Letter by Al Raine, NGR Resort Consultants Inc.,
February 4, 2000, Whistler Pique.
Letter by Will Koop, SPEC, February 11, 2000, Whistler Pique.
Letter by Wayne McCrory, McCrory Wildlife Services Inc., February 11, 2000, Whistler Pique.
The following letter by Al Raine appeared in the February 4, 2000 edition of the Whistler Pique magazine.
"In response to your Jan. 28, 2000 article on AWARE's recent AGM, I am concerned that your coverage of Mr. McCrory's presentation is misleading. Mr. McCrory presents an entertaining script, but his remarks about the Cayoosh Resort proposal were from the perspective of an environmentalist, not "a grizzly bear expert."
I guess we, like many other Whistler residents, are guilty of "Our culture having a divine manifesto to go out and conquer the wilderness." Did the development of Whistler really conquer the wilderness? Whistler has provided an opportunity to work in the tourism industry and be part of the mountains and wilderness we love and respect.
We are not grizzly experts so we will let Dr. Hatler respond to the technical issues. We have submitted numerous recent documents to the Environmental Assessment Office, which are available on the EAO website, that clearly indicate continued post development grizzly and goat activities within ski areas such as Marmot Basin and Lake Louise. Most long time Whistler residents recognize that there are more bears and deer and other small wildlife activity in Whistler today than prior to development of the village and Blackcomb. How is this possible if development means the extinction of wildlife species?
It is unfortunate that statements from someone who has never been in Melvin Creek are given full value and the conclusions of respected biologists who have worked intensively on the project are discounted as meaningless or inaccurate. There is little accountability when making alarmist statements, therefore, we permit individuals to make wild accusations without evidence and if it is reported in the newspaper, it must be true.
We only wish that you had space to print Dr. Hatler's five-page response to Mr. McCrory's EA submission, it is interesting reading indeed. Near the end, Dr. Hatler concludes: "In the matter of assessing how the natural world works, one of the most serious errors a scientist can make is to mistake his convictions for evidence. One of the most serious errors that society can make in that regard, is to assume that all of a scientist's opinions are science."
Thank you for the opportunity to put a different light on expert opinion."
LETTER TO THE EDITOR, WHISTLER PIQUE February 8, 2000
(By Will Koop, SPEC. The letter appeared in the February 11, 2000 edition of the Whistler Pique, page 22.)
SPEC's side of the story
"As in many of Al Raine's letters over the years, there is a lot of mudslinging in his latest response to grizzly bear biologist Wayne McCrory. As an aggressive promoter/developer, Mr. Raine has had no kind words or little patience with legitimate public, governmental, or professional criticism of his Cayoosh four season resort proposal. In doing so, Mr. Raine does not always want to tell the whole story.
For instance, SPEC sent in a response letter to the Environmental Assessment Office (www.spec.bc.ca) on February 4 detailing how Mr. Raine has failed to mention important information to the government about his project, information which is then turned around to incite innuendo. On December 22, 1999, SPEC sent another letter to the government showing how Mr. Raine's consultant, Dr. Hatler, had left out important government references and information about grizzly bears.
The bottom line is that both the government and Mr. Raine have failed to produce adequate inventory on grizzly bear populations in the Cayoosh Mountain ecosystem, despite the fact that government staff have repeatedly requested this be done.
Right from the start in 1990, government biologists objected to the proposal because of high wildlife values in the area, and requested the ski proposal be moved elsewhere. This was not done, and is why this large development proposal is still hung up on the same issues."
LETTER TO THE EDITOR, WHISTLER PIQUE FEBRUARY 7, 2000
(By Wayne McCrory, McCrory Wildlife Services Ltd., which appeared in the Whistler Pique in its February 11, 2000 edition, page 22.)
McCrory's scientific views
"Re: the comments in your paper by Mr. Raine and his consultant Mr. Hatler concerning my scientific views on the proposed Cayoosh development.
I am reminded of the old saying: if you can't address the issues, shoot the messenger. Since neither Mr. Raine nor Mr. Hatler attended my presentation in Whistler, it is curious they feel qualified to characterize my scientific lecture as "alarmist statements" and "accusations without evidence."
My slide talk documented considerable evidence in support of my concerns regarding the long-term impacts of Mr. Raine's proposed large-scale development on bears, goats and other wildlife. My assessment is based on detailed bear habitat surveys near Melvin Creek and an ecosystem fragmentation review of the area. I am a registered professional biologist with more than 30 years' experience. I have published or co-published more than 50 technical reports and 7 scientific papers, all subject to rigorous scientific review standards.
A biologist should operate on the precautionary principle and err on the side of caution. For example, last year 11 independent biologists (including myself) representing a vast body of collective bear expertise, signed a letter to the Lillooet LRMP expressing major concern about the survival of grizzly bears in the ecosystem and recommending protection of the nine larger, intact roadless bear habitats in the region. This includes protection of the Cayoosh Range. Government biologists have also consistently expressed serious concerns about Raine's Cayoosh Development.
On the other hand, Mr. Hatler claims that Cayoosh will have only "minor impacts" and "no demographic (population-level) effects on any species". He makes these claims, by his own admission, without adequate study of the cumulative impacts. These would include increased grizzly mortality, improved road access leading to increased road-kills, a thorough review of overall displacement of grizzly bears from prime habitats, and overall fragmentation of the ecosystem. These are the major issues. Having carefully reviewed Hatlers' report with these in mind, I strongly disagree with his findings. Hatler infers that my views are based on my convictions and not on science. Can all of the independent scientists and government biologists who have concerns about survival of grizzly bears in the Ecosystem and Cayoosh Range be wrong, and only Mr. Hatler, who was paid by the developer, be right?
For Mr. Raine to compare the potential impacts of developing a townsite up in a high elevation wilderness area to developing towns down in valleys like Whistler is similar to comparing orangutans to ostriches. Current scientific evidence, and the historical record, demonstrate that when you build a very large development such as Cayoosh in the middle of prime mountain goat, grizzly and other wildlife habitats, it does not remain, as Raine would have us believe, "the mountains and wilderness we love and respect".
If this major development is allowed, it will become a "population sink" for grizzly bears. This means that enough grizzlies will die from uncontrollable human-bear conflicts generated at the facility and from other cumulative impacts such as the improved highway access and secondary recreation, that it will tip this threatened sub-population from potential recovery into extinction. Even the loss of one adult female because of Raine's Cayoosh townsite would be significant. To draw on the scientific literature, note that just one Recreational Development (Fishing Bridge} in Yellowstone caused 28% of all grizzly deaths in the park over a 15 year period. And I am told by a Whistler long-timer that one of the last grizzlies to wander through Whistler area about 10 years ago - didn't it end up dead?
I would welcome an open scientific debate on Cayoosh with Mr. Hatler in any forum. Raine and Hatler's inability to adequately address the full scope of the scientific and conservation issues and concerns, but instead resorting to false innuendo about my scientific credibility, is less than honorable and most regrettable."
Yours Truly, Wayne P. McCrory,