The operator of an Abbotsford quarry that is home to a family of rare peregrine falcons has had its wildlife permit suspended for the second time in a month.
A spokesman with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) confirmed Thursday (June 24) that Mountainside Quarries – the operator of the site at 40251 Quadling Rd. at the base of Sumas Mountain – had the permit suspended on Tuesday (June 22).
The spokesman said the action was taken because Mountainside was not following the requirement – set out in the permit – of a 50-metre no-disturbance buffer zone around the falcons’ nest until the end of the breeding season (July 20).
“The company has the right to appeal this decision to the Environmental Board within 30 days,” he said.
The spokesman said the buffer includes both direct and indirect impacts, and is measured with a horizontal radius, “effectively creating a cylinder shape around the nest.”
Mountainside previously had its Wildlife Act permit suspended from May 20 to 28, also for breaching the buffer zone.
The FLNRORD spokesman said, at that time, “the mine had not effectively established the 50-metre buffer” and they were incorrectly measuring the zone. The permit was reinstated after the buffer was established using a horizontal radius, he said.
Both suspensions occurred after Mountainside did blasting at the site. The most recent blasting work occurred June 18 and 22.
Opponents of the work have been concerned that the blasting could cause stress to the birds – who have been nicknamed Fluffy and Falco – or damage their eggs.
The two chicks have since been hatched, and the opponents fear that they have been subject to “unimaginable stress and disturbances,” according to “Save BC Falcons” on Instagram.
The quarry had previously been dormant since 2012, but Mountainside indicated in 2019 that it wanted to resume operations there.
The province issued a mine permit in the spring of 2020, but in order for activity at the quarry to restart, a wildlife permit was also required in relation to the pair of peregrine falcons that nest there every year.
That permit was approved by FLNRORD in January 2021.