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Proposed BC Hydro dam puts local wildlife at risk

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If built, a proposed hydro dam in British Columbia could endanger local wildlife by flooding a large portion of their habitat, according to a report issued by a conservation group.
 
BC Hydro is proposing to build the dam, called Site C, on the Peace River in central B.C. at a cost of $7.9 billion.
 
The dam would flood 5,500 hectares of land, damaging the habitat of a number of local species, including bull trout, arctic grayling, and fishers, an animal similar to a weasel, says the report, published by the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y).
 
Moreover, the report says, flooding could affect the habitat of caribou, grizzly bears, gray wolfs, lynx, and wolverines in the region.
 
“We’re very concerned about these results,” says Wendy Francis, program director of Y2Y. “The ability of grizzly bears, caribou and other sensitive large mammals to live in the Peace region is already severely constrained by industrial development. Site C will make the problem worse, and we feel some species eventually could be extirpated.”
 
BC Hydro’s proposal is currently being evaluated by a joint review panel, which began public hearings in December.
 
Witnesses have raised additional concerns about the environmental track record of existing dams operated by BC Hydro.
 
According to the Globe and Mail, Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly band told the panel that the W.A.C. Bennett dam, built in by BC Hydro in 1967, has contributed to higher levels of mercury in the Peace River watershed.
 
The joint review panel will end hearings on Jan. 23 and report its findings and recommendations to the federal Minister of the Environment and B.C. Environmental Assessment Office within 90 days.