June 2011
projects
Great Bear Rainforest TIS
2011

The Scoop

Concealed under the boreal forests and peat bogs of northeastern Alberta lies the world's largest deposit of bitumen, an unconventional type of petroleum that is refined to produce crude oil. Known as the dirtiest oil, the tar sands have become a highly coveted source of fuel whose extraction methods are radically changing the natural landscape of the province.

Enbridge Inc., the world's biggest oil pipeline construction corporation, wants to bring this crude oil to international markets and have proposed to do so via the Northern Gateway Pipelines project: the construction of two parallel pipelines stretching over 1,000 km between Alberta's tar sands and Kitimat on the British Columbia coastline.

Each day, over 500,000 barrels of crude oil would be sent westbound to a new marine terminal in Kitimat from the tar sands. Traveling in the opposite direction, close to 200,000 barrels per day of natural gas condensate (used to reduce oil viscosity during the refining process) would be delivered eastbound from Kitimat to Alberta. The crude oil would reach international markets by the introduction of oil tankers in Douglas Channel for the first time ever.

Public opinion has been overwhelmingly against the pipelines and oil tankers. Political parties, environmental groups, First Nations, and many individuals are voicing their objection to Enbridge's proposal.

The Issues: Enbridge Inc. has a long history of pipeline oil spills throughout Canada and the US, including a ruptured pipeline in Michigan less than a year ago that spewed one million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo river system. The Northern Gateway pipelines would cross sensitive salmon spawning habitat, bisecting more than 1,000 rivers and streams. Once the oil reached Kitimat, it would be loaded into super oil tankers and transported through the difficult-to-navigate routes, whose channels cross the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest temperate rainforest in the world. After reaching the coast, the oil would continue on to international markets, contributing to our global dependence on fossil fuels and the climate change crisis. The pipeline project has been called the defining environmental battle of our time; one that will define Canada's international reputation.

The Assignment: In order to fully appreciate what is at risk, it is important to take stock of the ecosystems and people who will be affected by the pipelines. ForestEthics has enlisted LightHawk and the International League of Conservation Photographers to fly over the proposed pipeline route, taking aerial photographs and video footage to document the land and communities that would be impacted. By conveying the dramatic beauty of the landscapes and the tenacity of the people, this visual communication project will assist the campaign to stop the pipeline project from becoming a reality.

 

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  • Gerald Amos - GBR TIS interview
    Video
  • Great Bear TIS- Jasmine Thomas Interview
    Video

Gerald Amos - GBR TIS interview

by Neil Ever Osborne


This is an interview by Amanda Follett and Neil Ever Osborne with Gerald Amos. Gerald is a Haisla Councillor, President of Coastal First Nations, and a grandpa.  Interview was conducted in Kitamaat Village, near the town of Kitimat.

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Great Bear TIS- Jasmine Thomas Interview

by Neil Ever Osborne


Jasmine Thomas of the Saikuz nation

As part of the Great Bear Rainforest Tripods in the Sky (TIS) with Neil Ever Osborne.

About the TIS

The Issues

Enbridge Inc. has a long history of pipeline oil spills throughout Canada and the US, including a ruptured pipeline in Michigan less than a year ago that spewed one million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo river system. The Northern Gateway pipelines would cross sensitive salmon spawning habitat, bisecting more than 1,000 rivers and streams. Once the oil reached Kitimat, it would be loaded into super oil tankers and transported through the difficult-to-navigate routes, whose channels cross the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest temperate rainforest in the world. After reaching the coast, the oil would continue on to international markets, contributing to our global dependence on fossil fuels and the climate change crisis. The pipeline project has been called the defining environmental battle of our time; one that will define Canada's international reputation.

The Assignment

In order to fully appreciate what is at risk, it is important to take stock of the ecosystems and people who will be affected by the pipelines. ForestEthics has enlisted LightHawk and the International League of Conservation Photographers to fly over the proposed pipeline route, taking aerial photographs and video footage to document the land and communities that would be impacted. By conveying the dramatic beauty of the landscapes and the tenacity of the people, this visual communication project will assist the campaign to stop the pipeline project from becoming a reality.

Share or comment on this story >
  • National Geographic: Kermode Bear
    Jul 18, 2011
  • Great Bear TIS - partner post
    Jul 6, 2011
  • Great Bear TIS - dispatch 3
    Jul 5, 2011
  • Great Bear TIS - dispatch 2
    Jul 4, 2011
  • Great Bear TIS - dispatch 1
    Jun 29, 2011

National Geographic: Kermode Bear

Bruce Barcott
Jul 18, 2011

"In a moss-draped rain forest in British Columbia, towering red cedars live a thousand years, and black bears are born with white fur."


The cover of the August 2011 National Geographic Magazine shows a Spirit Bear photograph taken by iLCP photographer Paul Nicklen. Check out the gallery of amazing shots here."Neither albino nor polar bear, the spirit bear (also known as the Kermode bear) is a white variant of the North American black bear, and it's found almost exclusively here in the Great Bear Rainforest. At 25,000 square miles—one and a half times as big as Switzerland—the region runs 250 miles down Canada's western coast and encompasses a vast network of mist-shrouded fjords, densely forested islands, and glacier-capped mountains. Grizzlies, black bears, wolves, wolverines, humpback whales, and orcas thrive along a coast that has been home to First Nations like the Gitga'at for hundreds of generations. It's a spooky, wild, mysterious place: There are wolves here that fish. Deer that swim. Western red cedar trees that have stood a thousand years or more. And a black bear that is white...Researchers have recently proved that the spirit bear's white coat gives it an advantage when fishing. Although white and black bears tend to have the same success rate after dark—when bears do a lot of their fishing—scientists Reimchen and Dan Klinka from the University of Victoria noticed a difference during the daytime. White bears catch salmon in one-third of their attempts. Black individuals are successful only one-quarter of the time. "The salmon are less concerned about a white object as seen from below the surface," Reimchen speculates. That may answer part of the question about why the white-fur trait continues to flourish today. If salmon are a coastal bear's primary fat and protein source, a successful female can feast on salmon to store more fat for winter, potentially increasing the number of cubs she can produce." -Bruce Barcott from the August issue of the National Geographic magazine, available on newsstands July 26Related National Geographic Article: Pipeline Through ParadiseImagery by iLCP photographers on the Great Bear Rainforest RAVE can be seen here. Share or comment on this story >

Great Bear TIS - partner post

Nikki Skuce from ForestEthics
Jul 6, 2011

This tour just reinforced that Enbridge cannot engineer its way out of risk on this one. If Enbridge spills oil nearly once a week in mostly flat, prairie land, what can we expect as it tries to tunnel here through these mountains?


After months of planning and a previous trip cancellation due to smoky skies from forest fires, it was great to see this LightHawk trip across the proposed Enbridge pipeline and tanker route come together. After days of coordinating Steven Garman and Neil Ever Osborne’s itineraries and logistics, and First Nations to have the opportunity to see their territories from an aerial perspective, there was an empty seat for me to jump into the plane. With freelance journalist Amanda Follett, we set out on a short tour from the Terrace/Kitimat airport.We started off following the Kitimat River until we were in a narrow valley. Our GPS coordinates of the proposed pipeline route took us as far as Hoult Mountain which stands at 7,000 ft. at its peak. This is where Enbridge is planning on tunneling the pipelines through. The glaciers overhead and cascading waterfalls were magnificent – how could a tar sands pipeline be safely engineered through these massive mountains? And if there was an oil spill, how could folks get there quickly and with enough resources to actually clean it up? I doubt that they could.This pipeline route has always seemed insane to many of us who live near it (whether because of the sheer number of wild salmon rivers it plans on crossing, or our knowledge of the mountainous and avalanche-prone terrain). This tour just reinforced that Enbridge cannot engineer its way out of risk on this one. If Enbridge spills oil nearly once a week in mostly flat, prairie land, what can we expect as it tries to tunnel here through these mountains?Steven turned the plane around and we followed back out along the Kitimat River past the town to the tanker port. Kitimat has long been an industrial town with major aluminum and forestry factories. With the closing of Eurocan, the town is in need of some job creation. But pipelines and tankers bring few long-term jobs, and even fewer to local communities. A strong and growing grassroots community group formed the “Douglas Channel Watch” to oppose this project that brings too much risk and too little benefit to their community and all along the coast. The Haisla Nation has also come out opposed to Enbridge’s project, and, along with eight other coastal First Nations, declared a crude oil tanker ban in their traditional territories.There are currently no oil tankers plying the rough waters of Douglas Channel and Hecate Strait. And in looking back as the plane turned around and the light hit the Channel beautifully, this trip confirmed that there never should be.  Share or comment on this story >

Great Bear TIS - dispatch 3

Jul 5, 2011

David was surprised to see how much more they had cut down since last year.


“Actually being in the air and seeing the landscape from above put it into perspective. This is what we are trying to save”, said Mike Ridsdale, of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.With an opportunity to be guided by our First Nation partners once again, Steven Garman and I paid less attention to the GPS coordinates on our flight over the Wet’suwet’en territory. With Mike and his companion, David de Wit, by our side, we didn’t need the coordinates – Mike and David knew this land like the backs of their hands.Story after story from our friends convinced me of this. Every water feature was not simply named, but instead known for unique qualities, like the clear blue and green water of “Wetzink’wa”, the mighty Morice river, whose flow and tributaries produce much of the chinook salmon in the entire Skeena system. I later learned that the river’s characteristic braided channels also provide extensive spawning habitat for sockeye and coho salmon. David told me the Wetzink’wa has the cleanest water in their territory and is viewed as the lifeblood of the Wet’suwet’en. Its annual gift of thousands of pounds of protein and nutrients thread through their culture. The transmission of knowledge, skills, and responsibilities are often centered around the harvesting, preparation, and distribution of the foods that come from this resource.Mike was keen to point out that the proposed pipelines would travel the entire length of this river and its tributaries for close to 60 km, with a crossing southwest of Houston, B.C.Looking down on spruce and pine trees, which Steven and I had trouble distinguishing, Mike was able to tell us where each species prefers to grow. I remembered this from my tree planting days many years ago, when I used to place spruce seedlings in wetter soil and pine seedlings in the drier areas. But from above, the terrain can mislead you at times. David taught us how to differentiate between the species from this angle: spruce have more pointed tops, while pines are more rounded. He also shared specifics about ecotypes – lodgepole pines grow in well-drained soils, often on flatter and drier east-to-west facing slopes. Old forest fires will generate uniform pine stands. Spruce and balsam will grow on north facing slopes, in depressions and in areas with thicker canopy closure, as they are more shade tolerant and need more moisture. Deciduous trees predominately grow in the lower-to-mid valley, spruce and pine dominate the mid valley, and balsam (sub-alpine fir) dominate the high elevations.Mike and David’s encyclopedic knowledge of the land continued to amaze me throughout our flight together. As we approached a brown-earthed canyon, we were told to keep an eye out for the white specks that could be mountain goats who frequently visited this unique habitat. Another wildlife story unfolded as Mike blended cultural lore with ecology upon spotting them.And, despite the wildness viewed with keen searching eyes, clear cut patches were still disheartening. David was surprised to see how much more they had cut down since last year. I took more photographs and he noted the location of the fallen trees in his memory.The significance of the Wet’suwet’en culture and connection to the land need not be measured, counted, or tested. It should simply just be. I had this feeling before meeting Mike and David, and believed it to be true even more after flying over their territory with them. They are custodians of a special place, and after I asked Nikki Skuce to tell me about the notable features of the Wet’suwet’en territory, I was reminded they are not the only ones looking after this land. Nikki said, “There are so many amazing things – from the caribou protected area on the Telkwas, to all the mountain ranges and opportunities to explore within, to the Bulkley Canyon where the Wet’suwet’en hook fish, to great morel and huckleberry picking in the forests, to the place I call home.”Hear more thoughts from the Wet’suwet’en on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline here. Share or comment on this story >

Great Bear TIS - dispatch 2

Neil Ever Osborne (with contributions by Deanna Del Vecchio)
Jul 4, 2011


Above the Rockies in a plane, just 82 km (50 miles) east of Prince George, you lose sense of the colossal scale of this range apparent from the ground. The bird's eye view makes canyons and peaks seem surmountable. But, thinking about how Enbridge Inc. might construct a pipeline through this terrain left me wondering.Steven Garman and I were well above 7,500 feet in elevation as we made the best use of fuel efficiency at higher altitudes before dropping to photograph near our first coordinates. Steven can get us where we need to go with a decked-out console in the plane, and a GPS unit, that marvels any that I have seen. I can keep up with him with my own Nikon GP-1, a newly purchased piece of gear I attach to my camera body so I can embed GPS coordinates into the metadata of each digital file I make. Both toys were obviously necessary so we can capture imagery along and in close proximity to the pipelines route with accuracy.Conservation efforts are always about collaboration. This is just how it works. So, when Steven and I got a chance to connect with Frank Wolf, a filmmaker and writer specializing in adventure and environmental advocacy, we were gifted with the invaluable insight we could use throughout our assignment. Frank had walked the length of the pipelines route, traversing landscapes and watercourses, and had observed key locations along the way. His anecdotes mirrored what we saw from above. Near Monkman Provincial Park, in the Hart Ranges of the Rocky Mountains, a tapestry of natural cover is seen: alpine meadows, jagged mountain peaks, forested valleys, thundering waterfalls, and clear alpine lakes detail the environment. As does the Murray River which skirts just north of the park where the proposed pipelines would cross it at 54º48’06’’ N and 121º12’42’’ W.From there we headed west. Steven's GPS picked up 10 satellites and mine at least 3. Comparing our respective GPS readings, we were off only a tenth of a second, and we were getting to know our tools, techniques, and each other better.  Share or comment on this story >

Great Bear TIS - dispatch 1

Neil Ever Osborne (with contributions by Deanna Del Vecchio)
Jun 29, 2011


Ever wonder what an alternator does? It converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. In simple terms, the alternator allows you to charge a battery, which in turn, allows you to start an engine. I read more about alternators on Day 1 of the assignment after I received an early phone call from LightHawk volunteer pilot Steven Garman notifying me he was stuck in Kelowna with a plane that had alternator issues. He was en route to Prince George where we were starting our coverage of the proposed pipelines route, but called his travel short to investigate any possible trouble.It was not my first time speaking with Steven, as we had been chatting over the phone for the past week prepping our assignment together. But, I had never collaborated with him before. Steven has been a LightHawk volunteer pilot for more than 10 years now, and an active pilot for even longer, surpassing well over 10,000 flying hours. He serves as caretaker of LightHawk's owned Cessna 185 aircraft which is deployed for special missions – like ours – where other local aircraft may not be available. Steven has flown all sorts of crafts – Lear jets, King Air turboprops, and lots of Cessnas and Pipers, to name a few – and has participated in a handful of flights assisting conservation photographers like myself over the last couple of years – National Geographic's Paul Nicklen was the last. I enjoy meeting pilots for the first time because they practice their profession with a subtle calmness and exact attention to detail. Each one of them has their own personality or "feel" for flying.On the phone reporting on the alternator issue, Steven sounded tentative, and informed me I'd have to find something to keep me busy while he looked into a quick but reliable fix. I sensed that he was optimistic but it was not the news I wanted to hear. We hung up feeling concerned, and planned to connect a few hours later.While waiting in Prince George, I spent more time reviewing the facts and research I had compiled before my journey to British Columbia. Typographic maps had become my best resource, and after getting my hands on versions with the pipelines route overlay – from ForestEthics' Nikki Skuce – it was tempting to begin visualizing what landscapes we would be flying over. Even on a printed map you can appreciate the vast green terrain and the river and stream features that makes northern BC so wild. On Google Earth, these details became even more obvious and I pinpointed coordinates to search for interesting patterns we might see from above. Despite the omnipresent spruce and pine forests, a patchwork of clear cutting as far as the eye could see would test my ability to make aesthetic compositions. I also noted the scarring of spruce bark and pine beetle, as they left their mark along portions of the the area we would fly.At lunch, the first person I asked about the proposed pipeline was Jaime, a server at Coach's Corner Sports Bar, where I randomly stopped in for lunch. Before we spoke about the pipeline in any detail, Jaime told me that she was originally from Kitimat so I was immediately curious to speak with her more. She told me she was "for" the pipeline development, expressing an interest in the economic incentives that Enbridge predicts will come to local communities and businesses. My next question was to ask whether other people felt the same way as her. She responded that they were "probably against it". As we chatted more, Jaime conveyed a concern that displacing the animals might be the worst thing that could happen if the proposal works out. But, then I mentioned the possibilities of an oil spill and the dire consequences that could follow. Admittedly, she mentioned that an oil spill had not come to mind as a possible outcome. She noted it was difficult to imagine as she had never been affected by such a disaster. When I looked at her again, I think the idea might have changed her mind.Afternoon research turned into searching on the internet and I quickly found previous works and conservation efforts that have been made surrounding this issue. Each hit, most of which I had seen before, reminded me of the severity of this proposal. And, for the fifth or sixth time I found myself watching Oil to Eden (http://vimeo.com/15295815) and Spoil (http://vimeo.com/19582018), documentaries made by some friends and colleagues who are also invested in this campaign. I was only interrupted by the occasional email or phone call that updated me with the status of our Cessna 185's alternator. The good news finally came by mid-afternoon, as a very resourceful Steven had the propeller spinning again – fresh off a safety and maintenance check. He shared the news that he would be in Prince George within a few hours to pick up where the day was supposed to start. Joining us for the late afternoon flight were representatives of the Saikuz nation who had an interest in seeing aerial views of their territory and where the pipelines were proposed to be, and would act as our guides in the sky.Watch a short interview with Jasmine Thomas, of the Saikuz nation at the top of this post or hereShare or comment on this story >
  • iLCP Photos Help Save the Great Bear Rainforest
    Dec 6, 2013
  • National Geographic: Kermode Bear
    Jul 18, 2011
  • The Guardian: Wildlife photographers put focus on Great Bear rainforest
    Nov 2, 2010
  • Oil reserves put Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest under the lens
    Aug 13, 2010

iLCP Photos Help Save the Great Bear Rainforest

: Dec 6, 2013


“It doesn’t matter how many millions of dollars Enbridge may spend on ads, we know that our real wealth lies in clean, nutritious fish and sustainable coastal jobs.” – Luanne Roth, Prince Rupert resident


A group of Prince Rupert, Canada, residents has launched an ad campaign with iLCP Photos, to highlight the risks that pipelines, tankers and oil by rail pose to food security and coastal jobs. People all over British Columbia are putting these posters up in their communities.Join them by sharing this image or downloading and printing the poster from this link: http://saveourskeenasalmon.org/ Share or comment on this story >

National Geographic: Kermode Bear

National Geographic Magazine : Jul 18, 2011Read Article >


"In a moss-draped rain forest in British Columbia, towering red cedars live a thousand years, and black bears are born with white fur."


The cover of the August 2011 National Geographic Magazine shows a Spirit Bear photograph taken by iLCP photographer Paul Nicklen. Check out the gallery of amazing shots here."Neither albino nor polar bear, the spirit bear (also known as the Kermode bear) is a white variant of the North American black bear, and it's found almost exclusively here in the Great Bear Rainforest. At 25,000 square miles—one and a half times as big as Switzerland—the region runs 250 miles down Canada's western coast and encompasses a vast network of mist-shrouded fjords, densely forested islands, and glacier-capped mountains. Grizzlies, black bears, wolves, wolverines, humpback whales, and orcas thrive along a coast that has been home to First Nations like the Gitga'at for hundreds of generations. It's a spooky, wild, mysterious place: There are wolves here that fish. Deer that swim. Western red cedar trees that have stood a thousand years or more. And a black bear that is white...Researchers have recently proved that the spirit bear's white coat gives it an advantage when fishing. Although white and black bears tend to have the same success rate after dark—when bears do a lot of their fishing—scientists Reimchen and Dan Klinka from the University of Victoria noticed a difference during the daytime. White bears catch salmon in one-third of their attempts. Black individuals are successful only one-quarter of the time. "The salmon are less concerned about a white object as seen from below the surface," Reimchen speculates. That may answer part of the question about why the white-fur trait continues to flourish today. If salmon are a coastal bear's primary fat and protein source, a successful female can feast on salmon to store more fat for winter, potentially increasing the number of cubs she can produce." -Bruce Barcott from the August issue of the National Geographic magazine, available on newsstands July 26Related National Geographic Article: Pipeline Through ParadiseImagery by iLCP photographers on the Great Bear Rainforest RAVE can be seen here. Share or comment on this story >

The Guardian: Wildlife photographers put focus on Great Bear rainforest

The Guardian : Nov 2, 2010Read Article >


"A team of internationally renowned photographers has released a series of stunning images captured during its rapid assessment visual expedition (Rave) to British Columbia's Great Bear rainforest over the summer."


Share or comment on this story >

Oil reserves put Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest under the lens

National Geographic News Watch : Aug 13, 2010Read Article >



Share or comment on this story >