Letters to the editor 

Whistler Valley Bear Database Growing, Bears for Kids Growing — Thanks to Public and Parents

During the last nine years (1994-2002), research observations combined with public reports have totalled over 5,000 entries of black bear activity throughout Whistler valley. Data is inputted to map seasonal bear behaviours and habitat use. Phone calls or e-mails from residents and visitors are not necessarily always complaints but, questions, requesting advice, confirmation, or reports of interest to support bear conservation. The Whistler Black Bear Project exists to improve public understanding of black bears. Public bear reports have doubled over the last two years as more awareness is made toward the efforts of Whistler bear research and education.

Long-term research of bears stimulates long-term interest in the species. People enjoy learning, caring, and following the lives of local black bears. Your questions and information help to guide further research and improve education strategies. I can help you by providing information on the seasonal biology and behaviour of bears, how to avoid/respond to encounters, and most of the time specific information on individual bears, but I cannot take direct action because I am not consulted by local RCMP or wildlife officers. And to clarify some apparent confusion, I am not affiliated with the JJ Whistler Bear Society.

I would also like to extend appreciation to the children and their parents who support the Bear Research Camp for Kids. Since September 2001, 30 children (ages 10-16) have participated in a very successful program to allow students the opportunities for hands-on experience with local, unique wildlife research. Kids have helped tremendously with black bear field work. Whistler Parks and Recreation has supported the program and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (through Brian Barnett) has funded all school bear education programs from 1999-2002. I do not receive any funding in Whistler for direct bear research projects so when the kids come along it helps to complete a specific project through education funding.

Bear Research Camps for Kids continues this fall through winter with a new adult camp offered next spring.

Michael Allen

Whistler Black Bear Project

Paradise Valley

 

Come say goodbye

We would like to invite all our friends to celebrate our departure. I know, some of you are probably saying "finally!" while others are crying in their beers, but we must go. So please come to our party on Sunday, Aug. 11 to send us off in style.

We will miss our friends that we have made over the past 15 years, and it is tough to say ciao to such a great community – we will take our fond memories with us. And if you are ever in Invermere, look us up. For more info on the soiree please drop me a line at 604-894-1988.

Jami Scheffer (Firdork), Anna and Michael Fidork and Babba

Pemberton

 

RE: AWARE Wetlands Project Receives Funding from Community.

On behalf of AWARE and, more specifically, the Valley Bottom Greenbelt and Wetlands Committee, I would like to extend extreme gratitude towards both the Whistler Golf Club and the Whistler-Blackcomb Environment Fund for donating funds towards our Whistler wetlands projects.

On May 9 the Whistler Golf Club held its annual Local’s Day, raising $6,900 for use in the community. Nearly 200 individuals came out on the greens to fundraise for local charities. AWARE was this year’s lucky recipient of the amount raised.

The Whistler-Blackcomb Environment Fund also donated over $4,500 towards AWARE’s planned wetland restoration work. This fund is entirely employee driven and has become an enormous success in our community. The donated funds will be allocated toward the planting component of several wetlands restoration projects including a viewing platform at the Lost Lake wetland complete with interpretive signage, and several restoration projects to be conducted in co-operation with the Whistler Fish Stewardship Group.

To both organizations we extend our HUGE thanks for granting AWARE the funds to help restore and protect the health of our valley bottom wetlands.

Wendy Horan, Director

The Association for Whistler Residents for the Environment (AWARE), and the Valley Bottom/Wetlands Sub-Committee

 

Is glass the best solution for Whistler's bus stops?

Normally I refrain from griping about Whistler's many little idiosyncrasies that occasionally annoy me. However, this particular straw seems to be putting a strain on my back.

My friend and I can't help but keep noticing all of the smashed windows surrounding the transit bus stops. Today alone, we observed three broken windows in three different locations. Since we have started to take note, some windows seem to have been replaced and broken again. How much does it cost to replace all of this glass? Is glass the best solution?

Obviously shelter from the many seasonal (sometimes very harsh) elements is a must. I certainly do not profess to be an expert in this area however, there must be a more durable alternative. Or are the RMOW's pockets so deep these days that these continuous costs have become inconsequential?

Beau Jarvis/Davey Barr

Whistler

 

We need to finally agree on what green energy is, why it is good, what the options are, and what the state of the technology is. No power generation technology is perfect but I will assert that any non-polluting renewable technology is certainly green when compared with coal, gas and nuclear technologies.

Green energy is good because electric power is necessarily generated precisely to the level of demand (there's no 'inventory' possible other than what is stored as hydroelectric potential behind dams or in the form of gas and coal), so adding green power to the system necessarily reduces demand for a like amount of less-green power from some other source.

Small-scale geothermal heat exchangers that heat and cool homes and industrial buildings are a green technology and are here now, but financial break-even against simply buying the power from B.C. Hydro only appears about seven years after installation. Most people and businesses can't afford this high up-front financial load even though the pay-back may be there in the long-run. Perhaps government needs to create a loan program so that more of these can be installed.

Hydrogen fuel cells evoke plenty of myths, one of which is that they are ready for prime-time. The fact is, they are nowhere near commercialization for general markets, besides which there is no infrastructure in place to deliver the hydrogen they require, a separate but equally massive problem. Reformer fuel cells that convert hydrocarbons like gasoline, natural gas and methanol to hydrogen before burning are also technologically immature and are not going to address the pollution or hydro-carbon supply-chain problem. They also aren't yet economical except in special cases where the very high cost is justifiable – e.g. for use as stationary and portable emergency generators. There is a lot of promise here but the wait isn't over.

Ultimately, stationary fuel cells, small wind and solar units, micro hydro-turbines, and geothermal systems in the home and in commercial buildings will be a boon to the energy picture, but this scenario is still many years away. Why? Four reasons: legislation, infrastructure, technology, and finance.

Deregulation of the electricity distribution system is one prerequisite so that surplus energy generated by small plants can actually be sold back to the grid. The idea is that while you sleep, unused power from your home generator flows back to the grid and is consumed elsewhere, meanwhile the big hydro dams, coal, and gas plants can lower their output. You get a credit on your hydro bill. But each such installation requires a fancy new two-way electric meter that measures both out-flow and inflow, a "smart" switch so that the power authority can reliably stop your power going out if linemen are working the line, and power electronics that step up the voltage from your small system's to the grid's. These technologies are here now but they have a substantial up-front cost.

No matter what, consumption will always be the biggest factor in the energy equation. Don't forget that plastic telemark boots, jet flights to Thailand, your car, and organic produce from California are examples of typical energy-rich products. Try going without them.

Nigel Protter

Pemberton

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