Healing the Peace River Break starts with defeating the Site C Dam.

A stunning view of the Peace River Valley with the proposed Peace-Boudreau Protected Area visible across the river. Photo: Tristan Brand

In northeastern British Columbia (B.C.), the mighty Peace River cuts across one of the narrowest sections of North America’s vast Rocky Mountain chain.

The unique ecology along this river system is featured most prominently in Peace-Boudreau, an area identified as special in 1969 and recommended for Provincial Park status in 1997, and appearing today on B.C. tourism maps as a star attraction. Yet it has not been formally protected despite years of campaigning by First Nations, local landowners, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) and other conservation groups, as well as recommendations from independent scientists and land planners.

Despite its recognition of the region’s ecological value, the B.C. Government has pressed ahead on plans to build the Site C dam, a massive project that would flood much of the region—eradicating large sections of wildlife habitat, valuable farmland and a range of cultural artefacts left by First Nations’ communities that have existed in the region for millennia.

At more than 17,000 ac (7,000 ha), the Peace-Boudreau region hugs the river shoreline, encompassing tributary creeks, islands and aquatic features, such as the lower Moberly River and Boudreau Lake, and would protect high-quality habitat for a diversity of wildlife. The area provides high-value winter range as well as spring calving grounds on the islands for moose, deer and elk, and features a diverse range of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, beaver and bull trout, and a plethora of bird species, such as osprey, eagles and trumpeter swans.

Peace-Boudreau was designed to protect the last remaining intact portion of the Peace River and conserve the Peace Lowlands, a critically underrepresented ecosystem in the province. Due to the heavy impact of oil and gas activity throughout northeastern B.C., protecting the ecological integrity of this region is vital—especially since it provides an invaluable linkage area for wide-ranging animals moving north and south along the mountainous Yellowstone to Yukon wildlife corridor. And yet, the Site C reservoir would flood up to 30 percent of these critical ecosystems.

Peace-Boudreau is a place of shared heritage, archaeological richness, First Nations cultural and economic importance and incredible wildlife habitat values combined together in a unique ecosystem that has been wisely reserved from destruction for almost 50 years.

Y2Y and partner organizations are working together to protect Peace-Boudreau forever. And that starts with a rejection of the Site C dam.

Written by Tim Burkhart, Peace River Break Coordinator at Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Breaking News! President Obama Designates Three National Monuments in California

Hiker in the Mojave Trails National Monument Photo: John Dittli

President Obama has designated three new national monuments, protecting roughly 1.8 million acres of BLM land in the California Desert. The three monuments will connect Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve to create the second largest protected landscape in the world. With this action, Obama has now preserved more acres of land and water than any other President.

The largest of the three is Mojave Trails National Monument, a 1.6-million-acre matrix of land along 100 miles of historic Route 66 that protects wildlife corridors between Death Valley and Joshua Tree. Sand to Snow National Monument preserves 154,000 acres between Joshua Tree National Park and the San Bernardino National Forest, and includes 24 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The 20,920-acre Castle Mountains National Monument preserves a ridge of desert peaks and rare grasslands roughly 100 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada.

After years of trying to move legislation through a dysfunctional Congress, California Senator Dianne Feinstein asked President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the desert landscapes. Since 2008, The Conservation Alliance made a total of seven grants to California Wilderness Coalition and Conservation Lands Foundation for their efforts to secure protection for these lands. Both organizations played a key role in building local support for the protections, and guiding the project to success. We thank Senator Feinstein and President Obama for their leadership in protecting this important landscape.

President Obama has indicated his interest in protecting additional landscapes before he leaves office. The Conservation Alliance and our grantees will work hard throughout the year to demonstrate outdoor business support for saving these special places. We will keep you posted!

Meanwhile, please check out good stories in the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post for full details on our newest national monuments.

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