

Yours in Conservation, 

David Lewis, B.C. Wildlife Federation President

Jesse Zeman, B.C. Wildlife Federation Executive Director


Public comments on this project close December 2, 2023. You can have your say here.

Related Posts