Giving due credit to Yellowstone to Yukon

Re: 'Evan Saugstad: Will the Yellowstone to Yukon vision prove to be our future?', Op-ed, Aug. 8, 2019

Over the years, I have become somewhat familiar with the work of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), and I feel that the characterization given by Evan Saugstad misrepresents the intent and good work of that organization.

The picture Evan paints is one of a radical environmental group that is trying to shut down all man made activity in the hinterland in order to achieve some mystical goal. That is simply not correct.

First, I encourage people to simply check out their website to see what they are all about. 

Secondly, from my experience of their activity in the BC Peace, Y2Y seeks to work in collaboration with other groups in reaching solutions towards connecting and protecting critical habitats while
acknowledging the role various resource industries play up here. Not an easy task, but I believe the balance they offer is key in this region that is often well represented by industry, but not so much by conservation minded groups. I do not believe that should be perceived as a threat.

Leading up to the Environmental Assessment process for the Site C dam in 2013, the Peace Valley Landowner Association and several other local groups worked with Y2Y on a draft initiative called, An Alternate Vision for the Peace River Valley. Basically, it was a draft proposal for a land use plan for the valley as an alternative to simply flooding the entire valley for the single use of producing electricity we cannot afford, or even need.

Through the process of developing this plan, it was very obvious to the local groups involved that Y2Y was not there to hijack the agenda. The local groups took the lead on the initiative, and Y2Y was very respectful of that.

We presented that draft to the Peace River Regional District, and also to the Joint Review Panel at the Site C public hearings. Our group emphasized that should the dam not proceed and such a land use planning process be put in place, all stakeholder groups would need to be involved in the formation of a final plan.

However, I should note that in no way did Y2Y seek or push for the draft plan to eliminate human habitation or activity in the valley. That of course would be ridiculous not only in this case, but in many other situations. Y2Y clearly gets that.

We need organizations such as Y2Y to help balance and shape a strong future that is beneficial to all of us, and I am thankful for their work.

— Ken Boon, President, Peace Valley Landowner Association

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