Dear Editor:

There is a U.S.-based initiative creeping quietly through the Canadian Rockies titled the Yukon to Yellowstone Initiative (Y2Y). The Wilburforce Foundation, based out of Seattle, wants to lock away Crown land from use and development from the Arctic Ocean to Yellowstone. Since 2009, they alone have doled out over $10 million to the Y2Y strategy spread amongst 56 groups in the U.S. and Canada.

Groups such as Wildsight, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club of B.C., Tides Canada and West Coast Environmental Law have collectively garnered millions from Wilburforce and other U.S. foundations to push their agenda in Canada. Aside from the relentless cries for a national park in the Flathead, they have been instrumental in restricting access and discouraging development. With their political savvy, they have managed to legislate their Y2Y strategy by pressuring governments. The most recent result of the relentless pressure tactics resulted in the Flathead valley being locked away from mining and exploration.

The federal government and private donors gave B.C. the cash needed to buy out the Flathead Valley mineral tenures and developed the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act to ensure the protection of this valley. Wilburforce is conspicuously absent from the list of funders for this protection agreement. The best Wildsight and the Sierra Club could come up with is to say its not enough but where did the millions in grants go from Wilburforce?

Y2Y is a slow creep of regulation and restriction that will ultimately lock away lands from development and use which B.C. resource-dependent communities can ill afford. Wildsight is on record wanting at least 50 per cent of the remaining land base protected.

On September 27th, environmentalists, First Nations and local governments gathered in Fernie at the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent. Wildsight and its Y2Y partners will be front and center with looking for ways to wedge their ideology into the political process to continue the slow and steady creep of Y2Y. The old saying give an inch take a mile rings true with environmentalists; they can wait 10, 20 or even 50 years for their vision to come true.

The Thinktwice group wants to provide a balanced perspective on issues that will affect our enjoyment, value and lifestyle in the Kootenays. Before deciding to support groups that are slowly restricting our local economy, values and families, think twice. We can be reached at ttwice7@gmail.com .

Paul Visentin

Cranbrook, B.C.