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AWARE’s stand on Legacy trails

This letter was addressed to George McKay, VANOC manager for the Whistler Nordic Centre. A copy was forwarded to Pique.

At a recent meeting, the AWARE Board of Directors discussed the potential conflicts between the Whistler Nordic Centre, the recreational trails, and the recent confirmation that there are in fact an existing group of grizzly bears that utilize the Callaghan Valley.

We recognize that the environmental assessment (EA) for the legacy trails and any other legacy expansion has yet to be completed, but our information indicates that VANOC intends to begin construction on these trails this coming summer. We also recognize that the Legacy management board has yet to be named, and that beyond the construction and Games phase this board will be dealing with the environmental impacts of the trails and their use. Certainly this board needs to be in place now.

In view of this, AWARE passed the following motion.

THAT AWARE strongly recommends to VANOC that they delay construction of the trails component of Whistler Nordic Centre until the spring of 2008 so that the environmental impact assessment can be complete especially in assessing the stress that new trails could put on the grizzly bears. It needs to be noted that the EA by necessity must cover a wider boundary than just the actual footprint of the WNC plus the Legacy tails.

THAT if the trails are seen by professional biologists as being potentially stressful to the bears during summer usage that the Legacy board plan on running the trails only in the winter.

THAT if the trails could compromise the bears even if they were only used in the winter, that they should not be constructed at all.

We have seen ourselves as a partner both in the bid process and this messy preparation phase and we hope it is the same when the Games arrive, and as a result encourage you to take this motion into your consideration as constructive.

We recognize that if the EA concludes that any Legacy trails will compromise the grizzly in the Callaghan then it would certainly mean that the four recreational leases in the valley as well as the snowmobile access to the alpine via the Callaghan would continue to be a bigger problem than would be presented by the Legacy trails. In this case, we would then want to enlist your support in lobbying the provincial government to cancel those leases and terminate motorized traffic in the Callaghan altogether.

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