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LETTER: Protect wetlands from pipelines

The FVRD staff questionnaire requesting specific information on impacts and protection...

Dear Editor;

Thanks to Alina Konevski on reporting about the FVRD recent meeting "FVRD requests Kinder Morgan accountability". The FVRD staff questionnaire requesting specific information on impacts and protection against damage to our health, water, air, food production, biodiversity and other local common resources; is a start on some real answers.

I noticed some attention was paid to the Cheam Lake Wetlands Park in the Popkum area, east of Chilliwack within the questions that will be sent to the TransMtn Kinder Morgan pipeline company.

I strongly believe that this particular wetlands area, among apparently a thousand other wetlands identified within the TransMtn/Kinder Morgan proposed twinned pipeline pathway needs to be proactively protected. These wetlands must not be disrupted, dug up, wildlife dispersed or destroyed; all in order to increase massive shipment of toxic, diluted bitumen.

Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park is a beautiful refuge for  so many species and for people alike. This Cheam Lake Park is a vibrant, unique "well known biodiversity hot spot in the Fraser Valley" as noted by the Coquitlam, professional registered biologist, Pamela Zevit in a Cheam Lake Wetlands 2008 Bioblitz document which identifies a vast array of plants, birds, amphibians, reptile species;  many of which are endangered.

I have recently noticed that there have been many TransMtn/KinderMorgan media events set up at local Chamber of Commerce Groups in communities along the pipeline route to promote the so called financial benefit in this twinning. Apparently, there is money to be made…by some people. The urgency is tangible.

Is this a short timeline matter or could it be a need to beat the decline in heavy crude off-shore sales? Or is it perhaps a response to the continent-wide divestment in fossil fuel stocks that many people have made?

My investment advisor tells me that even if my portfolio is quite modest; my solar/wind company stock values have doubled in the last 8 months.

In a timely manner, more Canadians are beginning to realize the potential wealth in many of our unnoticed ecosystems. Fortunately too, biologists are measuring these immense values of ecosystems.

In a published report that I recently requested from a UFV Biology professor,a group of biologists have revealed some interesting statistics. They took on the daunting task of analyzing "The Value of the World's Ecosystems Services and Natural Capital" These 13 scientists from various American universities have evaluated "the services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them(which) are critical to the functioning of the Earth's life support system".

After evaluating various ecosystems; their functions and services and then transferring that data through related comparisons to monetary value; the various ecosystems have been pro-rated in order of their wealth of service value.

As a retired elementary teacher, I fondly remember the water cycle science discussions with my former students. I too, was surprised along with the students that wetlands *acted as sponges during flooding *provided primary cleansing of waterways passing through to aquifers *slowed down rapid run-off *estuary regions for all sorts of species *fish spawning regions (a nursery for many species in general), All-in-all Wetlands can be a cornucopia of biodiversity.

Well then, I was not surprised  to learn that after this "Natural Capital" analysis, that wetlands comes out as the top income earner( my label) in dollar value to the community and to the planet. Even ahead of rain forests !

Wetlands provide $14,785 per hectare per year in services value, according to this study. The Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park area of 93 hectares has consequently provided $1,375,005. in natural capital stock, yearly.

It will probably continue to do so; if we protect this region.

Wendy Major

Chilliwack, B.C.