Dear Editor:

Several years ago, at the height of land use conflicts in the valley, I walked into a pub to meet with a group of hunters, some with mixed emotions about environmentalists.

I was called over by a local rancher and logger. He told me that some of the guys were upset about Wildsight and had threatened to burn down my beehives on his ranch. We had talked about the environment over the years and he, like many of the ranchers and loggers I know, had a strong land ethic. His response to those who were in disagreement with Wildsights position was that they would have to come through him if they were going to touch those beehives.

We might disagree on some issues, he said, but we agree at least 80 per cent of the time and thats better than Im doing with my wife.

Over the past 25 years Wildsight has taken thousands of school children outside into local ecosystems so that they understand their place in the Columbia Basin.

We have partnered with communities such as Invermere in assessing greenhouse gas emissions (that project was funded by an American foundation!). We have promoted higher environmental standards for forestry, resulting in Tembecs Forest Stewardship Council certification and a premium on their pulp sales.

We have partnered with local and provincial governments in order to improve water management, promote recycling, recover mountain caribou and address access concerns.

Wildsight is volunteers, a very small staff of two, and contractors in communities across the East Kootenay. These people initiated recycling efforts, clean up wetlands, and promote clean air initiatives (no idling!). Wildsights work is directed by people who care about the future of where we live a place of globally significant environmental values.

Wildsight has been recognized with the BC Minister of Environments Conservation Award, the Canadian Environmental Award and the BC Real Estate Foundation Award.

And yes, we receive American funding, as do many of the charitable environmental organizations we partner with such as World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy. Were proud of it. We partner with other charities such as the Canadian Cancer Society to achieve shared goals for a healthy environment and healthy communities.

We take action so that future generations will have the benefits of clean water, fresh air and wild ecosystems. We invite everyone to be part of this work, even if you only agree with us 80 per cent of the time.

John Bergenske

Executive Director, Wildsight