Proposed gravel mine threatens Garnet Valley wildlife

A proposed gravel mine threatens to undo millions of dollars of investment and years of conservation work in the Garnet Valley. The site of the mine is surrounded by a complex network of streams and vital riparian areas just west of Okanagan Lake. 

The B.C. Wildlife Federation is absolutely opposed to this project. The deadline for formal objections is today. 

Nearby Eneas Creek has been revitalized as wildlife habitat over the past seven years by the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship, with the support of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, South Okanagan Conservation Fund, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. 

“Garnet Valley has been the recipient of large investments in habitat restoration through the collaborations between our association, Penticton Indian Band, Ministry of Forests, South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, and the Conservation Officer Services,” said Blair Parker, Vice President of the Summerland Sportsman’s Association. “Vast sections of this valley have been acknowledged as having very high environmental sensitivity and are one of only a handful of places in Canada where you can find these grassland ecosystems.” 

The mine site threatens to compromise a winter and spring feeding location and birthing zone for mule deer, which are in decline.  

“The valley is a highly diverse landscape with open forest, sensitive wetlands and unique south-facing grasslands,” said Jesse Zeman, Executive Director of the B.C. Wildlife Federation. “The valley is inside the study area of the Southern Interior Mule Deer Project, an independent research effort funded by the B.C. Wildlife Federation.” 

The valley is also frequented by mountain goats, a blue-listed species, which means they are both vulnerable and highly sensitive to human activity. 

The mine’s location, near Summerland, is surrounded by farms and agritourism businesses including destination wineries. The Garnet Valley Agritourism Association has already expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed mine on water quality, tourism, and wildlife habitat.  

According to the District of Summerland, the subject property is designated as Open Lands in the Official Community Plan and zoned for forestry grazing. 

Eneas Creek supplies water to farms within the Agricultural Land Reserve engaged in vegetable and berry farming, cherry orchards, apple farms, and cattle ranches. The Summerland trout hatchery relies on the aquifer fed by this tributary. 

The downsides of this project are almost too numerous to list.  

Today, January 16, 2024, is the last day to object to this project. 

Any person affected by or interested in this program until the end of the day to make written representation to the Chief Permitting Officer of Mines, Ministry of Energy, Mines & Low Carbon Innovation by email 

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