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Author Topic: Coal mine would threaten trout, scientists say  (Read 2461 times)

troutbreath

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Coal mine would threaten trout, scientists say
« on: December 03, 2008, 05:00:36 PM »

Coal mine would threaten trout, scientists say
 
Plan slated for watershed on B.C.-Montana border has some powerful foes, including president-elect Obama
 
By Randy BoswellDecember 3, 2008
 
U.S. government scientists studying the Flathead River watershed straddling the B.C.-Montana border say they've discovered the prime spawning site for a threatened species of trout -- on the Canadian side of the system, and in the very shadow of a proposed mountaintop coal mine that drew fire from U.S. president-elect Barack Obama during his drive to the White House.

Biologists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Montana state Wildlife Department say the findings pinpoint the mouth of Foisey Creek in southeastern B.C. -- near the planned site of a controversial open-pit coal operation proposed by Toronto-based Cline Mining Corp. -- as a "critical" site in the life-cycle of the protected bull trout, which often migrates from U.S. waters to Canada to reproduce.

It's a discovery, the scientists say, that adds to previous evidence showing threats to the watershed's population of cross-border cutthroat trout, and which should clinch the environmental case against the mine.

"The 2008 spawning surveys indicate that the river section immediately downstream of the proposed mine site contained the highest numbers of bull trout 'redds' " -- nesting areas where eggs are laid in river cobble -- "in the interconnected river and lake transboundary system," USGS aquatic geologist Clint Muhlfeld told Canwest News Service.

"Development of an open-pit, mountaintop coal mine will negatively impact these important populations and the habitats upon which they depend for persistence."

The study showed that about 30 per cent of all redds in the north fork of the Flathead -- and 70 per cent of all redds in the Canadian section of the watershed -- are found next to the proposed mine.

The Flathead River -- which has its headwaters in southeast B.C. near the Alberta border but flows south through northern Montana before spilling into Flathead Lake -- has for decades been a source of conflict between environmentalists determined to preserve its "pristine" upper valley and energy companies hoping to exploit the drainage basin's rich supply of coal and methane.

A coal mine proposal in the 1980s was rejected after a panel under the International Joint Commission responsible for shared U.S.-Canadian waterways ruled the development could adversely affect fish populations.

Cline's proposed Lodgepole mine, located about 50 kilometres south of Fernie, would produce an estimated two million tonnes of coal per year over the mine's 20-year lifespan, generate hundreds of jobs and some $3 billion.

Although the company has tried to reassure critics that its economic objectives would be carefully balanced by measures to protect the Flathead ecosystem, the proposal has sparked opposition on both sides of the border. Currently under environmental review in B.C., the planned mine has been denounced by Canadian and American nature groups as ecologically ruinous and has drawn fire from Montana officials -- including Gov. Brian Schweitzer -- who have argued there's a risk to water quality along the U.S. stretch of the river.

In June, during his bid to become president, the Obama campaign released a statement saying: "Barack Obama supports efforts by Senator Max Baucus and Senator Jon Tester, as well as Gov. Brian Schweitzer, to stop the Cline mine. The Flathead River and Glacier National Park are treasures that should be conserved for future generations."

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
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another SLICE of dirty fish perhaps?

bentrod

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Re: Coal mine would threaten trout, scientists say
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2008, 05:55:23 PM »

Good for Obama..historic mines in Colorado have had serious effects on the rivers in that area for years and years.  Even after several attempts to cap them and clean them up, some rivers still have the pH of battery acid.  More often than not, mining companies rape, pillage and leave and are hard to track down and hold responsible.  Past and current mining activities in BC in the headwaters of the Columbia River have also deposited hundreds of millions of tons of lead and contaminants in the Columbia above Grand Coulee dam.  The BC Govt and mining company so far have done nothing and are making courts force them to take responsibility (so far to no avail). 
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troutbreath

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Re: Coal mine would threaten trout, scientists say
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2008, 06:13:03 PM »

We have plenty of damage here as examples too. The Coquihalla tailling pond spills that wiped out the fish. The whole of Howe sound and the creek at Britania Beach. Campbell River area on the ongoing problems from the mines there. The Companies that caused the damage are long gone with the profits and were stuck with the mess. Nothing wrong with mining if it's done right but that rarely happens.
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another SLICE of dirty fish perhaps?